Best Cheap Kitchen Knives
Published on By Maralyn Edid
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Miracle Blade III Review
From $20 Best
Blades in this 11-piece set are stainless steel, rust-resistant, and ergonomically designed to cut through bone, grizzle and cartilage; the set includes a filet knife, boning knife, curved chopper , steak knives, scissors, a wood storage block and wood cutting board. Users like the light weight of the knives and durability of their sharp edges.
The Miracle Blade III 11-Piece Set (starting at $20, Amazon), often advertised on TV, is the best knife set for meat lovers on a small budget. The ergonomic design of these unique-looking knives makes them well suited for cutting through bone, cartilage, and grizzle. The stainless steel, rust-resistant blades extend full-tang into the handle, which enhances their strength. One feature that distinguishes the Miracle Blade III set from other low-cost knives is that the blades are not serrated. The set includes four steak knives, one filet knife, one paring knife, one chop n' scoop cleaver, one rock n' chop cleaver, two slicers, and a pair of kitchen shears. Handles are plastic and feature a patented grip to help keep the handle centered in your hand while cutting.
According to Miracle Blade III reviews on Amazon, this cutlery set scores big points for sharpness; one user reports that Miracle blades cut better than expensive, high-end knives that they own. These knives don't appeal only to carnivores. Reviews on Buzzillions and Target report they make quick work chopping up vegetables like potatoes and carrots, stay centered in your hand, and cut straight slices. More plaudits come from reviews on bestcovery.com, where this knife set wins "Best Knife Set under $40" and is touted for sharpness, versatility, and variety; some consumer reviews on the site, however, aren't less enthusiastic. Despite all the high praise these knives receive, some Miracle Blade III reviews complain about rusting, particularly if you put them in the dishwasher.
Take care of these knives -- hand wash and dry them immediately -- and they'll go a long way. This set is a lot of bang for not too many bucks.
Ginsu 14 Piece Review
From $30 Best
The Ginsu International Traditions 14- piece stainless steel knife set comes with six serrated kitchen knives, six serrated steak knives, kitchen shears, and a natural hardwood storage block. The b lades are commercial-quality Japanese 420J2 stainless steel that extend, full-tang, into triple-riveted Bakelite handles. Users tout these Ginsu knives for their sharpness and precision performance on the cutting board.
Knives are only as good as the steel they're made with, and for under $35, knife sets reviewers say you won't find better quality steel than the commercial-grade Japanese 420J2 steel in the Ginsu International Traditions 14-Piece Knife Set (starting at $32, Amazon). More than 130 frugal cooks give this extra-sharp set five stars in Ginsu International Traditions reviews on Amazon for its precise cutting, durability, weight, look, and feel.
Ginsu International Traditions reviews on Bestcovery are equally enthusiastic, awarding this cutlery set best in class. The Ginsu 14-piece set receives an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 in cutlery sets reviews on Buzzillions, where more than a few reviewers comment on the outstanding sturdiness of these knives. One user even gives these knives points for cutting right through bone, and another user praises the strength of the kitchen shears that come with the set.
The Ginsu International Traditions set includes a 3.5" paring knife, 5" utility knife, 5.5" boning knife, 7" Santoku knife (sort of like a small, narrow cleaver), 8" chef's knife, 8" slicer, six 4.5" steak knives, and a pair of kitchen shears. The blades on these knives are full-tang (e.g., the metal extends into the handle, which adds strength and durability) and stamped. They are also serrated, and unlike other sets with serrated edges, the Ginsu International Traditions knives generally garner rave reviews for their ability to cut through everything from vegetables to steak with ease.
With minimal complaints and mostly glowing reviews, you'll definitely get plenty of bang for your buck with this set. Bottom line: The Ginsu International Traditions knives are the closest you'll get to professional quality for a budget price.
Chicago Cutlery Cabrera Review
From $37 Good
Chicago Cutlery Cabrera 12-Piece Knife Set with Block is a full-tang knives set featuring four steak knives, utility knife, Partoku knife, Santoku knife, kitchen shears, and a sharpening steel; the handles are white polymer. Users give these knives points for their handsome appearance and the weight and strength of the forged, high-carbon stainless steel blades, and particularly like the light weight of the Santoku and Partoku knives.
