November 8

Wusthof Knives: A Detailed Buyer Guide for the Classic German Brand

By trk

Last Updated: November 18, 2022

German knives, Wusthof, Wusthof knife, Wusthof review

Wusthof has been making knives for more than 200 years and are a respected name in kitchen cutlery. They make several lines of knives and Japanese as well as traditional German blades. 

In fact, Wusthof makes so many knives, it can be hard to know how to choose one. We compare all the Wusthof lines so you can see how they're the same, how they're different, and which one is the best choice for your kitchen. 


Table Of Contents

Wusthof Knives at a Glance

As of this writing (late 2022), here is Wusthof's lineup, according to Wusthof customer service. This table lists the features of each line. 

Some are so similar, we grouped them together, such as the Classic Ikon and Ikon: they are identical except for the handle material (synthetic on Classic Ikon, wood on Ikon).

More detailed reviews are below.

All Wusthof knives are made in Solingen, Germany and have a limited lifetime warranty.

Wusthof Line

Features

Header

-X50CRMoV15 steel (HRC 58)

-Double 14 degree bevel/double 10 degree on Japanese knives

-Full tang

-Full bolster (chef's knife)

-Calabrian olive wood handle (naturally bacterial resistant)

-1814 limited edition has filigree engraving by Dario Cortini

-Chef's knife about $300.

-X50CRMoV15 steel (HRC 58)

-Double 14 degree bevel/double 10 degree on Japanese knives

-Full tang

-Full bolster (chef's knife)

-Contoured handle

-Riveted synthetic handle, black or white

-Wusthof's largest line

-Chef's knife about $170.

Wusthof Classic Chef's Knife

-X50CRMoV15 steel (HRC 58)

-Double 14 degree bevel/double 10 degree on Japanese knives

-Full tang

-Half bolster, plus bolster on butt

-Ergonomic synthetic handle, black or creme, on Classic Ikon

-African blackwood handle on Ikon

-Chef's knife about $200/$285 for blackwood handle.

Wusthof Classic Ikon chef's knife in cream
Wusthof Classic Ikon Santoku
Wusthof Classic Ikon Santoku

-X50CRMoV15 steel (HRC 58)

-Double 14 degree bevel/double 10 degree on Japanese knives

-Full tang

-Partial or full bolster, depending on piece

-Smoked oak wood handle with brass rivets

-Chef's knife about $220.

Wusthof Crafter Chef's Knife
Wusthof Crafter Santoku

-X50CRMoV15 steel (HRC 56)

-Double 14 degree bevel/double 10 degree on Japanese knives

-Laser cut (stamped)

-Lightweight

-Ergonomic synthetic handle in black or grey

-Chef's knife about $100.

Wusthof Gourmet Chef's Knife
Wusthof Gourmet Santoku Grey

-X50CRMoV15 steel (HRC 56)

-Coated with DLC (HRC 104) for durability and low friction

-Double 14 degree bevel/double 10 degree on Japanese knives

-Full bolster (chef's knife)

-Non-slip honeycomb handle

-Chef's knife/santoku about $350.

Wusthof Performer Chef's Knife
Wusthof Performer Santoku

-X50CRMoV15 steel (HRC 56)

-Double 14 degree bevel/double 10 degree on Japanese knives

-Laser cut (stamped)

-Non-slip bolster

-Sustainable beechwood handle

-Chef's knife about $120.

Wusthof Urban Farmer Chef's Knife
Wusthof Urban Farmer Santoku

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Discontinued Wusthof Lines

These lines are discontinued by Wusthof, but may still be available on Amazon (and at other retailers): 

Culinar (stainless handle)

Grand Prix (bread knife only)

Epicure (sustainable wood block handles like the Epicurean cutting boards)

Legende (black thermoplastic handle)

Pro (stamped, thermoplastic handles)

Aeon is still listed on Wusthof's site, but there are no knives available. If you are interested in an Aeon knife, check out the Performer line.

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About Wusthof (The Company)

Wusthof is located in Solingen, Germany--the "City of Blades"--where it was founded in 1814. It has been family-owned for seven generations (and still is today).

Wusthof is known for their high quality kitchen knives. They also make kitchen utensils, cutting boards, and shears. (The Wusthof fish spatula is quite popular and recommended by several kitchen sites.)  

You can read more about company history on the Wusthof website.

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About Wusthof Steel

Wusthof uses the same steel for every line of knife they make: X50CrMoV15. This is a high carbon German stainless steel that contains:

  • 0.5% carbon--for hardness
  • 15% chromium--for corrosion resistance
  • 0.8% molybdenum--for enhanced corrosion resistance
  • 0.2% vanadium--for durability and hardness.

X50CrMoV15 is a standard high carbon German stainless steel used by many German knife makers. It is an excellent steel for knives because it's durable, rust resistant, and fairly easy to sharpen.

Wusthof steel is typically hardened to 56-58 HRC, depending on the blade (hardening is a process, so the same steel can have varying rates of hardness). X50CrMoV15 steel can be hardened to anywhere from 52-58HRC.

Compared to most Japanese knives, this steel is fairly low in carbon. This means it's not as hard, but easier to maintain (sharpen). The slightly softer German steel is also less brittle and more durable, which makes it a better choice for many cooks: it can handle abuse in the kitchen and can be used for tasks that harder steels can't be used for, such as cutting through bones and hard foods. And because it's easier to sharpen, it's a better choice for cooks who aren't experienced with sharpening.

Overall, this high carbon German stainless steel is an excellent choice for most cooks and most cooking tasks. If you're fairly new to kitchen knives or want something tough and versatile, X50CrMoV15 German steel is an excellent choice. 

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About Wusthof Handles

Wusthof Amici Handle
Wusthof Gourmet Handle
Wusthof Classic Handle
Wusthof Ikon (Blackwood) Handle
Wusthof Classic Ikon Handle
Wusthof Performer Handle
Wusthof Crafter Handle
Wusthof Urban Farmer Handle

All Wusthof knives use the same proprietary high carbon steel, so the blade performance, though there are minor differences, is much the same across the lines.

