Best Overall: Classic IKON
What I like best about the Wüsthof Classic Ikon series knives is that they fall right in the middle of everything that Wüsthof is great at. They’re undeniably sharp, hold an edge very well, have a comfortable and sanitary handle, and are reasonably priced. While the brand’s other knife sets specialize in one aspect, the Wüsthof Classic Ikon knives do everything well. And the fact that they can do that while looking fresh and contemporary really puts them in a league of their own.
First, the Classic Ikon series knives are forged from a single piece of high carbon stainless steel. Next, they are specially tempered to resist staining and corrosion. Finally, a series of sharpening steps called Precision Edge Technology gives these rust-free blades a long-lasting and razor sharp edge.
The sloped bolster design of this series of knives wins big points with me, too. Though it affords less protection than a full bolster, it’s easier to use the entire length of the blade. Sharpening your own knives is easier too, since you won’t run into the bolster while honing your blade.
Handles for the Wüsthof Classic Ikon series knives are made from a durable and sanitary synthetic polymer. Their ergonomic design makes them comfortable to hold for anyone, whether your hands are large, small, or somewhere in the middle.
Overall, the Wüsthof Classic Ikon series combines the best attributes of two of their most popular lines. Drawing from the old-school durability and utility of their Classic knives and the sculpted handles of their Ikon knives, the Classic Ikon knives are my constant kitchen standby. And with a price that’s right in the middle of all the Wüsthof lines, they’re accessible to a wide range of home chefs.
- Comfortable ergonomic handles
- Accessible price point
- Sloped bolster for full blade use
- Beginners may prefer a full bolster design
Most Affordable: Gourmet
Anyone looking to start using Wüsthof’s knives without laying down hundreds of dollars will appreciate the Gourmet line. They’re the most affordable of Wüsthof’s knife lines, with the benefit of being lightweight and easy for beginners to get used to.
There’s one major difference between the Gourmet series and Wüsthof’s other knives. Instead of being forged from a single piece of steel, the Gourmet series knives are stamped from sheets. This is both why they are much more affordable, and why they can’t take as sharp of an edge as Wüsthof’s other knives.
The Gourmet series knives are much lighter than other Wüsthof knives because of these stamped blades. Combined with their low price, this light weight makes the Gourmet series ideal for anyone who’s new to the kitchen.
Even with their lighter steel, the Gourmet series knives still carry many of Wüsthof’s signature design touches. The plastic bolster gives protection for your front finger, and the shape of the blade encourages cutting with the entire length. Add a triple-riveted handle for balance, and these knives far outperform what you’d expect at this price.
Wüsthof Gourmet series knives hold a special place in my heart. They were the first Wüsthof knives that I ever used, back when I was teaching myself to cook new dishes in my studio apartment. Even now that I’ve moved on to pricier knives, I look back fondly on the quality that the Gourmet series gives for such a low price.
- Priced for beginners
- Lightweight and easy to use
- Can’t take as sharp of an edge as other Wüsthof knives
- Dedicated cooks will outgrow them
Best Upgrade: Crafter
From the handles to the brass rivets to the hand finishing, these knives drip with old school style. Though they’re not a super pricery knife set, the Crafter series easily looks like it could cost twice as much. If you want a knife for your kitchen that has beauty and stellar performance, the Crafter Series is right for you.
The Crafter series of knives takes its main design cues from Wüsthof’s most popular knives, then embellishes on them. They’re forged from a single piece of high carbon steel, giving them excellent sharpness and edge retention. Then to put icing on the cake, they’re buffed by hand to a gleaming polish. The same sloped bolster as in the Ikon series lets you use the whole length of the blade, and makes them easy to sharpen too.
Most noticeable, though, are the Crafter series’ handles. First, they’re made with a smoked oakwood shell that looks gorgeous and rustic. Then, they’re studded with brass rivets to complete the traditional look.
Should everyone spend the extra money to buy a set of Crafter knives? Not necessarily. If you’re interested in knives more for their utility than their looks, that would just feel like money down the drain. But if you’re keen on having a knife set that looks as good as it cuts, the Crafter series gets my vote.
- Beautiful smoked oak handles
- Attractive brass rivets
- Excellent sharpness and edge retention
- More expensive just for looks
Runners Up: The Other Wüsthof Lines
Choosing just three of Wüsthof’s knife lines to feature above was a difficult task. And honestly, I think that each of their knife series has something special to offer home and professional cooks. With that in mind, I’ll briefly touch on the other five Wüsthof knife lines and give my suggestions for who they might be best for.
