Best German Knives and Brands (Ultimate Quality)


German knives have a pretty good reputation. In fact, Germany as a whole has a reputation for precision engineering, so it’s no surprise this is reflected in the knives which are produced there.

In this article, I’m going to show you the best German knife brands, and some of the best chef’s knives and knife sets they produce. You won’t find any fakes here, all these brands manufacture their knives in Germany, using German steel.

Be wary of other (often lower cost) brands that appear to be ‘German’. Many of these brands only have a base in Germany, with manufacturing being outsourced to cheap labor countries, a perfect example being Mercer, a German-sounding company that use German steel but who actually produce their knives in Taiwan.

You’ll find none of that trickery here, these are truly German brands, who make their knives in the German knife-making heartland of Solingen.

Best German Knife Brands

Here’s my list of the best German brands. It contains the three best, in my opinion. Although I challenge anyone to argue that these are not the three premier knife brands in Germany. I’m yet to hear a satisfactory argument against them.

Best German Knife Brands
Wüsthof (View on Amazon)
ZWILLING (View on Amazon)
Messermeister (View on Amazon)

To view each brand in a lot more detail, and to see some of my specific knife and knife set recommendations from each brand, check out the rest of the article below.

But first, I’ll review some frequently asked questions about German knives.

German Knives FAQs

What Is So Special About German Steel?

The steel used for German knives is probably the most important factor of their success.

German knives focus is mainly on durability, and that’s the key for their steel. German steel tends to be slightly soft, relatively to other steel that is. What that means is it has a bit more flexibility, that flexibility allows it to withstand the wear and tear of a kitchen without much risk of cracking or chipping along the blade edge.

For the chemists among you, the main element which makes steel hard or soft is its carbon content. German steel tends to be around 0.55% carbon, whilst high carbon knives are 1%+

The other quality German steel has is that it’s generally very high-quality stainless steel. That means it’s very resistant to rust. In fact, it’s actually extremely hard to make a decent German steel rust at all. You could leave it bathing in water for a day and it generally won’t rust, although I wouldn’t recommend trying it.

Again, for the chemists, that stainless steel quality is thanks to a high amount of chromium in the steel. A decent German steel usually has between 14 – 16% chromium and anywhere in that range can be considered a high-quality stainless steel. That high chromium content is also why German knives are so bright and shiny.

One of the best German steels for knife making is X50CrMoV15. All the knives in this article are made from it and you’ll find it used a lot in quality western-style knives. Its carbon content is 0.55% and it contains 15% chromium.

Are German Knives Worth The Money?

German knives are easily worth the money. If you compare high-quality knives from any part of the world you’ll find that German knives are actually quite reasonably priced.

You are likely to pay more for a high-quality Japanese knife, and even good American-made knives will be a similar price.

A good chef’s knife will generally cost you between $100 – $200, and that’s going to be the same no matter what part of the world you get it from. It’s not really where the knife is from which demands the price, it’s the quality of the design, materials and builds.

Why are German Knives The Best?

People like German knives because of two main reasons:

  • Durability
  • Design

Quality German knives are among the most durable in the world. That means a decent one will last decades. If you bought, say, a Wüsthof Classic chef’s knife and took good care of it, I guarantee you would never need to replace it, it could absolutely outlast you.

The second factor is the design. The classic western shape of a wide sided blade and curved blade edge is what most Americans and Europeans have come to expect from a knife. It’s what we know and it’s fundamental to the rock chopping technique of food preparation most people use.

Do Chefs Prefer German or Japanese Knives?

German knives are made for durability, and so generally chef’s will prefer German knives. They are easier to maintain and often you can have one knife for multiple different kitchen tasks.

Of course, not every chef will prefer German. Obviously, those cooking Japanese-type cuisine will prefer Japanese knives, but there is a good reason why, more than just bias and loyalty.

Japanese knives use harder steel, which generally makes them more brittle and thus less durable, but it also allows for a finer cutting edge, allowing for more precise cuts.

Precision cooking like you get in Japanese cuisine or at many high-end restaurants, does demand a higher precision tool. Japanese knives tend to have a much greater variety, with specific knives being made for very specific tasks.

German knives are made to be durable and perform a range of tasks. Most chefs therefore prefer German, but it really depends on the type of food you’re cooking.

Wüsthof

Wüsthof is one of the most well-known and largest knife producers in the world. It has a history dating back over 200 years and is based in Germany.

