Even though I think kitchen knife sets can often be overkill and not accurately meet a home chef’s needs, I can see two good reasons why someone might still want to consider buying a set: 1) If you lead a busy lifestyle and cooking isn’t a priority, you can save the time and energy of having to comparison shop for three to five different knives. Instead, in one fell swoop, you can get it over with. 2) If you’re buying a gift for someone (like for a wedding), and want it to be generous and make a really nice presentation. A matching set will do a much better job than a potpourri collection.
So with these options in mind I’ve done some serious research, and here are three smallish-but-high-quality knife sets that will supply essential cutlery without wasting money on extras you might not need or want:
Wusthof Classic Two-Piece Starter Knife Set
BUY NOW @ Amazon / $130 to $150
3.5 inch paring knife; 8 inch chef’s knife
True to their name, these are in the classic style—perfect for those who enjoy a vintage look and feel. Yes, there are only two, thus you’re one shy of the essential threesome every kitchen needs (a paring, a chef’s, and a bread knife). But what a great pair to start off with!
Global Knives Three-Piece Set w/o Block
BUY NOW @ Amazon / $184 to $225
7 inch Chef’s Knife—Hollow Ground(G-66); 3 1/2 inch paring knife (GS-38); 5 1/4 inch Santoku Chef’s Knife—Hollow Ground (GS-37)
For a completely different approach, there’s Global’s cutting-edge modern. Again, you’re missing a bread knife. But the smaller santoku could be a lifesaver, especially if there’s more than one cook in the family. And it will prove itself a million times more useful than the silly utility knife that comes standard issue in every large knife set.
Messermeister Meridian Elite 7-Piece Knife Block Set
BUY NOW @ Amazon / $350
8-inch Chef Knife, 9-inch Bread Knife, 5-inch Scalloped Utility, 3-1/2-inch Paring Knife, 10-inch Fine Steel, 8-1/2-inch Take-Apart Kitchen Scissors, 16 Slot Wood Block
Last, but not least. . .this package gives you everything you need (except a ceramic hone—the kind I recommend using). And these are top-notch fully-forged blades, not stamped knock-offs that make up the sets in this price range offered by the other major German manufacturers. Bought separately, these seven pieces would come to $381. (Keep an eye on the price because it’s been as low as $300 which—although it sounds hokey to say—is the deal of the century!)
Hope these three kitchen knife sets give you some ideas. . .