While some disagree regarding who to attribute the quote to, it has been said that if you are given five minutes to cut down a tree, you should spend the first four minutes sharpening the ax. More valid words of wisdom have never been spoken, so why do we all use low-quality, dull knives in the kitchen? Cutco, Wusthof, and Henckels make chef-quality knives that will stay sharp and change your home cooking experience.
Cutco vs. Wusthof vs. Henckels Comparison
Owning a good set of knives is an oft-overlooked essential, but owning reliable kitchen knives can make your life much easier while also helping you improve your cooking game. But investing in high-quality knives is a significant investment, so it is hard to know which brand to choose. Each brand is unique from the others, so check out the side-by-side comparison, or read the detailed reviews below.
Cutco, Wusthof & Henckels: Which Is Best?
It’s hard to know where to invest your hard-earned money, but some knives stand above the rest, and we are confident we can help you make a good decision. We’ve included detailed reviews and reasoning further in the article below, but Wusthof makes the highest quality knives money can buy. Henckels knives are the best value based on our experience.
Cutco Knives Review
Not all knives are created equal, and Cutco intends to sell the best quality knives, supported by the best customer service. Even the handle is made from a thermo-resin that is exceedingly durable, designed to avoid cracking or absorbing water. Perhaps more impressively, the handle is ergonomically made with Cutco’s Universal Wedge-Lock design to feel comfortable and secure in the hand.
Of course, while the handles are important, the handle isn’t what sets any knife apart from the others. Cutco knives are made from high-carbon stainless steel, which enables the blade to stay sharp for longer. Many of the blades also feature the innovative Double-D edge design, a series of three razor-sharp recessed edges, each angled to cut in different directions efficiently.
The points between the recessed D’s protect the blade from contact with hard surfaces, such as bones, plate, or stone. When this design is combined with the high-carbon stainless steel construction material, the result is long-lasting sharp edges.
Cutco knives have been American made in Olean, New York, for more than 70 years, and quality and customer service is at the heart of everything they do. That’s why Cutco knives feature The Forever Guarantee, which is essentially a warranty that states that the company will make things right if you are ever unhappy with their knives. These companies sell high-quality products, and Cutco does their best to stand behind its product lines.
If you grew up with mismatched silverware as I did, then it might be a little surprising to learn how many different types of knives there are. Cutco says there is a knife for every need, and that sounds about right. All of the knives are durably built to stay sharp, but it is hard to know what type of knife you need. After all, Cutco sells chef knives, utility knives, paring & peeling knives, carving & slicing knives, everyday knives, and specialty knives. Where to begin?!
While there may be a knife for every need, we recommend you start with a good chef knife and a few utility knives. If you cook much at home or plan to start cooking at home, the chef knife may become your best friend. It is used for chopping, slicing, dicing, and mincing fruits and vegetables, so it is essential to have a reliable chef knife in the kitchen.
Paring knives, table knives, and steak knives are all utility knives (or everyday knives). While the exact combination of these knives you purchase will depend on your kitchen routines, this isn’t an area you want to skimp. Have you ever held a cheap steak knife that felt like the handle might break off in your hand? Yikes. Not a good experience.
Is Cutco Worth The Money?
There is no denying that investing in Cutco knives is a significant investment, but it is also intended to be an investment that lasts a lifetime. The blades can be sharpened by the company for a few bucks or sharpened at home with one of the brand’s sharpeners. One of the most significant downsides to Cutco knives is that they are stamped and lack any bolster to protect your hand from the blade. Professional chefs tend to look elsewhere, but if you prefer American-made, Cutco is worth considering.SUMMARY PROS
- American made
- Premium Pricing
- Ergonomic handle
- Innovative recessed Double-D design
- The Forever Guarantee
- High-carbon stainless steel
Wusthof Knives Review
Founded in 1814, Wusthof is a family-owned business run in Solingen, Germany. Solingen is often referred to as the City of Blades, and Zwilling J. A. Henckels’ knives are also made there. For hundreds of years, the City of Blades has been the epicenter of fine craftsmanship for knives, razors, and even scissors and swords.
