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Kiwi Knives: The Cheapest Knife You’ll Fall in Love With (A Review)

By trk

Last Updated: January 18, 2024

affordable kitchen knife, best kitchen knife, kitchen knife review, kitchen knife reviews, Kiwi

Kiwi knives are hugely popular throughout the world. There's something about the thin, light, affordable blades that people fall in love with. Whether it's the price, the performance, or the ease of sharpening, Kiwi might be the cheap kitchen knife you've been looking for all your life. 

Find our all about Kiwi knives in our detailed review.

Kiwi Knives at a Glance

Here are Kiwi's most popular knives and sets. Kiwi makes several other knives, as well.  See their whole lineup on Amazon

All Kiwi knives are made in Thailand and have a 1 year warranty. Prices are approximate and subject to change.

Kiwi Knife

Features

Kiwi Thai chef's knife no. 21

-Stamped 8" stainless steel blade, hardened and tempered

-Riveted wood or plastic handle

-HRC 50-51

-No bolster, partial tang

-130g (4.6 oz.)

-1mm thick spine at handle

-About $10.

 Thai Chef's Knives 2 piece set #171/172

see it on Amazon

see 2pc set of #172 on Amazon (square blade)

Kiwi Chef's knives 2 piece set

-Stamped 6.5" stainless steel blades, hardened and tempered

-Riveted wood handles

-HRC 50-51

-No bolster, partial tang

-159g (5.6 oz.) combined weight

-1mm thick spine at handle

-About $10 for the set.

Western 8" Chef's Knife, #288

see it on Amazon

see it at Wal-Mart

Kiwi chef's knife no. 288

-Stamped 8" stainless steel blade, hardened and tempered

-Riveted wood handle

-HRC 50-51

-No bolster, partial tang

-1mm thick spine at handle

-119g (4.2 oz.)

-About $10.

Kiwi chef's knife #22

-Stamped 7.5" stainless steel blade, hardened and tempered

-Riveted wood handle

-HRC 50-51

-No bolster, partial tang

-1mm thick at spine

-159g (5.6oz.)

-About $10.

Kiwi Paring Knife #503

-Stamped 4" stainless steel blade, hardened and tempered

-Riveted wood handle

-HRC 50-51

-No bolster, partial tang

-1mm thick spine at handle

-51g (1.8 oz.)

-About $8.

Set of 6 Steak Knives, #502

Kiwi steak knives # 502, seet of 6

-Stamped stainless steel blades, hardened and tempered

-Riveted wood handles

-HRC 50-51

-No bolsters, partial tangs

-204g (7.2 oz.) combined weight

-About $16.

5 Piece Set (#171, 172, 501, 503, 504)

see it on Amazon

Kiwi 5 pc knife set

-Stamped stainless steel blades, hardened and tempered

-Riveted wood handles

-HRC 50-51

-No bolsters, partial tangs

-About $30.

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About Kiwi

The Kiwi knife company was founded in 1978 in a village outside of Bangkok, Thailand by Supachai Chayakul, a blacksmith who made knives and machetes for local farmers and fisherman. By the 1990s, the company had several employees and continued to expand into a major manufacturer of mass produced knives. Today Kiwi knives are sold around the world. They are still made in Thailand.

Kiwi knives are so popular in the Far East, you're likely to find at least one of them in any Asian family kitchen. 

The Kiwi company also makes the Kom Kom brand, a slightly higher quality brand with some interesting specialty knives. 

Kiwis are not high-end knives, but they are beloved nevertheless for their thinness, lightness, and value. 

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Using Kiwi Knives (How We Tested)

For this review we tested the Thai 8-inch chef's knife (#21). The first thing we do is measure out-of-box sharpness (or in this case, out of bubble wrap) with a professional edge tester. We're looking for a sharpness below 400 grams, per this table of sharpness standards (the lower the number, the sharper the blade):

Bess C knife sharpness scale

Somewhat unsurprisingly, the Kiwi Thai chef's knife #21 didn't produce great results on the Bess-C sharpness tester. The average of three tests was 410g ("edge in need of maintenance").

