A knife can be the best and only tool you need in any kitchen.
No matter if you are a student or a single mom, having a good knife can be your key to unlocking the world of home cooking.
A good knife can be really important to even the most simple of cooking applications.
If you are cutting herbs for example, a sharp and high quality knife will slice through perfectly and means your herbs will stay green when you use them to cook rather than using a blunt knife which crushes the cells and causes the herb to discolor and become unappealing.
A blunt knife could ruin the quality of meat, and means you might not be getting the most of your ingredients.
Knowing the correct use and quality of a knife can give your ingredients the respect that they deserve and means you get the most flavor out of your ingredients.
Although the clear choice that suits you is often hard to find, between knife enthusiasts and jargon based advertising it's easy to get lost and disheartened.
If you’re considering investing in a good knife then why not consider buying a whole knife set.
The right knife set can last you a lifetime and its value makes the money you spend all the more worthwhile.
One thing that always comes up when discussing knives is what material it is made from.
Carbon steel and stainless steel are two favorites among knife enthusiasts and they love to debate which is best.
Yet, an investment into carbon steel could be the right choice for you, read on to understand why.
Best High Carbon Knife Sets
OUR TOP PICK
This set includes 3 triple riveted knives for ultimate safety and precision.
The set includes three knives: an 8 inch chef’s knife, a 6 inch utility knife, and a 3.5 inch paring knife.
These three knives will set you up for success in both the home and professional kitchen.
The blade is stain and corrosion resistant while boasting a 16 degree blade angle for sharpness.
This simple and sleek design stays true to classics but gets the job done with efficiency and precision.
- Range of knives for different uses
- Stain resistant
- Triple riveted for safety
- Doesn’t come with a knife block which can lead to bad maintenance practices
Combining expertly crafted woodwork with outstanding blade design Dalstrong’s shogun series is one to be aware of.
This set includes an 8 inch chef knife, 7 inch santoku knife, 6 inch utility knife, 8 inch bread knife, and 3.75 inch paring knife.
Each knife is pre sharpened to become scalpel-sharp and is hand finished to a mirror polish.
With 67 layers of high carbon steel ensures exceptional strength including durability and washability.
The knives' Japanese super steel is vacuum heat treated for peak performance with 62+ Rockwell hardness.
The triple riveted, hand polished handle is an ergonomic shape engineered for perfect control and comfort.
Dalstrong guarantees these lives will last a lifetime.
- Comes with a Acacia knife block
- 5 different style knives
- Hand polished finish
- Needs high maintenance to keep knives sharp
Randalfy’s decision to choose high carbon stainless steel enables precision cutting making preparatory work efficient and enjoyable.
This kitchen knife set includes an 8 inch chef knife, an 8 inch bread knife, a 7 inch santoku knife, a 5 inch utility knife, and a 3.5 inch paring knife.
In addition to these great knives, this set also includes high quality kitchen scissors.
Randalfy’s knife block has a sleek and clever design that doesn’t take up too much space in your kitchen and keeps it orderly.
The ergonomically designed handle for each knife is comfortable and it’s material enables a safe grip when cutting, even if your hands are wet.
You can choose between silver or black colors, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice style for quality.
- Simple and unassuming wood block.
- Comes with kitchen scissors.
- Easy to clean.
- The knives hilt isn’t riveted, and could wear over time.
Yatoshi’s high carbon knife set is both aesthetically pleasing and well designed.
Their knives are 0.6-0.75% carbon which makes them almost doubly as strong and resistant as other knives on the market as well as boasting a Rockwell Hardness Scale of 57-58.
This set comes with an 8 inch chef’s knife, a 7 inch santoku knife, a 5 inch santoku knife, a utility knife, a paring knife and kitchen grade scissors.
The traditional Japanese Pakka wood handle allows a strong and safe grip and good balance but is also a striking design for your kitchen.
- Stylish design
- Unique sloped bolster guarantees strength and ergonomic handling
- Wood handle which could wear over time.
- Etched design on blade looks cool but can create bacteria build-up issues
Mosfiata provides a two piece knife set that includes both a 5 inch chef’s knife and a 3.5 inch fruit knife, both knives come with a sheath to protect your family in the kitchen.
The smaller length of each knife allows you to perfectly slice and dice vegetables and fruit with ease.
Sharpness is key and with a Rockwell hardness of 56 and a 2.5mm thick blade the blade can be sharpened to perfection for all kitchen tasks.
