The Best Knife Sets Under $500: Which One Is For You?

* This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure here.*

When you’re on the hunt for a set for kitchen cutlery, the best thing that you can do is narrow down your price range.

And while there are awesome collections in about any price range if you look hard enough, you’d have a whole lot of options in the sub-$500 mark.

This, admittedly, is quite a lot of money for home cooks.

But if you’re ready to invest in pieces that will last you a lifetime, check out the products below.

They’re handpicked by many customers.

And I’m sure you can easily find what you want after scanning through them.

Best Knife Sets For Under $500

* A Serious Contender *

DALSTRONG Knife Set Block - 8 Piece - Gladiator Series -...
  • Outstanding craftsmanship, cutting-edge technology, stunning design...
  • Incredibly razor sharp, full-tang, imported high-carbon German steel...
  • Famed design, with satisfying heft, premium materials and quality...

Related: Best kitchen knife sets

What To Look For When Buying

Pieces Included

The first thing you’ll need to look at when shopping for knife sets is the pieces that are included.

And before anything, you have to make sure that the collection contains a chef knife, paring knife, and serrated knife.

These tools are considered the most essential tools by most professional chefs.

From there, it would be useful to have a slicing, utility, and a santoku knife in the set as they are very useful tools that can make certain tasks much easier.

It’s also very important for a set to have kitchen shears, as they can be one of the most useful blades you have in the kitchen.

And if you don’t have a magnetic strip or knife roll for storage, it might be helpful if the set came with a storage block and knife sheaths at the very least to protect the blades.

Additionally, if you don’t have your own honing steel, it might be best to get a knife set that comes with one as well.

Materials Used

The next thing you have to check out is the materials used in making the blade.

Ideally, you would want a blade made of high-carbon steel regardless of the price range you’re shopping in.

This is because the material is very good at retaining its edge, so you won’t have to sharpen it too much and it can also be very durable and last you years in the kitchen.

Additionally, you would want handles that are made out of comfortable and sanitary material.

Handles made out of wood or synthetic materials such as Pakkawood are very durable and sanitary, and can also offer a very rustic look to your blades.

Other nice materials are PP or stainless steel, which are available on some of the top knife sets out there.

Construction

Lastly, you would need to take a look at the construction of the knives.

For starters, a knife that’s full-tang should be expected in this range.

This means that the steel blade runs throughout the entire knife which makes them much more balanced.

On top of that, it might be best to look at forged blades in this price range, which are very durable and have great edge retention.

They tend to be more expensive, but it’s an investment worth making for blades that will last you years upon years.

Product Reviews

1. Dalstrong Gladiator Series (Editor’s Choice)

DALSTRONG Knife Set Block - 18-Pc Colossal Knife Set -...
  • Outstanding craftsmanship, cutting-edge technology, stunning design...
  • Incredibly razor sharp, full-tang, imported high-carbon German steel...
  • Famed design, with satisfying heft, premium materials and quality...

To kick things off, we have a set coming from one of the newer brands to the world of chef knives, Dalstrong.

This set contains all the essentials, along with a couple of useful extras such as steak knives, honing steel, and a storage block.

All the blades in this set are made with high-carbon steel that has a Rockwell hardness rating of 58, which is a very good balance between hard steel that will retain its edge, but it isn’t too hard that the material becomes brittle.

It has a sleek and modern all-white look to it because of the engineered polymer handles that are designed to last years in the kitchen while allowing chefs to have a comfortable grip.

On top of that, the edges are expertly sharpened to a fine edge of 14-16 degrees per side, which results in incredibly sharp blades right out of the box.

Our scores:

  • Sharpness: 9.5/10
  • Handling: 9/10
  • Ease of maintenance: 9/10

Pros:

  • Razor-sharp
  • All the knives are full-tang
  • Contains all the essentials and more
  • Great edge-retention
  • Razor-sharp right out of the box

Cons:

  • Not the most durable set out there

2. Enso HD 7-Piece Set (2nd Runner-up)

Enso Knife Set - Made in Japan - HD Series - VG10 Hammered...
  • Knife Set includes 3.25" Paring Knife, 6" Utility Knife, 6.5" Santoku...
  • Knives crafted of premium Japanese VG10 37-layer stainless steel for...
  • Rockwell Hardness 61°; blades are hand-ground to approximately 12°

Next up is a smaller and simpler set from Enso, but that doesn’t mean the set can’t hold its own against the more extravagant collections out there.

It contains 7 essential kitchen knives including a chef, paring, serrated bread, and utility knife.

It also comes with shears, a santoku, and a storage block where you can keep your tools safe.

All the blades are made with high carbon steel and feature a tsuchime finish.

This is a traditional technique where craftspeople hammer the blades to put little indentations on the face of the blade that increases overall durability and ensures that no food will stick to the blade while slicing and cutting.

These are Japanese-style products, so you can expect them to be very sharp and expertly crafted, with black canvas micarta handles that are very durable and shaped in a way that allows users to have a very comfortable grip.