They specialize in classic western design. These designs are tried and tested, as a result, they are comfortable to use and well balanced, vital if you’re a chef preparing food for hours on end.

Wüsthof knives are also well-known for their durability. They always use good quality stainless steel and have a good amount of flex.

That means the knife won’t rust unless it’s treated extremely badly. In professional environments that is vital as knives will constantly be exposed to varying moisture levels and different temperatures.

A Wüsthof knife can last for decades, even if it’s not looked after particularly well, which makes them a fantastic tool for professional chefs that just need a ‘workhorse’ knife that they can rely on.

My Wüsthof Knife Recommendations

Wüsthof Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

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Wüsthof Classic 8 Inch Review Table

Country of manufactureGermany
Steel typeX50CrMoV15 (Very durable German steel)
Rockwell hardnessHRC 57
Factory edge15 degrees (double bevel)
Handle materialPOM (thermoplastic)
ProsOne of the most durable knives available

This is my favorite chef’s knife of any brand. It’s a classic design but it’s perfectly executed.

The steel used is a German steel called X50CrMoV15. You’ll often find this steel used in quality western knives.

The reason for its popularity is because it’s durable. The 15 in the name stands for its 15% Chromium content. Chromium is the element that makes stainless steel resistant to rust and a quantity of 15% makes this a high-quality stainless steel.

The Carbon content is 0.55%, that’s not enough to make it high carbon (I only consider knives above 0.9% at least to be truly high carbon), but the advantage of that is again that it makes the steel more durable, steel with a higher carbon content tends to be more brittle and the 0.55% content is still enough for a 15% cutting edge which is very sharp.

The blade is perfectly curved for rock chopping and goes full tang into the handle, with a full bolster.

The handle is triple-riveted and made from a thermoplastic, making it extremely durable and resistant to temperature change, moisture, and really anything that could harm it in a kitchen environment.

For me, this is the best chef’s knife on the market. It’s ideal for professional chefs but even an eager home cook would find this a great tool to have in the kitchen.

Wüsthof Classic 20-Piece Knife Block Set 

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Wüsthof Classic 20-Piece Knife Block Set Review Table

Country of manufactureGermany
Steel typeX50CrMoV15 (German steel that’s ideal for durability)
Rockwell hardness57
Factory edge15 degrees (double bevel)
Handle materialPOM (thermoplastic)
ProsDurable materials and traditional design

This incredible knife set from Wüsthof has a comprehensive set of knives using very durable materials.

The steel used for the blade is a German stainless steel called X50CrMo15. This is a steel frequently used for quality knife blades as its high carbon content makes the blade strong, with great edge retention, and the high chromium content makes it very resistant to rust and corrosion, increasing the durability.

The handles are all made using a thermoplastic called POM. It’s a material often used for quality, western-style knives as it’s very durable and resistant to the type of moisture and heat fluctuations you would expect in a busy kitchen.

This huge knife set will equip you with pretty much any type of knife you’re going to need, and because Wüsthof knives are specifically built for durability, you can fully expect this set to last for decades, even with heavy use.

Not everyone will be able to splash out $1,000+ on a knife set, but if you can then you actually end up with a very good value for money per knife, especially given that Wüsthof are widely considered as the best manufacturer of western-style knives.

ZWILLING

ZWILLING are popular with professional chefs for all the same reasons as Wüsthof. They generally use very classic design, tried and tested to perform in professional environments.

The materials they use are chosen for durability, these knives last and can take a hell of a lot of pressure without chipping, bending or having the handle warp in high temperatures like many other knives.

These two brands are so popular with professional chefs because they are reliable, they have built their name on reliability and just like in any profession, chefs need reliable tools.

There are sharper knives, there are knives that use a higher quality stainless steel, but both Wüsthof and ZWILLING JA Henckels have found a great balance of a highly reliable, durable knife, that has a sharp enough edge for professional kitchens but is also tough enough to withstand the pressure that comes in that environment.

My ZWILLING Knife Recommendations 

The ZWILLING Pro S 8 Inch

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ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Pro S 8 Inch Review Table

Country of manufactureGermany
Steel typeX50CrMoV15 (Very durable German steel)
Rockwell hardnessHRC 57
Factory edge15 degrees (double bevel)
Handle materialPOM (thermoplastic)
ProsDurable materials and classic design

Zwilling is one of the world’s giants of German-style chef’s knife manufacture. They make knives that are classic in design and this 8-inch chef’s knife certainly has that traditional western style design.

