Knife sets are one of the best ways to get all of the knives that you need at once.
Instead of picking out each knife as you go, knife sets can give you the peace of mind of getting all that you need from a premium manufacturer in the same place.
But, are they all they have been drummed up to be? Are knife sets worth it at all – and you do have to put your money on them?
Knife sets provide users the ease of buying all the relevant kitchen knives at a go. These sets are better specialized to users who do a lot of food prep and use their knives extensively. Otherwise, knife sets might be more of a luxury than a necessity.
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Is it better to buy knives individually or in a set?
I have tried both ways in the past.
Well, not me directly.
My mother does a lot of cooking for the family so she invests in her knives. I, on the other hand, do more personal cooking than for multiple people at once.
So, I have surely seen the advantages of both buying the knives individually or in a set. If I were hard-pressed to make a choice, I would say that it depends.
There is no better way to pick out your kitchen knives than what works for you.
I know that this sounds a little like generic advice, so I make it more specific in the sections below.
Let’s see how knife sets could be the best – and why individual knives might be the best thing for you instead also.
The pros of buying knife sets
If I would buy a knife set at all, the following would be some of the reasons that play into that decision for me:
I love the fact that you can just grab a knife set that you like and you find anything that you want in there.
When I reviewed the Shun knife set and the various line-ups that they have on offer, one of the things that stood out to me was how each set seemed complete in itself.
Of course, I could have chosen to get each one of these knives differently, but they make sense as part of a set.
Good sets don’t come cheap, so that is not the angle that I’m tackling this from.
But, if you were to buy a set, you would get a better deal than if you were getting each of the knives that made up the set individually.
This is a marketing tactic by knife manufacturers to ensure more people go for the sets rather than individual units based on the perceived savings alone. The trick works since I know some people that have gone for sets because of this reason.
I’m not saying overall costs savings should be the only thing that you think about. I am, however, saying that it is worth considering if you use quite the number of knives.
Food prep habits
If you are someone who does a lot of food prep, please get a knife set.
Someone like me could get by using the same chef knife to cut my bread and slice my tomatoes. That would not work well with someone who cooks meals for a living or spends a lot of time in the kitchen.
Besides the fact that you want each meal to come out as great as it can for your guests, you also want to make your kitchen time as easy as possible.
We all know that getting the right tools for the job is one way to make things easier. In this case, these knives are the right tools to have.
The cons of buying knife sets
Now that you know what you stand to gain from a knife set – and who needs it more – what is the argument against getting these guys?
Here are some points that you might want to keep in mind.
Complicated food prep
You should not turn food prep sessions into an exact science where one knife has to be the one that does something – else it is perceived as not done right.
I have gotten away with using chef knives to slice vegetables, onions, and tomatoes for a long time now. My meals come out great – and those that have tasted my cooking will tell you the same thing.
As long as the aim is not to put on a show for anyone, why would I stress about picking out a different knife for the smallest tasks? Rather, I could just invest in a few fine knives and use them to do a lot of things at once.
The cost savings
It looks like you are saving some money off buying all the knives that come in a set individually when you get it all at once.
What if I told you that you can save more money when you buy just the knives that you need and leave the rest alone?
Pick out a chef knife, a paring knife, and another one based on your usual cooking procedure. At most, a selection of four knives should get you done with most tasks in the kitchen.
Compare that to what you would have paid on a 10-piece set and you see the massive cost savings here.
Maintenance and storage
I have discussed various ways to store your knives and keep the blades safe for longer on this blog. Even at that, though, how would you like to have 10 knives that you have to wash, dry, oil, sharpen, hone, etc every time?
Again, I don’t know how much you use your knives. If you are an average cook and user like most of us, though, that would be an overkill on you.
At the end of the day, you would end up wasting the money that you wanted to save by getting a knife set. Cos, of what use is a lot of knives that don’t get used as well – and are a pain to maintain in the long run?
All of my knives are not made by the same brand.
This has to be one of the biggest benefits that I got from not getting a set.
Some knife sets will have the chef knife well made than the others. In another set, I could score a better paring knife and pick up the serrated blade from yet another manufacturer that does a great job on those.
Now, I have a selection of great kitchen knives that I love and have custom chosen to suit different purposes. That is way better than being stuck with just one knife set where I have no option but to use what I have in front of me.
What knives should every kitchen have?
I mentioned this up there already, but I’m going to reiterate it here for effect.
When you are going with a minimalist kitchen setup, or you don’t want all of the extra hassles that come with knife sets, buy these:
- A serrated knife – helps you cut desserts, baked food, and vegetables with a harder-softer exterior to interior (such as tomatoes) (See guide to serrated knives here)
- A chef knife – just because you can do a lot of things with this knife alone. You can also choose to buy a santoku knife instead. (See guide to chef knives here)
- A paring knife – sometimes, the chef knife is too big for some delicate tasks. That is where this guy comes into the mix. (See guide to paring knives here)
Besides these three, you might feel the need to add one more based on your specific cooking needs. That extra knife could be anyone from a meat cleaver to a fillet.
You can still do their work with any of the other knives here, but they are nice to have around for when the task requires the kind of singular focus which they bring.