The Best Santoku Knife For 2020 – Ultimate Buying Guide
For versatility in the kitchen, most gourmets prefer a standard chef’s knife for general chopping and cutting tasks. Many trained chefs are accustomed to the rocking motion used when chopping or cutting large quantities of vegetables, meat, or herbs. However, in recent years more chefs have adopted the Japanese santoku knife for their chopping and slicing needs, particularly when it comes to fine slicing, mincing, or chopping vast quantities of fruits, vegetables, herbs and even meat in busy kitchens.
A good santoku knife is as good a friend to the home chef as it is to the professional, and its wide straight blade makes scooping and dropping your freshly prepped veggies, meat, or spices into a waiting pot or pan faster and easier than a curved chef’s knife. Most How do you find a good santoku that will stand up to years of use? Read our reviews of the best santoku knives in 2020, and check out our top rated santoku knife. Take a look at what we have for you:
- 10 Best Santoku Knife - Comparison
- 10 Best Santoku Knife - Review
- 1. DALSTRONG Shogun Series Santoku Knife
- 2. Wusthof 4183-7 Wusthof Classic Santoku Knife
- 3. Shun Premier Santoku Knife
- 4. Wusthof Classic 5-Inch Hollow Ground Knife
- 5. ZELITE INFINITY Santoku Knife
- 6. Global G-48-7 inch, 18cm Santoku Hollow Knife
- 7. ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Professional"S" 7" Hollow Edge
- 8. Victorinox 7 Inch Rosewood Santoku Knife
- 9. Cangshan TC Series 1021165 Swedish Sandvik Knife
- 10. Yaxell Gou 6-1/2-inch Santoku Knife
- Final Verdict:
10 Best Santoku Knife - Comparison
High-carbon stainless steel
High-carbon stainless steel
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High Carbon Stainless Steel
High-tech molybdenum stainless steel
High carbon NO STAIN steel
High alloy Swedish Steel
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10 Best Santoku Knife - Review
1. DALSTRONG Shogun Series Santoku Knife
I love Dalstrong knives: they are precision forged, sharp enough to shave with, and tougher than nails. Their Shogun series is no exception to their exacting manufacturing standards, and just a quick heft of this blade and a glance at its features is enough to tell even the most jaded chef that this knife is truly a work of art that will serve as an exceptional tool in the kitchen for years to come.
First of all, the blade itself is forged from AUS-10 Japanese steel with a Damascus-style finish to a Rockwell Hardness Scale score of 62+, providing superb edge retention. The blade itself is been folded 67 times to perfect the strength of the high-carbon steel, much like the blades of ancient Samurai swords.
After forging and folding, the blade is cooled using nitrogen in a vacuum to enhance its hardness, corrosion resistance, and flexibility. The knife itself is forged as one solid piece of metal, giving this santoku a “full tang” G-10 grip secured with three sturdy cutlers rivets.
G-10 knife grips are impervious to heat, cold, and moisture, and are the first choice in handle materials for military survival knives. Finally, the blade is then honed at an 8-12 degree angle using the traditional Japanese Honbazuke method, giving it a scalpel like sharpness that rarely requires re-honing.
Best of all, Dalstrong guarantees they will refund your money if you are not 100 percent satisfied with its performance. This is a finely crafted santoku for true culinary craftsmen, and you would be hard pressed to find a better made knife for the price point.
- Scalpel-sharp edge with a Rockwell hardness scale score of 62+
- Full tang G-10 grip secured with sturdy cutlers rivets
- 66 layers of forged high-carbon, vacuum finished steel
- Damascus steel finish is cosmetic only (not constructed using Damascus steel production methods.
- Blade is 7-inches (an inch shorter than a standard 8-inch chef knife)
- G-10 handle is durable and easy to hold, but cosmetically not much to write home about
2. Wusthof 4183-7 Wusthof Classic Santoku Knife
There is something truly special about a German made kitchen knife, especially when it is forged by one of Germany’s oldest knife makers, Wusthof. Since 1814, the master craftsmen of Wusthof have been making knives of all kinds in Solingen, Germany’s “Stadt der Klingen” (“City of Blades”). Solingen steel cutlery is highly prized, and many knives crafted at the turn of the last century are still every bit as sharp and usable as they were when the year they were forged.
Wusthof’s Classic Series knives are made to extremely precise standards, and their 7” Hollow Edge Santoku is no exception. The full tang blade is forged from a single billet of Wusthof’s exclusive high-carbon stainless steel. Thanks to its 10 degree cutting edge, the Classic 7-inch Santoku provides a more precise, straighter vertical cut. Hollows are ground into the edges of the blade to generate air pockets between the side of the blade and the food to prevent sticking and allow for faster chopping when working with fruit or vegetables.
