When it comes to kitchen knives, one name is at the top of the heap: Zwilling JA Henckels.
Unknown to most, this world-renowned German conglomerate is composed of different companies – Zwilling and Henckels are two different brands under the large umbrella.
And these two are quite distinct from each other.
For now, let’s focus on Henckels.
A Brief History of Henckels
For thousands of years, Solingen in Germany has been the home of the best bladesmiths in all of Europe. And they don’t just forge the best weapons. They also make the best cutlery.
In 1731, Solingen-based knife maker Peter Henckels established his company, naming it Zwilling. That is the German term for ‘twin’, hence the logo featuring the Gemini star sign of two human figures.
With their remarkable craftsmanship that ensured top-notch function, the company grew and became well-known outside of Germany.
Zwilling would be the perfect knife if it weren’t expensive; that is why the mothership decided to come up with a more affordable option – Henckels.
Best Henckels Knives & Knife Sets (Editor’s Picks)
Are Henckels Knives Worth Your Money?
A good Zwilling blade – forged from tip to tang – can go as high as $150. A Henckels piece that is almost the same is only a third of that price.
One reason for the cut-price is that the materials used may not be as premium as those of Zwilling. It’s still good, don’t worry about that, but not as outstanding,
These are also not made in their Solingen Factory. Some, like the fully forged Classic series, are created in Spain. The stamped Dynamic originated in India.
If you don’t mind those minor factors, the answer is YES!
Henckels will give you the value of what you paid for.
A Quick Look Over at the Best of Henckels
Classic 3-Piece Set
- SET INCLUDES: 4-inch paring, 6-inch utility/ sandwich knife, and...
- QUALITY MANUFACTURING: Fabricated from high quality German stainless...
- DURABLE KNIFE: Fully forged construction offers durability and a...
Professionals will tell you that there are just four, maybe five, pieces that home cooks need in their knife block. This Henckels has three of those: an 8-inch Chef’s, a 6-inch utility blade, and a 4-inch parer.
Forged from tip to tang, the steel used in all the knives in this particular series is high-quality German stainless steel, polished to a satin finish and honed to a fine edge.
No specifics are given regarding the edge angles.
The pieces in this set have a very neat, conventional-looking profile: straight spines, very gently curved bellies, and upward-pointing tip.
The two smaller carvers have a rectangular feel because the spine and the belly on each are almost parallel to each other until it curves up to the tapered end.
The bolsters do cover the whole length of the heel but are not thick like other full bolsters.
The handle, two pieces of contoured black matte (unnamed) plastic, is triple-riveted to the exposed tang. This also follows the simple straight lines of the blade’s spine.
A single piece from this particular series already costs $55 at an average (sale price) which is slightly expensive. That is why getting this 3-piece set which is just a few dollars over a hundred bucks is a great deal already.
All things considered, from the raw materials included in the mix and the process of construction used, this is fairly priced.
International Premio Set of 19
- Knife Set includes 3" Paring Knife, 3" Hollow Edge Paring Knife, 5"...
- This set comes complete with a wood knife block with an elegant Cherry...
- All knives, except the steak knives which are stamped, feature a fully...
One of the most all-inclusive sets in the Henckels line, this is a must-have in any food lovers’ home.
It includes the five basics (Chef’s, serrated for bread, utility, paring, and boning knives), three more special ones (scalloped utility, hollow-edged parer, and a Santoku), a set of eight for steak, a honing rod, and a pair of kitchen shears all in a Cherry-finished wooden block.
International Premio blades are fully forged from the same German stainless steel and then given a satin finish and a sharp edge (specifics not provided).
The handle is made of black matte ABS that is triple-riveted to the exposed tang.
The manufacturing of this particular series is outsourced in China.
Compared to the Classic line, this has more curves to it: high heel, a nearly imperceptible convex spine, and an upward curving belly that meets the slightly straight tip.
It has a full bolster, thicker than the one described above. Yet many still laud this for being lightweight!
The handle follows that curvature too for a more ergonomic grip – convex up top and below, ending in a downward-facing steel cap that is stamped with the company’s logo.
A Chef’s knife from this series is priced a little over $50; which is somewhat reasonable since it is forged. But it would be smarter for you to get this whole set as it will save you a lot more money.
Off-White Accent Set of 20 with Self-Sharpening Knife Block
- Innovative self-sharpening knife block crafted of high quality wood...
- Set Includes 3" Paring Knife, 3.5" Paring Knife, 5" Serrated Utility...
- All blades, including the steak knives, are a forged construction with...
You can have style and beauty in your kitchen without spending thousands of dollars with this gorgeously designed set from Henckels.
Just like the International Premio above, this consists of the five essential pieces, extra (and slightly bigger) paring and utility blades, a hollow-edged Santoku, a carver, another for prep, a set of eight for steak, a pair of shears, and a knife block outfitted with sharpeners for the larger pieces.
