This article aims cover everything you need to know before buying a J.A. Henckels Knife Set.
You will find in-depth reviews of our favorite sets, with design, sharpness, material, and durability discussed, among other criteria.
Explained also are the various types of knives and their uses, the distinction between Zwilling and Henckels International, and the appearance and quality differences between a forged and a stamped knife.
The history of the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Brand
Did you know the Zwilling (Twin) is one of the oldest trademarks in the world?
The history of the symbol dates back to as far as 1731. Johann Peter Henckels, a local knifemaker, registered the logo as his trademark with the Cutlers´Guild of Solingen. Also known as “City of Blades”, the city is where makers of the world’s finest and most renowned swords, knives, scissors and razors are based.
“Zwilling”, meaning “twin”, is also the German word for the astrological sign Gemini. The current logo of the brand has been in use since 1969, after several updates from the original.
After nearly 300 years, the Zwilling symbol and name are now recognized all over the world. With solid quality from centuries of experience and innovations in knife making, J.A Henckels is well-trusted by professional chefs, culinary experts, as well as dedicated home cooks worldwide.
Differences between Zwilling J.A. Henckels vs Henckels International
Henckels knives come in many lines, but there are all from its two brands: Zwilling J. A. Henckels and J. A. Henckels International.
Zwilling J. A. Henckels is the original brand since 1731. It comes with a Twin logo, and offers high quality knives made in Germany and Spain.
The Henckels International brand, established in 1895, is a separate value brand of ZWILLING J.A. Henckels. This brand provides value conscious customers with quality knives sourced from Spain, China, and Thailand under Henckels standards. Its logo is a single person holding a spear.
All Zwilling knives are made from Henckels special formula steel, and are iced hardened under the Friodur® process for enhanced durability. Henckels International knives, meanwhile, are made of ordinary quality stainless steel and don’t undergo the Friodur®.
As a premium brand, Zwilling knives are usually more expensive than similar ones from the International brand. However, this is not always the case. Each of the brand has several lines, and sometimes knives from one of the International’s high quality lines can be more pricey than those from the “lower” end of Zwilling.
For a brief comparison, check the table below.
BrandJ. A. Henckels InternationalZwilling J. A. Henckels Logo OriginMade in Spain/China/ThailandMade in Germany/Spain/Japan ValueValue brandPremium brand MaterialStainless steelSpecial formulated steel Durability- Friodur® ice-hardened PriceUsually lowerUsually higher
How J. A. Henckels Knives are Made
What makes the reputation of J.A Henckels?
Originating from “the city of blades” in Germany helps, of course. Then it’s the great marketing. But there is no doubt it is the quality of their knives that withstands the hundreds of years of history. When someone looks for the best kitchen knife, the J.A Henckels name almost always appears in the list of brands to consider (competing with Wusthof, another renown Solingen knifemaker).
Let’s take a peek into the renowned German factory and see all the process of making a J.A. Henckels knife, as it goes from the engineer’s envisagement through the machines and into the hands of the artisans.
Forged vs Stamped Knives
Not all knives are created equal.
A knife can be forged from a single piece of metal. Or it could be stamped out of a large “sheet”. The differences in production methods results in differences in the characteristics of the knives, and understandably, your cutting experience.
How to distinguish between a forged knife and a stamped one? And which kind is better for you as a cook? Is the superiority of forged knives a myth or a fact?
Read on about forged vs stamped knife comparison.
Types of Kitchen Knives
Ever wondered why there are so many knives in a standard Henckels kitchen knife set?
Technically, you can use the same knife to chop a pumpkin to later slice your steak. Without making it a disaster, if you have patience and some skills.
Except you don’t have to put up with just manageable. Why if you can have the cut sharp and precise with minimal efforts? You can have your food sliced or chopped in the way it should be, for ultimate taste, aroma, quality, and aestheticity.
For all the differences it can make, sometimes it only takes a very subtle change at the point, the tip, the edge, or the handle of a knife.
That is why there are so many kinds of knives. It’s important to learn how to tell them apart, and which types of kitchen knives are for what.
