If you love spending time in the kitchen, you know a quality knife is a cook’s best friend. While there are several types of chef’s knives to choose from, the Japanese Santoku knife has become extremely popular over the last few years, making it a hot item right now.
Unfortunately, not many people are familiar with these knives and don’t know how to go about choosing one. Because of this, we’ve taken the time to research and compile a list of the best Santoku knives for both professional and home kitchens, which we will cover in further depth below.
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Top 10 Santoku Knives
1. Misen Santoku Knife
Made out of premium AUS-10 steel, the Misen Santoku knife offers the perfect balance between sharpness and durability and contains twice the amount of carbon as many other premium Santoku knives.
Aside from its top-quality, high carbon stainless steel construction, the knife is aesthetically very pleasing, featuring a uniquely sloped bolster designed to encourage the proper ‘pinch’ grip while providing good access to the entirety of the blade. Furthermore, while most western knives use 25 degree angles down the blade, the Misen Santoku knife uses 15 degree edges, making for a noticeably sharper cutting face.
2. Imarku 7 Inch Santoku Knife With Pakkawood Handle
If you’re looking for an excellent Santoku knife at a reasonable price, this seven inch model by Imarku is one of the best options around. Made out of top-quality, high carbon German steel, this knife keeps a sharp edge and has unrivaled resistance to both rust and staining, making it an excellent choice for those who don’t enjoy constant knife maintenance.
Besides everything mentioned above, this Santoku knife is equipped with two features that really separate it from the competition. First off, the 2.5 mm blade is fitted with scalloped indents, which allow it to effortlessly cut through anything from vegetables to tough meat without anything sticking. Secondly, the knife is fitted with a beautiful Pakkawood handle ergonomically designed to relieve wrist tension that commonly builds up from the constant up and down motion of slicing or dicing.
All-in-all, this offering by Imarku is perhaps the best Santoku knife in its price range, and it’s no secret why it occupies the runner up position on our list.
3. Shun Classic Blonde 7 Inch Full Tang Knife
If you’re looking for a luxury Santoku knife and don’t mind dishing out top dollar, this seven inch model by Shun is well worth your consideration. Fitted with an elegant and ergonomic Pakkawood handle, this Santoku knife is hand crafted in Japan and comes honed to a perfect 16 degrees right out of the box.
In accordance with the overall quality you would expect of a knife in this price range, this Shun product is full tang, meaning the blade material extends fully into the handle. What’s more, the knifes cutting core is crafted using Shuns proprietary VG-MAX steel and cladded with a 34-layer Damascus pattern stainless steel on both sides, ensuring the knife is as durable as it is sharp.
4. Mercer 7 Inch Renaissance Forged Santoku Knife
At just under $40, you would be hard pressed to find a better Santoku knife for the money than this one by Mercer. On top of offering excellent value, this knife is also NSF certified and comes fitted with a taper-ground edge, which means it stays sharper for longer.
One thing people may notice when first looking at the knife is that the triple riveted handle is a bit shorter than most other knives within its size range. If you’re worried about this causing balance issues, no one would blame you. Fortunately, the full tang design ensures the knife is perfectly balanced.
Like other high carbon steel blades, this mercer culinary product is very resistant to stains and corrosion and is known to keep a sharp cutting edge for much longer than other knives of similar price.
5. Dalstrong 7 Inch Gladiator Series Santoku Knife
Dalstrong makes some of the best full tang Japanese knives around, all of which are crafted using imported high carbon steel from Germany. This particular model features a hand polished 16 degree edge with scalloped dimples running down the blade face to ensure smooth movements regardless of what you’re cutting.
In addition, the handle comes triple riveted and is constructed out of G10 Garolite, ensuring an extremely comfortable grip. What’s more, the knife is NSF certified and is engineered to a 56+ Rockwell hardness.
6. Wusthof IKON Hollow Edge
Most of the Santoku knives we’ve looked at so far have featured a seven inch blade, which, although highly versatile, is not to everyone’s preference. If you’re looking for a professional grade five inch Santoku knife and don’t mind dishing out top dollar in the process, this offering by Wusthof is one of the better options around.
Like most Santoku knives, the blade is forged out of high carbon steel and built to last. However, what really separates this knife from many others is the fact it comes with a 58 Rockwell hardness rating, meaning not only is it durable, but it also possesses higher than average blade retention.
Furthermore, the attention to detail is second to none. While it may not be visible to the naked eye, the Wusthof knife has a slightly curved blade which results in a much straighter edge. Finally, as the name implies, the blade is hollow edge and is honed to a steep 10 degrees.