Even so, the blade was surprisingly sharp. It cut through tomato skin like a sharp, new knife. This is because Kiwi blades are extremely thin, so they feel and work like sharp knives even if they're not particularly sharp.

We do a more thorough review below, and even though it's for one knife, you can assume that all the Kiwi blades perform similarly. 

After sharpness testing, we put the knife to standard kitchen work, cutting tomatoes, onions, carrots, herbs, potatoes, apples, cheese, meats, and more. Because the blade is so thin, we stayed away from hard foods like bone, hard squashes, and frozen foods, and we recommend the same to all Kiwi users. The concern isn't chipping, as it is with hard Japanese knives, it is that the knife steel is too soft to cut through hard items without bending or rolling the blade. 

These knives are great at what they're good at, but they're not good at everything. 

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Features of Kiwi Knives

This section looks at important features of Kiwi knives.

Steel

Kiwi doesn't disclose what steel they use on their knives, they just say it's "Japanese knife steel." There are a lot of different Japanese knife steels, but some experts think Kiwi knives are 2Cr13 steel, which has a carbon content of about 0.2%, which is low for knives. (Compare to Wusthof steel, which has a carbon content of 0.5%.)

The low carbon content means the Kiwi knives are soft, with a hardness rating on the Rockwell scale of 50-51 HRC. This is lower than we typically recommend for kitchen knives, as anything lower than about 55 HRC needs to be sharpened frequently. However, Kiwis are an exception for two reasons.

First, Kiwis are so cheap that you don't expect great sharpness, much less longevity--and they are easy to sharpen (more on this below). 

Second, Kiwi blades are so thin that even when they're dull they can cut through food easily. Dull Kiwis work almost as well as sharp Kiwis (not really, but you'll be pleasantly surprised at how sharp a Kiwi knife feels even when it isn't).

To get the best performance, steel your Kiwi blade frequently; every time you use it, and even during use if you're cutting a lot of food.

Handles

Kiwi Thai chef's knife no. 21

Kiwi chef's knife with wooden handle.

Kiwi Paring Knife with Plastic Handle

Kiwi paring knife with plastic handle.

Kiwi knives are available with a wooden handle (the most popular) or a plastic handle. The wood is Thai hardwood. Kiwi doesn't say what the plastic handles are, but they're probably a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), an inexpensive plastic used on economy brand knives (like Victorinox). TPE feels nice in your hand and provides good grip, but it's a fairly soft plastic and isn't as durable as some harder plastics you'll see on higher grade knives (like Wusthof and Zwilling). This means it can melt if exposed to heat or crack when cold.

Thinness

Kiwi blades are extremely thin, some of the thinnest we've seen. The Thai chef's knife we tested is just 1mm thick where the blade meets the handle. Most knives--even thin, light Japanese knives--start around 1.5mm, with heavy German blades being up to 3mm thick.

This thinness is an asset because it gives the blade a sharp feel even if the knife isn't all that sharp. It also allows you to slice through foods easily and sharpen easily (though easy sharpening can also be attributed to the soft steel).

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Why Are Kiwi Knives So Affordable?

There are a few reasons:

Kiwi knives are mass produced in Thailand, a country where both materials and labor are inexpensive. 

Kiwi knives use soft steel, some of the softest and cheapest steel seen in kitchen knives. The handle materials are also cheap, both the wood and the plastic. 

And because Kiwi knives are so cheap, they are sold in huge quantities around the world, which also keeps prices down. 

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What Tasks Are Kiwi Knives Best For?

Kiwis are good for most kitchen tasks, as long as you don't use them for hard foods, frozen foods, or bone. The blades are thin, flexible, and soft, so not durable enough to cut hard foods. But for most fruits, veggies, herbs, meats, and cheeses, Kiwi knives are great.

Kiwis are great knives to keep on hand for guests if you don't want them using your more expensive knives. They're great for camping and any other traveling knife when you don't want to worry about your better knives getting damaged.