The steel used is a friodur steel using X50CrMoV15. This is the process of ice-hardening steel by putting it through a four-step process in which it is frozen to -94°F.

This process makes steel exceptionally hard and corrosion-resistant. All these features combine to make an extremely durable blade that can be sharpened to a very fine angle and has fantastic edge retention.

Talking of the edge, the blade is sharpened to a 15-degree angle which is pretty much as good as you can get on a western-style knife and it will feel razor-sharp.

The blade has a full bolster and full tang going into the handle. The handle is very classic in design with rounded edges so no single part digs into your hand. It is triple riveted and black in color and made from a thermoplastic called Polyoxymethylene, this makes it very resistant to any water damage or temperature changes and adds to the durability of the knife.

The balance between the blade and the handle is perfect and although it comes with a full bolster and full tang the knife doesn’t feel particularly heavy. It looks like a professional chef’s knife as it uses some of the best materials and knife making techniques you’ll find in western style knives.

ZWILLING Pro 10-Piece Set

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ZWILLING Pro 10-Piece Set Review Table

Country of manufactureGermany
Steel typeX50CrMoV15 (Very durable German steel)
Rockwell hardnessHRC 57
Factory edge15 degrees (double bevel)
Handle materialPOM (thermoplastic)
ProsDurable materials and lightweight

The steel used for their Pro set is a friodur steel using X50CrMoV15. This is the process of ice-hardening steel by putting it through a four-step process in which it is frozen to -94°F.

This process makes steel harder and corrosion-resistant. These features combine to make an extremely durable blade that can be sharpened to a fine angle and has fantastic edge retention.

Talking of the edge, the blades are sharpened to a 15-degree angle which is pretty much as good as you can get on a western-style knife and it will feel razor-sharp.

The blades have a half bolster and full tang going into the handle. The handle is very classic in design with rounded edges so no single part digs into your hand. It is triple riveted and black in color and made from a thermoplastic called POM, this makes it very resistant to any water damage or temperature changes and adds to the durability of the knife.

The balance between the blades and the handles is perfect and although each knife has a half bolster and full tang the knives don’t feel particularly heavy. These are knives purpose-built for comfort and durability, both essential qualities in the professional kitchen.

Messermeister

Messermeister Knives are produced in the German city of Solingen, where they have been produced since their launch in 1985.

Messermeister is German for Knife (Messer) Maser (Meister), they have always had a focus on innovative design whilst still being influenced by German classics.

Bernd Dressler, the founder of Messermeister was the first western knife maker to introduce a bolsterless heel to his knife range, a trend that is found throughout western knives today.

In the world of knives, Messermeister knives actually aren’t that expensive. European knives never tend to reach the lofty prices of other cultures (like Japanese knives) because their steel focuses more on durability than hardness, and so the raw materials cost much less.

Nevertheless, it’s the Oliva Elite range which really makes Messermeister one of the best European brands, and a knife from the Oliva Elite range will cost you a little more than a standard Wüsthof or ZWILLING, but my-oh-my are they beautiful!

My Messermeister Knife Recommendation

Messermeister Oliva Elite 8 Inch

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Messermeister Oliva Elite 8 Inch Review Table

Country of manufactureGermany
Steel typeX50CrMoV15 (Very durable German steel)
Rockwell hardnessHRC 57
Factory edge15 degrees (double bevel)
Handle materialOlive wood
ProsDurable materials and incredibly beautiful design

This Messermeister Elite 8 Inch takes its design from the classic western chef’s knife style but incorporates a stunning olive wood handle instead of opting for the traditional riveted black handle.

Messermeister makes a range of terrific knives, and many are very classic like their elite 8 Inch knife with a black handle which you can see on Amazon here. But I just love this Oliva version of their Elite line.

The steel used for the blade is a german stainless steel called X50CrMoV15. As you would imagine it is very durable and resistant to rust and corrosion as well as having great edge retention.

The cutting edge is very well curved allowing for an easy rock chopping motion. The blade has a partial bolster connecting the handle and a full tang so it’s a very strong knife overall.

The handle is made from Italian olive wood, shaped into a classic ergonomic style, it is well rounded, comfortable and absolutely beautiful.

Olive wood is not as durable as pakka wood or thermoplastic handles so I would advise that you take a bit better care of cleaning this knife, don’t leave it soaking in water at don’t put it in the dishwasher (it is actually advertised as dishwasher safe but honestly I would strongly recommend against that).

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