7. Kyocera 6 Inch Black Blade Santoku Knife
Ceramic blades have many advantages over steel blades, and their popularity has been rising significantly over the last decade. If you’re in the market for a Santoku knife with a ceramic blade, Kyocera makes one of the best around.
Aside from using an unconventional material for a Japanese knife, Kyocera decided to step even further out of the box and equip their knife with a six inch blade, making it as versatile as it is unique.
One of the main advantages of ceramic blades is that they keep their edge much longer than steel blades and don’t fall victim to corrosion, rust, and staining.
8. Zelite Infinity Super Steel Santoku Knife
If you don’t like ceramic knives, but still want something that will retain its edge for a long time, this AUS-10 steel Santoku knife from Zelite might be just what you’re looking for.The first thing people notice upon viewing this knife is just how visually appealing it is, and while looks can sometimes be deceiving, this isn’t one of those times.
The blade core is made out of AUS-10 super steel and cladded in a total of 66 layers of Japanese Damascus steel, meaning it’s is as durable as they come and maintains its razor sharp edge for much longer than average.
Furthermore, the handle is designed to provide a comfortable and secure grip whether you’re chopping vegetables or hacking through bone. All-in-all, this product from Zelite is an all around excellent knife and will make a great addition to anyone’s knife collection.
9. Global G-48 7 Inch Hollow Edge
When it comes to grip, preferences can vary widely. While some prefer a handle with a smooth, almost slippery finish, others prefer the feel of a non slip grip. If you fall into the latter camp, you will love this product from Global, which features a heavily dimpled stainless steel handle, ensuring you have complete control of the knife at all times.
Beyond the handle, this knife also features a very impressive blade made of a high-tech blend of Vanadium and molybdenum, meaning it’s highly durable and will last several years. Furthermore, the blade is face ground with a larger than average taper, which as knife fanatics will know, helps keep the blade nice and sharp for long periods of time, making it great for chopping large portions of food at a time.
10. Zwilling Professional Santoku Knife
Not everyone wants to hand wash their knife after each use, and unfortunately, most Santoku knives are not dishwasher safe. Luckily, Zwilling makes a seven inch, high carbon stainless steel Santoku knife that can be safely placed in the dishwasher after each use.
Besides being dishwasher safe, it’s also a very good Santoku knife and even comes fitted with a hallow edge to prevent food from sticking to the blade.
Lastly, the blade comes with a Rockwell hardness rating of 57 and is precision honed to an edge angle of 10 degrees per side, meaning it can be used in either hand. While the item is an overall great knife, some people may want something a little more flashy or aesthetically pleasing for the price.
Other Santoku Knife Options
With so many quality Santoku knives to choose from, not all of them are able to crack our top 10. That being said, there are still several models that we feel are worth mentioning, which we will do briefly below.
Mac Knife 6.5 Inch Santoku Knife
At just under $120, this hollow edge knife isn’t cheap, but like most things in life, you get what you pay for. Although made in Japan, the blade has a 50/50 bevel, meaning its great for lefties as well.
Tojiro DP 6.7 Inch Santoku Knife
If you like the idea of a quality double beveled blade but don’t want to break the bank buying one, this product by Tojiro is a great option. Made in Japan, the knife is constructed out stain resistant VG-10 steel, meaning will proper care, it can last a life time.
Mercer 7 inch Genesis Knife
The second mercer culinary product we have looked at, this seven inch knife is a great budget option for anyone looking for a quality knife under $40. For the price, users will be impressed by how balanced it is and by the fact that the knife is full tang.
Miyabi 5.5 Inch Santoku Knife
Although not as well known as Shun, Miyabi is another maker of fine Japanese cooking knives. Made out SG2 micro-carbide powdered steel, the blade is honed using a three step process called Honbazuke, which creates an edge between 9.5 and 12 degrees.
Miyabi Birchwood SG2 Knife
With a price tag close to $300, chances are this knife is out of most people price range. Still, given it’s beauty and top of the line quality we felt we had to at least mention the item.
Like the last Miyabi blade we looked at, the Birchwood model is made out of highly durable SG2 steel, has a Rockwell hardness rating of 62, and the cutting core is cladded with 100 layers of Damascus. Overall, this is one of best Santoku knives around and would be right at home in some of the top kitchens in the world.
Mad Shark 8 Inch Japanese Chef’s Knife
Aside from being very affordable, this knife by Mad Shark is interesting because of it’s length. At 8 inches, it’s one of the larger Santoku knives available, and offers a good mix of western and Japanese functionality.