Kiwis are hugely popular in Thailand and other Far East countries. So much so that there's a Kiwi or two in most kitchens. They're a great "extra" knife to keep around for whenever you might need it.

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About the Cutting Angle

Cutting Angle Diagram 15 degrees

Cutting angle diagram on a kitchen knife.

The cutting angle, also called the edge angle or bevel, is the angle to which the cutting edge is honed on the knife blade. The most popular cutting angle is 15 degrees on both sides (as shown in the diagram). Traditionally, Western knives have a 20 degree cutting angle (both sides), but this is less common today, with 15 degrees more common. Japanese knives can have a cutting angle ranging from 16 degrees down to 9 degrees, and some Japanese knives have a single bevel or offset bevel (different angles on each side), though these aren't commonly seen in the Western market. 

Kiwi does not disclose the cutting angle of their knives, but we think it's 15-17 degrees on both sides ("double bevel"). But it doesn't matter all that much, because Kiwi knives are so thin that you can put any cutting angle on them you want to and they will feel sharp. They're also cheap, so if you ruin the angle, you can toss the knife and try again with a new one.

If you're buying an expensive knife, the cutting angle is important because a lot of thought went into the design of the knife. But a Kiwi is cheap enough to experiment with, put the angle you want on it, or to not even worry about what the cutting angle is as long as the knife cuts how you want it to.

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Sharpening a Kiwi Knife

Honing a Knife

Steeling a knife on a honing steel.

One of the best features of Kiwi knives is how easy they are to sharpen. The steel is so soft that you can use just about anything to sharpen them. And because the cutting angle isn't terribly important (unless there's a specific angle you want), you don't have to worry about getting that right, either.

In fact, you don't even need a knife sharpener to sharpen a Kiwi. A honing steel, preferably ceramic, will restore the soft Kiwi blade to like-new sharpness.

Sure, you can use a stone or other knife sharpener, and you can put a precise angle on the blade if you want to. But the beauty of Kiwis is that you don't have to, and you probably won't miss it. The thin blade makes the knife feel sharp even if the sharpening quality isn't perfect.

Kiwis are also a good knife to practice on if you want to get good at using a sharpening stone. Using sharpening stones correctly has a learning curve, so you may ruin a knife or two before you get good at it. At about $10 for a chef's knife, Kiwis are the perfect knife to practice with.

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Kiwi Vs. Victorinox Knives

Kiwi Thai chef's knife no. 21

Kiwi Thai chef's knife.

Victorinox Fibrox Pro chef's knife

Victorinox Fibrox Pro chef's knife.

Kiwi knives are much less expensive and softer than Victorinox knives. In fact, Kiwis are one of the lowest priced, softest knives we've tested. 

A Victorinox chef's knife goes for about $40-$50, whereas a Kiwi chef's knife goes for about $10.

Victorinox hardness is around 55 HRC. Kiwi hardness is around 50-51 HRC (so much softer).

So Kiwi knives appeal to a different market than Victorinox. Victorinox is marketed as an affordable yet high quality knife with a lifetime warranty. Kiwi is marketed as a super cheap, almost throwaway brand that you'll love because it doesn't require any special care and doesn't provide any particularly stellar performance, and you'll be happy to get a few years of use from it. 

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Kiwi Vs. Dexter Knives

Kiwi Thai chef's knife no. 21

Kiwi Thai chef's knife.

Dexter Basics chef knife

Dexter Basics chef's knife.

The other brand that Kiwi comes close is Dexter, a low priced brand made in the USA and marketed mostly to the food industry (restaurants, butcher shops, meat processing plants, etc.) but also to home cooks. 

Dexter makes several lines of knives, with their Basics line usually closest in price to Kiwi, at about $25 for a chef's knife. These knives are beloved in the foodservice industry because they're cheap, so no worries about ruining them with heavy use, but they also hold up well and sharpen easily. 

The affordable lines of Dexter knives are more durable and slightly harder, with a hardness rating around 54 HRC. Thus, they're harder, will stay sharp longer, yet still be easy to sharpen. 