Our scores:

  • Sharpness: 9/10
  • Handling: 8.5/10
  • Ease of maintenance: 9/10

Pros:

  • Great for precise cutting and slicing
  • Razor-sharp
  • Features a hammered tsuchime finish
  • Comes with shears and a storage block
  • Durable and comfortable handles

Cons:

  • Doesn’t come with steak knives

3. Wusthof Gourmet (Biggest Set Available)

WÜSTHOF Gourmet Eighteen Piece Block Set | 18-Piece German...
  • WÜSTHOF GOURMET SERIES – 18 Piece Knife Set with triple riveted...
  • RAZOR SHARP – High Carbon Stainless Steel Blades, precisely cut with...
  • WÜSTHOF KNIFE SET – Includes 2 1/2" Paring Knife, 2 3/4" Trimming...

When it comes to German-style kitchen cutlery, not a  lot of brands out there can compete with Wusthof, and this collection shows exactly why.

It’s a huge 18-piece set that comes with steak knives, a storage block, trimming knives, kitchen shears, a storage block, and two utility knives, along with all the other kitchen essentials.

This is a complete set that can be a great building block for any kitchen arsenal, making it an ideal gift for newlyweds, fresh grads, or people who have just moved into a new home.

All of the models in this collection are forged high-carbon steel blades that are full-tang, which gives you a lot of balance in the kitchen.

On top of that, they come with comfortable, durable, and well-engineered handles, which is why this set is so popular amongst home cooks and professionals alike.

Our scores:

  • Sharpness: 9/10
  • Handling: 8.5/10
  • Ease of maintenance: 8/10

Pros:

  • Complete set
  • Well-engineered handles
  • High-carbon steel blades
  • Razor-sharp
  • Comes with a wooden storage block

Cons:

  • Might have too many knives for some people

4. TUO Falcon Series (Best for Design)

TUO Knife Block Set - 17 PCS Kitchen Knife Set with Wooden...
  • 【PRACTICAL KITCHEN PARTNER】Falcon knife set help you complete all...
  • 【EFFICIENT & CONVENIENT】All knives can be stored in wooden blocks,...
  • 【COMFORTABLE HANDLE】The integrated forging between the handle and...

The TUO Falcon Series contains some very sharp blades and well-engineered knives, which is what makes it such a great set for anyone serious about their kitchen gears.

For starters, it comes with all the essentials plus steak knives, honing steel, and a storage block, so you won’t need to buy any more tools to complete your kitchen setup.

On top of that, all the knives are full-tang and forged, which makes them very sharp and durable.

They also come with PakkaWood handles, which combine the rustic and classic aesthetic of wooden handles with the durability of synthetic ones.

All in all, this is a great set for any modern cook or chef.

Our scores:

  • Sharpness: 8.5/10
  • Handling: 8.5/10
  • Ease of maintenance: 8/10

Pros:

  • Very sharp blades
  • Comes with a storage block
  • Comfortable PakkaWood handles
  • All the models are forged and full-tang
  • Sleek and modern aesthetic

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have the most comfortable feel

5. Shun Kanso (Best for Japanese Style)

Shun Kanso 6-Piece Block Set; Includes 3.5” Paring Knife,...
  • The Kanso 6-piece block features five kitchen must-haves and a...
  • The blade steel is Japanese AUS10A—highly refined, high-carbon,...
  • Each Shun Kanso knife has a contoured, tagayasan handle; this dense,...

Next up is the Shun Kanso Set, which is one of the best collections the brand has to offer.

It features five of the essential Japanese kitchen knives, honing steel, and a knife block.

While it doesn’t have the most pieces, it has some very well-made ones.

The blades are all forged with high-carbon vanadium steel with a Heritage finish that gives them a rustic look.

They are also expertly sharpened to very fine edges, which allows chefs to slice with precision every time.

On top of that, they also have beautifully contoured tagayasan handles which are very comfortable on the hands and very durable, so they will last you a fairly long time in the kitchen.

Our scores:

  • Sharpness: 9/10
  • Handling: 8.5/10
  • Ease of maintenance: 8.5/10

Pros:

  • Expertly crafted
  • Razor-sharp
  • Rustic and simple design
  • Comes with the essentials
  • Full-tang

Cons:

  • Might not have enough knives for some people

6. Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature (Best for Starters)

-54% Sale
ZWILLING Twin Signature 19-pc Kitchen Knife Set with Block,...
  • QUALITY MANUFACTURING: Zwilling special formula steel, Precision...
  • TOUGH BLADE: FRIODUR blade, ice hardened to 57 Rockwell Hardness
  • SHARP EDGE: Hand sharpened and polished, Laser controlled edge

This Signature Set from Zwilling is an investment that any serious cook would enjoy making.

This is because all the knives in the set are made with precision-stamped blades and high-quality stainless steel, which makes them very durable and sharp.

They are also hand sharpened and polished which gives them a very fine edge and a sharp and professional look.