The real difference among Wusthof knives is the handles. Here's a closer look at them (in alphabetical order).

African Blackwood (Ikon)

The African Blackwood handles make the Ikon an upgrade to the Classic Ikon. This wood is beautiful, sustainably grown, and water resistant. Many find the handle shape preferable to the Classic handle, and the double bolster makes the knife very well-balanced.

Beechwood (Urban Farmer)

The European Beechwood handle on the Urban Farmer is sustainably grown and heat treated for durability. The handle has a small contour for improved grip, but otherwise is a simple oval shape. 

Calabrian Olive Wood (Amici)

This might be the most beautiful Wusthof handle. The olive wood is custom grained (each handle is unique), naturally water resistant and anti-bacterial. One of the most durable woods you can find in a knife handle. The shape is "organic," and most people find it quite comfortable, regardless of hand size.

Hexagon Power Grip (Performer)

This is made of a soft synthetic and has a hexagon or honeycomb design that provides superb grip in any conditions. This is one of the most comfortable handles we've ever tried, and probably one of the safest. (It also looks really cool.)

Smoked Oak (Crafter)

This is the Classic handle design in smoked oak, with brass rivets and an engraved Wusthof logo for a traditional appearance. (If you like this handle shape, you can save some money by going with the Classic.)

Synthetic POM (Classic, Classic Ikon, Gourmet)

This is Wusthof's standard, entry level handle material. POM stands for polyoxymethylene, which is a thermoplastic material with extreme durability and resistance to damage from heat and cold. POM is naturally durable and completely resistant to bacteria, making it a hygienic choice; since it is also less expensive than many of the natural wood choices and feels comfortable and sturdy in your hand, it's an excellent option for most cooks. 

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Are Wood Handles Better than Synthetic?

You'll notice that with the exception of the stamped Urban Farmer, Wusthof's wood-handled knives are higher priced than those with synthetic handles. But are they better?

Natural wood is beautiful, it feels great in the hand, and it's softer than POM synthetic, so can result in less hand strain when using the knife for a long time. 

Some natural woods--particularly the expensive ones--are also quite durable and resistant to bacteria.

However, synthetics are more durable, particularly the POM that Wusthof uses. Synthetics are also completely resistant to bacteria, which makes them a smart choice. (Many professional restaurants do not allow wood-handled knives because of the bacteria issue.) 

Good quality wood handles might last as long as POM, and they're certainly beautiful, so if you're looking for a certain aesthetic, wood handles are the right choice that you certainly won't regret.

But if you just want a durable knife that will last for decades, POM is the better choice (and less expensive, too).

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About Wusthof Japanese Knives

Wusthof Classic Ikon Santoku

Wusthof Classic Ikon santoku.

Wusthof Classic Nakiri

Wusthof Classic nakiri (vegetable knife).

In addition to classic Western knives, Wusthof also makes santoku and nakiri knives in many of their lines, as well as some small Japanese paring and utility knives. 

Japanese knives traditionally have thinner blades than Western knives. True to this concept, Wusthof gives their Japanese knives a 10 degree double bevel. This is quite a thin edge, and in fact is thinner than many Japanese knives sold in the Western market. For example, Shun knives (see our review) have a 16 degree double bevel, which makes them even wider than Wusthof's standard German knives, which have a 14 degree double bevel.

(Yes, it's odd: Japanese knives are getting thicker, and German knives are getting thinner, both trying to appeal to a wider audience of buyers. But there's no "best" edge thickness, so you really have to decide for yourself what your preferences are.)

Probably because Wusthof steel is more durable than the more brittle Japanese steel, their knives can have an edge this thin and still perform very well. 

However, despite the thin edge, Wusthof knives still have a full tang and bolster (except for the stamped lines) that add heft to their knives. This means you get a thin, nimble Japanese blade in a more durable package.

Unless you're looking specifically for a lighter blade, this is a desirable combination for many cooks.

If you want more information, see our article Japanese Knives: Better than German Knives?

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Who Are Wusthof Knives Best For?

Wusthof knives are best for cooks who want:

  • A durable, heavy, versatile blade
  • Steel that's easy to maintain and sharpen
  • High quality knives that will last for decades
  • A heavier knife that can cut through bone and other hard foods.

If you prefer a lighter knife, then Wusthof might not be the right choice for you (consider Global or Shun). But even so, it's a good idea to have at least one heavy knife in your collection.

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Wusthof Knives Pros and Cons

This summarizes the basic pros and cons of Wusthof knives.

Pros
  • Super high quality
  • Corrosion resistant steel
  • Fairly easy to sharpen (compared to Japanese knives)
  • Heavy, durable blades
  • Beautiful design options at several price points.
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Not right for people who want a light knife
  • Won't hold a blade as long as harder steel (but easier to sharpen).

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Sharpening Wusthof Knives

When you buy kitchen knives, you have to consider how you're going to keep them sharp. Sharpening is as important as the knife itself, as no knife will keep its edge forever.

Thus, when you buy knives of any brand, you need to also have a system to keep them sharp. This usually involves a honing steel for routine blade straightening and a way to give your knives a full sharpening a few times a year (dependent on use).

Honing Steel

Wusthof Honing Steel

Wusthof honing steel.

You should use a honing steel frequently: at least every other time you use a knife. This is called steeling a knife.

A honing steel--or just steel--doesn't actually sharpen a knife, which is done by removing metal from the blade. Instead, steeling aligns the metal on the edge of the knife, smoothing out the tiny fibers that get bent when you use the knife.

Bent fibers don't mean you're doing anything wrong; they are a natural result of using a knife. Each use is going to take a toll on the blade, even if you can't see it. 

You don't need to buy a steel that's the same brand as your knives, but many Wusthof knife sets come with a honing steel. There are a few different choices, such as steel, ceramic or diamond (diamond being the most expensive). It probably doesn't matter all that much which type you use, as long as you use it regularly.

Regular steeling can extend the life of an edge and reduce the need for sharpening--so it's important to steel your knives frequently.