Classic – Designed For Professional Kitchens
Wüsthof Classic knives are their original line made for professional chefs. They’re easily identified by their black composite handles and full bolsters. Each Wüsthof Classic knife has a rough and tumble blade that can handle the rigors of production kitchen work. And if you’re looking for the widest variety of knife styles, the Wüsthof Classic line features almost 70 blades!
Ikon – Stunning Handle Design
The Wüsthof Ikon series is most notable for its beautiful handles. Made of African blackwood, they are a distinctive knife that looks great in white-tiled kitchens. The thick double bolster of the Ikon series knives gives them a pleasant feel in the hand and allows for effortless chopping. If you like the appearance of their handles, I would recommend the Ikon knives as an alternative to the Wüsthof Classic Ikon series.
Epicure – Built With A Focus On Sustainability
The Epicure series are Wüsthof’s only knives to be made with recycled wood handles. They focus on creating beautiful knives that are also sustainable. Wüsthof’s Epicure knives are an excellent choice for inexperienced home chefs, as their full bolster provides a degree of protection while cutting.
Grand Prix II – A Minimalist Aesthetic
The sleek and contemporary Wüsthof Grand Prix II series of knives will appeal to kitchen minimalists. A pebbled handle texture provides improved grip without sacrificing aesthetics. If you’re regularly working with wet hands, the Grand Prix II will give you the best non-slip grip possible.
Aeon – Sharpest and Most Durable
Wüsthof’s Aeon line is both gorgeous and remarkably expensive. They’re designed to provide the absolute in luxury, appearance, and utility. Of particular note are the bog oak handles, which come from millennia-old trees. On top of that, a diamond-like carbon coating makes the Aeon series the sharpest and most durable of all Wusthof knives.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Wüsthof Knives
Each of Wüsthof’s eight unique lines of knives has something to offer home and professional chefs. But not every line is appropriate to every situation. When I’m recommending Wüsthof knives to my friends, I take each of the following options into consideration:
Type of Knives
Which types of knives do you really need in your kitchen? Wüsthof’s package deals are a great value. That’s why I’ve focused on them for this article. If you’re looking to keep costs low and utility high though, it’s better to go for the classic combo of a chef’s knife and a paring knife. This duo will let you take care of most kitchen projects with ease. Then, each additional knife will let you tackle more specialized recipes.
When I’m looking at buying a knife, I pay special attention to its three major aspects: The blade, the bolster, and the handle. Let’s examine each in more detail:
Wüsthof’s kitchen knives come in two main varieties: Forged knives and stamped knives.
Seven of the eight knife lines offered by Wüsthof feature blades forged from a single block of high carbon steel. This gives the knives great sharpness and edge retention as well as improved longevity.
Only their budget-priced line, the Gourmet Series, is stamped from a sheet of steel. This process is cheaper because it is much less time-intensive. The downside is that it produces a blade that will never be as sharp or durable as a forged knife.
The bolster is where the handle of the knife meets the blade. It’s the secret ingredient in making perfectly balanced knives, and can also provide a layer of protection between your lead finger and the blade.
Half of Wüsthof’s knife lines feature a full bolster. That provides maximum protection and reinforcement, but also means that you won’t be able to use the full length of your blade for cutting tasks. Full bolster knives are great for beginners thanks to the protection they offer.
The other half of Wüsthof’s knives feature a half bolster designed to let you use the full cutting edge of the blade. Though it affords no protection for your lead finger, this also makes half bolster knives much easier to sharpen. If your knife skills are well developed, I recommend a half bolster knife.
Wüsthof uses three types of knife handles in their designs. The most sanitary and easy to clean are the synthetic polymer handles. Wood and resin composite handles offer this same ease of cleaning, but with a more pleasant appearance. Natural wood handles are the most luxurious and attractive, but require extra maintenance to keep them in good shape.
Wüsthof has been refining and tweaking their designs for almost 200 years, and the attention to detail is evident in every knife they make.
Each Wüsthof knife series has unique design elements that will make them appeal to different people. The Wüsthof Classic Ikon line, for instance, features a synthetic ergonomic handle and a half bolster. Contrast this with the Epicure line, with its full bolster and sustainable wood composite handle.
If you’re having trouble deciding which line’s design suits you best, please do take another look at the reviews above where I’ve covered all eight of Wüsthof’s knife lines.
Usually, carbon steel knives require considerably more maintenance than stainless steel. That can scare away a lot of home chefs, who may not feel comfortable applying mineral oil and sharpening their own knives.