Chicago Cutlery usually makes high-priced knives and enjoys a solid reputation for producing sharp, good-looking knife sets. Chicago Cutlery Cabrera 12-Piece reviews say this low-cost knife set lives up to the Chicago Cutlery name but steers clear of the big price tag. It takes third place in the "under $40" category on Bestcovery, where it scores points for the sharpness of the blades. Many users posting reviews on Amazon< give this set a four- or five-star rating, and particularly praise the value for the price, the everyday practicality, and the handsome look. The handles on the Chicago Cutlery Cabrera set (starting at $37) are full-tang (the blade extends into the handle for better strength and durability) and made of white polymer, a feature that has numerous fans on Amazon and a couple of critics on Bestcovery who consider the handles tacky-looking and tough to keep clean.
This set includes a few unusual utensils aside from the more standard 3.5" paring knife, 5" utility knife, 8" bread knife, four (stamped) steak knives, kitchen shears, and increasingly common 7" santoku knife. There is also a 5" Partoku knife, which is a trademarked design that's part santoku knife (akin to a small narrow cleaverand part paring knife, although its size makes the Partoku knife better for chopping and slicing than for paring. These two knives get the most shout outs in Chicago Cutlery Cabrera reviews on Amazon by consumers who say these pieces are very sharp and well-designed. Which brings us to the included 8" sharpening steel, which you can use to keep the forged, high carbon stainless steel blades razor-edged sharp.
For home cooks concerned with the aesthetic quality of knives, this set is a smart budget buy made by a well-respected brand. And i f you follow Chicago Cutlery's advice and wash these knives by hand, they should serve you well a good long time.
Ronco Rocker Review
From $40 Good
The Ronco Rocker Showtime Stainless Steel Stamped 20-Piece Knife Set is a full-tang cutlery set made of high carbon 420J2 stainless steel. It includes among other knives, six steak knives, two paring knives, a cheese knife, a utlity knife, as well as kitchen shears and a wooden storage block that includes a sharpener. Satisfied consumers describe these knives as sturdy, sharp, and durable.
The Ronco Rocker Showtime Stainless Steel Stamped 20-Piece Knife Set (starting at $40, Amazon) may be best-known for its infomercial, but you can also find this set at Walmart. With 20 pieces to choose from, you'd be hard pressed to find a cutlery set for less than $50 with as much variety. No surprise, then, that Ronco Rocker Showtime reviews on the Walmart site comment positively and often about this feature. Durability is another factor that pops up in reviews on Buzzillions, where one consumer writes that these knives have held up for more than six years, even with dishwasher cleaning. But beware, if you're looking for knives that feel heavy in the hand, this inexpensive set is not for you. Some reviews on Walmart cite disappointment with their light weight, an assessment echoed by some consumers posting Ronco Rocker Showtime reviews on Amazon.
The set features a 9" Showtime knife, 9" saw knife, 8" bread/bagel knife, 8" chef's knife, 7" boning knife, 8.5" Ronco Rocker knife, 7" cleaver, 7" sportsman's knife, 6" cheese knife, 4.8" chop & serve knife, 4.8" utility knife, two 3.5" paring knives, six steak knives, kitchen shears, and a wood storage block. The blades are made of high carbon stainless steel and extend, full-tang, into the handles for added strength and durability. As is the case with most good knives, you should hand wash and dry these blades to minimize the chances of rusting.
For durability, sharpness, and versatility, the Ronco Rocker Showtime 20-piece set is a decent deal at a decent price.
Sunbeam 13- Piece Knife Set Review
From $16 Think Twice
The paring knife, utility knife, fruit/vegetable knife, chef's knife and six steak knives in this set have stainless steel, serrated blades that should be hand-washed; the set also features kitchen shears and a pinewood block for storage. Users slam this set for its unappealing appearance, short life span, and poor design.
The Sunbeam 13-Piece set (starting at $16, Amazon) is ultra-cheap, and in this case, Sunbeam 13-Piece reviews say you get what you pay for this set comes with a 3"paring knife, 5"utility knife, 5" fruit/vegetable knife, 8" chef's knife, 7.5" carving knife, kitchen shears, and six 8.5" steak knives. The blades are stamped stainless steel and serrated, and they do not extend full-tang into the handle. The Sunbeam 13-Piece set also comes with a pinewood block that has a non-slip base.