Sharpening

Wusthof 2 stage handheld knife sharpener

Wusthof 2-stage handleheld sharpening wheel.

Sharpening is a process that removes metal to restore the edge. When the honing steel can't straighten out the fibers enough to give a knife its edge back, it's time to sharpen.

There are many ways to sharpen a knife, including:

You can also send your knives out for sharpening. Many local shops do it, and sometimes your local butcher shop or full service grocery store will do it for you for free or for a small fee. 

If you're new to knives, sending them out for sharpening can be a good idea. Sharpening is a skill that takes practice, and if you do it wrong, you can ruin an edge by taking too much steel off of the blade or sharpening at the wrong angle.

If you are new to sharpening and want to learn how to do it, we recommend starting with your less expensive knives (not a Wusthof or Shun). Watch some videos or read about it to see how to do it properly (whichever method you use).

You also have to know the right angle at which to sharpen your knives. For Wusthof knives, it's either 10 degrees (Japanese blades) or 14 degrees (Western blades). Other knife brands have different bevels, and you should know what they are before you attempt to sharpen the knife. (It won't ruin a knife if you sharpen it to the wrong angle, but you bought the knife for a reason, so you should try to keep it as close to how it was when you bought it.)

Probably the easiest method for novices is a handheld sharpening wheel (pictured above) with a fine and coarse grind. Electric sharpeners are easy to use, too, but they can take too much steel off the blade pretty easily if you don't know how to use them. One problem with both of these methods is that you can't pick the angle, so you're stuck with whatever angle the sharpener has. If you have more than one type or brand of knife, one sharpener may not be enough to ensure the right edges on all your knives.

Wusthof makes several 2-stage sharpeners, including one for their Japanese knives (because angle is important). 

A whetstone (or better yet, a few whetstones with both fine and coarse grit) will give you the best edge, but takes a lot of practice to get right. You can buy angle guides to help (and we recommend you do so if you go this route).

TSPROF K03 Precision Knife Sharpener

TS Prof guided rod knife sharpener.

Guided rod systems are pretty much just a whetstone that allows you to lock in a precise angle. You can also easily change the coarseness of the grind, so you can get the exact sharpness and type of edge that you want.

This is certainly not a necessary tool, but if you invest in high quality knives, it may be something to consider.

It doesn't matter which method you go with, as long as you have a method, even if it's sending your knives out for sharpening. The best knives in the world are worthless if you don't keep them sharp. 

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What to Look For in a Kitchen Knife (A Basic Buying Guide)

This section covers discusses the important considerations when buying kitchen knives, and how Wusthof knives fit each consideration.

If you want more information on buying kitchen knives, see our article How to Buy the Right Kitchen Knives.

Sets or Individual Knives?

Knife sets are popular choices for gifts, and if you need several knives, then a set can be great. But a set should include the knives you need, and none that you don't--which means that the biggest set you should get is probably six pieces, including the block and honing steel (and a kitchen shears is a nice piece, too). 

It's better to start out with too few rather than too many knives. This way, you can invest in the knives you know you'll need, when you need them. 

If you buy too big a set and you end up not liking them, you'll feel guilty about replacing them.

The only knives most cooks really need are a chef's knife (or santoku), a paring knife, and a bread (serrated) knife. This pretty much covers all your food prep needs, so everything else is extra.

That doesn't mean you couldn't benefit from having more knives, because most cooks can: a carving knife, a boning knife, a utility knife for jobs in-between paring and chef's knives, and of course a nice set of steak knives. Plus (maybe) another chef's knife you use just for veggie prep or just for prepping meat.

And sometimes, you can find excellent deals on knife sets that you'll never find when you buy your knives individually. So if you come across a great deal and are pretty sure you love the knives, then go for a big set, especially if it includes a honing steel, shears, or butcher block (or ideally, all three).

Wusthof offers several sets, from two pieces up to 16 pieces. You can even get butcher blocks with empty slots, which allow expansion (and possibly even other brands of knives). 

If you do want a set, or want to gift a set, the best Wusthof lines are Classic, Classic Ikon, or, if you're on a budget, Gourmet. These lines have the largest selection. (See reviews below for details and buying links.)

Cost

Opinions differ on how much you should spend to get a good quality knife. Some people say $30, others say $100, still others say $300. 

You can find decent quality knives even at lower price points as long as you're willing to live with lower quality handles (e.g., molded plastic rather than resin or wood), stamped blades rather than forged, and/or steel that will need more frequent sharpening (i.e., it has a lower hardness rating). 

We think the price point of a decent quality kitchen knife starts at right around $100 for an 8-inch chef's knife.

Wusthof's stamped blades (Gourmet and Urban Farmer) start right around there, and their forged blades start at about $70-$100 more. 

If you have the budget, we think you should go with the Classic line, Classic Ikon, or above. Both Classic and Classic Ikon have a synthetic handle, which keeps the costs lower. The other Wusthof lines have natural wood handles, which brings the price up. 

Steel

Steel is a huge topic when it comes to knives. You can spend a lot of time learning about all the different kinds of knife steel and the pros and cons of each. That's a worthwhile endeavor (we would know!), but it's also not necessary if all you want to do is buy a good quality knife. 

The two main choices are German steel and Japanese steel; you may find inferior steels on lower priced brands, but these are the two basic options.

German steel is softer than Japanese steel. This means it doesn't hold a blade as well--needs more frequent sharpening--but is more durable, so you can use it for anything

Japanese steel tends to be lighter and more nimble, which some cooks love and some hate; a heavy knife can actually help cut through food, while a lighter knife allows the chef to completely control the process. Japanese steel is also more prone to chipping because it's harder and therefore, more brittle.

If you could have only one chef's knife, you should go with a German blade because it's more durable, easier to sharpen, and highly resistant to corrosion. 

There's more to it than this, but these are the basics. You can read more about the differences between Japanese and German knives in our article Japanese Knives: Better Than German Knives?

Or, you can read more about Wusthof steel above.

