Best Kitchen Knife Brands From Around The World


There are thousands of kitchen knife brands to choose from. It’s all a little overwhelming and honestly, 90% of those brands don’t really deserve your attention.

It’s not that those 90% are bad, they serve a purpose. They just all sell quite similar products, using relatively cheap materials (often Chinese steel) and are inexpensive. The issue is that the build quality and durability of them is generally pretty poor, you usually get what you pay for.

What we care about are the best brands, the brands with a relentless focus on making quality knives. Knives that will go on to last decades, knives that might even outlast you and can be handed down to future generations still in perfect working order.

Those are the types of brands we’re looking for, and in this article I’ll show you some of the best brands from around the world.

At the very least this article will introduce you to the types of knives different parts of the world offer, and what you can expect to pay for a high-quality knife.

Summary Table

I’ve chosen three great brands from Europe, Japan and America. There’s a range of prices, styles and materials within these selections, but each of these brands offers top quality.

European knife brandsJapanese knife brandsAmerican knife brands
Wüsthof (View on Amazon)Shun (View on Amazon)Ferrum (View on Amazon)
ZWILLING (View on Amazon)Miyabi (View on Amazon)Lamson (View on Amazon)
Messermeister (View on Amazon)Yoshihiro (View on Amazon)Kramer (View on Amazon)

To learn more about each brand and see some of their best knives, check out my detailed descriptions below.

Best European Knife Brands

Europe is the central hub for good-old-fashioned western-style chef’s knives. The type of knife you’ll see in most TV cooking shows. A wide sided blade with a curved edge is ideal for rock-chopping.

They are usually made with a focus on durability, to be used in busy kitchens. The most iconic European knife is the classic Chef’s Knife, which is able to perform 90% of kitchen tasks and so needs to be able to withstand the pressures.

This style has mainly been influenced by French and German knife design. Unfortunately for French knives, the three best I’ve selected are actually all German, they just do it better.

Best European Knife Brands For General Use

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 German.

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 Recommendation – The 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.

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 Recommendation – The 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.

Best High-end European Knife Brand

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 – The 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).

Best Japanese Knife Brands

Japanese knives are known for one thing above all others, sharpness. The reason quality Japanese knives usually cost more than European knives is because the steel they use generally contains a much higher carbon content.

The extra carbon makes the steel harder, allowing for a finer cutting edge and thus a sharper knife. The downside to increasing the carbon content is that the steel becomes more brittle, so you do need to give Japanese knives plenty of care.

They aren’t exactly going to crumble away in your hand, they are still solid pieces of steel. But they are more prone to chipping along the blade edge, so you should be extra careful when preparing food that contains hard substances, like bone or large fruit stones like you get in avocados.

Best Japanese Knife Brands For General Use

Shun

Shun are masters of combining the two elements of strength and durability. They are a Japanese company that manufactures their knives in the Japanese city of Seki.

What makes them particularly popular is that they use their own Japanese steel to strike a balance between strength, flexibility and rust resistance.

The Shun Classic range uses their own Japanese steel VG-MAX. Not all Shun knives are made from VG-MAX, it’s their own specially formulated steel with the aim of VG-MAX being an improvement on the (already very good) VG-10 steel.

VG-MAX is a fantastic steel. It’s been made with a Japanese influence in mind but also with a strong focus on appealing to Western markets.

That means it’s got a fantastic balance between strength and durability.

We can see why when we look at VG-MAX’s levels of Carbon, Vanadium and Chromium.

This is a high-Carbon steel, with a Carbon content of 1.1%. Often, such a high Carbon steel will be more prone to chips in the blade. As materials become harder they usually become more brittle; however, that’s not quite the case for VG-MAX.

To understand why we’ll look at the Vanadium content first. It’s pretty high, at 0.3%, that’s not as high as the popular german steel X50CrMoV15’s Vanadium content but for a high Carbon blade, it compares very well.

As a result, VG-MAX is more resistant to wear than most other high Carbon steels.

The Chromium content is higher than X50CrMoV15 at 16%. That makes VG-MAX one of the best stainless steel on the market for resisting rust.

Those two factors make this a very durable high Carbon steel.

My Shun Knife Recommendation – The Shun Classic 8 Inch Chef’s Knife

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Shun Classic 8 Inch Review Table

Country of manufactureJapan
Steel typeVG-MAX (Durable and hard Japanese steel)
Carbon content1.2%
Rockwell hardnessHRC 61
Factory edge16 degrees (double bevel)
Handle materialPakkawood (wood/resin composite)
ProsVery sharp and extremely rust resistant

This is their signature chef’s knife, probably the most popular knife they produce. It uses VG-MAX steel, produced exclusively by Shun in Japan.

VG-MAX has a great combination of strength and durability. Its carbon content is high, at 1.1%, but its chromium content is also outstanding, at a very lofty 16%.

That makes it a very high standard stainless steel whilst still remaining a high carbon content, and is this mix that Shun as experts at.

The blade is full tang into a Pakkawood handle, a resin composite wood often used in Japanese knives for its great balance of strength and durability.

It’s a brilliant knife and is extremely resistant to rust. It’s one of the most durable Japanese knives you’ll find.

