Unless you’re a professional chef, it’s unlikely that you’ll know the difference between a regular chef’s knife and a santoku knife.
In reality, they’re not too different—both are all-purpose knives. However, the santoku originates in Japan, and the Japanese have a different way of doing things.
The santoku is unique because of how the blade width is matched to the weight of the handle and blade. Some also have dimpled edges. For many cooks, this makes all the difference against the performance you can expect from a regular chef’s knife.
So today we bring you the best santoku knife options on the market. Even if you weren’t already considering buying one, this review list would probably change your mind.
According to your convenience, you can either jump right into the reviews or scroll down for our comprehensive buying guide.
Our Picks of the 5 Best Santoku Knife in 2019
Without further ado, here are our picks of the best Santoku knives currently on the market. Each one has been chosen with extensive research and utmost care. May you find what you’re looking for.
by Zelite Infinity
by Zelite Infinity
by Mercer Culinary
By by Dalstrong
We’re starting off this review list with a highly rated 7-inch Santoku from Zelite Infinity which is preferred not only by dedicated home cooks but also experienced chefs everywhere. Keep reading to find out why.
The first thing you need to know about this knife is that its blade is made from Japanese VG-10 67-layer Damascus steel, and polished using a tsunami rose Damascus pattern. Whoa—a lot of big words, but what do they mean? Basically, this knife is not only sharp but long-lasting as well.
And speaking of the blade, it’s a 53mm one with a 12-degree cutting angle. So, on top of superior sharpness, it’s also a relatively safer knife to use (as far as knives go, of course).
How about its performance? There’s really nothing to say except that it’s top-notch. You’ll be cutting through fish, meat, vegetables, fruits, and nuts so effortlessly that you’ll forget you’re not cutting butter.
Finally, we also love how this thing looks. The innovative design of the triple-riveted handle, enhanced by the steel and copper mosaic, makes this a knife with character.
All in all, there’s very little to dislike about this knife. You’re very unlikely to regret it!
The next knife on the list is a classic hollow-edged Santoku. As you may already know, the dimples in a Santoku knife add benefits not found in chef’s knives, including a decrease in suction.
However, dimple concerns are ultimately secondary to how the knife’s overall performance is. But on that front, there is nothing to worry about with this knife.
Our first highlight of this knife is its handle. It’s made from a material called polyoxymethylene, which is a kind of thermoplastic that is used to attain high dimensional stability and stiffness. Not only does this make the handle more durable and sturdier, but it also provides a more comfortable grip.
We also love the knife’s blade. As with any dimpled blade edge, you enjoy lower friction while cutting, and food is released from the blade easier. The blade tapers off at an angle, which makes it sharper.
Furthermore, the blade has been tempered during the manufacturing process to help it retain its edge over years of use, further increasing the durability of the overall product.
The only real drawback of this knife is that it’s on the more expensive side (the most expensive one on our list). However, always remember that with kitchenware, you get what you pay for!
This knife is from the first brand we reviewed, Zelite Infinity; only this one belongs to their Alpha-Royal series. Does that sound fancy? Because it is. The price can be categorized as mid-range (for some of you), but the performance is almost professional.
That is thanks to the excellent construction of the blade, which owes itself to high-quality Japanese steel, specifically, AUS10 67-layer high carbon stainless steel that has been tempered with liquid nitrogen. A lot of big words, but it simply means that it’s both sharp and durable.
And it doesn’t just perform amazingly, it also looks great. This knife boasts a refined look thanks to its being furnished with a unique triple metal mosaic rivet and a tsunami rose Damascus pattern that all Zelite Infinity knives come with.
The handle also plays a role in our evaluation of this product as something worth your attention. The full-tang blade is triple riveted to make sure the knife lasts you many years. Plus, it has an ergonomic rounded design, making it comfortable to hold.
All in all, this is definitely one of our favorite products on this list. We don’t think you’ll regret it!
This brand is highly sought after by culinary institutes for their cutlery supplies. That should give you an idea as to the quality of the products, as they are made for budding professional chefs.
You can expect excellent precision and accuracy with this knife, no matter whether you're mincing, slicing, or chopping. The blades are forged from high carbon German steel. As you may already know, carbon is an excellent choice in knife blade construction material, because it offers both durability and consistent sharpness.
Furthermore, the unique rectangular shape of the blade, together with its dimpled edge, also account for the high performance this santoku knife will provide you. We also love that the edge of the blade is taper-ground because that tends to make a knife more stable.
Finally, a word about the ergonomic handle, which is made from Santoprene. This is a type of elastomer thermoplastic that is supremely durable in comparison to other models. It makes the knife resistant to exposure to all temperatures and also different oils and fluids in the kitchen.
You’re getting all of these amazing features at a reasonable price, which is why this is our budget pick.
Last on our list is the favorite of many members of our team. We particularly love it for the price point, which seems unbelievable considering the combination of outstanding craftsmanship and high performance.
This knife comes with a sheep’s foot rounded end and a profile with a straighter edge, making it super easy to cut and slice. The blade boasts supreme sharpness thanks to its 8 to 12-degree angle. The 62+ Rockwell edge retention also makes this knife highly worth your money.
How about the blade? It’s been made from a 67-layer Damascus steel, which has been sharpened using an ancient Japanese sword-making method. Of course, that sounds cool, but it’s also what allows the blade to be extremely sharp and resistant to corrosion and rust.
We also love the tapered edge of the blade, which allows for greater food release by reducing suction and resistance.
