Chicago Cutlery Reviews: Knives, Knife Sets and an Alternative

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I've run through several of the best Chicago Cutlery knife sets. My recommendation? For most people, the Chicago Cutlery Insignia 18-Piece Knife Set is the best option.

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I use my kitchen knives daily, so I don’t want anything less than the best. Buying knives from a reputable company like Chicago Cutlery is great, but with all the offerings they have, it can be overwhelming to choose.

That’s why I like the Chicago Cutlery Insignia Set. This set contains high-quality knives suitable for almost any home kitchen while still being at an accessible price point.

But there are other considerations. If you want a smaller set, wood handles, or a higher-end set of knives, you might find one of the other options on our list to be a better fit.

Which Chicago Cutlery set is the best for your kitchen? Keep reading my Chicago Cutlery Reviews to find out more.

Chicago Cutlery Brand Guide

Chicago Cutlery started in 1930 as a knife conditioning service for professional butchers. Over time, Chicago Cutlery moved into the knife manufacturing business. In 1969, they began making professional-grade knives for the home kitchen.

Chicago Cutlery focuses on designing knives that make the techniques of professional chefs accessible to home cooks. From innovative grips to non-stick coatings on the blade, Chicago Cutlery strives to make a range of knives that fit the needs of any at-home chef.

Chicago Cutlery is a subsidiary of Corelle Brands, an American kitchenware products maker and distributor. Chicago Cutlery is made in China. All Chicago Cutlery knives come with a full lifetime warranty.

Chicago Cutlery Knife Set Reviews

Chicago Cutlery Guided Grip Insignia 18-Piece Knife Set: Best Overall

This Chicago Cutlery Insignia Knife Set features a sleek look and comes with a whopping 18 pieces:

  • 8-inch (20.32 cm) Chef’s knife
  • 8-inch (20.32 cm) slicing knife
  • 8-inch (20.32 cm) serrated bread knife
  • 7-inch (17.78 cm) Santoku
  • 6.5-inch (16.51 cm) sandwich knife
  • 5.5-inch (13.97 cm) serrated utility
  • 3.5-inch (8.89 cm) paring
  • 3.5-inch (8.89 cm) peeler
  • Eight 4.5-inch (11.43 cm) steak knives
  • Shears with opener
  • Natural Acacia wooden block

The stainless steel handles fit comfortably in the hand, and the patented guided grip design naturally encourages the pinch grip used by professional chefs.

These knives have a forged design and full metal tang for maximum balance and control. The blades feature high-carbon stainless steel, which resists rust and stains. The blades are sharpened to a 26-degree taper grind edge, or 13 degrees on each side. This is sharp enough for most kitchen cutting tasks.

You can store all your knives safely with the included Acacia wood block. The block also has a built-in sharpener, so you can sharpen your knives as frequently as needed without hassle.

Customers loved how sharp these knives were. They said the knives were comfortable to hold and lightweight, and they were pleased with their cutting performance.

One of the biggest complaints was the wood block. Several customers received a wood block that was mismatched wood, and they weren’t impressed with the appearance or quality.

Still, others loved having the built-in knife sharpener. The sharpener is for straight edge blades only. As far as cost? This is a mid-range set, making it appeal to a wide variety of consumers.

Pros

  • Razor-sharp
  • Well-balanced
  • In-block sharpener
  • Stainless ergonomic handles

Cons

  • Complaints of mismatched block
  • Not dishwasher-safe

Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Block Set with Wooden Storage Block: Best Splurge

For those wanting a set of high-end knives, this Chicago Cutlery Fusion set is it. The 17-piece set includes the following:

  • 7.75-inch (cm) Chef knife
  • 7.75-inch (cm) serrated bread knife
  • 7-inch (17.78 cm) Santoku knife
  • 5-inch (cm) utility
  • 3.25-inch (cm) parer
  • Eight 4.5-inch (cm) steak knives
  • sharpening steel
  • chestnut-stain wood knife block

The blades feature high-carbon stainless steel and a 26-degree tapered grind edge for precise cutting. These blades also resist rust, pitting, and stains.

