From Michelin Star-rated kitchens to local diners and messy student apartments to the countertops of avid home cooks, we all need some tools to whip up a meal.
Arguably the most crucial tool for food preparation in any setting is knives. You can find cleavers, paring knives, and serrated knives in many kitchens, but the most commonly used and essential “larger” knife tends to be a Santoku or chef’s knife.
Chef’s knives and Santoku knives can be used for similar tasks but differ in design. Santoku knives started in Japan and tend to be thinner and lighter than ordinary chef’s knives, which originated in France and Germany.
Another identifying factor is that Santoku knives don’t commonly have a pointed tip like their European counterparts.
Think one of these might be suitable for your kitchen? We’re here to help you pick the best Santoku knife for your needs!
Best Santoku Knives
Read on to find the right Santoku knife for your kitchen!
Mercer Culinary Genesis Forged Santoku Knife, 7-Inch
This reasonably priced and well-built knife from Mercer is a great entry-level Santoku knife for curious home cooks.
High carbon German steel forms the blade of this knife, allowing for a long lifespan after ample sharpenings.
The knife’s handle is not the most traditional, but this isn’t a bad thing. It is made from modern materials that offer excellent grip, even with wet hands.
There are other knives out there that boast better quality in one area or another, but this Forged Santoku provides an all-around experience that is hard to beat at this price.
Available online and at stores throughout the United States, try one today! The price is right.
Zwilling J. A. Henckels Twin Signature 7-Inch Hollow Edge Santoku Knife
German stalwarts Henckels have been known for years as manufacturers of high-quality kitchen knives.
Their offshoot Zwilling is less well-known but boasts much of the same quality. This is obvious when checking out their 7-inch Twin Signature Santoku Knife.
The hollow-edged Santoku offers a resilient and robust yet lightweight and agile blade.
As with most blades, this one is stainless steel and rust-resistant, but the quality German steel used allows for a sharper edge.
Most Santoku blades can reach a sharper edge, but quality steel will allow for a longer lifespan with more sharpenings.
Mac Knife 6.5 Inch Santoku Knife
This Japanese-made knife from Mac isn’t the absolute cheapest, but it does offer excellent bang for your proverbial buck.
Santoku knives are a Japanese design, so it makes sense that they know how it’s done.
One qualm worth noting is that the thinner blade doesn’t inspire as much confidence when cutting things like bones or thick-skinned fruit like melons.
This is more the job of a chef’s knife, but if you’re researching Santoku knives, you probably already know it.
What’s the benefit of this blade being thinner than its European counterparts? It sharpens and hones very easily.
Tojiro 6.7-Inch Santoku
Another excellent offering from Japan, this 6.7 inch (or 170 millimeters in metric, if you’re looking at their website) is a serious knife.
High-carbon steel will help slice and dice almost anything you need to, and Tojiro has an exceptional eye for design.
They say that many of their knives are designed loosely around the concept of origami.
Origami gives Tojiro’s knives their elegant design, but their blades are not as flimsy as their paper inspiration.
These knives are all handcrafted, and Tojiro ensures that imperfections don’t leave their factory.
Shun Premier 7-Inch Santoku Knife
The Shun Premier 7-Inch Santoku is a beautiful higher-end Japanese knife and can handle pretty much anything a recipe or eager dinner guest asks you for.
Comprised of over 30 layers of steel, this light but the sturdy blade will last a lifetime. The contours on the blade’s sides help prevent food from adhering to it.
This model is much like a hollow-edged knife but with a more stylish design.
Shun handcrafts this knife and has equipped it with a wooden handle that not only looks amazing but will provide a sturdy grip for any cook’s needs.
You won’t find one of these in a bargain bin at your discount cookware store, but if you have the money for a Shun, you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic product.
Wusthof Classic Hollow Edge Santoku Knife
German stalwart brand Wusthof has this hollow edge Santoku knife on their classic product line due to its popularity and dependability.
A favorite of professional chefs and enthusiastic home cooks as well, Wusthof’s 200+ year history has taught them how to make excellent chef knives.
They didn’t hold back when designing and creating this Santoku and have maintained their commitment to excellence.