The blade itself has a Rockwell hardness rating of 58, and is honed using Wusthof’s patented Precision Edge Technology to be 20% sharper and holds its edge 20% longer than similar blades in its class. Finally, the handle is wrapped in a comfortable polyoxymethylene (POM) grip made to resist heat, cold, oils, and water. Cutlers rivets secure the grips to the tang, with the center rivet bearing the Wusthof Trident makers mark. If you are looking for a precision crafted, German-made santoku for your restaurant or home kitchen, the Wusthof Classic 7-inch Santoku is an excellent choice.
- German-crafted high-carbon stainless steel blade
- Full tang construction with sturdy rivets in the grip
- Precision Edge Technology edge is sharper than the competition, and stays sharp longer
- The blade is fairly plain in terms of aesthetic appeal
- Some chefs prefer the hollows to be mid-blade rather than on the edg
- This has a full bolster (like a chef’s knife), which adds length to the handle and alters the balance compared to a traditional santoku
3. Shun Premier Santoku Knife
Some kitchen knives are built to serve function over form, providing years of dedicated service even if they aren’t much to look at. Then there are kitchen knives that are both superbly crafted for durability and function, yet are also a work of art in their own right. The Shun Premier Santoku falls into the latter category. Hand forged and finished in Japan, these knives are among the finest quality and most beautiful knives in the world.
The blade of the Shun is forged using suminagashi steel (called Damascus steel in the West) in the Japanese city of Seki, a place where blades of every kind have been made for centuries. Each Shun santoku blade is folded 16 times according to the traditional Kasumi method of knife making, ensuring optimal strength and hardness. The blade is then finished using the tsuchime method (“hand-hammered”) to give it the signature waves-lapping-on the-seashore suminagashi finish. Not only is this finish beautiful to behold, but it also prevents food from sticking to the edge of the blade while cutting.
The core of the blade is Japanese VG-10 “super steel”, prized worldwide for its edge retention and high hardness. Enriched with vanadium (like the vanadium steel armor plating on warships and battle tanks), the steel used in this knife may not require additional honing or sharpening for years.
Finally, the Pakkawood grips of the handle are fitted seamlessly to the tang of the blade. Pakkawood is a hardwood infused with resin to make it nearly impermeable to moisture and oils before it is sanded and polished to reveal the beauty of the grain. Pakkawood handles also ensures no two Shun Premier Santoku knives are exactly alike. Those home or professional chefs seeking to own a usable work of art for their craft need look no further than the Shun Premier 7-inch Santoku.
- Gorgeous knife as sharp and useful as it is beautiful
- Damascus steel finish naturally prevents food from sticking to the blade while cutting
- Pakkawood handle is resistant to oils and moisture, as well as heat and cold
- Owning a traditionally manufactured authentic Japanese knife does come at a premium price
- Honing requires extra care so as not to damage the hand hammered finish
- Pakkawood grip may not provide sufficient traction and hold for some chefs
4. Wusthof Classic 5-Inch Hollow Ground Knife
A unique combination of a paring knife and a santoku, the Wusthof Classic 5-Inch is a handy little all-purpose chopper built with the same precision and care as their full-size 7-inch model. As with the Classic 7-inch, the blade of this knife is precision forged from their exclusive high-carbon stainless steel and honed using their proprietary Precision Edge Technology.
It possesses the same Rockwell hardness rating of 58 as the 7-inch knife, and its grips use their popular POM synthetic material secured by three sturdy rivets. So if it’s not all that different, why am I including this in my reviews? It’s simple: shorter blades allow greater versatility when it comes to chopping, slicing, and mincing. The chief advantage of the 5-inch over the 7-inch Classic Hollow Ground Santoku better maneuverability when working in tight spaces or with smaller, more delicate arrangements and materials.
Imagine a painter trying to capture the image of a beautiful flower using a wide brush intended for painting the side of a house. Sure, a masterful artist could pull it off, but why work harder when you can work smarter? Home and professional chefs in search of a superb quality, German-crafted santoku for delicate mincing or slicing work should definitely pick up a 5-inch santoku for their finer, most precise cutting tasks, especially if they already have a good 7-inch santoku knife.
- Shorter blade provides superior maneuverability and precision
- POM synthetic grips provide superb stability and control
- Hollow ground edge prevents food from sticking to the blade while you cut
- Not suitable for working with larger quantities and sizes of meat, vegetables, or fruit
- Highly functional, but not much to look at
- Wusthof makers mark is a sticker, not engraved on the rivet
5. ZELITE INFINITY Santoku Knife
Who says you can’t have it all when it comes to your santoku knife? The Zelite Infinity Alpha-Royal Series 7-inch Santoku offers many combination features to provide you with everything you could ever want in a standard santoku knife. Seriously, this knife has every santoku feature. Let’s take a look:
The core of the blade is Japanese AUS10 “Super Steel”, and is folded 67 times to ensure superior hardness, edge retention, and durability for decades. The finish is textured Damascus steel to minimize the potential for food sticking to the blade, and there are hollows ground along the length of the blade to create further air pockets that prevent sticking.