The Asian-influenced handles are cushion-grip and are made of stainless steel and a black polymer. The handles are contoured and ergonomic for a comfortable grip.

The chopping assist tool provides guidance and stability to the knife while chopping, which is nice for beginners or those who want extra security. As with all Chicago Cutlery blades, wash your knives by hand and dry them immediately.

User reviews reinforced the claim that these Chicago Cutlery knives are incredibly sharp. They had success with chopping vegetables, slicing a rack of lamb, cutting fruit, and more.

However, several customers did have problems with the blade separating from the handle. There’s a weak spot just under the bolster that is susceptible to breaking. This happened with different knives in the set, as well.

Fortunately, more than one customer had a great experience with Corelle’s customer service, securing an acceptable alternative product.

One other issue? Some wished this set came with kitchen shears. Not a deal-breaker for most, but be aware that there are no shears included.

Pros

  • Sleek look, chestnut-stain block
  • High-carbon stainless blades
  • Ergonomic, cushion-grip handles
  • Well-balanced
  • Chop assist tool

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No kitchen shears
  • Reports of handle and blade separating

Chicago Cutlery Malden 16-Piece Stainless Steel Kitchen Knife Set: Best Value

For a contemporary look, Chicago Cutlery offers this Malden 16-piece Knife Set. It comes with the following 16 pieces:

  • 8-inch Chef’s knife
  • 6.75-inch (cm) serrated bread knife
  • 6-inch (cm) Santoku
  • 4.75-inch (cm) utility knife
  • 3.25-inch (cm) parer
  • Eight 4.5-inch (cm) steak knives
  • Kitchen shears
  • Ebony-stain wood block
  • Chop assist tool

These Chicago Cutlery knives have sleek stainless steel knife handles that are contoured for extra comfort. The high-carbon stainless steel blades have a 26-degree taper grind edge for long-lasting sharpness.

These forged knives feature a full tang for balance and strength. Storage is a snap with this modern ebony-finish ash wood knife block. It has a sharpener built in, so it’s easy to keep your Chicago Cutlery knives sharp.

As far as Chicago Cutlery reviews? They were glowing. Customers raved about this set of knives. They loved the look of the knife set as well as its performance.

One of the only complaints? Some would have liked heavier knives. Still, for the budget-friendly price point, you’ll get great value with this Chicago Cutlery Knife set.

Also, the slots for the steak knives are horizontal, not vertical. That makes no difference in the performance, but it is unusual compared with other knife sets.

Pros

  • Razor-sharp
  • Modern, black ash wood block
  • Sleek stainless handles
  • Full tang
  • Built-in sharpener

Cons

  • Lightweight (some thought too much)

Chicago Cutlery Walnut Tradition 3-Piece Prep Knife Set: Best Entry Level Knife Set

The smallest knife set on our list, this Chicago Cutlery Walnut Tradition knife collection comes with 3 pieces:

  • 8-inch (20.32 cm) Chef knife
  • 5-inch (cm) boning knife
  • 3-inch (cm) paring knife

The pieces included should cover most of the basic cutting tasks. There are no Chicago Cutlery steak knives in this knife set, however.

The wooden handles are a distinguishing feature. Made from walnut, these ergonomic handles have triple rivets for extra reinforcement. The full-tang blades extend from the handle tip to the blade.

The high-carbon 420 stainless steel blades have straight edges that are easy to sharpen. They’re resistant to rust, stains, and pitting.

Overall, customers were pleased with these Chicago Cutlery knives. Some user reviews noted that the handles have some rough, uneven spots. They could sand them without problems, but that is a drawback. You can use cutting board mineral oil to keep the handles in good shape.

There is no storage included with these individual knives, either. Most of Chicago Cutlery’s knife sets include a block, but these knives come without one.