Sunbeam 13-Piece knife set reviews are scarce, but what we found was largely negative even though it scores as "Fifth Best Knife Set Under $40" on Bestcovery.com. Sunbeam describes these knives as "heavy-duty," but home cooks tend to disagree. Sunbeam 13-Piece reviews on Amazon pan the knives for being weak, poorly designed, and lacking in durability. One consumer review complains about the blades not extending into the handle, which may have caused one to break while cutting a piece of cheese and another gripes about knives beginning to rust after just a year of use. Although Sunbeam lists the set as "dishwasher safe," you're probably better off hand washing and immediately drying these knives. The pine block used for storing these knives earns mixed reviews - a few consumers like the look but a review on Buzzillions calls it "tacky looking." One Sunbeam 13-Piece knife set review on Amazon says she can't figure out which knife goes in which slot.
The Sunbeam 13-Piece Knife set may be one of the cheapest cutlery sets around, but consumers suggest it's not even worth its low price, though you might salvage some value if you need a cheap set for a short period of time. You can definitely find a better quality knife set for less than $45 that will last longer and perform better.
Henckels Everedge 13 Review
From $45 Think Twice
The stamped, micro-serrated blades in the stainless steel J.A. Henckels International Everedge 13-Piece knife Set with bonus cheese knife include a chef's knife, tomato knife, six steak knives, and cheese knife with pronged end; the handles are polypropylene and the set also comes with a wood storage block. Many home cooks complain that these knives are flimsy, hard to clean, and not up to Henckels' usual standard.
Although J.A. Henckels makes some of the best knives in the high-priced end of the market, J.A. Henckels International Everedge reviews say this cutlery set falls far short of the brand's usual gold standard. One user posting a review on Amazon attributes the comparatively poor quality of this set's stamped blades to the fact that they're not made in Germany, where hand-forged and expensive Henckels knives originate. Frugal cooks posting reviews on Buzzillions and Amazon express disappointment with the flimsiness of the knives and the difficulty of cleaning the textured, micro-serrated blades. Reviews of J.A. Henckels International Everedge (starting at $45, Amazon) on the Macy's site say food gets trapped and the tiny little points snag sponges and wash cloths.
Another major complaint is the lack of variety in the blade edges. The set comes with a good assortment of knives, including a 2.5" paring knife, 6" utility knife, 8" chef's knife with curved blade, 5" tomato knife, 8" bread knife,6" boning knife, and six 5" steak knives, but all the edges are micro-serrated. Some J.A. Henckels International Everedge reviews on Amazon and Buzzillions say this makes tasks like mincing, peeling, and chopping difficult. Although some home cooks aren't deterred by the serrated edges, others point out that they force you to use a sawing motion, which doesn't work well on cheese, raw meat, or hard raw vegetables; these home cooks would prefer the set included some straight-edged blades, as well. According to reviews on the Macy's site, these knives are also prone to rusting and dull quickly; one consumer review notes that rust spots developed on all the steak knives within six months of use despite having been hand-washed.
If you want J.A. Henckels knives that live up to the brand's high-quality reputation, you'll have to spring for a more expensive model; upmarket Henckels knife sets sell for $125, and counting.
Choosing Kitchen Knives
Professional chefs who need professional-grade kitchen knives rely on internationally acclaimed knives that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. But if you're a regular home cook shopping for the best knives to use in your kitchen, there's no reason to spend big on a cutlery set. According to scores of reviews by consumers, the best cheap kitchen knives feel good in the hand and cut cleanly and easily.
One money-saving tip when shopping for kitchen knives: Don't sacrifice quality for quantity. Indeed, some cooking mavens argue that one top-quality 8-inch chef's knife is all you need for most tasks. Experts at Consumer Reports say four knives in particular -- a chef's knife, slicing knife, utility knife, and paring knife -- are necessary tools for a well-equipped kitchen.
The impact on your wallet will be about the same whether you opt for one high-quality chef's knife or a good cheap set containing a variety of knives. If you decide to spring for a cutlery set, choose one that includes knives you'll actually use. Don't assume a set is a good value simply because it comes with a ton of extra knives. The smarter approach is to buy fewer knives that will perform better over a longer stretch of time.
A knife is essentially an extension of a cook's hand, so experts recommend picking up and holding knives to see if they're a good fit for your hands before buying. A knife can be superbly crafted and receive rave reviews, but if it feels too small, too large, or in some way uncomfortable in your hand, it won't be very useful, regardless of other cooks' experience.
Knife Brands.Many reviewers insist that the best knives are made by German and Japanese companies such as Wusthof, Henckels, and Shun, but don't be fooled by upscale brand names. Henckels makes well-reviewed knives in the high-end price range, but some of its low-end knife sets are dinged in reviews. Still, frugal home cooks can be assured of a good selection of cheap cutlery produced by well-known, well-regarded manufacturers. Ginsu, for example, makes several knife sets that sell for less than $50; ditto for companies such as Ronco, Miracle Blade, and Chicago Cutlery.
Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table
Ginsu 14 Piece Review
Steel Type Japanese 420J2 stainless steel
Number of Knives in Set 14
Kitchen Shears/Scissors Yes
Cutting Board No
|30||Japanese 420J2 stainless steel||14||Yes||No||No|
Miracle Blade III Review
Steel Type Stainless steel, rust-resistant
Number of Knives in Set 11
Kitchen Shears/Scissors Yes
Cutting Board Yes
|20||Stainless steel, rust-resistant||11||Yes||Yes||No|
Ronco Rocker Review
Steel Type High carbon 420J2 stainless steel
Number of Knives in Set 20
Kitchen Shears/Scissors Yes
Cutting Board No
|40||High carbon 420J2 stainless steel||20||Yes||No||Yes|
Chicago Cutlery Cabrera Review
Steel Type Forged, stainless steel
Number of Knives in Set 12
Kitchen Shears/Scissors Yes
Cutting Board No
|37||Forged, stainless steel||12||Yes||No||Yes|
Kitchen Knife Reviews: What We Considered
Although there's consensus among home cooks about the value and usefulness of the best cheap cutlery sets, there's also some divergence in kitchen knife reviews. For any given set of knives, a majority of consumers may rave about sharp edges and ease of cutting, while a few find the knives dull and hard to work with -- or the reverse. Likewise with other performance characteristics, such as durability and tendency to rust. Overall, users are satisfied with the variety offered in the best cheap knife sets and the high quality-to-price ratio.
Blade.A knife is only as good as its blade. These days, most blades are made of carbon steel or stainless steel. Carbon steel knives tend to be sharper than stainless steel, but high humidity and foods high in acid can cause carbon steel blades to rust and discolor, respectively. Kitchen knives made from stainless steel are not as prone to rusting and contain higher amounts of iron and chromium, which helps them resist staining; on the other hand, stainless steel blades are tougher to sharpen.
Another distinction among blades is whether they are "forged" or "stamped." Forged knives, which are generally preferred by serious cooks, are molded by hand using intense heat. They tend to be harder, denser, heavier, and stronger than stamped knives, which are made by machine from a template cutter. Although most high-end, top-rated knives are forged, a number of consumers posting on sites such as Chowhound write that stamped knives can be just as good, and their light weight may be better suited for tasks such as peeling and skinning. Although the blades in cheap knives are usually stamped, some sets contain forged knives.
Handle.Ideally, the knives you buy will be "full tang," which means the metal of the blade extends into the handle. This mode of construction prevents bending and breakage, makes the knife easier to work with, and is likely to lengthen the lifespan of a cheap knife. Some knife handles are made of Bakelite, a hard, heat-resistant, and electrically non-conductive plastic used in a lot of kitchenware. Cheap knives from Miracle Blade are contoured and incorporate a patented design that's supposed to help center them in your hand.
Weight.The weight of a kitchen knife affects its feel in your hand, how you work with it, and how it performs. You'll want a heavier knife for meats and thinner, lightweight knives for slicing and chopping vegetables. Experts say metal handles make knives significantly heavier, so if you're eyeing a knife with such a handle, make sure it won't place unnecessary strain on your wrist or impair your control as you whisk the blade across the cutting board. Excessive weight is rarely a concern with cheap cutlery sets; you may have to step up a few notches in price if you're partial to knives with some heft.
Knife Variety.Despite what some experts say about the joy of cooking with only one all-purpose knife, having a choice of knives is an affordable luxury. Cheap cutlery sets typically come with a dozen or more different knives, ranging from a delicate boning knife to a hefty cleaver to steak knives intended for place settings. If you cut up lots of fruits and vegetables, you'll appreciate a paring knife, which is particularly useful for peeling skins. Some cheap cutlery sets include a santoku knife, which is a bit like a small, thin-bladed cleaver and has recently gained favor among home cooks for its usefulness in chopping, dicing, and mincing. For cooks whose recipe repertoire includes meat, steak knives as well as knives like a cleaver and boning knife are important. Soft foods, particularly breads and tomatoes, call out for serrated knives.