The solid and triple riveted handle minimizes wrist strain and provides a comfortable and safe grip.
This knife set is a perfect gift for your favorite chef as the product comes with a perfect gift box.
- Micarta handle is very ergonomic
- Two sheaths for safety
- Only two knives in the set
- Does not come with a knife block, but a gift box.
Best Single Knife
Sometimes a single knife purchase can change how you interact with your kitchen.
Maybe you want to dip your toes into the world of high carbon stainless steel or simply declutter your kitchen space.
A single knife means you can push the boat out and focus on quality rather than value.
This 8 inch chef, or gyutou knife is designed for multifunctionality and universal use in the kitchen, so no extra purchases are required.
With a Rockwell hardness rating of 56-58 and a carbon content of 0.6-0.75, Imarku’s knife stands out on the market as being one that is both sturdy and sharp.
The pakkawood handle is traditionally Japanese and comes in multiple colors to make the knife personal to you.
16-18% chrome is also included in the blade’s metal composition, affording a glossy finish that is easy to clean while also stylish.
- Nitrogen cryogenic tempering makes it durable
- Doesn’t sacrifice on style
- Wood handle could ware easily over time and potentially non-ergonomic
- Thicker blade could cause cutting problems
This 7 inch chef’s knife has the ability to make easy work of all kitchen tasks.
The product’s full tang provides the perfect balance pinch point, and a tapered blade provides additional safety.
At 7 inches the blade is a little smaller than a conventional chef’s knife but this provides maneuverability and speed without sacrificing safety or style.
The classic pakkawood handle is ergonomic and comfortable.
- Ample knuckle clearance on the blade allows greater safety.
- Full tang makes for perfect balance
- Etched pattern on blade can cause bacteria issues and isn’t real damascus steel.
The 8 inch blade is heat treated to retain sharpness and durability for a lifetime, and runs all the way through the handle to provide a full-tang design that provides sturdiness.
The blade is enclosed in a rosewood handle which has a natural strength as well as polished shine.
Gyuto, which directly translates to ‘beef sword’ is a staple of Asian kitchen culture.
It’s length allows long strokes which allows you to achieve thin and sharp cuts.
- Single bevel knife edge makes for accurate and precise cutting
- Gyuto knives are designed specifically for chefs.
- Some users suggest the knife is on the heavier side.
Made with Japanese steel to assure high quality, this offers a great cutting experience for both the professional and home cook.
This knife's curved spine allows you to chop and dice with ease, its curved design saves your wrist from unnecessary and inefficient movement that could cause wrist strain over a long period of time.
The blade has a Rockwell hardness rating of 58-60 setting it apart from its competitors.
A special sharpening process of using rubber and burlap to have and burr the edge of the knife enables extra sharp cuts.
- 58+ HRC sets it apart from the competition in terms of hardness.
- Full tang helps balance potential weight issues
- Some customers report the handle is cheaply made.
This blade is made from German steel that has been liquid nitrogen cooled to create an extremely sharp and hard knife, forming a Rockwell hardness rating of 52+ as well as rust resistance and razor edge sharpness.
The blade is sleekly designed and utilizes traditional Japanese pakkawood for both ideal comfort and balance when cutting.
- Liquid Nitrogen Cooling provides the blade with an extra level of sharpness
- Santoku design means this knife is applicable across the kitchen.
- Blade is a little thicker than normal Santoku knives.
How To Clean A High Carbon Steel Knife
Carbon steel knives and blades are pretty prone to rust and oxidation, in exchange for the blades sharp quality maintenance must be reciprocated.
If you want your blade to stay sharp you need to be sure you don't put it in the dishwasher.
If your blade has a wooden hilt or handle then this will expand when submerged in water for a long period of time.
This is the main reason for not putting chef’s knives in the dishwasher.
If your handle expands and your blade is also on full tang it could affect the balance and design of your knife.
The most efficient way to keep your knife maintained and also clean is to clean while you cook.
What this means is that when using the knife you should also have by your side a soft and damp cloth that you can use to wipe the knife clean after use.
While tedious, this will keep your blade from rusting and oxidizing.
This is especially good practice when cooking with acidic foods such as lemons and tomatoes, to name a few.
The acid will potentially damage the carbon steel.
What is often mistaken for rust or oxidization, but is actually beneficial, is what is known as ‘patina’ ; this is a green or blue coating of chemicals such as oxides, carbonates, and sulfides.