Note also that each type of knives has their own characteristics, and may require a different device to sharpen and maintain them. Make sure you get the best knife sharpeners for your beloved blades.
How to Choose a Good Knife: Types of tangs
While choosing a knife, most of us think about the blade. We tend to care a lot about how sharp/thick/strong the blade is, and whether it is straight or serrated.
But the tang deserves a lot a attention too!
There are a lot of different kinds of tangs, categorized mainly according to their shape. Let me introduce to you the two most popular types of tang in kitchen knives.
A full tang is a tang that extends to the entire handle both in terms of length and width.
A partial tang is a tang that does not fully extend to the knife handle. There are various types of partial tang: the half tang which extends to half the length of the handle, the stick tang which runs all the way to the butt but is narrow, or the narrowing tang whose width reduces as it runs to the butt.
Partial tangs are usually seen on casual budget knives, as they’re smaller and require less material to made. Knives with these tangs are usually less durable – they tend to break where the tang and the blade meet. Very often, the tang and the handle fall apart after a couple years of casual use.
Full tang, meanwhile, are one of the must-have’s on brand knives. They’re more solid, heavy-weighted, and can endure more heavy-duty use. A full tang can offer better leverage and balance to the knife, thus contributing to a better cutting experience. As they require more material to make, knives with full tangs are usually more expensive.
Which kind of tang is better?
Apparently, full tangs are the way to go. They are a must if you want your knives to last for more than a few years with frequent use.
The only occasion when partial tang knives can be the better choice is when you just want to occasionally cut and chop tender leafy herbs or something as soft as tofu. Other than that, full tangs are always a better choice.
Reviews of the Best J.A. Henckels knife sets
Below is our review of three of the best J.A. Henckels knife sets for kitchen use, for steak, and for cheese. You can also click to find detailed reviews of more kitchen knife block sets and steak knife sets of various sizes and price ranges.
Products J.A. Henckels International Forged Premio 18-PieceBest Kitchen Knife Block set J.A. Henckels 8-piece Steak Knife Set in Gift Box Best Steak Knife Set JA Henckels International 5-Piece Cheese SetBest Cheese Knife Set
1.J.A. Henckels International Forged Premio 18-Piece-Best Kitchen Knife Block Set
This is one of the larger knife sets offered by the J.A. Henckels International brand. You can find the product name and brand logo along the blade as well as on the butt cap.
In the set: This set includes a chef’s knife, 2 utility knives (one smooth, one serrated), a paring knife, a hollow edge santoku, a boning knife, and a bread knife. They’re all the knives you need for casual as well as complicated cutting work in the kitchen.
It also comes with 8 steak knives, a pair of shears, a sharpening steel, and an elegant hardwood block.
The 17 knives can make quite a crowd on the block. Since there are so many of them, it’s quite hard to pick out the right knife immediately. I can’t tell them apart by their handles at all!
Handle: All the knives have a full tang running all the way through a plastic handle, which is fastened with 3 rivets. The butt is a metal cap, which helps to further secure the handle and the blade. It’s beautiful and easy to grip.
Weight and balance:All the knives, except the steak knives, are forged. They’re thicker than most stamped knives of the same length.
As a result, they feel more weighted, and may tire your hands out faster. But the thickness also means they never bend when cutting firm objects. In fact, this is among the best JA Henckels knife sets for cutting precision. Having a bolster at the center also helps enhance the balance and accuracy.
Durability: Forged knives are well-known for their durability. These ones are made in China with high quality steel imported from Germany. If you treat them well, they typically hold up for decades.
Sharpness: As typical of all JA Henckels, these knives are surgically sharp out of the box. The ease while cutting actually shocked some users! However, you may need to hone or sharpen them once every few days to maintain the butter-like cuts.
Cleaning: With a smooth bolster at the center separating between the blade and the handle, these knives are extremely easy to wash. It’s best to wash and dry them as soon after use as possible – even the high quality stainless steel is still prone to dullness and even rusting if left dirty.
Verdict: Overall, these are well-made knives that stay true to JA Henckels moniker.
