If you’re sick of buying single kitchen knives of varying quality and mismatching designs, invest in a high-performing knife block set. I’ll decide on the best quality set Mercer Culinary has to offer in my Mercer knives review.
These are the competitors:
- Mercer Renaissance Knives (Best Mercer Knife Set)
- Mercer Züm Knives (Most Attractive Mercer Knives)
- Mercer Millennia Knives (Most affordable)
- Mercer Culinary Genesis (Most Versatile)
- Mercer Premium Knives (Best Splurge)
I recommend the Mercer Renaissance Knife set. It’s forged from German V15 stainless steel, sharp and easy to hold. The Renaissance knives are super-versatile and come at a reasonable price point.
Read on to find out more, and details on some alternative Mercer Knife sets.
What To Look for in Knife Sets
Mercer Culinary states they create new products in collaboration with master chefs and leaders in the cooking industry; this makes their products top-tier for cooking. But they’re great for the home cook, as well.
Mercer produces kitchen knives, sharpeners, chef’s apparel, plating, and other kitchen tools. They also have several knife sets on the market, but how do you choose between these? Let’s take a look at some features of the best knife sets.
One material that many quality knives are made of is stainless steel. This metal has high corrosion resistance and is very durable.
Note that there are different types of stainless steel. When it comes to quality knives, they typically contain steel from Germany and Japan, known for their good metal. So, where are Mercer knives made? Well, often in these two countries!
Also, there are different stainless steel alloys. High-carbon steel such as VG10 and SG2, for example, are especially durable and stable. VG10 typically maintains 60 on the Rockwell scale of hardness, while SG2 has a value closer to 64; this means that they can hold a low angle well.
The tang is the bit of the blade that sticks out of the back into the handle.
Full tang describes a design style where the handle is welded to the blade into one piece, making the knife very durable. The range stretches throughout the whole handle. The blade isn’t likely to loosen from the handle.
Part or push tang is the alternative where the blade is simply pushed or fastened into the blade with adhesive. While often cheaper, the design can be less long-lasting.
Double or Single Bevel
This refers to the edge of the knife. A double-bevel blade has an edge on both sides, making it easy to use and versatile. On a single-bevel knife, there’s only one side with an angle; this allows for delicate and precise cutting.
Generally, a knife is either forged or stamped.
Forged knives are literally forged from a single rod of steel by a heating and hammering process. This type of knife is great at holding an edge and very strong. There’s metal throughout the whole blade and handle, which gives it a balanced feel and a supportive bolster.
This type of knife isn’t hammered but instead cut out of a flat steel piece. It’s less durable, sharp and balanced than a forged blade.
The pros of a stamped kitchen knife are that it’s lightweight, flexible, and appropriate for fine cutting and filleting.
Steel alloys with high-carbon content tend to rust and chip easier than plain stainless steel. To increase the durability of knives that manufacturers create with this material, they tend to be clad in stainless steel to protect against rust.
Note that clad knives don’t have this protective layer at the blade edge as they want to maintain the sharpness of the high-carbon steel, so a clad blade can still have a fragile edge.
If you have knives that aren’t clad, you shouldn’t necessarily worry about rust. These may be made of stainless steel, or have a lower carbon content and not be as susceptible to rust. The trade-off here is a less sharp edge.
Pieces in the Set
You want a set of knives that you’ll actually use. A chef s knife is a must, for example, as it’s super versatile and can be used for many kitchen tasks. While more is often considered better, if you’ll only use a few knives in the set, it’s better to go for quality over quantity.
The best knife block set has blades of different lengths. All-purpose knives should be about 8-9 inches (20-23 centimeters) long, and at least one should be included.
Mercer Culinary Knives Review: The Top 5 Sets
Now that you know what constitutes a good knife set, let’s jump into our reviews.
The Renaissance Mercer Knives includes an 8-inch (20-centimeter) chef’s knife, a bread knife of the same size, a 6-inch (15-centimeter) boning knife, a 5-inch (13-centimeter) utility knife, and a 3.5-inch (9-centimeter) paring knife. Along with these five knives is a wooden knife block. You can also buy the Mercer Culinary Renaissance Forged Chef s Knife separately.
All the knives are full-tang and forged from high-carbon V15 or X50 stainless steel from Germany. The set itself is manufactured in Taiwan. The edges of the knives are 15 degrees, which is considered super sharp. Also, the triple-riveted handle is ergonomically made.