Did you know that the Statue of Liberty was once bronze colored?
Now, as time has passed, the Statue of Liberty is now naturally covered in patina which has colored it the notorious turquoise color you recognize.
Patina forms a sort of seal on your knife which makes it less likely to rust over time.
What Makes High Carbon Steel Knives Different?
Carbon steel is composed of iron and 0.12 - 2.00 percent carbon.
High carbon steels are hard and durable, the material’s property makes the knife particularly good at resisting abrasion, retaining shape and means the material can withstand a lot of force without bending or changing shape.
One negative is that hard metals such as high carbon steel are brittle and when placed under extreme duress could cause them to crack and bend.
The kitchen professionals tend to prefer high carbon steel knives as they can be made extremely sharp and are generally more resistant to wear and tear than other knife materials.
In addition to being made very sharp, high carbon steel knives will retain this sharpness for a longer time as a result of their brittleness.
This means, upon impact, and on a very small scale, the knife's edge will break on impact rather than bend and deform as stainless steel would, leaving your knife sharpener for longer.
While having the ability to make your knife sharper for longer, there is a certain drawback that comes with this feature.
Firstly, to achieve this level of sharpness you need to care and maintain your knife regularly.
Oiling after use to prevent rust, rinsing in salty or acidic water, sharpening with a whetstone.
All these potentially tedious practices will mean that your knife could potentially be the best in the kitchen.
Although, this means that even cheaper high carbon steel knives can be sharpened and maintained to last a lifetime.
If a little tender loving care doesn’t frighten you, then consider these tips and products for the best high carbon steel knife on the market.
What Is Japanese Steel And Why Does It Matter?
Japanese steel is considered high quality in the world of knife forgery.
The forgery of Japanese steel results in a higher carbon content which naturally makes it more suitable for these knives.
German steel is the most common alternative as is heavier, thicker and generally more robust.
Japanese steel is recognized to hold an edge better than German, stainless steel, knives.
However, as Japanese steel is higher in carbon, it also makes the knife less durable and more brittle if correct maintenance practices aren’t followed.
What Should You Not Cut With Carbon Steel?
It is not recommended that you cut through hard items such as bones, frozen food, coconuts, or use the knife for non cooking related activities.
Avoid acidic foods as much as possible as they will potentially damage the knife's coating and lead to rust.
Always wipe your knife down after using it with acidic foods.
How Long Do High Carbon Steel Knives Last?
The durability and length of life for carbon steel knives depends on whether you follow the correct maintenance practices, such as cleaning and sealing with oil.
Some chefs wipe their knives with olive oil to seal and season the knife with a protective coating.
When cared for properly high carbon steel knives can last a lifetime and still be sharpened to a fine degree.
What Does Santoku Mean?
Santoku is a Japanese term used to describe a certain shape of knife and its functionality.
Santoku translates to ‘three virtues’ which seems to refer to cutting, slicing and chopping.
The term is from Japanese culinary culture: a Gyuto knife is used to cut meat, a Nakiri knife is used to cut vegetables, and a Deba knife is used to cut fish.
Created in the 1940s, the Santoku knife was engineered to be the multipurpose knife within the Japanese kitchen.
The Santoku’s blade and hilt are engineered to be perfectly balanced with each other for multifunctionality and easy use.
Should I Buy A Knife Set Or A Single Knife?
Knife sets are a great purchase for new homeowners, or those looking to overhaul their old knife collection.
Knife sets can provide great value and can come with additional tools such as scissors and knife sharpeners, which can help maintain the knives too.
If you purchase a single knife the amount of money you chose to spend will translate directly into the quality of that one knife, whereas if you buy a set you are naturally paying more money for quantity.
Some people prefer their knife to have multifunctionality and universal use around the kitchen, such as a santoku knife.
Generally knives between 6 - 8 inches have the most universal application and versatility, they can be used for chopping, slicing, and dicing most kitchen materials with ease.
There are thousands of knives on the market for many different uses, but ultimately what knife you buy, and what material it is made from, completely depends on your situation and proficiency in the kitchen.
Regardless of your culinary skill, having a good knife can make hard tasks easy and make your life easier in the kitchen.
If you ask multiple chefs what they are looking for in a knife they will give you a million different and context specific answers.
The carbon steel knife is one that requires a diligent level of maintenance but rewards its user with the ability to be able to make that knife extremely sharp.
This makes the carbon steel knife a unique experience but, for the right person, can be a rewarding and satisfying experience.