Still, at such an affordable price point, this is an attractive option for those who want to experience good knives without buying a large knife set.

Pros

  • Walnut handles
  • Triple-riveted
  • High-carbon blades
  • Inexpensive, affordable

Cons

  • No block or storage
  • Reports of rough handles
  • Not dishwasher-safe

Chicago Cutlery Insignia2 18-Piece Block Set with In-Block Knife Sharpener: Overall Runner-Up

Tied for the largest Chicago Cutlery Knife Set, this Insignia2 set is a bump up from the Insignia set. It also comes with 18 pieces, including:

  • 3-inch (cm) paring knife
  • 3.5-inch (cm) paring knife
  • 5-inch (cm) boning knife
  • 5.5-inch (cm) utility
  • 7-inch (cm) Santoku knife
  • 8-inch (20.32 cm) Chef’s knife
  • 8-inch (20.32 cm) slicer
  • Eight 4.5-inch (cm) steak knives
  • Kitchen shears
  • Knife block with sharpener

Watch this short manufacturer video to see highlights of the Insignia2 set:

All the pieces can be stored in the wooden block with an in-block sharpener. The high-carbon stainless blades are full tang and feature heavy-duty forged bolsters.

The ergonomic polymer handles feature triple stainless steel rivets for extra security and durability.

User reviews had high praise for this Chicago Cutlery knife set. They said the knives were well-balanced and had good weight. They loved the sharp cutting performance and the straight blade of the Chicago Cutlery steak knives.

One thing they didn’t love was the block. Some had issues with the in-block sharpener scraping the blades or not being clear of debris. A couple said they would have preferred sharpening steel to the block sharpener.

Others said the slots for their steak knives were off by a hair, affecting the appearance. Overall, though? They were quite pleased with this Chicago Cutlery set.

In terms of affordability, this is among the more expensive Chicago Cutlery sets, but I wouldn’t consider it a splurge. But if you’re on a tight budget, you might opt for something smaller.

Pros

  • Full metal tang
  • Forged bolster
  • Well-balanced
  • Triple rivets
  • Sharp blades

Cons

  • Issues with the knife block
  • Pricier

Chicago Cutlery ProHold 14-Piece Block Set: Best Non-stick Coated Blade

This Chicago Cutlery ProHold 14-piece set comes with a space-saving dual-wood block and includes the following pieces:

  • 8-inch (20.32 cm) Chef knife
  • 8-inch (20.32 cm) bread knife
  • 5-inch (cm) serrated utility knife
  • 5-inch (cm) Santoku knife
  • 3.5-inch (cm) paring knife
  • 3.25-inch (cm) peeler
  • Six 4.5-inch (cm) steak knives

This is the only set that has coated blades. The black non-stick coating prevents food from sticking to the blade during meal prep, so you can slice cheese or potatoes with ease.

The ProHold set features a comfortable, non-slip textured handle for maximum comfort and control.

Customers were impressed with these knives. They liked the sharpness and sleek look of the blades. Some appreciated that the block portion for the steak knives can detach from the main block, which is convenient for serving purposes.

The biggest complaint is the coating. Several customers report problems with it flaking off after a while. This is always a risk with coated cutlery, of course.

But overall, users found this to be a quality knife set. On top of that, it’s quite affordable, which is always nice.

Pros

  • Black non-stick blade
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable, non-slip handle
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Reports of the coating coming off
  • Not dishwasher-safe

Chicago Cutlery Belden 15-Piece Premium Kitchen Knife Set: Best Space-Saving Set

Last on our list of Chicago Cutlery knife sets is this Belden 15-Piece Knife Set. It comes with the following pieces:

  • Six 4.5-inch (cm) serrated steak knives
  • Two 4-inch (cm) paring knifes
  • 8-inch (20.32 cm) Chef knife
  • 8-inch (20.32 cm) bread knife
  • 8-inch (20.32 cm) slicer
  • 5.5-inch (cm) utility knife
  • 3-inch (cm) peeler
  • Kitchen shears
  • Cherry wood block

This manufacturer video highlights some of the pieces included in the set:

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The Belden set features high-carbon steel blades with a sharp, taper grind edge. The forged design gives this cutlery higher quality, and the full metal tang offers extra sturdiness.