This here is another forged set from the budget brand of Zwilling JA Henckels also fabricated from the very same German steel noted above. The blade has the same no-nonsense, all-function motif of polished finish and sharp edges.
This has a cream-colored ABS handle that sandwiches the full tang.
This series is manufactured in China.
The blade profile has that standard look and feels: good-sized heel, straight spine, and a slight curve on the belly so it meets the tip in the middle.
The triple-riveted handle has a slight arc up top and is more curved below for that comfortable grip.
A self-sharpening block simply means that the slots are outfitted with ceramic grinds inside. Every time you pull out a piece or put it back in, the edge will be honed and sharpened.
Aside from that, the beauty of this set shines through the handle.
To be honest, this is one of the most expensive sets in the Henckels line. But spending almost $400 is worth it.
Statement Set of 15 with Light Brown Wooden Block
- SET INCLUDES: 3-inch paring knife, 5-inch serrated utility knife,...
- QUALITY MANUFACTURING: Knives fabricated from high-quality stainless...
- LIGHTWEIGHT AND STRONG: Lightweight, full tang design yields maximum...
The Henckels brand, as we have been saying earlier, is known for its affordable pricing. The Statement collection is proof of that.
This includes the four basics (Chef’s, serrated for bread, serrated utility, and parer), a Santoku, a set of six of steak, a honing rod, a pair of shears, and the angled block.
All the knives are stamped from unnamed stainless steel and then precision-polished and sharpened to ensure a long-lasting edge.
The handle is made from black matte ABS that covers the sides of the extended and exposed tang. A contoured steel cap completes the whole grip.
The shape of the blade is very much like the forged Classic described above: straight spine and upward curving belly which ends at a high pointy tip.
The handle, triple-riveted to the full tang, is unlike the Classic with its bold wavy silhouettes. The downward curving steel cap is the most recognizable attribute of the Statement piece.
Because this is stamped, you should expect that this wouldn’t have a bolster.
But one problematic feature here is the slanted heel. The tip is directed towards the handle which may cause accidental nicks, especially to those who like to slice with pinch grips.
At a little over $20 per knife, Statement is one of the cheapest in the line.
The set used to have a price tag of nearly $400 but it was recently lowered to $150 which is an awesome deal for a wide-ranging stamped collection.
Graphite Set of 14 with Self-Sharpening Block
- Set includes 3-inch paring, 5-inch serrated utility, 6-inch utility,...
- Self-sharpening block features stylish brushed stainless-steel cap and...
- Labeled self-sharpening slots sharpen each time a knife is removed or...
Like most of the collections noted here, this has the four essentials (Chef’s, serrated for bread, paring, and utility), a Santoku, another utility blade (serrated), a set of six for steak, a pair of kitchen shears, and a dark wooden block that is self-sharpening.
What’s the difference then, you may ask?
Well, if you’re after minimalistic and clean lines, this Henckels series is the best option.
This series has fully-forged pieces which make use of high-quality German-type stainless steel from tip to tang. The blade is given a satin finish that is rather darker, slightly greyer than their other knives.
The type of plastic polymer used for the handle is not specified but it does have the feel of an ABS, which is the material used for most of their grips.
Graphite’s blades are very much like Statement’s: straight spine which has a bit of a rising angle and upward curving belly that ends at a high pointy tip.
The handle covers the entire tang completely and is beautifully contoured on top and at the bottom. This ends in a slanted base that is embossed with the single man logo.
With the dark grey hue of the blade, the full bolsters, and a fully-sheathed tang, Graphite knives showcase that seamless transition.
The elegant dark wooden block is outfitted with self-sharpeners. A metal plate logo is fixed on the façade, adding to that cool and quiet sophistication of this particular set.
A Chef’s knife or a Santoku can go as low as $40 these days. But if you want to save much more, get the set which is just under $200.
Modernist Set of 20 with Self-Sharpening Block
- Henckels knife set includes forged German stainless steel knives with...
- Innovative self-sharpening knife block crafted of high quality wood...
- Set includes 3" Paring Knife, 4" Paring Knife, 5" Serrated Utility...
The is very much like the Graphite collection as it exudes that minimalistic and modern air, but this is way more comprehensive…
This particular set includes the must-have five (Chef’s, serrated for bread, boning, paring, and utility), a smaller parer, another utility blade (serrated), a prep knife, a carver, a Santoku, a set of eight for steak (serrated), a pair of kitchen shears, and the dark wooden block with self-sharpening capability.
Fabricated from top-notch German-made steel, Modernist knives are fully forged from tip to tang to ensure durability. The blade is given a matte polish and the edges are finely sharpened.
A single knife looks like it has been carved and smoothened from one piece of metal from the blade, the bolster, and the handle. But the handle is made from a light grey matte stainless steel to provide a contrast against the polished bolster and logo-stamped cap.
This is the light-colored version of the Graphite from the blade profile, the full thick bolster, and the beautifully contoured handle.
