German-made knives have long been the gold standard for professional western cooks, but in the last 20 years the equally revered Japanese makers have been slicing significantly into the worldwide market.
Traditional German knives are hand forged from corrosion-resistant high-carbon stainless steel. They feature a full tang for balance, which means the blade’s metal runs through to the end of the handle, a full bolster and triple rivets to the handle for durability. The forging method results in a hefty, solid feel and a knife that is known to be easy to sharpen and stays sharp–even more so with the modern addition of computer-controlled sharpening post forging, Some feel that their heftiness helps them do the job when rocking the chef’s knife chopping. Most German knives these days have durable black composite handles, a feature that fits as these knives are made to last a lifetime. Many German knife companies have added laser-stamped series of knives to their collections. More lightweight and sometimes not as well balanced, these are more competitively priced and made from the same steel as the forged (just less of it). This is a difference to keep in mind when comparing knives, particularly as our favorite Japanese brands have a tendency to be more expensive.
Top-Rated German Knives
Within the reputable Wusthof brand, the best-selling Wusthof Classic series knives are hand-forged then sharpened using a computer-controlled method from the tip to the heel of the knife.
Zwilling J.A. Henckels has been making forged knives since 1731. The Henckels Twin Four Star series, while not as heavy as the upper end of their lines, is designed with laser-controlled edges for sharpness, super-bolsters and full tangs.