Blade Shape and Size

Wusthof Crafter Chef's Knife

Classic German chef's knife: curved blade up to a sharp tip, best for rocking motion cuts.

Wusthof Classic Ikon Santoku

Japanese santoku: flat blade with blunt tip, best for a more up-and-down cutting motion.

Here, we're mainly talking about chef's knives, the only essential kitchen knife that every cook needs.

There are different shapes and sizes of paring, utility, and bread knives as well, but the chef's knife is the one that needs the most consideration: Do you want a German-shaped blade (wide and curved up to the tip)? A Japanese gyuto chef's knife (thin and curved up to a tip)? Or a santoku (flat blade with a blunt tip)? 

If you prefer a rocking motion when cutting, you need a chef's knife, with a blade that curves up to a tip, allowing you to rock the knife on the cutting board.

If you prefer a flatter more chopping motion, then the flat blade of a santoku or nakiri is the right choice.

As for size, we recommend going with the standard sizes: 8 inches for a chef's knife, 7 inches for a santoku, 3.5-4 inches for a paring knife, etc. You may prefer something larger or smaller, but starting with the most popular size is a good approach. 

If you're new to knives, or have never given it a lot of thought, how do you know what you like? Well, you don't--so you have to try different styles and sizes and see what fits. Luckily, Amazon and Williams-Sonoma both have a generous return policy, so if you're buying online, you can try several easily. 

And if you're buying in person, even better: many kitchen stores have a cutting board and will let you take any knife for a test run.

Bevel and Hardness

Bevel: The edge, or bevel, of a knife is the angle at which it is sharpened. As we're already said, Wusthof sharpens their German knives to a 14 degree double bevel and their Japanese knives to a 10 degree double bevel.

The bevel is not all that important unless you're looking for something specific. There's no "best" bevel angle. However, you do need to know the bevels of your knives so you can sharpen them to the right angles. 

Hardness: Knife hardness is rated on the Rockwell scale and designated "HRC." German knives have a typical hardness rating of 54-58HRC, while Japanese knives have a typical rating of 60-62HRC.

Harder might sound better, but the harder a knife is, the more brittle it is, and the more prone to chipping and breaking. Softer knives are more durable, but need to be sharpened more often.

Both German and Japanese knives have good and bad traits, and there is no right or wrong level of hardness.

Wusthof knives are hardened to 56-58HRC. This makes them extremely durable and resistant to chipping. Many chefs consider this a perfect hardness: the ideal blend of durability and the ability to hold an edge well.

Balance and Weight

Balance refers to how a knife feels: is it light and forward-moving, or does it weigh you down and require a frustrating amount of manual correction to make a good cut? 

Balance is a tricky thing to get a feel for, but when you use a knife that fits your hand just right and almost feels like an extension of it, you've found a knife with good balance. 

Most Wusthof knives have great balance. Wusthof uses the bolster to add or remove weight in order to give each knife the right balance.

On the other hand, Wusthof knives are pretty heavy, which some people find makes them feel not very well-balanced. The weight of the knife actually helps it push through foods with less effort from the cook, so many people prefer a heavier knife and consider it a great feature.

But not everybody: other cooks prefer a lighter, more nimble knife that feels almost like using a razor blade. Stamped knives have become popular with cooks who prefer a lighter knife because they aren't as heavy as forged knives.

If you prefer a lighter blade, then Wusthof probably isn't a good choice for you unless you go with one of their stamped lines (Gourmet or Urban Farmer). But even so, most kitchens need at least one heavy chef's knife for the heavy duty work that lighter knives can't stand up to (cutting through bone, for example).

Forged Vs. Stamped

Knives can be either forged or stamped. There are important difference between forged and stamped knives.

Forged Knives

Wusthof Classic Ikon Chef's Knive

Wusthof Classic Ikon: the bolster and full tang (metal cap on butt) are telltale signs of forging.

A forged knife is made from one piece of heated metal under pressure. The blade is thicker at the top and tapers down a thinner edge. Forged knives have a full or partial bolster and typically a full tang (though some forged knives have a partial tang, particularly lighter Japanese knives).

Forged blades tend to be stronger than stamped blades because the forging process toughens the steel. Thus, forged knives are less susceptible to chipping and cracking.

Stamped Knives

Wusthof Gourmet Chef's Knife

Wusthof Gourmet: lack of bolster indicate a stamped knife.

A stamped knife is cut out of a sheet of steel. For this reason, it has a uniform thickness throughout the knife (except where the blade is ground, of course), and typically has no bolster or tang. Stamped knives are usually lighter than forged knives, primarily because the blade is thinner and lacks a bolster and tang. 

Stamped knives are usually more affordable than forged knives because it costs less to make them. Though the blades aren't as durable as forged blades, they are still plenty durable for most kitchens and can be a great way for budget conscious buyers to get good quality knives for less.

Wusthof: This is particularly true for Wusthof knives, which use the same steel in their forged and stamped blades. That is, if you're on a budget and want a good quality knife, the Wusthof stamped knives are both good choices.

Wusthof makes two lines of stamped knives: the Gourmet and the Urban Farmer (both reviewed below). 

You should buy a stamped Wusthof knife if:

  • You are on a budget but want a quality blade
  • Prefer a lighter knife
  • Want something that's easy to sharpen--at 56 HRC, these blades will sharpen a little easier.

Handle Shape, Size, and Material

Wusthof Classic Handle
Wusthof Classic Ikon Handle

Handle material is important for comfort, hygiene, and durability.

You want a handle that's comfortable, not too heavy or too light (giving the knife poor balance), and conforms well to your hand.

Most knife handles are made from wood or synthetic, with many different tiers of quality. Wusthof offers both wood and synthetic handles. Their POM synthetic handles are some of the most durable, comfortable handles in the world of kitchen knives. They are also completely resistant to bacteria.

We discuss Wusthof handles above in more detail, so you can read there about the different options. But the best way to know which handle works best for you is to try them. 