Extras.It may be hard to believe, but even cheap knife sets often feature a few useful extras, such as a sharpening steel. High-end sets can be sent back to the manufacturer for sharpening, but with budget cutlery, you either sharpen the knives yourself, work with dull blades, or buy a new set. Be wary of claims in product descriptions claiming that knives "never need sharpening." Experts say all knives dull and need to be sharpened eventually (although serrated edges aren't cut out for this type of ongoing maintenance). Kitchen scissors/shears are another welcome component of some cheap cutlery sets. They're handy for quickly cutting open packaging and completing other tasks that aren't easily or safely handled with a knife. Most cheap knife sets come with a storage block that sits on the countertop.
Durability.The longevity of kitchen knives largely depends on how you clean them. Most experts and many home cooks urge consumers to hand-wash knives and dry them right away rather than put them in the dishwasher. Almost every cheap cutlery set has at least one review complaining about rusting, often due to dishwasher cleaning, which can also leave unsightly splotching and dull the edges. It's probably a good idea to avoid the dishwasher altogether, no matter which knives you choose.
It's impossible to predict how long a cheap blade will hold its edge. Obviously the more you use it, the faster it will dull. The cutting surface also matters: Hard glass and granite, for example, quickly take their toll on knives while softer surfaces, such as bamboo and some of the newer synthetic and recycled materials, are more forgiving. We looked for cheap knife sets that are reported to be cutting cleanly and easily after years of usage.
Additional Products We Considered
The Cook Neway 15-Piece Knife Set Review
The Cook Neway 15-Piece Knife set (starting at $40) is not the best cheap cutlery set you can buy, but a few frugal cooks say this collection makes a great starter set. Among the few Cook Neway 15-Piece knife set reviews we could find, consumer postings on Amazon give these knives a high rating, and particularly note that they're a good value at an affordable price. A review on Amazon singles out the utility knife and kitchen shears for special praise and gripes about the small steak knives, partly because they can't go in the dishwasher and partly because the blades aren't sufficiently serrated.
This set includes a 6" boning knife, 8" slicer, 5" utility knife, 4/5" tomato knife, 3.5" paring knife, 6" carving fork, 7" santoku knife (a small, narrow cleaver), six steak knives, kitchen shears, and a pinewood storage block. A Cook Neway 15-Piece knife set review on Bestcovery.com says the high carbon stainless steel blades helped earn the set fourth best in the site's "under $40" category. The blades in this set are stamped and the edges are not serrated. The handles are full tang (the steel of the blades extends into the handles) and made of Bakelite, which is a type of hard plastic that's heat-resistant and doesn't conduct electricity.
Like most cheap knives, these should never see the inside of a dishwasher. Users warn they're sure to rust if you don't hand wash and dry them immediately. The Cook Neway set is a decent value, but there are better options out there for cooks on a budget.
Martha Stewart 20-piece Essential Cutlery set Review
The Martha Stewart 20-piece Essential Cutlery set (starting at $99) sits at the very top of the Cheapism range, but that doesn't mean it's better quality than our top picks. This set features a 3" paring knife, 5" and 7" santoku knives (like a short, narrow cleaver), 4.5" and 5.5" utility knives, 8" slicer, 6" and 8" chef's knives, 8" bread knife, eight 4.5" steak knives, and kitchen shears. All the blades are full-tang (extending into the handle), non-serrated, and made of stamped stainless steel. There's also a sharpening steel, although its usefulness is questionable given that one Martha Stewart 20-piece Essential Cutlery set review on Macy's notes that the handle broke while a knife was being sharpened.
Indeed, Martha Stewart 20-piece Essential Cutlery reviews on several sites are quite mixed. Another review on Macy's stacks the Martha Stewart set against $400 Cutco knives and concludes that the Martha Stewart set is sharper and does a top-notch job cutting through hard foods, like raw vegetables. Likewise, a review on Amazon compares this set to a high-end Henckels set and prefers the design and quality of this one. Other reviews on Macy's argue that buying the set is a waste of money because the blades dull and rust easily. Most complaints about these knives, according to reviews on Macy's and Amazon concern rust. In short, these knives definitely require tender loving care, which means hand washing and immediate drying.
Still, this is one attractive and affordable knife set. Martha Stewart Essential Cutlery reviews on Buzzillions gush about the styling of the knives and storage block; several reviews on Macy's mention they love the look of the Martha Stewart-labeled block on their countertop. This set may look like a million dollars, but appearance alone doesn't count for much in a moderately-priced knife set. These knives attract enough negative reviews for shoppers to be skeptical. With plenty of safer bets at cheaper prices, it might be smart to choose something else.