Miyabi

Miyabi produces some seriously beautiful knives. They are a Japanese company manufacturing their knives in Japan using top quality Japanese steel.

They often combine Western-inspired ergonomics with authentic Japanese super-steel blade styles. They produce quality knives that are unarguably stunning in design.

Miyabi knives are produced in the Japanese knives capital Seki City. That’s the same palace as Shun knives are made.

There is a reason Miyabi merges the western and eastern knife styles so well. They are owned by ZWILLING, the German company I featured earlier on this list. Miyabi knives are still manufactured in Japan, using Japanese techniques and materials, but that ZWILLING influence has resulted in a knife design that merges the two cultures fantastically well.

My Miyabi Knife Recommendation – The Fusion 8 Inch Chef’s Knife

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Miyabi Fusion 8 Inch Chef’s Knife Review Table

Country of manufactureJapan
Steel typeVG-10 (Durable and hard Japanese steel)
Rockwell hardnessHRC 60
Factory edge12 degrees (double bevel)
Handle materialPOM (thermoplastic)
ProsVery sharp and extremely rust resistant

The steel used is a quality Japanese steel called VG-10. It offers a good balance between durability and hardness.

VG-10 is a high carbon steel with a 1% carbon content, that makes the blade hard and allows for a sharper edge. The 15% chromium content is more than enough to make the steel very rust-resistant, increasing its durability.

The handle is triple-riveted and made from a quality thermoplastic material called POM. That means it too is very durable and resistant to all the temperature and moisture variations you get in a professional, and home kitchen.

The Miyabi Fusion knife fuses Western-inspired ergonomics with authentic Japanese super-steel blade styles. It’s a quality knife and unarguably stunning in design.

Best High-end Japanese Knife Brand

Here comes the top-dog. One of the most beautiful knife brands in the world, producing some of the sharpest knives.

Many will disagree with me of course. Choosing just one Japanese brand as the best producer of knives is always going to be very contentious.

So you may disagree, and that’s fine. In the world of ‘The Dude’, that’s just like, your opinion man.

Yoshihiro

Yoshihiro are an incredible Japanese knife manufacturer. Of all the knives in this article, Yoshihiro makes the most traditional and classic Japanese knives.

As a result, they are super high in carbon content, making them the hardest knives on this list, on the other hand, some of their range only a tiny amount of chromium, so you really need to take good care of them to stop them from rusting.

My Yoshihiro Knife Recommendation – The 8.25 Inch High Carbon Gyuto

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Yoshihiro 8.25 Inch High Carbon Gyuto Review Table

Country of manufactureJapan
Steel typeJapanese Blue High Carbon Steel
Carbon content1.35%
Rockwell hardnessHRC 63-64
Factory edge12 Degrees (double bevel)
Handle materialRosewood
ProsSuper sharp with great edge retention and superb materials

It’s not easy picking just one Yoshihiro knife to recommend, every single knife of theirs is top quality.

I’ve chosen this Gyuto because it’s so classily Japanese, both in design and with a super high carbon content steel. But it’s also a relatively affordable member of the Yoshihiro range. Some of the other knives they offer can be double or triple the price of this one.

The steel used in this Gyuto knife (the Japanese equivalent to a chef’s knife) is Japanese blue high carbon steel. It’s got a carbon content of 1.35%, which is the highest carbon content of these three chef’s knives.

The chromium content is just 0.5%, which means it has very little protection against rust. Keeping a high carbon blade from rusting is very possible indeed, Japanese chefs have been cooking without stainless steel knives for centuries (as have we until recently), it’s just a bit more unusual for us now.

But ultimately, steel can only rust if it’s left wet, or in a very moist environment. If you simply wipe the blade down dry after every use then it won’t rust.

The benefit of such a high carbon steel is that the blade is incredibly hard and so can be sharpened to an extremely fine edge. This Yoshihiro knife can be sharpened to an edge between 8 – 10 degrees. That’s around twice as sharp as western knives, which usually have around a 15 to 20-degree edge.

The blade goes into a hexagonal Rosewood handle, exquisite in its design. 

This Yoshihiro Gyuto is a fantastic example of a traditional, high carbon Japanese knife. A little more care needs to be taken of its maintenance, but in return, you’ll get the use of the sharpest knife you have ever, and most likely will ever use.

Best American Knife Brands

European and Japanese knives are super popular in the USA, they both have loads of heritage and contain some of the worlds largest brand names.

But America does have its own brands that are producing top-quality knives. And what’s also great is they also usually have a really distinct design style.

Let’s take a look.

Best American Knife Brands For General Use

Ferrum

Ferrum is probably a name you’ve not heard. They aren’t that big of a company, but I just love the design of their knives. They are big, bold and truly American.

Located in Oregon, US, Ferrum uses American steel to create quality American knives. Their products are hand-crafted and made by experienced professionals who certainly know their way around a knife.

Ferrum employs a technique more commonly used in the medical device industry to forge the steel for their blades. They use a method of mixing different types of powdered metals and shaping the blade in a similar fashion to injection moulding.

They claim to be the first cutlery producer in the world to use this method and it results in a sharper edge with better edge retention.