Most people love Wusthof's Classic and Classic Ikon handles (both synthetic, but with different shapes). These are a good place to start, but if you have a big budget, you may want to try some of Wusthof's higher end wood handles, which are both beautiful and comfortable. Most are also resistant to bacteria, although wood is never going to be as hygienic as synthetics.

Warranty

All good quality kitchen knives will come with a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects. You shouldn't buy a knife that doesn't have a warranty.

All Wusthof knives come with a limited lifetime warranty.

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Wusthof Amici/Amici 1814 Knife Review

Wusthof Amici chef's knife 8

Wusthof Amici chef's knife.

Wusthof Amici 1814 Chef's knive

Wusthof Amici 1814 collector edition chef's knife.

See them on Amazon

See them at Williams-Sonoma

See 1814 chef's knife at Wusthof

About $300 for 8" chef's knife or 7" santoku; about $1500 for 6 piece set (with block). 

Features

The Wusthof Amici is a beautiful, high-end knife with the same German high carbon stainless steel as all other Wusthof lines and a lovely Calabrian olive wood handle. The blade has a flatter edge than Classic and Ikon, with a steeper curve up to the tip (perhaps modeled after Italian blades). But it's really the handle that sets the Amici apart.

The Amici 1814 is a collector's item more than a kitchen blade, designed by Italian artist Dario Cortini (and about $1500). The chef's knife is the only knife in the 1814 collection--note that is has a partial bolster, unlike the full bolster on the Amici.

The 6 piece set pictured below is the only Amici set available, and it doesn't have a honing steel. The round "block" is wrapped with leather, giving this a unique look.

There doesn't seem to be a honing steel in this line, so if you want all your knives and accessories to match, go with Classic or Ikon.

From the Wusthof site:

The Amici series combines our iconic, precision-forged blades with uniquely grained Calabrian olive wood handles, fusing modern craftsmanship with Italian design sensibilities to create an ideal knife for preparing and sharing meals.

Features of the Wusthof Amici line:

  • X50CRMo15V high carbon stainless steel
  • HRC 58 (hardness)
  • Double 14 degree bevel on German knives
  • Double 10 degree bevel on Japanese knives
  • Full tang
  • Full bolster
  • Weight of 8" chef's knife: 8 oz
  • Calabrian olive wood handle, naturally bacterial resistant

Cutting Performance and Ergonomics

With the same blade as Classic and Ikon, the Amici has superb performance. It's super sharp and a fairly heavy blade, with a full bolster--like the Classic--to keep it durable.

The full bolster makes the blade harder to sharpen, but does improve safety on this extremely sharp knife.

The handle is comfortable for large and small hands alike. This is probably our favorite out of all the Wusthof handles, though the difference in feel is small enough that for most people, it's not worth the extra cost.

Pros and Cons

Pros: Sharp, beautiful, very high quality.

Cons: Limited buying options, more expensive than other Wusthof lines but with about the same performance.

Recommendations

Amici is one of Wusthof's highest end lines, with a standard 8-inch chef's knife about $300, which makes it slightly more than the Ikon Blackwood. The blade shape is slightly different than other Wusthof chef's knives, but the cutting performance feels very similar.

If you love the design and the olive wood handle and have the budget, there's no downside to buying the Amici. But you can get nearly identical performance from the Classic or Classic Ikon for quite a bit less.

This 6 piece set including leather-covered block (but no honing steel) is the only Amici set option and goes for about $1500,:

Wusthof Amici 6pc set with block

buy wusthof amici knives:

Amazon buy button

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Wusthof Classic Knife Review

Wusthof Classic Chef's Knife

See them on Amazon

See them at Williams-Sonoma

See the full line at Wusthof

About $170 for 8" chef's knife or 7" santoku; about $670 for 9 piece set (with block and honing steel).

Features

The Classic is Wusthof's original line and has the look that people see in their mind if asked to picture a traditional knife. Being Wusthof's first line, Classic has a ton of buying options for both sets and individual blades. This makes Classic a good option if you want all your knives to match.

The Wusthof Classic is the quintessential German knife and gets rave reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. It's hard to imagine anyone being unhappy with one of these knives.

Features of the Wusthof Classic line:

  • X50CRMo15V high carbon stainless steel
  • 58 HRC (hardness)
  • Double 14 degree bevel on German knives
  •  Double 10 degree bevel on Japanese knives
  • Full tang
  • Full bolster
  • Weight of 8" chef's knife: 8 oz.
  • Riveted synthetic (POM) handle in black or white
  • Wusthof's oldest and largest line.

Cutting Performance and Ergonomics

The Classic is a nearly perfect knife. The chef's knife can cut through vegetables, fruits, and meats easily; it can cut bones (though you should use a cleaver for larger bones), winter squash, and chop herbs, onions, and garlic into fine piles. There's almost nothing this knife can't do.

The handle is comfortable, with a good grip.The full bolster gives the knife heft as well as balance. Unless you want something lightweight, the Classic is a great choice for a versatile kitchen knife.

One complaint is that the full bolster makes the knife harder to sharpen than the partial bolster you'll find on the Classic Ikon and some other Wusthof lines. If you're concerned about it, go with the Classic Ikon--but it's something you can learn to do with a little practice.

Pros and Cons

Pros: Sharp blade, excellent quality, weighty and durable, classic looks.

Cons: Full bolster makes it harder to sharpen than Classic Ikon.

Recommendations

If you want a sharp, durable blade that you can use for just about anything, including bones and hard foods, the Classic is it. 

This Wusthof Classic 6 piece block set with honing steel goes for just under $400, and has everything you need:

Wusthof Classic 6pc set with block

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Wusthof Classic Ikon/Ikon Knife Review

Wusthof Classic Ikon chef's knife in cream

Classic Ikon chef's knife in creme.

Wusthof Classic Ikon Santoku

Classic Ikon santoku in black.

Wusthof Ikon Blackwood Chef's Knife

Ikon chef's knife (blackwood handle).

See Classic Ikon on Amazon

See Ikon on Amazon

See all Ikons at Williams-Sonoma

See full Classic Ikon line at Wusthof

See full Ikon line at Wusthof

About $200 for Classic Ikon chef's knife; about $285 for Ikon blackwood chef's knife; Classic Ikon about $475 for 6 piece set with block; Ikon blackwood about 7 piece set with block about $1000.