Furthermore, the blade itself is full tang with G10 riveted grips dressed and polished for extra pizazz and proudly bearing the Zelite Infinity logo. The edge is honed to a 12 degree razor sharpness and provides superior precision and cutting power even when working with the toughest fruits, vegetables, poultry or meat. All in all, this santoku is made from the finest materials, crafted using the best available methods and technology, and functions like the work of art it truly is.
- Gorgeous craftsmanship with a full tang blade and hollow ground sides
- Tough G-10 synthetic grips can stand up to whatever conditions your kitchen can throw at them
- Damascus steel finish prevents food from sticking to the blade.
- G-10 handle lacks textured grip
- Hollows aren’t ground on the edge, but half an inch above it
- Full bolster alters the balance of the knife compared to a traditional santoku
6. Global G-48-7 inch, 18cm Santoku Hollow Knife
Sometimes all you want is a basic no-frills knife that will last you a long time and require minimal maintenance at best. If this describes you, you probably want to check out the Global G-48 7-inch Hollow Ground Santoku. It’s an excellent chopper, slicer, mincer, and dicer forged from a high-tech vanadium-molybdenum enriched high-carbon stainless steel.
The checkered grip uses synthetic rubber dimples to help you keep a firm hold on your santoku while you work, and the absence of bolster means this blade is sharp from tip to grip. To provide the sharpest possible edge out of the box, all Global G-48 Santoku knives are face-ground with a longer taper to help them retain their edge longer, and the blade is hollow ground close to the edge to prevent food from sticking to the sides of the blade while you work.
This knife may not be the prettiest or most traditional looking santoku in my review, but it does have a certain sleek modern elegance that complements its function nicely. It has the added advantage of being an excellent kitchen cutting tool, and thanks to the absence of cosmetic additions and features its easy to keep clean. This is a solid performing santoku that provides everything you need and none of the cosmetic fluff you don’t.
- High-carbon vanadium/molybdenum enriched stainless steel blade
- Stainless steel grips with synthetic rubber dimples
- Hollow ground satin finish blade
- Ultra modern looks, but not the prettiest knife in the block either
- Rubber dimples have the potential to wear down or fall off over time
- This knife is hand-wash only
7. ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Professional"S" 7" Hollow Edge
Part of the high end collection from Zwilling J.A. Henckels Professional Series, this 7-inch santoku knife is definitely function over form. Like Wusthof, Zwilling J.A. Henckels is famous in the City of Blades for its cutlery, razors, cookware, flatware, and other fine metal work. Predating Wusthof’s hanging out their shingle in Solingen by almost 100 years, Zwilling J.A. Henckels knows knife craft, and this santoku is clear evidence of that.
Using their own proprietary stainless steel, this Zwilling knife is forged from a single billet of solid steel, folded many times to harden and strengthen it, and then ice-hardened to a Rockwell scale score of 57 for superior edge retention and sharpness. It is then precision sharpened by hand to a 10 degrees-per-0ide angle, and hollows are ground along the edge to prevent food from clinging to the blade while you are cutting. The grip is synthetic and secured with large cutler rivets, and has a classic full bolster where the grip meets the blade. This is a well crafted santoku with a reasonable price point, and it definitely pays tribute to the German no-frills philosophy of kitchen knife making.
- High-carbon stainless steel blade with superior sharpness and edge retention
- Ice-hardened edge for better longevity
- Classic styling with full tang grip and hollow ground blade
- Not the prettiest santoku ever, but it definitely gets the job done
- Grip is not textured
- Hand-wash recommended
8. Victorinox 7 Inch Rosewood Santoku Knife
Makers of fine knives since 1884, Victorinox is better known for their famed army knives than their kitchen cutlery. Regardless, the Victorinox 7-inch Rosewood Santoku is built with the same exacting precision for which the Swiss manufacturer is famous. At first glance it’s a fairly standard santoku, but on closer inspection you will notice it has more than a few refinements normally found on much more expensive kitchen knives.
The blade of this knife is stamped from Victorinox proprietary stainless steel, providing excellent balance and maneuverability without making the weight of the knife seem burdensome. The fluted, hollow edge is referred to as a Granton blade, with each hollow set close to the cutting edge to provide superior separation and reduce sticking while you cut. The edge is honed to a razor sharpness from factory, and can quickly be restored with a few quick passes of a honing steel or carbide sharpener.