It’s a big set that comes with steak knives, a storage block, the essential kitchen knives, and honing steel, so you’re getting a very complete set if you choose this collection.

On top of that, they are also very light blades that are full-tang, so they are balanced but won’t be straining your hands and arms too much.

Our scores:

  • Sharpness: 8.5/10
  • Handling: 8/10
  • Ease of maintenance: 8/10

Pros:

  • Very sharp blades
  • Comes with a storage block
  • Comes with steak knives
  • Hand-sharpened and polished
  • Dishwasher safe

Cons:

  • The block may lack some essential slots

7. Cangshan TS Series (Best for Balance)

Cangshan TS Series 1020885 Swedish Sandvik 14C28N Steel...
  • Hand crafted full tang knives forged from fine grained, Swedish...
  • Each blade goes through an (ultra6) stage heat treatment ensuring...
  • Set Includes: 8" chef's knife, 8" bread knife, 7" santoku knife, 6"...

Wrapping things up is a sleek collection from Cangshan.

It features blades made of high-quality Swedish steel that can hold its incredibly sharp edge for a very long time.

On top of that, all the knives are full-tang, which gives users a very balanced feel in the kitchen.

Each of these blades goes through a unique heat-treating process that gives them much better edge-retention than a lot of the German knife steels out there.

On top of that, the set comes with a beautiful storage block that you can use to keep your tools safe and clean in the kitchen, making it a great set for just about any culinary enthusiast out there.

Our scores:

  • Sharpness: 8.5/10
  • Handling: 9/10
  • Ease of maintenance: 8/10

Pros:

  • Very sharp
  • Professional look
  • Comes with a storage block
  • Great edge retention
  • Full-tang

Cons:

  • The blades can sometimes rust

FAQ’s

1. What Is The Best Knife Set For The Money?

Our pick for the best knife set for the money is the Zwilling Twin Signature Set as it is a quality collection made with premium materials that come from one of the most trusted brands on the market today.

But if you’re looking for Japanese-style knives, we recommend going for the Shun Kanso set as it is one of the most famous collections among professional chefs.

2. How Much Should A Good Knife Set Cost?

This largely depends on what you need in the kitchen.

If you’re a  professional looking for professional-grade tools, then you might have to shop within the $500-$1000 range to find the right collection.

However, home cooks and those looking for a basic set can easily find one that meets their needs in the sub-$200 range.

3. What Brand Of Knives Do Professionals Prefer?

Professionals tend to use products that come from trusted brands.

For German-style blades, the ideal brands are Zwilling and Wusthof, since they have been around for a while and are known for providing chefs and home cooks with high-quality blades.

The top Japanese-style knife brands are Shun, Mac, and Dalstrong, which are fairly new to the game but have made a solid name for themselves in the short time they’ve been around.

4. Are Expensive Knife Sets Worth It?

Yes, especially if you require high-quality tools to increase efficiency in the kitchen.

However, if you’re a home cook looking for basic everyday knives, you don’t exactly have to bust the bank for them.

5. What Are The Essential Knives In The Kitchen?

Most professionals point to three knives as the only essential ones in the kitchen.

These are the chef knife, paring knife, and serrated knife.

6. Are German Or Japanese Knives Better?

Japanese knives are generally sharper and more precise than German ones, but they aren’t as durable as their Western counterparts.

So the better option for you will really depend on your needs and preferences.

However, if you do a lot of precision tasks and cook a lot of Asian recipes, then we recommend Japanese-style knives, but if you need a more heavy-duty tool, then German knives might be your best bet.

7. Is It Worth It To Sharpen Cheap Knives?

Yes, one of the best ways to up the quality of a cheap knife is to have it sharpened professionally or do it yourself.

This will drastically improve the quality of the blade and instantly make it a more efficient kitchen tool.

Conclusion

And there you have it, the best knife sets under $500 in the market today.

There’s a lot of variety in this list, as there are some German knives while there are also Japanese ones out there.

That’s because everyone has different preferences, and each of these blade styles can offer a unique set of pros and cons.

Shun, a Seki-based company, has a 6-piece set from its beautiful yet utterly simple Kanso series. The blade is made from AUS10A high carbon steel and its double-riveted handle is made from dark Tagayasan wood which matches the wooden block the set comes with.

Enso, a subsidiary of the other Seki brand – Yaxell, came up with a stunning collection that features a VG10 core that is clad with 37 layers of steel on either side. Hammered from the spine and given the Damascus waves towards the edge, these are incredibly sharp and durable.

If you want more than just the basic blades in your arsenal, go for China-based TUO. Their 17-piece set with a wooden block under the Falcon series is a great buy since the blades are made from X50CrMoV15 and the handles from Pakkawood.

So if you think you found the collection for you on this list, then all that’s left to do is head out and get your hands on one yourself!

Last Updated on September 23, 2021

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My name is Andy Wang, and I'm a retired chef. I used to work at the City Vineyard restaurant in NYC. I also had a culinary degree from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. And this blog is where I share my love for knives and cooking with people like you.