So, the best kitchen knives on a budget…. that’s a misnomer right? after all, the very best chef’s knives can cost hundreds of dollars. Fine if you have the financial means to afford it, but what if you’re running a tight ship? Can you still by a quality kitchen knife starter set with limited resources?
The answer is a resounding yes and to prove it, the Blade-Sharp team have set ourselves a budget of $100.00. So what would we purchase?
Before we dive straight into the finer details of the best kitchen knives for under $100, it’s important to talk strategy. After all, you’ve got to have a strategy right?
Here are 3 key points to consider…
Point 1 – Look To Invest In The Core Three
When looking to buy the best kitchen knives on a budget, don’t get seduced by the ‘more is best’ strategy – particularly when it comes to knife block sets that are loaded with every conceivable implement you can imagine. This may seem strange given that it’s entirely possible to buy a kitchen knife set with 15 knives and associated implements for under $100. However you would…
(A) Have to question the quality. Remember this post is all about buying the best kitchen knife set on a budget and..
(B) Whether you would even make full use of 15 different knives – In truth, 99% of all kitchen prep can be achieved using just 3 knives.
With this in mind it’s better to focus on the big three. these are…
- A 3-4 inch pairing knife for fruit and veg prep
- A 6 inch utility knife for everyday chopping and dicing and
- A lager 8-10 inch chef’s knife for slicing and cutting
It’s all about quality over quantity. Buying quality kitchen knives will last longer, remain sharper and make the task of cooking easier and more fun.
Point 2 – The Chef Knife is King!
If you are looking to spread the cost between 3 knives – and you really should, then spend the most money on the knife that is likely to do the most work. In the vast majority of cases that’s your chef’s knife!
You’re going to be using this knife 50% of the time so it stands to reason that 50% of your budget should be spent here. The good news is that it is possible to pick up a quality chef’s knife for $50 if you know where to look.
Then, simply split the remaining budget between your pairing and utility knife. This should give you a good balance between quality and budget.
Point 3 – Invest in a Quality Honing Steel
Okay so this isn’t exactly part of the budget but it’s equally as important. The point is this… Even expensive kitchen knives will blunt over time. When they do they can slow down the preparation time, thus taking the edge – pun intended 🙂 off your cooking experience and increasing the risk of injury.
When a person uses a dull kitchen knife they tend to over compensate or push harder with each slice. This increases the chances of knife slippage with greater force behind it. A sharp knife on the other hand uses less force and less pressure and will bite the surface of the item that you are cutting more readily.
For all of these reasons, it pays to buy a quality honing steel. Remember honing steels won’t sharpen a blunt knife but they will keep a knife sharp. Moreover, a quality honing steel doesn’t need to be overly expensive. Feel free to read our detailed post on the best kitchen knife steel and what to look out for if you need further guidance.
So the you have it! Three golden rules or strategies when looking for the best kitchen knives on a budget. Now, let’s dive into what we would buy here at Blade-Sharp for our hundred dollar budget.
Suggestion 1 – JA Henckels International Classic Starter Knife Set
A smidgeon under $100 currently gets you a classic 3 knife knife starter set from German Manufacturer. J.A Henckels. Henckels have been making knives since 1895 in the heartland of great knife-making – Solingen in Germany. The result is a quality forged knife that could easily last you 20 years or more with the the right amount of love and care.
Henckels knives (now Zwilling Henckels) feel well balanced in the hand with a seamless transition from stainless-steel blade to triple-rivet handle. They are strong, durable and built to last. All in all, they remain a quality kitchen knife at a reasonable price.
What you get for your money
This classic knife starter set gets you an 4 inch pairing knife, a 6 inch utility knife and that all important 8 inch chef’s knife.
For the archetypal home cook, this Classic Knife Starter Set represents a solid starting point upon which you can build your knife collection on.
Suggestion 2 – Create Your Own
If you don’t conform to stereotypes and prefer to do your own thing, one way of obtaining the best kitchen knives on a budget is to create your own set. By mixing matching brands, it’s possible to have a set of 3 high quality knives that won’t break the bank.
Consider the Victorinox Pro 10 inch chef’s knife at a smidgeon under $37.00. Victorinox are known for their no-frills high performance knives and when it comes to knife hierarchy, it’s fair to say that as a brand, they have a good following and sit somewhere in the middle. Not the absolute best, but not rubbish either.
For the next knife in the series we’re going against our own advice here and spending a little more on this Wusthof Classic pairing knife than the Victorinox above. The reason?
This is the next level up from Victorinox as a brand and everything about Wusthof screams quality. These knives are precision forged using high carbon stainless steel and result in a blade that is 20% sharper with twice the edge retention. And, at a little under $45.00, it’s within budget and it complements the Victorinox pro well.
Finally, to complete the set we would recommend the Cuisinart 5 inch Serrated Utility Knife.
Cuisinart are known for being a budget-friendly brand. However, what you get for your money is reliability. Cuisinart knives are robust, comfortable and typically handle and feel like knives that are 4 or 5 times more expensive.
Take this 5 inch serrated utility knife for example. At under $15.00, it represents excellent value for money, yet looks wise and handling, it’s up there with the Henckels and Wusthof’s of this world.
So to sum up…
Total price $97.00
Suggestion 3 – Knife Block Sets
Okay, so again we’re going against our initial advice here but only because there will be some of you who prefer the neatness or totality of a knife block – everything in it’s place and all that 🙂
With this in mind, a good starting point would be the Cangshan 3 piece Tai-knife block set. Notice the word ‘ 3 piece’.
In this instance this equates to two quality stainless steel knives – one 3.5 inch paring knife and 8 inch chef’s knife plus a knife block. Ultimately, your knives won’t be gathering dust because they are never used.
These are made in a Japanese style and are hand crafted, full tang knives. If you want to find out the difference between Japanese and European style knives, check out our post on how to choose a kitchen knife and we reveal all.
Cangshan are not quite in the same bracket as say Global or Shun. However, they are well-made and for under a hundred bucks, this knife set represents the right balance of quality and good value for money.
So there you have it…3 suggestions for the best kitchen knives on a budget
Remember, always opt for quality over quantity and start with a core set of usable knives and you won’t go far wrong.
So, what do you think? What knives would you buy? Leave your comments below. We’d love to hear from you. Until then, have a great day and stay Blade-Sharp