One of the hallmarks of fine craftsmanship in knives is that they are forged from a single piece of steel. Other blades are stamped from steel, which in some cases makes them cheaper; however, most chefs will tell you that forged knives are better. Not only does the forging process create stronger steel that retains its sharpness longer, but the process also allows for the blade to include a bolster.
The brand made a decision long ago to focus on knives and only knives. As a result, they genuinely have any knife you might need in any styles of knives you might prefer. It also means that the quality of the blades is second to none. Like Cutco, Wusthof makes chef’s knives (which they call cook’s knives), Asian-style knives, bread knives, carving knives, steak knives, filleting knives, vegetable knives, brunch knives, and specialty knives.
Unless you happen to be a chef and know which knives you need, we recommend purchasing a curated set that includes the most frequently used knives. Wusthof has quite a few knife sets and styles at different price points, but we recommend the Wusthof Classic set or the Wusthof Ikon set. Regardless, the quality materials and production process result in chef-quality, sharp knives.
The Wusthof Classic series is the company’s traditional forged line of knives, perfectly balanced for comfort and security. The knives feature a full bolster and full tang for safer working, and the final polish is done by hand. Since the Wusthof Classic series is a timeless design that has been around for over 200 years, there are over 70 blade shapes to choose from if you opt for building your own set. That said, most people will be delighted with one of their wooden block sets, which have every knife the average home cook might need.
The Wusthof Classic Ikon series features subtle differences to the product, with sleeker lines and an ergonomic design. It also includes a double bolster for enhanced balance so that the Classic Ikon knives feel natural in your hand.
If the Wusthof prices give you pause, keep in mind the brand does offer a strong warranty. While the Wusthof warranty does not apply for misuse or normal wear and tear, the brand does guaranty the knives will be free from material or craftsmanship defects. Of course, no cutlery guarantees will apply to misuse or normal wear and tear, so it is essential to know how to use and store your knives properly. This is why wood blocks are such a part of cutlery culture.
One final note: If you are serious about cooking, or want to become more serious about knife culture, then Wusthof Knives are top of the line. The website also includes information and videos to help you improve your skills, and they sell sharpening steels and whetstones in addition to the newer, gadget-like knife sharpeners.
Is Wusthof Worth The Money?
All of Wusthof knives are of the best quality available on the market. The forged construction is more advanced than the stamped construction used by Cutco. Since the blades are forged, most of Wusthof’s knives feature bolsters, which improve balance and safety. These are high-quality kitchen knives. If you are serious about cooking, are serious about learning to cook, Wusthof makes some of the best knives money can buy, all with beautiful lines.SUMMARY PROS
- German quality
- Premium pricing
- Forged construction
- Well balanced in hand
- Bolsters add safety
- Used by professionals
Henckels Knives Review
Zwilling J.A. Henckels has its origins in Solingen, Germany, like Wusthof. The Zwilling trademark was registered with the Cutler’s Guild of Solingen in 1731, making Zwilling one of the world’s oldest brands! The German heritage of detailed craftsmanship lives on through the Zwilling and the Henckels brand.
One distinction between J.A. Henckels and the Wusthof brand is that Henckels makes various cooking essentials, in contrast to Wusthof, which focuses strictly on knives. Still, Henckels knives are some of the highest quality and well-known knives in the world.
While Henckels knives are made with German steel and engineering, they are assembled in multiple factories worldwide. The quality remains top-grade, but the location flexibility enables more competitive prices and overall value, and they still utilize at least one factory in the City of Blades.
While Henckels sells individual knives and small sets, as you would expect, we recommend the knife block set from Henckels for more than just convenience. Some of the Henckels blocks include self-sharpening slots with a built-in ceramic honing wheel. This is an incredible convenience because every time you remove a knife or return it, the blade is sharpened.
The serrated knives don’t need sharpening because the toothed blades protect most of the blades from hitting dulling surfaces, so most of the self-sharpening blocks have regular slots for serrated steak knives and self-sharpening slots for the straight edge knives (paring knife, chef knife, etc.). If you can afford a full set, keep in mind the natural-wood block will help guarantee lasting sharpness, which helps justify the investment.