Like the Victorinox, Dexter knives are marketed to a different audience than Kiwi: Dexter is marketed to food service professionals and more incidentally home cooks, while Kiwis are marketed to home cooks who want the most affordable knife imaginable. There's some overlap, but in general, Kiwis won't stand up to the continuous use of the foodservice industry.

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Kiwi Knives Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Easy to sharpen
  • Thin blade is fun to use and feels sharp even when it isn't
  • Large variety of blades to choose from.
Cons
  • Won't hold an edge very long
  • Fit and finish isn't great
  • Only a one-year warranty.

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Review: Kiwi Thai Chef's Knife (No. 21)

Kiwi Thai chef's knife no. 21

See Kiwi Thai Chef's Knife (No. 21) on Amazon

See 7" blade Kiwi Thai Chef's Knife (No. 173) on Amazon (about $9)

See Kiwi Thai Chef's Knife (No. 211) with plastic handle on Amazon 

See Kiwi Thai Chef's Knife (No. 21) at Wal-Mart

NOTE: This review is for the Thai chef knife pictured above, but can be applied to all Kiwi knives. 

Steel: Stainless steel (exact type not given).

Weight (#21): 4.6 ounces (130g).

Out-of-Box Sharpness: 410g (edge in need of maintenance).

Cutting Angle: Probably 15-17 degree double bevel.

Handle: Wood or plastic. The wood is probably Thai hardwood.

Fit and finish: As expected, not great. The tang protrudes slightly above the wood handle and digs into your hand.

Features:

  • Stamped 8" stainless steel blade, hardened and tempered (available in other sizes too)
  • Riveted wood or plastic handle
  • HRC 50-51
  • No bolster
  • Partial tang
  • 130g (4.6 oz.)
  • 1mm thick spine at handle
  • Made in Thailand
  • 1 year limited warranty against manufacturing defects.

There are several features of Kiwi knives that the company doesn't discuss, including steel used, hardness, and cutting angle. The blade is soft and dulls quickly, and the handle isn't terribly comfortable, with the partial tang sometimes protruding enough to dig into your palm.

It's also not terribly sharp out of the box, though this can vary (you might get a sharper blade than we did). Our sharpness testing came in at 410 grams, which is typically a knife that "needs maintenance."

But at these outrageously affordable prices, none of this really matters. If you're spending $10 on a knife, you probably don't care and aren't expecting great things. You just want a knife that cuts food satisfactorily.

And the Kiwi Thai chef's knife delivers, for the most part. It's a fun knife to use and, for the price, it's a pretty great knife. 

It's sharp: even with the low rating on the sharpness tester, it sliced effortlessly through soft tomatoes and cleanly through potatoes, and it diced up cilantro with aplomb. 

Chopped Cilantro

It's light: so even though the tang can dig into your hand, the lightness makes it not a big deal--unless you're using it for hours on end, it's not an issue at all.

It's thin: with a spine thickness of just 1mm at the handle, this is one of the thinnest chef's knives on the market. This thinness is what gives it such a light, sharp feel, even when it's not terribly sharp.

Maybe most of all, it's a fun knife to use. It's incredibly nimble and a great knife for most prep work. 

The blade is fairly flexible and not super durable, so as long as you avoid hard foods, frozen foods, and bone, this knife will serve you well, and you'll enjoy using it. 

Because the steel is so soft, it rolls easily and the edge doesn't last long, so the knife needs regular steeling to work well--sometimes in the middle of a session. But also because the steel is soft, the knife is easy to sharpen. In fact, many experts say you don't need a knife sharpener for a Kiwi: just passing it over a ceramic honing steel will restore the blade to like-new sharpness.

Kramer Zwilling Ceramic Honing Steel

Ceramic honing steel.

The cutting angle doesn't matter so much on a Kiwi because the blade is so thin: just aim for 15-17 degrees and you'll have a serviceable knife you can use for years. 

If you don't want the wood handle, most Kiwis come with a plastic handle, as well. Both provide about the same feel in your hand. 