Features

Though considered separate lines, we grouped the Classic Ikon and the Ikon together because the only difference is the handle material. The Classic Ikon has Wusthof's POM synthetic handle (polyoxymethylene) and the Ikon--sometimes labeled the Ikon Blackwood--has African blackwood handles. Needless to say, the Ikon is the more expensive of the two, and is considered one of Wusthof's most premium knives.  

You can see that the handle is the same shape, and everything else is the same on Classic and Classic Ikon, too. The only reason to go with the Ikon is if you really love the blackwood handle and you have a big budget. (It is quite beautiful.)

Classic Ikon/Ikon also have what Wusthof calls a double bolster, which means a standard bolster where the blade ends (partial on this line), and a steel end cap on the butt of the knife, which is an extension of the tang:

Wusthof Classic Ikon end bolster

Features of the Classic Ikon and Ikon (blackwood):

  • X50CRMoV15 high carbon stainless steel
  • 58 HRC (hardness)
  • Double 14 degree bevel on German knives
  • Double 10 degree bevel on Japanese knives
  • Full tang
  • Classic Ikon 8" chef's knife weight: 12 oz.
  • Ikon (blackwood) 8" chef's knife weight: 9 oz.
  • Half bolster, plus bolster on butt of knife for balance ("double bolster")
  • Synthetic POM handle on Classic Ikon in black or creme
  • African blackwood handle on Ikon blackwood

Cutting Performance and Ergonomics

The blade shape is pretty much identical to the Classic except for the partial bolster, so the difference is really about the handle. The Ikon handle is more streamlined than the more traditional Classic handle. Whether you prefer it is really your own preference, so you should try them both.

The knife is a little heavier than the Classic (12oz/9oz vs. 8oz Classic), so if you like heft, go with the Classic Ikon. 

We really like the partial bolster, which makes the Classic Ikon and Ikon easier to sharpen than the Classic. Many people also prefer how they handle.

Pros and Cons

Pros: Excellent high carbon blade, extremely sharp, comfortable handle, partial bolster makes it easy to sharpen.

Cons: More expensive than Classic (especially the Ikon blackwood).

Recommendations

If you want a partial bolster (easier to sharpen) and like the feel of the handle, Classic Ikon is the better choice over Classic. Ikon blackwood is another step up, with a blackwood handle that's beautiful and feels great in your hand.

The Ikon Classic 6 piece set with block goes for about $475. The Ikon blackwood 7 piece set with block goes for about $1000 (no honing steel included). Both superb choices.

Wusthof Classic Ikon 6pc set with block

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Ikon Blackwood 7pc set with block

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Wusthof Crafter Knife Review

Wusthof Crafter Chef's Knife

See Crafter on Amazon

See Crafter at Williams-Sonoma

See full Crafter line at Wusthof

About $255 for chef's knife or santoku; about $560 for 7 piece set (with block).

Features

Wusthof Crafter Santoku

The Wusthof Crafter is a newer line with a partial bolster and a wood handle (smoked oak, to be exact). Wusthof says it's a "modern blade with old world style." It's in-between the price of the Classic Ikon and the Ikon Blackwood, so if you want a wood handle, the Crafter is a better deal. But the blackwood handle has a different look and feel, so you should try them both before you decide.

The Wusthof logo is engraved into the handle, which is a classy touch, but doesn't affect performance at all.

Features of the Wusthof Crafter line:

  • X50CRMoV15 high carbon stainless steel
  • HRC 58 (hardness)
  • Double 14 degree bevel on German knives
  • Double 10 degree bevel on Japanese knives
  • Weight of 8" chef's knife: 12 oz.
  • Full tang
  • Full or partial bolster, depending on piece (chef's knife has partial bolster)
  • Smoked oak wood handle with brass rivets (same shape as Classic line)

Cutting Performance and Ergonomics

The Crafter cuts exactly like the Classic, but it's a little heavier (12oz vs. 8oz for the 8" chef's knife). If you want a heftier knife, Crafter or Ikon are the way to go over Classic.

The partial bolster gives the knife a light feel, even though it's heavier than the Classic. The knife has a nice heft and durable feel.

Other than the partial bolster--which makes the knife easier to sharpen than the full bolstered Classic--this knife is pretty much a photocopy of the Classic.

The oak handle is comfortable and conforms to your hand well. However, wood is not as bacteria resistant as Wusthof's synthetic handles (even though it's beautiful and feels great in your hand).

Pros and Cons

Pros: Sharp, durable blade, forged construction, traditional/rustic look.

Cons: Oak handle not as hygienic as synthetic, more expensive than Classic line.

Recommendations

If you like the smoked oak handle with brass rivets (very traditional), then go with the Crafter. Otherwise, you can buy a Classic for less and get pretty much identical performance.

If you prefer a rustic or traditional look, the 7 piece block will look great on your counter (honing steel included):

Wusthof Crafter 7pc set with block

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Wusthof Gourmet Knife Review

Wusthof Gourmet Chef's Knife

See Gourmet on Amazon

See Gourmet at Williams-Sonoma

See full Gourmet line at Wusthof

Chef's knife and santoku about $100; 7 piece set with block about $235.

Features

The Gourmet is Wusthof's oldest and most complete line of stamped knives. They're made with the same high carbon stainless steel as other Wusthof knives, but the blades are laser cut rather than forged, which means the durability isn't quite as good. 

They have the same handles--both shape and material--as the Wusthof Classic line, so the only difference is that the blades aren't forged, so they won't have a bolster or tang. This makes them quite a bit lighter than other Wusthofs--the 8" chef's knife is just 5 ounces, compared to 8 ounces for the Classic and 12 ounces for the Ikon. Some people find them easier to handle. The Gourmet line gets great reviews on Amazon and elsewhere, with a few complaints about lightness and rusting. It's true that this knife is much lighter than the Classic, with a thinner blade. Wusthof's site says that it is a "nimble, lighter weight version of its forged counterpart, making it an ideal entry point for new and seasoned cooks alike." We think it's best for newer cooks, or those who want a light blade.