The handle of the knife is composed of two riveted pieces of finished rosewood, giving the knife a warmer look and providing exceptional textured grip. Rosewood is also highly resistant to cracking and warping, making it easier to maintain against exposure to heat, cold, moisture, and oils. This is not the fanciest or best crafted of knives, but for the home chef seeking a high quality santoku knife better than what comes with the average kitchen knife block, the Victorinox 7-Inch Rosewood Santoku is an excellent choice.
- Rosewood handle
- Riveted full tang grip
- Fluted/hollow ground Granton blade
- Steel used in the blade has a lower hardness rating than comparable models we’ve reviewed
- Rosewood handle is technically dishwasher safe, but this knife should be hand washed if possible per the manufacturer
- This knife feels a bit lighter than a good santoku should, and is just a bit unbalanced towards the grip
9. Cangshan TC Series 1021165 Swedish Sandvik Knife
Famous for their superior hardness and durability to almost all other high-carbon stainless steel, Cangshan TC Series knives are forged from Swedish Sandvik 14C28N Steel. Sandvik Steel is world renowned for outperforming high-end German, Japanese, and standard commercial cutlery by nearly a factor of five in terms of edge retention and cutting performance over time. How do they do it? Superior science, forging, and manufacturing of course, but those aren’t the only reasons Cangshan knives like the TC Series 5-inch Santoku are such amazing.
Like all their knives, the Santoku is built with the highest quality steel and plenty of soul. Chefs want a connection with the knives they use, and along with fine steel Cangshan seeks to forge those connections between those who use their knives and the knives themselves.
This santoku features a tapered tang and a blade scored at 59 on the Rockwell Hardness Scale. The tang is secured to the grips via solid cutler rivets, and bears the Cangshan makers mark proudly on the middle rivet. Each santoku also comes with a half-open carbonized ashwood sheath to keep the blade and edge protected from accidental drops and rough handling. You will not find a more durable, reliable santoku knife for the money than the Cangshan TC Series 5-Inch Forged Sandvik Steel Santoku. It may not look like much, but this knife tells you everything you need to know about it the first time you break it out to do some cutting in the kitchen.
- Superb Sandvik steel forged blade outperforms even high end German steel cutlery
- Synthetic grips are riveted and stable
- Tapered tang for superior balance and handling
- Ground hollows are further from the cutting edge than I would like
- Tapered tang is not the same as full tang
- Grip looks and feels cheap compared to the quality of the blade
10. Yaxell Gou 6-1/2-inch Santoku Knife
A newcomer to the cutlery and knife making world by Japanese standards, Yaxell has been a supplier of excellent quality kitchen knives in Japan since 1932. Combining traditional blade smithing techniques and know-how from the age of the samurai with new breakthroughs in metallurgy and technology, Yaxell produces some of the finest kitchen blades made and sold out of Seki City in Japan.
This Gou 6.5-inch santoku is forged using Japanese SG2 Micro Carbide Powder stainless steel, with each blade folded into 50 layers per side of soft and hard stainless steel. This means every Yaxell Gou Santoku has been folded 100 times to create 101 layers of steelmaking perfection. After forging and folding, each blade is hand-hammered to bring out its Damascus “ink-steel” waves, adding to its beauty and naturally preventing food from clinging to blade while cutting. Finished blades are then kiln fired before being ice-hardened to temper and harden them even further, increasing both their edge retention and corrosion resistance.
Finally, the full-tang handle is wrapped in an odorless and impermeable black Canvas-Micarta PLUS resin-infused linen. The grip is secured using stainless steel rivets, and the Gou maker’s mark engraved on the pommel. The Yaxell Gou 6.5-inch Santoku is among the most beautiful hand-crafted Japanese knives in the world, and while it commands a hefty price it is also a superbly useful kitchen knife that will never require replacement. Professionals and amateurs alike who want only the best should definitely consider a Yaxell Gou 6.5-inch Santoku.
- Supreme quality Japanese forged steel blade
- Impermeable Canvas-Micarta handle
- Full tang construction
- Edge is not hollow ground, but the Damascus finish does seem to keep food from sticking fairly well
- Canvas-micarta looks a bit cheap compared to actual hardwood resin coated handles
- Extra care should be taken when honing so as not to damage the Damascus blade finish
How to Use a Santoku Knife.
Video Credit - expertvillage
For my money, the best of these fine santoku knives is definitely the Shun Premier 7-Inch Santoku. I love Damascus blades, particularly when they are hand-hammered and have a vanadium enriched steel core. This is a knife that I’ll never have to replace, I’ll rarely have to sharpen it, and it has a comfortable and beautiful Pakkawood handle capped with satin finish stainless steel.
Bottom line, the Shun is a gorgeous knife that cuts like a razor blade without making me have to scrape the side of the blade on a bowl to get all the little bits and pieces off. If you are in the market for a high end santoku that does not compromise on features or quality, buy a Shun Premier 7-Inch Santoku. They are a fantastic investment that will hold its value for years to come.