For Wüsthof’s carbon steel knives, though, you won’t have to worry as much about extra maintenance. Their proprietary steel blends and special tempering processes make all of their knives stain- and corrosion-resistant. And since each knife will come to you precision sharpened, it will be up to a year before you need to have them sharpened again so long as you are storing them properly.
Which Series Is Right for You?
Of Wüsthof’s eight knife lines, six of them fall in a nearly identical price range. The Gourmet series is their most affordable, while the Aeon line is a luxury product with a price to match.
From the Wüsthof Classic Ikon to the Grand Prix II and even the sustainable Epicure line, you’ll be deciding more on features than on price. So how can you know which one is right for you?
I’d encourage you to look first at the bolster style of each knife line. Half bolster knives are generally better for experienced cooks because they allow you to use the full length of the blade. Full bolster knives may be a better fit for beginners because they protect your lead finger from cutting accidents.
Next, look at the handle design. I’ve been consistently impressed with how many different sizes of hands each Wüsthof handle can accommodate — so I suggest that you choose the handle that you find most visually attractive.
Between these three considerations (price, bolster, and handle), you should be able to narrow down your choices to one line of knives.
As I was talking to my food service industry friends about the perspectives I wanted to voice in this Wüsthof knives review, the responses were overall positive. Only two common complaints stand out: Price, and difficulty in sharpening.
It’s true that most of Wüsthof’s knives come with a hefty price tag. Compared to similar knives in the luxury knife category though, Wüsthof’s knives often come in as some of the most affordable! If you’re on a tight budget, though, I recommend two options. Either stick with a 2-piece chef’s knife and paring knife set, or net substantial savings by purchasing a 7-piece set. Either way, buying your Wüsthof knives in sets will lower the cost of each knife individually.
Wüsthof’s high carbon steel knives are some of the sharpest that you’ll find. This comes with a tradeoff, though, as they also take more skill to sharpen than less expensive knives. If you’re new to knife sharpening, it’s probably best to take your Wüsthof blades to a professional for sharpening.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wüsthof Knives
To wrap things up, I’d like to answer some of the most common questions that come up about Wüsthof knives.
Why Should I Buy Wüsthof Knives?
If you’re used to getting by with the knife that you bought at the supermarket, the price tag on Wüsthof knives might be shocking. But if you had the chance to compare a generic knife side by side with a Wüsthof, I think you’d quickly see why they’re so pricey.
I most often recommend Wüsthof knives to at-home cooks that are looking to improve their culinary skills. When you have a growing passion for cooking, investing in top quality tools will reinforce that love of food. Instead of just using a knife to cut, you start to develop a genuine relationship with your tools and your food. And that’s a beautiful thing!
When Should I Consider Another Brand?
Wüsthof’s knives are almost always my top recommendation for Western style knives. If you’re interested in Japanese knives, though, there are many more brands to choose from. Especially if you’re looking for a santoku knife, I’d recommend looking for a Japanese-made brand.
Is Wüsthof Made in China? Where Is Wüsthof Made?
All of Wüsthof’s knives are made in Solingen, Germany. They’ve been producing knives in this legendary “city of blades” for almost 200 years!
What Is Wüsthof’s Warranty?
As per their website, all of Wüsthof’s knives carry a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects. Judging from the reviews given by Wüsthof knife owners, though, you probably won’t be using it. One of the biggest benefits of buying a premium knife like Wüsthof is that they have gone through extensive testing to ensure quality and reliability.
Are Wusthof Knives Dishwasher Safe?
All Wusthof knives should be hand washed. Using a dishwasher for high quality knives can result in their handles and blades becoming warped and deformed.
Are Wüsthof Knives 15 or 20 Degrees?
In fact, Wüsthof knives are sharpened to neither 15 nor 20 degrees! They’re sharpened to 14 degrees on each side, for a total edge of 28 degrees.
What Are Wüsthof Knives Made Of?
All of Wüsthof’s blades are made from high-carbon stain-free steel. Their knife handles are made from synthetic composites, wood resin composites, or natural wood.
With that, we’ve come to the end of our Wüsthof knife journey.
Which of their knife sets do you think best suits your needs and style? If you’re like me, you’ll appreciate the rugged versatility of the Wüsthof Classic Ikon series. On a short budget? Then the Gourmet series gives you a useful option to outfit your kitchen. And if you have refined tastes and a little bit more cash, the Crafter Series will really do the trick.
If this article peaked your curiosity to dig deeper, check out my recent feature on “best kitchen knives” that compares Wüsthof against other top knife brands from Germany and Japan, as well as several affordable options. I also took a closer look at what makes a great knife, and how regional cuisine influenced the creation of the blades we know and love today.