Features of the Wusthof Gourmet line:

  • X50CRMoV15 high carbon stainless steel
  • 56 HRC (hardness)
  • Double 14 degree bevel on German knives
  • Double 10 degree bevel on Japanese knives
  • Full tang
  • Weight of 8" chef's knife: 5.3 oz
  • Laser cut blade (stamped)
  • Lightweight
  • Synthetic handle in black or grey.

Cutting Performance and Ergonomics

Wusthof Gourmet Santoku Grey

The knife is made of the same steel as the Classic, but it's a thinner blade, and because it's stamped rather than forged, it's not going to be quite as durable (the forging process toughens up steel). So while this is a pretty durable knife, it's not the right choice for trying to cut bone and other hard foods. If you do this, you may end up with a chip or two in the blade.

The steel is super sharp, though, and it's a good prep knife for most kitchen tasks. It is especially good if you want a light knife; most Wusthof knives are heavy, which many cooks like because the weight helps drive the knife through the cutting motion. But lighter knives also have a place in most kitchens (just ask the Japanese!). and this is a nice, light, nimble blade.

The handle is identical to the Classic handle, so it's comfortable, has good grip, and is resistant to bacteria. 

Sharpening is even easier than with the Classic because the blade is a little softer and there is no bolster.

Pros and Cons

Pros: Light and nimble, great handle, affordable, many buying options (several sets availalble).

Cons: Blade isn't as durable as other Wusthof lines.

Recommendations

Gourmet is one of Wusthof's budget lines (along with Urban Farmer and the discontinued Pro), but it's a good quality knife and the right choice for a lot of cooks, especially those on a budget who want high carbon German stainless steel. If you like a heavier knife, go with the Classic or Ikon.

If you're looking for a full set, including steak knives, it's hard to beat the price of the Gourmet line: you can get a 16 piece set, with block, for about $350 (honing steel included). Go with the grey handles for a sleeker look.

Wusthof Gourmet 16pc Knife Set with Block

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Wusthof Performer Knife Review

Wusthof Performer Chef's Knife

See Performer on Amazon

See Performer at Williams-Sonoma

See the Performer full line at Wusthof

About $350 for chef's knife or santoku; no sets available.

Features

With just 5 knives to choose from, this is Wusthof's smallest line. But is also one of their most innovative. Performer has a standard Wusthof blade, 56 HRC, but it's coated with DLC ("diamond like coating"), which is "heat resistant, scratchproof, and resilient to damage" according to Wusthof. The blade is also water repellent, which may be to reduce friction, making the blade less sticky than standard steel.

The handle is Wusthof's "hexagon power grip," a softish synthetic with amazing grip, even when your hands are wet (though you should always dry your hands before picking up a sharp knife). The handle is also resistant to bacteria, easy to care for, and tough.

But of course, it's the all-black appearance of the knife that's going to grab your attention. If you fall in love with the looks of this knife--and can afford it--it's going to be hard to live with anything less. 

Features of the Wusthof Performer:

  • X50 CR MoV 15 high carbon stainless steel
  • 56 HRC (hardness)
  • Blade is coated with DLC (HRC 104) for durability and low friction
  • Double 14 degree bevel on German knives
  • Double 10 degree bevel on Japanese knives (e.g., santoku)
  • Weight of 8" chef's knife: 9 oz.
  • Full bolster on chef's knife
  • Partial bolster on santoku
  • Non-slip hexagon power grip handle with honeycomb pattern.

Cutting Performance and Ergonomics

The edge is standard Wusthof stainless, so the knife cuts beautifully. The DLC coating may help with food sticking less, but we didn't notice a huge difference. 

What is the purpose of the DLC coating, then? Probably just improved durability: with a hardness of 104 HRC, the blade is almost impossible to scratch. It will keep its shiny appearance for a very long time. And, it helps a little bit with food stickiness (though a hollow blade probably does just as well).

The blade is a little thinner than other Wusthof knives, giving it a bit of a Japanese slicing feel--and with the DLC coating, there should be no issues with durability. This knife will last for many, many years.

The handle is exceptional: it's comfortable and has excellent grip. They soft synthetic material won't harbor bacteria, and is even more comfortable than a wood handle.

You might think sharpening is an issue, but it isn't. The edge itself is exposed 56 HRC steel, so it sharpens as easily as any other Wusthof blade. Most steels and stones probably can't make a mark on the 104 HRC coating, either.

Pros and Cons

Pros: Extremely durable, scratch-proof blade, comfortable handle, excellent grip.

Cons: Expensive, only 5 knives currently in line, and no sets. The full bolster makes it a little tricky to sharpen the chef's knife.

Recommendations

If you really want an all-black kitchen knife that's durable and has an excellent handle, the Performer is it. You probably don't need a 104 HRC coating on a kitchen knife, but it's cool. No sets available.

Wusthof Performer Santoku
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Wusthof Urban Farmer Knife Review

See Urban Farmer on Amazon

See Urban Farmer at Williams-Sonoma

See full line at Wusthof

About $120 for chef's knife or santoku; about $400 for a 7 piece set (with block).

Features

Wusthof's Urban Farmer is their newest line of stamped knife (replacing the discontinued Pro line). It's made of the same high carbon stainless steel as other Wusthof knives and has a sustainably sourced beechwood handle. It has a steel hardness of 56 HRC, the same as the Gourmet and Performer lines (and slightly softer than the Amici, Classic, Classic Ikon, Ikon, and Crafter lines, which all have a rating of 58 HRC).

One nice feature of the Urban Farmer is its rubber "bolster," a nice addition to a stamped knife because it improves grip and protects your fingers from the blade-often a concern with stamped blades.

The Urban Farmer has an interesting knife not seen in other Wusthof lines: a 7" machete, good for "digging in the garden" as well as kitchen tasks, according to Wusthof:

Wusthof Urban Farmer Machete

It's a cool knife, but you might want something less expensive if you're going to use it to dig in your garden. Instead, it's shaped much like a butcher knife and durable enough to use as one.