According to customers, these Mercer knives are really sharp and can cut through raw meat like butter. They also feel “weighty” and well-balanced due to the full tang, which is another pro. Users also like how elegant the wooden glass knife block looks on the counter.
While it looks nice, the wooden knife block isn’t put together very well. It’s uneven, wobbly, and the knives fall out of the block rather easily. Buyers are displeased that there’s no sharpening tool included in the set and that while the knives are sharp out of the box, they dull easily.
- Superior sharpness
- Good weight in your hand
- Wood and glass knife block looks pretty
- Forged from strong high-carbon steel
- Durable full-tang
- Uneven wooden knife block that wobbles
- The knives lose their sharpness rather fast
With the Züm Mercer Knives set, you get the 8-inch Mercer Züm Forged Chef’s Knife that Mercer says is great for both chopping and mincing; you can also buy it separately. There’s also a 6-inch (15-centimeter) utility knife, an 8-inch (20-centimeter) bread knife, a 6-inch (15-centimeter) boning knife, and a 3.5-inch (9-centimeter) paring knife. A glass and metal knife holder is also included.
These knives are forged of high-carbon German stainless steel in Taiwan. The pieces in the set are full tang and advertised as balanced, strong, and durable. Users agree and like that they’re heavyweight and feel balanced in your grip.
The full tang plastic handle is ergonomically designed and slightly angled. But some find that it’s a little too thin and short, making it hard to handle if your hands are big.
Another great thing is that it comes in a padded box that’s appropriate for gifting. The see-through glass knife block is another appreciated feature that easily lets you see what knife you’re pulling out. It also comes apart for easy cleaning and looks great in a modern home kitchen. But some users report that it doesn’t fit in a normal cabinet.
The 15-degree angle on the edges makes the knives razor-sharp, according to buyers. They also like the look of the blades with the knife emblem, Mercer stamp, and the black and steel combination. As long as you keep them out of the dishwasher, they’ll last you for years to come.
- Very durable
- Razor-sharp edges
- Balanced full tang knives
- Great for gifting with a pretty box
- See-through glass allows easy access to knives
- The handles aren’t good for people with bigger hands
- Knife holder is too tall to put in cabinets
This Millennia Mercer Knives set is targeted at culinary students consists of 23 pieces, but you can also choose to buy Mercer Millennia Chef’s Knife individually. It comes in some great colors. An 11-inch (28-centimeter) Granton edge slicer, an 8-inch (20-centimeter) chef’s knife, an 8-inch (20-centimeter) bread knife, a 6-inch (15-centimeter) boning knife, and a 3-inch (7.5-centimeter) paring knife are also included. All of these come with a knife guard.
Also included are a nylon knife case, 10-inch sharpening steel, a thermometer, a swivel peeler, a fork, a spatula, a cut ruler, and decorating tools.
Mercer Culinary states that these knives have ¾ tang, which isn’t a complete full tang. This puts them at risk of the blade separating from the handle. But the handles are reportedly comfortable and slip-resistant. These are also double bevel knives that allow you to use the edges on both sides.
Note: these are stamped knives which make them less strong and durable than some other sets on our list. As for material, they’re made of high-carbon Japanese steel and manufactured in Taiwan.
They also hold an edge really well, according to users. If you use the sharpening tool in the kit—which is a bonus by itself—you can expect high-performing knives for a long time. Even if you’re not a culinary student, the added tools are useful, and the nylon case makes the Mercer knives super portable.
The cut ruler isn’t as popular, however. Some buyers say that the ink starts coming off rather quickly, which isn’t very nice when it drops into your food. According to some, the knife guards are also too slim, making it difficult and potentially dangerous to try and pull the knives in and out.
- 23 pieces
- Holds an edge beautifully
- Slip-resistant and ergonomic handles
- Comes with a sharpening tool
- A very portable kit
- Cut ruler releases ink
- Slim knife guards make the knives hard to pull out.
- Stamped knives
- Part tang isn’t as long-lasting
The Mercer Culinary Genesis is a six-piece set with an 8-inch (20-centimeter) chef’s knife, an 8-inch (20-centimeter) bread knife, a 6-inch (15-centimeter) boning knife, a 6-inch (15-centimeter) utility knife, and a 3.5-inch (9-centimeter) paring knife. Additionally, there’s a tempered glass block to put the knives in. Mercer Culinary Genesis Chef’s Knife is also sold separately.