The space-saving cherry wood block and stylish handles give this set a contemporary look. Speaking of handles, all the knives in this set feature polymer and stainless steel handles. The comfortable design makes easy work of food prep.

Customers loved this Chicago Cutlery set. They said the knives handled well and felt great in the hand. They also said the blades were sharp, although several said they lost their edge quickly.

To make the blades sharper, periodically use honing steel to sharpen the blade edges.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Includes peeler
  • Comfortable handles
  • Sharp blades

Cons

  • Loses edge quickly

Are There Alternatives?

J.A. Henckels International Forged Premio 19-Piece Block Set

This J.A. Henckels International set is substantial, coming with 19 pieces. Those pieces include 2 paring knives, 2 utility knives, boning knife, a hollow-edge Santoku knife, bread knife, Chef’s knife, 8 steak knives, honing steel, kitchen shears, and wood knife block with cherry finish.

All the knives are forged except the steak knives, which are stamped. The triple-riveted handle has a stainless steel end cap and a comfortable design.

The cherry wood block has a classic design, but it does not have an in-block sharpener. The set does come with a honing steel, however, which many would prefer. This J.A. Henckels knife set has glowing reviews, but it comes at a higher cost than most Chicago Cutlery sets.

Pros

  • Forged design
  • Triple-riveted
  • High-carbon steel blades

Cons

  • More expensive

Kitchen Knife Buying Guide

When it comes to Western-style kitchen knife sets, it’s important to know what to look for. The following section can help you find the perfect knife for you.

What to Look for In A Kitchen Knife Set

Blade Material

High-carbon stainless steel is the way to go. This type of steel will resist rust, stains, and pitting. The extra carbon content also holds an edge longer than regular stainless steel. All the knives in Chicago Cutlery’s most popular sets have high-carbon stainless blades.

Forged vs. Stamped Blades

Forged blades are formed from a single rod of steel. Stamped blades, however, are “cut out” of thin metal sheets. Forged knives are heavier and more durable than stamped knives, but they’re also more expensive.

Chicago Cutlery offers both stamped and forged cutlery. Typically, a forged knife will be labeled as such, indicating higher quality.

Handles

It’s counterproductive to make a top-quality blade, only to have an uncomfortable or cheap handle. A comfortable grip that’s secure, non-slip, and ergonomic is essential to a good kitchen knife.

Common handle materials are wood, stainless steel, or some type of plastic or polymer. All three have their advantages and disadvantages, but it comes down to personal preference.

For stamped blades, a full tang, where the blade extends into the handle, is helpful for extra durability. It’s also better to have triple rivets to prevent the blade from coming loose.

Blade Sharpness (Angle)

A knife’s sharpness is measured by the angle to which the blade is sharpened. Knives with a sharpness angle of between 9.5-16 degrees on each side can cut almost anything.

Chicago Cutlery’s knife sets feature a 26-degree angle (13 degrees on each side), meaning these sharp knives can handle almost any day-to-day cutting task.

Are Kitchen Knives Dishwasher-Safe?

While some manufacturers claim their knives are dishwasher-safe, you’ll get more mileage and better performance out of your cutlery if you hand wash your knives.

Dishwashers can damage the blades through contact with other objects during the cycle. What’s more, high heat and abrasive detergents can wear down the blade, and the water can damage a wooden handle.

Chicago Cutlery Reviews: The Last Word

If you want the best set of quality knives? I’d go with the Chicago Cutlery Insignia 18-Piece Set. It has that right balance of performance, quality, beauty, and affordability. It’s a complete set that should last a long time.