Last Updated Feb 2020 – JA Henckels is an industry titan. It’s difficult to spend any amount of time researching knives without coming across lots of discussion about this venerable brand. Even the most inexperienced internet commentator will have lots to say about “Henckel cutlery,” meaning there’s a wealth of information about this brand and its long history.
The knives Henckels makes have traditionally been affordable tools that are made with the right set of features from extra durable materials, meaning they’re some of the top rated knives in the world.
This doesn’t necessarily make choosing a Henckels knife for your kitchen easy. Instead, it makes it all the more difficult. The brand’s consistent quality and solid design mean that every knife is excellent, causing you to be stuck choosing between dozens of incredibly appealing options. In order to help make your choice faster, here’s a quick rundown of some of JA Henckles best knives and knife sets.
Zwilling Knife Reviews
JA Henckels operates two imprints: JA Henckels International, which manufactures its knives outside of Germany, and ZWILLING by JA Henckels, which manufacturers its premium knives inside of Germany. ZWILLING knives tend to be a bit more expensive, but they’re often made from higher quality steel to a more exacting standard. Here are the best ZWILLING knives to get if you’re after an affordable premium kitchen knife.
The best knife sets offer fashionable countertop aesthetics while providing you with high-quality tools that are ready for use. This 7-piece ZWILLING knife block does a brilliant job of both while somehow staying affordable.
It features a selection of knives made from high carbon stainless steel at a perfect hardness for easy maintenance, comfortable handles, and a stylish wooden block with a couple of extra slots that can hold your knife collection as it grows. It’s one of the absolute best sets to choose if you’re just starting to take cooking more seriously, and it’s an excellent way to round out your existing collection if you already have one.
The thing that I like the most about this set is probably the steel itself. While you’ll find a lot of kitchen experts who prefer a harder steel for their own use, nearly everyone recommends that you start off with a softer German metal for your first couple knife sets. This is because harder steel is harder to sharpen and can even chip or break if you don’t care for your knives properly.
This ZWILLING set has been thermally treated to 57 on the Rockwell C scale. I think this is probably the perfect number for newer knife users.
The metal isn’t so hard that it’ll chip, you can easily sharpen it with normal whetstones, and the high chromium content ensures that you don’t have to worry about water or acid.
On the other hand, it’s hard enough that it will hold an edge with very little maintenance. You can get away with using a honing steel on this set as little as once a week and have knives that stay fantastically sharp for months or years before needing the attention of a stone.
Now, this knife set is not the most attractive set on the market. You don’t get the patterned Damascus finish of a Shun set, nor do you even get polished wooden handles like you might find on a Dalstrong knife. Instead, you get high-quality stamped blades that are married perfectly to comfortable synthetic handles. These knives are meant to be tools. While they’re aesthetically pleasing, their looks are the result of their simple, no-frills effectiveness, not the work of a designer.
While it’s true that these knives are stamped, this fact should not prejudice you against their quality. After all, you’re getting a chef’s knife, a paring knife, a utility knife, a sharpening steel, kitchen shears, and a couple of other goodies for a fantastically low price. Stamped knives like these are just as sharp as their forged counterparts and can easily last for decades with proper care.
While the balance of the larger knives might be slightly worse than a comparable forged knife, they more than make up for this small downside by being easier to sharpen and significantly more affordable.
Do you get a bolster?
Can you live without one for this price?
Simply fill up the remaining slots in your block with your favorite forged knives with all of the money you save by choosing this stamped set.
You can get cheaper knife sets than this ZWILLING 7-piece knife block. It’s very difficult to find knife sets that are better value, especially for someone who’s just starting out their knife collection. This ZWILLING block set gives you high-quality German-made tools and plenty of room to expand your collection as you grow as a chef. It’s one of my top recommendations for people who want to up their knife game to the next level.
If you’re after a single knife, this high-carbon stainless chef’s knife from ZWILLING is one of the best options around.
It’s a simple, German-made chef’s knife that’s forged from 57 HRC steel with a full tang, a full bolster, and a polymer handle that’s ready for professional use. The blade comes out of the box with an incredibly sharp grind of 15 degrees per side, making it sharper than many Japanese-style chefs knives you’ll find on the market.
For me, the best part about this knife is how easy it is. It’s made with easy to care for stainless that resists water and acid damage, letting you cut tomatoes with ease and ensuring you won’t mind letting other people use your knife.
