We might be told that a good workman never blames his tools, but it’s equally true that a good chef would never be found yielding a rubbish knife. From chopping and slicing to carving and filleting, a good set of knives is an essential kitchen kit for even a semi enthusiastic cook.
Buying a knife block set is the best way to equip yourself with all the knives you’ll need – so long as you get the right one. The best will generally be cheaper than buying all the knives included separately, and feature the essentials needed for most cooking – with the block itself offering a handy, safe and nice looking storage solution in one.
When judging the best, we’re taking into account the quality of the knives themselves versus the price and the range of knives included, as well as extras such as the look of the block and additional features such as sharpeners or scissors. Given a good block could stay with you for life, it’s worth making the right decision.
Zwilling 7 Piece Self-Sharpening Knife Block
If you’re looking for the Ferrari of knife blocks, you’ve found it. This premium block looks and feels the part, just as the individual knives do. They’re solid, with enough weight to feel high quality and controlled but not so much that they become heavy. And the deep brown block, made from ash wood, is a classy addition to any kitchen sideboard.
It features the whole range of knives you could need – including a paring knife and a bread knife, plus a pair of scissors for good measure. The real pièce de résistance, though, is that this knife block is completely self-sharpening. It’s made with ceramic sharpening stones fitted into the knife slots at specific angles, so that you gently sharpen your knives as you take them in and out. Genius. But genius comes at a price – and just like actual Ferraris, this knife block doesn’t come cheap.
Tower 5-Piece Acrylic Knife Block
This five-piece set covers all bases including a bread knife and a paring knife. The faux marble look of the blades – which are shown off through its transparent acrylic block – could well divide opinion but would suit a modern-look kitchen. Less controversial is the non-stick coating on the blades, which helps the blade whizz smoothly through tougher items. We found it worked a treat when tackling something big and firm like a butternut squash. Great value for some serious knives, and with no key component missing, it’s a great deal – a five year warranty makes it all the better.
Viners Organic Natural 5 Piece Knife Block
You might have thought an organic meal was about the ingredients used to make it rather than the knives used to cut the ingredients up. But knives have an environmental impact too, and the USP of this pretty-looking and super-compact circular block is its eco credentials. The block and knife handles are made from 35 per cent wheat fibre, a natural by-product created from agricultural waste, while the blades themselves are crafted from 80 per cent recycled steel.
While we love the concept and indeed the range of knives worked well on testing, the block itself is a little flimsy and cheap feeling. To be fair, the price is very reasonable, but it just doesn’t feel like a piece of kitchen kit you’ll love for years to come – and the right knife block really should.
Stellar Sabatier 5 Piece Knife Block
When it comes to culinary expertise, you have to trust the French. And this block created with renowned generations-old French knife makers Sabatier doesn’t disappoint. The solid stainless steel blade runs right through the handle for added strength and precision – something of a company hallmark – and the blade features indented ‘air pockets’ for easy release so the knife doesn’t get stuck in tough foods. Weight balance is also a key part of the design, and indeed you can feel a real sense of control throughout using these carefully and cleverly formed knives. The wooden block itself is good looking, neat and compact – and though it lacks extras such as scissors or a sharpener, it does include a paring knife and bread knife completing the set of everything you regularly need.
Zyliss Comfort 6 Piece Knife Set
A curve ball, but worth including is this colourful six-piece set from Zyliss. It contains all the usual knives you’d expect, but does away with the block altogether. Good for those who don’t have space for a knife block on the counter and would rather simply put their knives in the drawer. As such, each knife comes with a blade cover for safety and its own preservation. What you lose in a block, you gain in value for money; these feel like high quality knives – light, easy to grip, sharp and easy to sharpen, all for a fraction of the price you might expect. Block aside, the only thing it’s lacking is a bread knife which would have to be bought separately.
Morphy Richards Accents 5 Piece Knife Block
This all-metal knife set is made from highly polished stainless steel, from handles to blade. It may look shiny, but the handles are surprisingly solid to grip and nice to the touch, with an ergonomic design ensuring easy use. The knives cut well, too – with a feeling of sharp precision and power that may not have been expected from the price. This is all solid metal cutting action and no flimsiness. All the requisite knives are included, and it also boasts a super-slim stand – especially useful if you’re short of kitchen space, or find your counters already full of other items and appliances. Equally, if you didn’t want it on show – shiny and pretty though it is – you could fit it in a cupboard more easily than most similar blocks. An all-round great deal.
Venn 5 Piece Knife Block
If you’re into a gadget, this block may be for you. It’s cleverly designed with knife compartments that fan out so that it can either stand on your work surface as a block, be connected to the wall, or folded away to keep in a drawer. All the key knives are included and are marked by a different colour handle edge to help you easily find the one you’re after. The knives themselves are nicely designed too, with a comfy easy-grip handle and a tapered stainless steel blade edge for extra lasting sharpness. They feel firm to the grip and solid to use, making them impressive for the price – though it’s the flexible block that leaves the biggest impression.
Robert Welch Signature Book Oak Knife Block
Combining German steel and Japanese-learned design, the knives in this six-piece set are the real deal when it comes to strength, precision and durability. Included is a santoku knife (a Japanese knife with indents on the blade made for tough chopping) along with the more standard selection including a chef’s knife, bread knife and paring knife. The solid-oak block is no less well thought out, designed to look like books on a shelf, with the knives fitting vertically between the ‘spines’. A looker, but one with the quality to match.
When it comes to the most prestigious-looking block and most decadent to use knives, the Zwilling 7 Piece Self-Sharpening Knife Block has little competition, with the fact the knives continuously sharpen being not just a cool gimmick but a constant benefit. That said, you’d expect all the bells and whistles going if you were paying over £400. For a more sensibly priced block, the Stellar Sabatier 5 Piece Knife Block ticks all the boxes, with strong, sharp and precise knives that will last and a block that doesn’t take up too much space but looks the part on the kitchen counter.