They’re for the cook who wants quality knives to enhance speed and precision in the prep work so they can focus on making as delicious and eye-pleasing dishes as their creativity allows. With 8 uniformed steak knives, it fits perfectly with a cozy family and friend gathering.
[su_note note_color=”#9e868419″ radius=”1″ class=”flat-box”]While it is not the most expensive, all things considered, this set is definitely the most well-rounded among our favorite J.A. Henckels knife block sets.[/su_note]
2.J.A. Henckels 8-piece Steak Knife Set -Best Steak Knife Set
High quality, exquisite looking, and bearing the Zwilling J.A. Henckels name on it, this 8-piece steak knife set will make a great gift for your family or friends.
The knife set comes in a lovely rosewood box with a deep-auburn, mahogany finish, and the well recognized Zwilling logo on it. Held closed with a brass clasp, it almost feels like a jewelry box, except slimmer.
Inside the box are 8 sleek metal steak knives, each proudly printed with the brand name and logo along the blade. They’re all Spain made with a special formula of stainless steel that makes them not only extremely durable but also very pleasantly shiny.
Each of the knives comes in a one-piece construction, with the thin, elegant handle connecting with the blade seamlessly. This enhances the sturdiness of the item significantly. It also means that these knives are easy to clean. In fact, while hand-washing is always recommended, they’re perfectly safe in a dishwasher.
With serrations on their edges, these knives are extremely sharp. The streamlined design allows them to slice through the toughest meat effortlessly, leaving very little visible fiber tear on the surface. If you are upgrading to these from casual knives, you will realize all the struggle you went through trying to eat your steak is totally unnecessary!
[su_note note_color=”#9e868419″ radius=”1″ class=”flat-box”]Classy and modern in style, this set can easily make a perfect addition to any stainless steel set of silverware/flatware. That is partly why it is our top choice among the most beloved steak sets from JA Henckels. If you’re having guests over for a meal, be prepared to get compliments on the knives![/su_note]
Not the steak knives you’re looking for? We reviewed good steak knives from other brands as well.
3. J.A. Henckels International 5-Piece Cheese Set-Best Cheese Knife Set
While JA Henckels offers a wide range of cheese knives, this 5-piece set from the International line is among the most popular.
Not surprisingly, it’s among the most affordable too. But that doesn’t come with a compromise on the quality. In fact, I think it’s the best value JA Henckels cheese knife set you can get. You can’t beat that price for the moniker and the quality!
The knife set includes a wide knife, a thin knife, a pointed knife, a two-pronged fork, and a wooden board.
All of the knives come with thick stainless steel blades with the J.A. Henckels International logo on them. They’re all very sharp, as all Henckels knives typically are. Not enough for surgical purposes, but more than sufficient for a clean, neat cut on your cheese.
The handles, meanwhile, are made of wood. They’re fastened securely with the blades, and very ergonomic and easy to grip. I thought it would be nicer if the wood felt a little more weighted in the hand, but that’s not a complaint.
As you can see in the picture, this set also includes a rectangular wooden board. It’s firm, sturdy, beautiful, and most importantly, feels very good to the cut.
Note, though, that it’s quite small and will fit probably a large piece or two medium sized pieces of cheese. It’s perfect for family use or for a small party. However, if you have a lot of cheese to process, you may need a larger board.
How To Sharpen and Care for Your Kitchen Knife
While knives are usually made of very durable materials, they can be extremely sensitive, especially at the tip and the edge. They need to be used, washed, and stored in specific ways to maintain their cleanliness and sharpness.
But keeping them safe is not enough. Even the best knives need regular honing and sharpening in order to keep their sharpness and offer the best cuts.
All that actually is a lot more simple than it sounds. You just need to keep in mind the do’s and don’ts in caring for your knives in order to keep them smooth, sharp, and to maximize their lifespan.
Also, learn how to hone and sharpen your knives properly. Good news: you don’t even have to be a muscular blacksmith to master the techniques.
Treat your blades well, and they will stay loyal to you for a lifetime!