Again, just like the Graphite set described above, this has a self-sharpening feature thanks to the ceramic rollers mounted in the steel slots of the block.
The metal logo is also glued in the wood instead of carved, stamped, or embossed.
The original price of this set is quite steep at over $500. Thankfully, it’s just less than $200 now – a great deal quite difficult to pass up.
Silvercap Set of 14 with a Block
- SET INCLUDES: 3-inch Parer, 4-inch Parer, 5-inch Serrated Utility,...
- DURABLE BLADE: Single piece, precision stamped, high-quality...
- NO SHARPENING REQUIRED: Micro serrated edge never needs sharpening
Straightforward and all-business. These are accurate descriptive words for one of Henckels creations – the Silvercap series.
This particular collection consists of a Chef’s knife, a Santoku, a long serrated blade for bread, a shorter serrated utility one, two paring knives, a set of six for steak, a pair of shears, and hardwood block painted slate grey.
Like all stamped Henckels, there is no specific information as to the type of steel used. The blades are given a mirror finish and the handles are ergonomically contoured using ABS plastic polymer.
But there is one feature that makes this stand out among the others: the micro-serrations on the edge.
These minuscule cuts along the edge prevent quick blunting of the blade so you’ll have a sharp knife for a very long time.
This is made in China.
All Silvercaps have an interesting profile: the spine is straight but slants very slightly downwards while its belly is gently curved to meet a low, pointy tip.
Since this is stamped, the handle has a finger guard instead to prevent accidental nicks. However, the finger guard leaves a few millimeters of the heel uncovered.
Also, the contoured handle made from black matte ABS sits slightly higher than the blade.
One of the cheapest in the whole line, a piece costs a little over $20 only. The whole set described here is incredibly affordable at a hundred bucks or so.
Very rarely will you hear a seasoned chef or an expert knife connoisseur boast about the perfect knife. Every brand, every series, and every piece will always have its share of benefits and drawbacks.
Here is the most objective listing of the positive and negative attributes of this particular brand:
Pros of Henckels Knives
• One of the Best, Most Affordable Pieces in the Market Today
High-quality basic sets under $100 are quite difficult to come by these days. Most can go as low as $50 but will last you only a year if you’re lucky.
But if you get any of the featured collections above, you can be sure that it will stay with you for a good amount of time – maybe more, if you take really good care of it.
• Forged and Stamped Lines
A lot of brands in the $50 per piece or less price range are only stamped. This isn’t some disparagement of that form of construction but forged knives tend to be better, albeit expensive, options.
The great thing about the Henckels is that you can get a nicely forged piece for that amount.
• Several Series to Choose From
Many of its competitors will only come up with two or three distinctly designed collections and market that for years.
Henckels has several variants under their forged and stamped knives so that consumers will have several to choose from.
• Still Under the Umbrella of Zwilling JA Henckels
The best thing of all, this is still part of the highly respected and admired Solingen company which has been around for three hundred years. And that spells quality.
Cons of Henckels Knives
• Constructed outside of Solingen, Germany
As aforementioned, one of the ways the company can lower the cost of their final product is to outsource the labor for knife construction. Spain, India, Thailand, and China are just some of the countries where their manufacturing teams are located.
This isn’t exactly a downside but compared to Solingen-made blades, these Henckels tend to have some problems:
• Stamped Knives Feel Flimsy
Many have mentioned that the blades are much too thin and slightly flexible that it couldn’t possibly cut through dense vegetables or cartilage-y meat.
• Common Complaint: Edge Dulls Fast
The steel used for construction is said to be softer than the high carbon German stain-resistant steel of its high-end relative Zwilling. And because it’s not named, it’s hard to ascertain if its HRC is lower.
One thing has been noted by many users, though: the edge on various Henckels – both forged and stamped – do go blunt and require sharpening faster.
As of the moment, there are 16 different series under the Henckels line. At first glance, these may look the same but as you have read earlier, each variant has its character.
Henckels Classic is still one of the most favored because of its simple, no-nonsense appearance, compact and balanced feel, and amazing edge retention. This is also fairly priced, considering this is forged.
When it comes to stamped pieces, the Solution series offers the best solution to a lot of your kitchen issues! This was not part of the list above but many go for this because of its similarity to the Classic line.
Why This Deserves to be on Top of Your List
If you’re considering changing your aging block of knives soon or are just in need of one good piece to beef up your current collection, Henckels is a great place to start with.
Quality is never a question when this comes from one of the best cutlery manufacturers in the world. But the cherry on top is its incredibly low pricing that need not break the bank.
Last Updated on September 27, 2021
- A Brief History of Henckels
- Best Henckels Knives & Knife Sets (Editor’s Picks)
- Are Henckels Knives Worth Your Money?
- A Quick Look Over at the Best of Henckels
- Pros of Henckels Knives
- Cons of Henckels Knives
- Notable Collections
- Why This Deserves to be on Top of Your List