We like the shape of the Thai chef's knife; it cuts great and you can even do a rock chop with it. But if you want something else, go for the more traditional chef's knife or the nakiri (rectangular) chef's knife (it looks like a nakiri but Kiwi calls it a chef's knife). They're all great fun to use.

It's a small price, and a small decision: having a Kiwi or two in your knife drawer is a smart decision. You can use them when you don't want to use a better knife, use them for camping or other travel, and give them to guests who want to help in the kitchen. And if you want a "disposable" knife you can toss instead of sharpening, Kiwi is the one to get.

Kiwi Knife Review featured image

buy kiwi knives:

Amazon buy button

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How to Buy a Kitchen Knife

We usually include a section on how to pick out a knife, discussing features like steel, hardness, cutting angle, fit and finish, handle material, value, warranty, and more. But with Kiwi knives, none of this applies. If you're buying a Kiwi, you're buying it because of the price point, and at this price point, factors like steel, hardness, and even sharpness don't matter. You buy a Kiwi because it's cheap and get as much use out of it as you can.

If you want to read about how to choose a kitchen knife, check out any of our other knife reviews.

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Kiwi Knife FAQs

Here are some commonly asked questions about Kiwi knives.

Are Kiwi Knives Good Quality?

Kiwi knives are not the highest quality knife on the knife, but you know that from the price (about $10 for a chef's knife). But for the money, they are a good knife: they're thin and light, they cut well, they're easy to sharpen, and for the price they offer surprisingly good performance. 

Why Are Kiwi Knives So Cheap?

Kiwi knives are mass produced in Thailand using inexpensive steel and inexpensive handle material. All of these factors keep the prices low.

Do Kiwi Knives Cut Well?

Kiwi knives cut surprisingly well given their lightness and the softness of the steel. The lightness makes a Kiwi feel sharp even when it isn't. They aren't great for hard foods and bone, but for basic prep work, they cut quite well.

Where Are Kiwi Knives Made?

All Kiwi knives are made in Thailand.

Are Kiwi Knives Easy to Care For?

Yes, Kiwi knives are extremely easy to care for. The stainless steel won't rust unless left in a pool of water. The handles aren't fancy so you can treat them as carefully or carelessly as you want to. You can hand wash them or put them in the dishwasher. Because they're so cheap, most people don't care if a dishwasher discolors the knife (though we do recommend hand washing for all your kitchen knives). 

Are Kiwi Knives Easy to Sharpen?

The steel in Kiwi knives is soft, so yes, Kiwi knives are easy to sharpen. In fact, the steel sharpens so easily that you don't need a sharpener. You can use a honing steel, or even the exposed ceramic ring on the bottom of a coffee cup, to restore sharpness to a Kiwi blade. You may at some point want to run a Kiwi through a knife sharpener, but it's not necessary to keep it sharp.

Are Kiwi Knives Durable?

Durability is not one of Kiwi's strong suits. The blades are thin and flexible, so they're not great for use on hard foods and bone. But if you don't use a Kiwi on anything too hard, it will last for many years.

Are Kiwi Knives Dishwasher Safe?

Yes, technically, you can put Kiwi knives in the dishwasher, but we recommend hand washing for all your kitchen knives.

What Is the Cutting Angle of Kiwi Knives?

Kiwi doesn't talk about the cutting angle of their knives, but we think it's either 15 or 17 degrees each side. Because the blades are so thin, the cutting angle doesn't matter all the much. The thinness makes the knife slice easily through food regardless of what cutting angle it has.

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Final Thoughts About Kiwi Knives

Kiwi Knife Review featured image 2

Kiwi knives are one of the most affordable brands on the market, with a chef's knife going for around $10. They're not top quality, but they're fun to use and easy to sharpen. They are much loved by people the world over. Whether you're looking for an affordable chef's knife, a paring knife, a cleaver or something else, Kiwis are a great choice for any kitchen, or for a knife to put in your travel kit or loan to friends.

Thanks for reading!

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