The Mercer Culinary Genesis are forged knives with a full tang, so the handle stays put, and the steel is strong. But some users state that the knives lose their edge after some time and also tend to rust. They can also get watermarks unless you always dry them with a towel.
As for the positives, the handles are reportedly very grippy, so they won’t slip. The glass knife block that comes with the Mercer Genesis also looks sleek. Lastly, they’re very sharp to the point that you need to be careful not to cut yourself, probably because they’re made with high-carbon German steel.
A special feature of these knives is that they have a taper-ground edge which means that the blade decreases in size from the top to the cutting edge and from the handle to the tip; this makes Mercer Genesis kitchen knives more stable and very versatile.
- Taper-ground edge for stable and versatile knives
- Forged and full tang prevents breaking
- Sleek knife holder
- Grippy handles
- Susceptible to rust
- Tend to get marks unless you dry off all water drops
Mercer Premium Knives Review
Finally, if you’re looking for more premium knives, they’re likely to be sold separately. I’ve picked out five quality Mercer Culinary knives that together will make a premium line of blades. They’re all made with Japanese VG10 high-carbon stainless steel with a value between 60-62 on the Rockwell hardness scale and clad in stainless steel for increased durability.
First, we have the Mercer Premium Gyuto Chef Knife available in sizes between 8-11.8 inches (20-30 centimeters). This is the only premium Mercer Culinary single bevel knife, which means this chef’s knife ideal for delicate and precise sharp cutting.
Second, there’s the Petty Knife available in small 5-6 inches (13-15 centimeters) length that’s reportedly good for deboning and cutting fruit. We also have the Nakiri Knife at 7 inches (18 centimeters), which can chop and fine-slice vegetables very well.
The Santoku Knife comes in 7 inches (18 centimeters) and is similar to the chef’s knife but slightly shorter (meaning it can do it all.) The Sujihiki Knife at 9.5-10.6 inches (24-27 centimeters) is superior when cutting larger items such as cabbage or melon.
According to customers, the VG10 makes the knives almost scarily sharp. Like cut-your-arm-hair sharp. The knives also look sleek and beautiful and are super agile and easy to control. Compared to other Mercer Culinary knife sets, users feel it’s easier to thinly and delicately slice items with the premium line. These knives also pass the classic piercing tomatoes test with flying colors.
These are high-performing tools indeed, but that also means that they’re several times more expensive than the other sets on our list. There are also reports that these knives are hard to sharpen, probably due to their thin edges.
- Durable cladding
- Excellent sharp edge
- Great variety of knives length-wise
- Agile and easy to use
- Perfect for thin and delicate cuts
- Very pricey compared to other Mercer knives
- Not easy to re-sharpen
Alternative: Mercer Culinary vs Shun
Another quality knife kit is Shun Knife Set, which includes six pieces just like the Mercer sets. However, there are only three knives in this kit, plus a block for storage, a sharpening steel, and kitchen sears. This, combined with the fact that Shun are more expensive than Mercer, means that you get less bang for your buck or fewer knives for your money.
Shun knives are handcrafted in Japan, meaning that the manufacturing process is higher quality than for the Taiwan-made Mercer Culinary knives. The Shun’s have 16-degree double bevel blades, making them sharper than the premium Mercer knives. They also have elegant wooden handles compared to Mercer’s plastic ones.
However, the wooden block seems to be of lesser quality, and users report uneven spots and colors on their pieces. Also, thin edges tend to chip and rust easier than thicker ones. This is the trade-off for crazy sharp cuts.
- Incredibly fine and sharp edges
- Handcrafted in Japan
- Elegant design
- Includes a sharpening tool
- Only three actual knives in the knife set
- Wooden block isn’t as high-quality
- Very expensive
Conclusion: Which Is the Best Mercer Culinary Knife Set?
I think the best Mercer knife block set for the average home cook is the Mercer Renaissance Knives. They’re forged from German V15 stainless steel, fully clad, very sharp, and feel heavy and nice to hold. The blades are very versatile, and together they make a good set that will help both professional chefs and cooks in the home kitchen.
As for the Mercer Genesis vs Renaissance battle, due to the many similar features of the sets, I’d say the Renaissance knives win as they withhold rust and watermarks better than the Mercer Culinary Genesis. Durability is so important when you invest in a whole set of chef knives.
But which Mercer Culinary set do you like the best?