My Ferrum Knife Recommendation – The Estate 8 Inch

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Ferrum Estate 8 Inch Review Table

Country of manufactureUSA (Oregon)
Rockwell hardnessHRC 61
Factory edge16 degrees (double bevel)
Handle materialMaple wood
ProsBeautiful design and classic shape

The blade edge is beautifully curved and perfect for rock chopping, the blade has a partial bolster and full tang going into the very special, maple wood handle. The maple wood brings a great aesthetic quality to the already attractive blade and it’s a smart choice of wood, being strong and durable. The Estate line is certainly that and it’s known as the ‘workhorse’ line of Ferrum’s knife range. The handle has also been well rounded so it feels very comfortable and sturdy to hold.

There is a generously sized heel on the blade, leaving plenty of room for your knuckles and combining well with the curved blade edge to make this knife ideal for rock chopping.

This is a truly beautiful knife made with some unique but high-quality materials, it’s super sharp, well designed and offers something a bit more unique than the knives from the larger brands.

Lamson

Lamson began producing kitchen products way back in 1837, so they certainly have some good history.

Their knives are beautifully designed, and they have a very interesting range. They are designed and manufactured in the USA at the Lamson factory in Massachusetts.

If you’re looking for a bit of American history at a reasonable price, you can’t do much better than a Lamson knife.

My Lamson Knife Recommendation – The Fire Forged 8-inch Chef Knife

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Lamson Fire Forged 8-inch Chef Knife Review Table

Country of manufactureUSA (Massachusetts)
Steel type4116
Rockwell hardnessHRC 56
Factory edge16 degrees (double bevel)
Handle materialAcrylic
ProsBeautiful handle design

This 8-inch chef’s knife by Lamson is a great example of the cool type of designs they create which makes them unique.

We have to start with the hand, which is made from acrylic, allowing them to create this beautiful fire style design. In truth, this material will not be as durable as the purpose-made thermoplastics seen in European knives, but the trade-off is that you get a beautiful product instead of just a practical one.

The handle is triple-riveted and has a full tang, so it’s going to have plenty of strength and will easily be durable enough for home kitchen use.

The blade has a full bolster and is nicely curved at the edge, the 4116 steel used provides good durability. It has around 0.55% Carbon and 15% Chromium which is pretty similar to X50CrMoV15 steel, found in most European knives.

They are bold, they are beautiful and they are made right on the American East Coast in Massachusetts. What’s not to like?

Best High-end American Knife Brand

This one is pretty easy. There is one big name in the American knife world that stands above all others. Bob Kramer.

He had to be on this list, but it is worth mentioning, not all Kramer knives are made in the USA. The collaboration he has with ZWILLING sees many Kramer knives produced in ZWILLING factories in Seki, Japan.

Obviously, there are ones he still manufacturers in America, but they are a little harder to come by.

Kramer

The godfather of American knives. One of the most well-known bladesmiths in the world, Bob Kramer produces beautiful knives, with many only being available at auction.

So this one comes with a little caveat. Of course, I’m not going to miss Kramer off a list of best American knife brands, but the American made ones are in very limited supply and only usually available at auction.

Check out kramerknives.com/knives/how-to-buy/ for more information on how to sign up for an auction if you’re interested.

Otherwise, there are Kramer designed knives that are always available. With these ones he has collaborated with ZWILLING and manufactures the knives in their factories. As a result, they are produced in Seki, Japan.

That means that not all Kramer knives are ‘Made in America’, but hey, it’s still very much an American brand.

My Kramer Knife Recommendation – The ZWILLING 8 Inch Damascus Chef’s Knife

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Kramer ZWILLING 8 Inch Damascus Chef’s Knife Review Table

Country of manufactureJapan (Seki)
Steel typeSG2 super-steel
Rockwell hardnessHRC 63
Factory edge15 degrees (double bevel)
Handle materialMicarta
ProsDesigned by one of the world greatest bladesmiths

The very best Kramer knives you can get tend to be at auction via their website. Check out kramerknives.com/knives/how-to-buy/ for more information.

But you can get amazing Kramer designed knives any time through his collaboration with ZWILLING.

One of the very best examples of that collaboration is this Kramer ZWILLING 8 Inch Damascus Chef’s Knife. It has that classic Kramer design, with a wide blade, chunky handle and slight arch along the spine of the blade which follows onto the handle.

It’s made in ZWILLING’s factory at Seki, Japan. It’s one of the greatest (arguably the greatest) knife making cities in the world and they employ some serious telnet to make the Kamer series.

The SG2 super-steel used for this knife is made in the damascus style by folding the steel multiple times during the forging process, that’s what creates the beautiful pattern along the blade.

The SG2 steel has a carbon content lying between 1.25% and 1.45%, which makes it super hard steel allowing for a sharp edge with great edge retention.

The chromium content is between 14 – 16%, again, even at the lower end of that scale it can still be regarded as a high-quality stainless steel, so rusting won’t be an issue.

It’s a beautiful knife, designed by America’s finest bladesmith and hand manufactured in Japan’s greatest knife making city. It’s truly one of the world’s greatest knives.

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