Buying Guide: How To Buy The Best Santoku Knife For You
Simply knowing the best options around isn’t enough to help you choose the best Santoku knife for you. Because of this, we’ve put together a short buying guide to help you know what to look for when making your purchase.
Blade Length: Santoku knives generally come with a blade length between five and seven inches and are significantly shorter than the n most western chef’s knives. When choosing the best Santoku knife for you, take a moment to consider what blade length works best for you.
The Handle: Whether you plan on doing basic food prep or complex cutting, a comfortable grip is extremely important. That being said, comfort isn’t dependent upon the handle alone, and you need to decide if you want a full or semi bolster as well.
Tang: The Tang, sometimes referred to as the shank, is the part of the blade that extends into the handle. With full tang blades, the entire knife is one piece of metal and the handle wrapped around it. With semi or half Tang knives, the blade only extends partially into the handle stock.
Generally speaking, full tang knives offer superior balance, durability, and handling but are usually more expensive.
Blade Material: As we saw from our top 10 list, not every blade is made of the same material. When it comes to steel, several factors can change the quality of the blade, including carbon content, number of folds, thickness, and much more. Which one is right for you depends on what you’re after.
For example, depending on the type of steel, some blades may be stronger, sharper, or keep an edge longer, and when it comes to choosing the best Santoku knife for your kitchen, you need to decide which properties are most important to you.
Santoku Knives FAQs
Santoku is a Japanese word meaning ‘three virtues’ or ‘three uses,’ and according to some sources, refers to the fact that these knives are used for cutting meat, vegetables, and fish – or slicing, dicing, and chopping – depending on who you ask.
Regardless of the etymology of the name, Santoku knives differ from a standard western chef’s knife in several ways, the most important of which include:
Length: While most chef’s knives range from eight to ten inches, the average Santoku knife is much smaller, usually between five and seven inches.
Shape: Perhaps the most noticeable difference between Santoku and western knives is the shape. Whereas the standard chef’s knife is long and finished in a spear tip, Santoku Japanese knives finish in a sheep’s foot tip. Additionally, Santoku knives generally have much broader blades which are designed to provide a much cleaner cut.
Weight: Although Santoku knives are much broader than the standard chef’s knife, it is generally much lighter and easier to yield.
Blade Taper: The standard western chef’s knife features a double taper, whereas Santoku knives are tapered to a single side. This single taper allows the knife to feature a thin blade with a sharper angle (usually between 10 and 15 degrees).
Because of it’s fine edge and sharp point, Santoku knives are used for chopping, dicing, and slicing and not meant to be used for peeling fruits/vegetables or for cutting bone or bread.
Yes! Almost every professional chef will have one or more Santoku knives in their arsenal.
The best Santoku knife size depends on personal preference and what you’re slicing, dicing, or chopping. For this reason, many chefs and cooking enthusiasts have several Santoku knives of varying sizes, allowing them to pick which one is best for the task at hand.
The bolster is the portion of a knife where the blade transitions to the handle. Besides adding strength and durability, the bolster is an integral part of the knifes balance and overall handling. When talking about kitchen knives, people will often use the terms full or semi bolster.
Full Bolster: A bolster that extends all the way to the end of the blade and acts as a sort of finger guard.
Semi Bolster: A bolster that doesn’t extend all the way to the blade, leaving the end of the blade exposed. Although this type of bolster offers less protection, it makes the knife easier to sharpen.
NSF is a non-profit organization dedicated to testing the safety of construction materials used for making products for the hospitality industry. When you buy a knife that is NSF certified, you know it meets all the health standards laid out by the NSF.
As you may have guessed, the Rockwell Scale is a way to measure the hardness of a metal. The test is conducted using a large die-loaded machine that examines the level of indentation a particular type of metal suffers upon impact.
A hollow edge refers to the scalloped indentations (more formally referred to as Granton edges) we find running down the blade of many knives. These indentations have many advantages and prevents food from sticking to the blade after each cut.
Contrary to what some might think, ceramic blades are actually much harder than steel and significantly more durable. With that in mind, because of their overall hardness, they are not very suitable for cutting tough foods such as bone, sinew, and some frozen meats and are generally reserved for cutting fruits, vegetables, bread, and soft meat.
For our money, the best brand based on value, quality, and performance is Misen, followed by Shun and Wusthof.
A quality Santoku knife has many advantages over a standard chef’s knife and will make a valuable addition to any kitchen, and hopefully by now, you have a good idea about what is the best Santoku knife for you.
Dino is a lifelong writer and home improvement specialist. He enjoys bringing cutting-edge information on home renovation and remodeling to Kitchen Infinity.