Finally, we love how great this knife looks. The engraved end-cap truly sets this knife apart, while the beautiful copper mosaic makes it an important addition to the kitchen of any cook with an eye for aesthetics.
If you’ve shopped for kitchen utensils and other related items in the past, then you already know that there are variations for nearly everything.
As you can tell from our santoku knife reviews, there are quite a few things you have to consider before making your purchase. Keep reading for more details.
Generally, the most frequently used materials used for knife blade construction are stainless steel, ceramic, carbon steel, or high carbon steel. Each one has its benefits—read up to decide which one sounds like it’s most suited to your needs.
Right off the bat, you should keep in mind that high carbon steel is the best option in the case of all knives, including santoku. This is due to the unmatched sharpness and durability high carbon steel can offer. Maintenance is also more convenient as sharpening it is easier.
The kicker is that knives with high carbon steel blades tend to be the most expensive ones. In that case, you can go with carbon steel, which is more affordable in comparison. However, they aren’t immune to rusting and staining.
That brings us to the most common option, which is seen by many as the most reliable for the price range in which it is placed. We’re talking about stainless steel, of course.
This material is recognized universally for its durability and resistance to rust and corrosion. The drawback, though, is that stainless steel blades won’t be able to retain their sharpness successfully over time.
Finally, we have ceramic. These tend to be quite lightweight and won’t require as much maintenance as the other types. However, they’re not suitable for use without a chopping board, due to their fragility.
The handle of any knife is of utmost importance in helping you make precise cuts. The construction quality of the handle is what determines not only the level of balance and control but also your personal safety.
Handles for santoku knives come in all sorts of materials, of which the most prominent are wood, plastic, stainless steel or composite material.
Plastic and composite handles are usually preferred by those who prioritize comfort. They are also the best option in terms of safety as they are easier to grip, which reduces the possibility of them slipping out of your hand and injuring you.
Wood is aesthetically pleasing and durable to boot. But if durability is your top concern, stainless steel is always the way to go.
Overall Blade Constitution
Your consideration of the constitution of the blade should be three-fold: the thickness, strength, and dimples.
You should know, first and foremost, that the thickness and strength of the blade are sort of unevenly matched.
If you want a thicker blade, you’ll have to compromise the strength and vice versa. Although thinner blades can be preferable, especially for slicing and other similar activities, thick knives are a better choice in the long run.
When it comes to the strength of the blade, it’s important to remember that santoku knives are not meant to be flexible; they are characterized by their ability to resist high-stress levels. So, if flexibility is a concern for you, santoku might not be your best fit.
Finally, we have the dimples of the santoku (the groves hollowed out at intervals along the edge, which are found on them more often than not).
The groves are not meant to be too deep, as that can affect the structural stability of the knife. However, they should also not be shallow, as that would be counter-productive.
Frequently Asked Questions
1.How is a santoku different from a chef knife?
First, the similarities: both types are general-purpose knives, able to perform slicing, dicing, chopping, and mincing.
However, Santoku is usually made of harder, thinner steel for increased precision. The blade shape also differs in order to accommodate different cutting types. The main difference, though, that most Santoku knives have dimples along the edge—also called a Granton edge.
2. What is the point of the dimples along a santoku knife’s edge?
The dimples on a santoku knife blade edge are there to reduce suction when the knife is used to cut into a dense food. This makes it easier to retract the blade than it would be if you were using a knife with a smooth edge.
Additionally, the dimples also prevent food pieces from sticking to the knife. These features make santoku knives great for cutting large vegetables or thick cuts of meat.
3.What are the best uses of a santoku knife?
The word "Santoku" means "three virtues" in Japanese, which is a reference to the knife's ability to chop, dice, and mince. The knife’s uniqueness is derived from how the knife’s handle interacts so harmoniously with the blade.
It's most suitable for cutting meat, slicing cheese, or chopping fruits and vegetables. It's also great for making fine slices. Plus, they're ideal for cooks with small hands thanks to their small or non-existent bolster.
4.What is the proper way to use a santoku knife?
Because the santoku knife is a general-purpose knife, it can easily be used to slice, chop and mince vegetables and meat. The blade can also be used sideways to crush herbs such as garlic or fruits like tomatoes.
However, don't use the santoku to slice and dice with rocking motions (the way you might with a knife with a ceramic blade). And it probably goes without saying that you absolutely can't use a santoku to cleave.
5.Which material is best for the knife blade?
Typically, santoku knife blades are made from carbon steel, high carbon steel, stainless steel or ceramic. Typically, high carbon steel and carbon steel are the sharpest and most durable.
Stainless steel also offers excellent durability but is unable to retain its sharpness. Ceramic is a good option for lightweight knives but the least durable. Find more details in our buying guide.
So, there you have it—our favorite Santoku knives on the market right now. Here’s our final rundown.
Our favorite product on the list is undoubtedly the Dalstrong Santoku from their Shogun series, which we reviewed last. It not only exemplifies every reason to choose a santoku over a chef’s knife but does this at an amazing price that is nearly unbeatable.
If you have a bigger budget, though, don’t hesitate to buy the Wusthof WU4176 Classic Ikon 7-Inch Santoku. You can rarely go wrong with a big name like Wusthof, and this knife proves why.
And if you have a small budget, there is no reason to worry. The Mercer Culinary Genesis Forged 7-inch Santoku Knife is, of course, our top budget pick; it offers a quality blade at a steal of a price.
And if you don’t like the products we reviewed?
That’s okay too because now you know what the best santoku knife looks like, no matter which brand it’s from.
If you need a refresher, though, you can always go back to our buying guide when you’re ready to buy your santoku. In any case, good luck!