Most of Henckels’ knives are forged like Wusthof’s, so most professionals would agree these are higher quality than the stamped knives from Cutco. As a result, many of their products feature a beautiful bolster where you can rest your thumb and protect your fingers.
Some of Henckels’ knife sets are stamped, making them more affordable and lighter than the forged knives, but we prefer the balanced feeling of the forged knives in hand. The forged knives are also a little heavier. Many chefs prefer the heavier feeling because it gives them a better sense of control, as they can better feel the knife in hand.
All of this considered Henckel’s stamped knives include an end cap that helps provide back some of the missing balance, and some of the handles are shaped in a way that emulates the shape of a forged bolster. See the Henckels Silvercap collection as an example of this, if you would prefer a stamped knife.
Whether you choose to go stamped or forged, we are confident Henckels will be your new favorite kitchen knife. The knives are thoughtfully designed, with German heritage, engineering, and materials.
Is Henckels Worth The Money?
Henckels knives are the best value of any knife we have reviewed. While the Zwilling brand makes stamped and forged knives, the forged knives, in particular, compare favorably to the more expensive Wusthof knives. If you decide to go with a stamped knife, there’s no reason to spend premium money, where Cutco is priced, when Zwilling J.A. Henckels makes a similar quality product.SUMMARY PROS
- German quality
- No substantial cons
- Forged or stamped construction
- Best value
- Self-sharpening blocks
Take Care of Your Knife Collection
Have you ever considered that the cutting board may be protecting your knives more than the granite or quartz countertop? It’s true, and it’s an important realization if you want to take care of your knives. Hard surfaces such as stone, or even bone, can dull or chip your knives. As obvious as it is, the first step toward proper knife care is avoiding hard surfaces. Use a cutting board.
If you are investing in high-performing knives, then you want them to last. Sharpen your knives regularly to preserve their performance, and store them in a wood block or on a magnetic strip. Avoid storing them in a common silverware drawer or utensil tray. This will help keep that perfect knife safe and help you avoid unnecessary nicks and cuts on your hands.
Beyond this, most kitchen knife brands are meant to be hand-washed, which might come as a surprise. For complete knife care, you don’t want to throw your cutlery in the dishwasher. All of that banging around can dull or chip the blades. So as soon as you are done with your knives (you don’t want food to sit on them for extended periods of time either), wash them by hand and store them in the block set or along a magnetic strip.
Sure, it’s great that these companies might offer a fantastic warranty or even a limited lifetime warranty, but there are no guarantees against misuse. And you won’t need to worry about Cutco’s sharpness guarantee, for instance, if you learn how to care for your kitchen tools properly. It’s up to you to take pride in your investment and care for your new blades properly.
Which Knives Should You Buy?
There are many similarities between Wusthof and Henckels knives, and we believe they are superior to Cutco’s knives because of the high-grade German steel and forged construction. The forged construction allows for a beautiful bolster that adds balance and safety to the knives. Wusthof and Henckels also offer various kitchen cutlery, while Cutco basically has one style of knife.
In your search for the perfect kitchen knife, you will find the best knives are made in Germany and Japan. So if you are looking for knives to last a lifetime, we recommend Wusthof and Henckels. They genuinely are world-class knife manufacturers. Sure, companies are making cheaper knives but based on my experiences, handling dull and flimsy knives can be dangerous.
Cutco has a proud history as a knife maker, but many people look down on the brand because they are sold door-to-door, with sometimes pushy sales associates. Some people love the Double-D Cutco knives, but aside from the pushy sales funnel, the German knife brands objectively have more options and arguably have better product reputations.
So as you decide which knife to buy, your decision will probably come down to stylistic preference and budget. Companies making cheap knives are a dime a dozen. If you are looking for quality knives that are still budget-friendly, there is no better choice than Zwilling J.A. Henckels. They are my personal favorite and a smart choice for the average kitchen, as Henckels will provide an enhanced cutting experience without breaking the bank.
If you are looking for premium quality and can afford to pay a premium price, then we recommend you buy Wusthof knives, but you might check out Zwilling’s Miyabi brand too. Both knife makers have well-balanced knives, made from superior materials, with an exceedingly sharp cutting edge. Buying either brand of knives will be a significant upgrade to your kitchen and make your inner chef proud.
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