Overall, the Urban Farmer is one of the highest quality stamped knives we've seen.

Features of the Urban Farmer knife:

  • X50 CR MoV 15 steel
  • 56 HRC
  • Double 14 degree bevel on Western knives
  • Double 10 degree bevel on Japanese knives
  • Weight of 8" chef's knife: 5.8 oz.
  • Laser cut (e.g., stamped)
  • Non-slip synthetic bolster
  • Sustainable beechwood handle with two stainless steel rivets.

Cutting Performance and Ergonomics

Wusthof Urban Farmer knives have the same high carbon steel as other Wusthof knives and performs similarly. One note is that the blade on the chef's knife is not as tall compared to the Classic or Ikon lines, as you can see in the image at the beginning of the review (about 1.4 inches tall compared to 1.9 inches). The Urban Farmer santoku is closer in height to the Classic Santoku:1.75 inches vs. 1.8 inches.

The thinner chef's knife blade keeps the knife light, but it means your fingers are going to be closer to the cutting board, which could be a safety issue, particularly if you have large hands and fingers. The synthetic (plastic) bolster should help with this a bit and it doesn't seem to collect bits of food, as you might think it would.

All our testers loved the feel of the handle. It's comfortable and roomy, and the grip is fantastic.

Urban Farmer "combines the natural beauty of rustic crafting tools with the high-tech precision of knives made with the latest materials and techniques." 

Pros and Cons

Pros: Durable Wusthof steel, super sharp, synthetic bolster protects fingers, comfortable beechwood handle, 56 HRC and partial bolster makes it easy to sharpen .

Cons: Stamped blade not as tough as forged blades, chef's knife blade is a bit narrow.

Recommendations

If you're an urban farmer (or just a cook) on a budget and want the same high quality carbon steel used in more expensive German knives, this is a great choice. The blade is durable and sharp, the beechwood handle is amazing, and the synthetic bolster is a clever addition to a stamped blade. 

Chef's knives, paring knives, serrated knives, and santokus are available on both Amazon and Williams-Sonoma. Check out the whole line at Wusthof, but don't buy there without checking prices first. 

You can get a 7 piece set for about $400 at Williams-Sonoma; we didn't see any sets on Amazon or at Wusthof.

Wusthof Urban Farmer Chef's Knife

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Wusthof Knife FAQ

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about Wusthof knives.

Are Wusthof Knives Good Quality?

Yes, Wusthof knives are extremely good quality. They are some of the best knives in the world, and have been for more than 200 years.

Where Are Wusthof Knives Made?

All Wusthof knives are made in Solingen, Germany, where the company was founded in 1814. Wusthof is one of a handful of brands that are able to be labeled as "made in Solingen" rather than "made in Germany." Solingen is known as "The City of Blades" and knives made here are known for outstanding quality.

What Is Precision Edge Technology (PEtec)?

PEtec is Wusthof's proprietary technology that uses a computer-controlled method for putting the edge on forged knives. This technology uses lasers to achieve a precision edge. The result is knives that are "20% sharper with twice the edge retention." 

All forged Wusthof lines use PEtec.

Are Wusthof Knives Dishwasher Safe?

You could probably put Wusthof knives with a synthetic handle (the Classic, Classic Ikon, and Gourmet series) in the dishwasher, but you should wash your good knives by hand. Dishwasher detergent has abrasives that aren't good for the blade, so putting knives in the dishwasher is not good for them.

Never, ever put wood-handled knives in the dishwasher, as it will destroy the wood. 

Are Shun Knives Better than Wusthof?

Shun and Wusthof are both high quality brands, but have different strengths and weaknesses.

Shun blades are light and nimble, made with harder, more brittle steel that holds an edge longer but isn't great for hard foods.

Wusthof blades are heavier, made with softer steel that won't hold an edge as well but can cut through just about anything.

Shun knives are also harder to sharpen than Wusthof because of the harder steel.

So which brand is better really depends on if you prefer a light knife or a heavy knife and what you want to accomplish.

For beginning cooks and those not great at sharpening, Wusthof is probably a better choice.

What Angle Are Wusthof Knives Sharpened To?

Western Wusthof blades are sharpened to 14 degrees on each side, for a 28 degree bevel.

Japanese Wusthof blades are sharpened to 10 degrees on each side, for a 20 degree bevel.

How Are Wusthof Knives Made?

According to the website, Wusthof knives are made with a 40-step procedure. Here's a video about the Wusthof process if you want to know more.

Do Wusthof Knives Rust?

All knives will rust if you don't take good care of them. No stainless steel is 100% stainless; it's just stain resistant.

Having said that, Wusthof uses a high-chromium steel that is resistant to rusting. Their knives are one of the most durable brands on the market, and are known to be quite corrosion-proof.

If you want your knives to last, wash and dry them after every use. Since sitting with water is how steel rusts, making sure your knives don't do this is the best way to prevent it from happening.

Do Wusthof Knives Have a Lifetime Warranty?

Yes. All Wusthof knives have a limited lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects. If you do need to return a knife, Wusthof offers free shipping and will send you a prepaid return label. 

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Final Thoughts on Wusthof Knives

Ikon Blackwood 7pc set with block

Simply put, Wusthof knives are one of the best brands of kitchen knives in the world. The knives are durable, fairly heavy, resistant to corrosion, and easy to sharpen. They are an excellent brand for novices because they're easy to maintain, yet they are high quality enough for professional chefs. 

Which line to buy depends on your budget and preferences. Gourmet is a good choice for novices, those on a tight budget, or those who prefer a lighter knife. If budget isn't an issue, then you'll probably want to choose based on handle shape and material (which we discuss above).

We particularly like the Classic and Classic Ikon, which are Wusthof's most affordable lines with fully forged blades and a durable synthetic handle. If you want more traditional wood handles, the prices go up, but the options are beautiful.

Thanks for reading!

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