The hollow-edged design of this Santoku makes it a serious vegetable chopping machine, allowing foods like onion and bell pepper to slide right off of its steel sides.
Perhaps it’s due to Wusthof’s European classical origins, but this knife is one of the more versatile ones we’ve reviewed as well.
Miyabi 7-Inch Birchwood Santoku
One of the higher-end knives we’ve reviewed, the Miyabi Birchwood Santoku chops about as well as it looks, and that’s a high compliment!
Miyabi’s website describes this knife as “scalpel-like,” which is hard to argue with. Of all the great knives on this list, the 7-inch Miyabi, with its beautiful and practical birchwood handle, has to be the sharpest.
The abovementioned handle isn’t just for looks, as it feels fantastic in your hand ad provides a natural alternative to rubber that grips as well or better.
An entirely handcrafted Japanese knife like this doesn’t come cheap, which may be the only downside to the Miyabi.
Zelite Infinity 7” Santoku Knife
Zelite’s Infinity Santoku Knife is yet another excellent deal compared to others we have reviewed.
Looking rather bare-bones and industrial, this won’t jump out to guests in your kitchen. But if anyone offers to be sous-chef at your next dinner party, they won’t be disappointed either!
Coming from the manufacturer with its own leather sheath, the Infinity is ready to use!
A lifetime warranty, triple-riveted handle, and Japanese steel blade make this reasonably priced knife a great candidate for a handful of kitchen applications.
How does Zelite keep its prices down? These knives are actually made in China, but in an area known for their culinary products and with imported steel from Japan.
Sabatier Forged Stainless Steel Santoku Knife
We’re now heading from Asia to Europe with the French company Sabatier’s lovely Forged Stainless Steel Santoku Knife.
Sabatier makes excellent chef’s knives, and they’ve transferred this expertise over to their Santoku, using high-carbon steel to allow for a perfect cutting angle.
Sabatier’s knives generally come in one of their EdgeKeeper self-sharpening sheaths rather than a traditional plastic holder.
This feature is very useful for storage or transportation and will keep your knife sharper for longer.
As long as you follow Sabatier’s cleaning and storage instructions, they guarantee defect-free products with a lifetime warranty.
What Is a Santoku Knife?
Santoku knives are used in similar applications to a chef’s knife but have a different shape and weight.
Chef’s knives trace their origin to Europe centuries ago and are a more versatile adaptation of tools primarily used in beef butchery. Santokus, despite their popularity in Asia and the West, have only been around since the mid-1900s.
Their name translates to “three virtues,” which are generally said to be the preparation of meat, fish, and vegetables.
The Japanese steel used in Santoku blades is most commonly a harder material than its western counterparts, which gives them the power to be thinner yet more robust.
How does this compare to a department store chef’s knife you likely have kicking around your kitchen? It makes Santoku knives stronger on average.
The downside? While they stay sharp and strong, they can chip easier than western chef’s knives.
This is why it’s a common rule not to use Santoku knives on bones when cutting meat or on stiffer fruits and vegetables like watermelon.
Best Santoku Knives
- Mercer Culinary Genesis Forged Santoku Knife, 7-Inch
- Zwilling J. A. Henckels Twin Signature 7-Inch Hollow Edge Santoku Knife
- Mac Knife 6.5 Inch Santoku Knife
- Tojiro 6.7-Inch Santoku
- Shun Premier 7-Inch Santoku Knife
- Wusthof Classic Hollow Edge Santoku Knife
- Miyabi 7-Inch Birchwood Santoku
- Zelite Infinity 7” Santoku Knife
- Sabatier Forged Stainless Steel Santoku Knife
If you’re looking for a Santoku knife, you should now be well versed in a few of the best.
If it’s your first time buying one, look for Japanese steel and sharpness directly out of the box. The sharper it is at first, the longer it’ll stay that way!
Whatever your favorite things to cook are, and whatever your budget, the knives mentioned above can suit a myriad of needs. Learn about other types of knives to complete your set!
Whether you’re starting a job at a restaurant or are a home cook with a Sunday meal prep ritual, there is always slicing to be done. Try out a Santoku!
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