The metal has the same magic hardness as the stamped set above, letting you sharpen it on standard equipment while ensuring that the edge stays incredibly sharp for months at a time with very little effort. Despite this, it’s soft enough that you don’t have to worry about accidentally damaging it under normal circumstances.
The balance of this knife is superb. It’s definitely a little bit heavier than stamped knives like the ones in the set above, but the full tang and bolster help ensure that the weight is distributed correctly. The tip feels incredibly light and maneuverable. You’ll be able to flow through food prep like it’s nothing.
For my money, the solid feature set of this ZWILLING Pro S knife makes it one of the best kitchen knives for home chefs, period. Not only is it incredibly sharp, it’s quite forgiving and easy to use, ensuring that you’ll be able to enjoy its excellent cutting performance for years to come.
JA Henckels International
While ZWILLING is the choice brand for people who want premium German-made knives, JA Henckels international mass-produces high-quality blades in Taiwan. It’s not quite as prestigious as the luxury brand above, but you can still get the job done on a set of JA Henckels International knives.
If the ZWILLING knife block above is the perfect way to start your knife collection, this JA Henckles International knife block is the perfect way to finish it. It’s a fully-featured set that comes complete with a chef’s knife, a paring knife, a santoku knife with a special hollow edge for lightning-fast cuts, sharpening steel, kitchen scissors, and a full set of steak knives.
Each knife features a full tang for balance and durability and looks absolutely wonderful with a gleaming metal endcap. You don’t get quite the same high-quality steel as the ZWILLING set, sure, but this knife block ensures that you’ll have every common knife you need for a pretty affordable price.
So should you buy this set?
The answer is “maybe.”
While it’s definitely on the list of things you should consider, you should make sure you know what the differences between this set and the ZWILLING set above are. The biggest one has to do with steel. This Henckels International set is made with a non-specified stainless that’s not going to be anywhere near as good at holding a sharp edge as the ZWILLING knives above.
This means you’ll have to use the provided honing steel more often and you might want to leave your knives at a more standard 20 degree per side angle. The 57 HRC ZWILLINGs, by contrast, can maintain a 15 degree per side angle without a lot of maintenance at all.
In other words, if you’re after a super-high performance knife set because you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, you’ll definitely want a slightly nicer set of ZWILLING knives. If you’re a more casual chef, on the other hand, this Henckels International set will do the trick just fine.
The knives are fantastically well balanced, very durable, and quite attractive. Most importantly, you get a full knife set that’s complete with steak knives for a very affordable price. You’ll love having this set sitting on your kitchen counter, ready for you to use at a moment’s notice.
If you’re after something a bit more premium than the International set above, this set of forged knives offers a slight improvement in durability and balance. It’s still made from non=specified German stainless steel, but the thicker blades and bolsters help make it a bit more premium.
This is one of my favorite sets to recommend to people who want the look and feel of a super high-end knife set without spending quite as much money.Again, the biggest downside to this knife block is the use of generic stainless steel.
These knives are attractive, easy to care for, and quite sharp, but they’ll require a bit more maintenance than a set of knives from a more premium steel. This means using the included honing steel more often, taking them to a knife shop to be sharpened a couple of times a year, and being content with a standard 20-degree-per side edge.
The other features of this knife set more than make up for this. It’s literally stuffed full of useful knives, for one, ensuring that you won’t need to buy any kitchen knives in the near future. It’s also housed in an elegant cherry block that looks a bit nicer than the usual pale woods that you see in other sets. The forged blades have incredible balance and are covered by a fairly comprehensive lifetime warranty that ensures you’ll have no problems with your purchase.
Just like the set above, I wouldn’t recommend this set to a culinary school student or someone who’s already pretty serious about knives. If you’re moving into a new kitchen and you want a full set of name brand knives for every occasion, however, this JA Henckels set is a perfect choice that you’ll love to show off. The knives are more than sharp enough for normal use and will last for many years.
The Best Henckels Knives
It’s tough to choose between the many excellent knives made by JA Henckels, especially with so many unhelpful user reviews that do little more than praise the sharp “J Hickle” knives that a customer received. While you’d almost certainly love any product you purchased from this venerable brand, the knife sets and knives above represent some of the best that JA Henckels has to offer.
Whether you’d like an inexpensive set full of sharp, beautiful knives, a premium knife set you can grow and grow into, or a high-end chef’s knife that’s designed for use by professionals and hobby chefs alike, the products above will be right at home in your kitchen. With a bit of proper care and plenty of love, you’ll be able to use your Henckels knife set for many years to make all of your favorite recipes.