Even though the traditional western style kitchen knives are still the best sellers in America and Europe, the last years have seen a huge rise in popularity of the Japanese style knives. One such Japanese-style kitchen knife is the Santoku. It is even finding its place in knife sets made by German companies such as Wusthof or Zwilling JA Henckels.
We will go through all the details in this long article. If you are only interested in the top list I came up with, please use the table of contents to jump down the page to that specific section of the article.
What Is a Santoku Knife?
The Santoku knife was specially developed for the preparation of typical dishes of Japanese cuisine – fish, sushi, and vegetables. The blade is wider than usual to provide greater manipulation space for the chef’s fingers. Thanks to the thin and sharp blade, the knife can cut exceptionally thin slices. The blades come in two variations – with a smooth edge or a Granton edge. Granton edge is a term used for an edge with indentations on both sides of the blade. These are meant to help with keeping the sticky food and thin slices off the blade.
Santoku is a knife that has its origins in Japan but as mentioned, it is becoming more and more popular in western kitchens.
What Is a Santoku Knife Used For?
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the best Santoku knife to buy. However, some people don’t even know what the Santoku is used for and why should they incorporate it in their knife selection.
The Santoku is a general-purpose knife much like a western chef’s knife. It can be used to slice meat and vegetables. It’s also fine for general chopping and dicing, but one should avoid using it as a cleaver because hitting a bone may chip the edge, rendering the knife useless. The blade can also be used to crush garlic cloves.
Although not designed specifically to slice sushi, the knife is also very popular for its sushi-slicing capabilities, where its thinness really shines, making the slicing easier. You will still have to wet the blade while slicing through your maki rolls.
So if you are a sushi lover and you prepare your sushi at home, you can get one of these Japanese knives to make your life easier. Even if you will get one of the cheaper ones, you won’t look back.
In a hurry? Check out our top picks!
Here’s a good video with Chris Cosentino showing how he uses the Santoku knife. Keep in mind, that his technique includes the rocking motion one would expect to see with a western knife. Although this is not the traditional Japanese way of cutting, many of the modern Santoku knives have been westernized by adding a slight curve to the edge to allow for this rocking technique.
The Top 3 Best Santoku Knives For 2022
This part of the article serves as a showcase of the Santoku I consider to be among the best out there. The selection is based on my own opinion, Santoku knife review by customers, and ratings of other websites or magazines.
Global G-48 Santoku Hollow Ground Knife
- All-purpose 7-inch hollow-ground Santoku knife for chopping, dicing, and slicing
- Blade made of high-tech molybdenum/vanadium Stainless steel
- Face-ground with long taper so edge remains sharp longer
Are you looking for a Santoku, that won’t break the bank and will still provide excellent results in the kitchen? Well, you may have found one of the best Santokus when it comes to the price-performance ratio. The Global G-48, which is made in Japan, will set you down not a big sum if you can find it on sale. Even if it’s not on sale, it will still be quite cheap compared to other high-quality blades.
The knife is made of high-quality stainless steel. The handle is also made of stainless steel and its dimpled surface is designed to provide a safe and firm grip. There’s nothing worse than a knife sliding off your hand.
With a 7-inch blade and low weight, it’s an ideal knife for general cutting and slicing.
Overall, I think you cannot go wrong with this knife, especially if this is going to be the first Santoku you will own. Some of you may dislike the one piece of steel design, but I personally like it and find it very comfortable to hold in my hand.
The knife enjoys extremely positive reviews from customers, with many of the reviewers stating that the blade is the best they have ever owned.
- Excellent price-performance ratio
- Full-tang construction
- Simple and functional design
- Steel handles may not be liked by everyone
Shun Premier Santoku Knife
- Beautifully crafted, Asian-inspired chef’s knife sure to become a kitchen favorite; the Santoku...
- Light and agile, combined with being slightly shorter than the standard chef’s knife, makes the...
- Easy to use as a chef’s knife and is especially effective with a down-and-forward cutting motion;...
The Shun Premier is a well-known knife line by Kershaw Knives/Kai USA, which is an American company based in Tualatin, Oregon. The line is aimed at manufacturing hand-crafted kitchen cutlery.
The Shun Premier Santoku is a finely crafted knife made of two types of steel. The core of the 7-inch blade is made of high carbon Japanese steel with excellent edge retention, enabling the blade to remain sharp for years. On each side of the core, there are 16 layers of Pattern Damascus steel which add a touch of beauty to the blade and also strength and flexibility. What really sets the blade apart from other models is the hammered finish called Tsuchime. Not only does it look pleasing to the eyes, but it also creates small indentations on the surface which in turn help with reduced drag while cutting.
With an oblong-shaped handle made of hardwood, the Shun Premier knife sits comfortably in the hand and doesn’t slip.
Compared to the Global G-48, the Shun Premier model is almost twice as expensive and received slightly less favorable reviews from buyers. It’s still one of the best knives to consider. That is especially true if you are looking for a knife that not only provides excellent results but also looks great. Looks are of course a matter of preference, so the decision is yours, but this mode is definitely one of the best Santoku knives.
- Full-tang construction
- High-quality steel
- Handcrafted and hand-sharpened
- The edge is quite brittle and does not take rough handling very well
Yaxell Gou 6-1/2-inch Santoku Knife
If I would have to choose a knife purely based on its looks, it would have to be the Yaxell Gou blade. It simply looks gorgeous. However, picking a knife based on its looks is a no-go. You have to consider other aspects as well. And luckily for you, the Yaxell Gou model offers excellent quality which will not let you down. On the other hand, you will have to pay quite a bit for the quality with the blade’s price set quite high.
Yaxell is a Japan-based company belonging to the top knife manufacturers in Japan. It has been around since 1932 and you can be sure that the knives they made are of top-notch quality.
This model is a slightly shorter Santoku, which is suitable for someone with smaller hands or for those who prefer shorter knives for their kitchen activities. Yaxell also makes a shorter 5-inch blade in the Gou line The blade is clad with a remarkably high number of high carbon steel on both sides. This Damascus look is what makes the blade really gorgeous. The handle is made of black canvas-micarta, which is an extremely durable FDA-approved material that will last for years.
The knife enjoys very positive customer reviews. One of the Santoku knife reviews even stated that the blade is a work of art.
- Full-tang construction
- Stunning looks
- Comfortable and very durable handle
- High-quality steel – the Japanese SG2
- Very expensive
Best Cheap Santoku Knives For 2022
This is another top list that features the best Santoku knives which can be had for much less than the previous three blades.
HENCKELS Statement Hollow Edge Santoku Knife
- Fabricated from high-quality stainless steel
- Single-piece precision-stamped blade construction provides durability
- Professional satin-finished blade boasts precision cutting and is finely honed for long-lasting...
This is another popular cheap Santoku knife that’s made by JA Henckels International. Unlike some of its more expensive brethren, this knife is made in China. Frankly, for that price, you cannot really expect it to be made in Germany.
The full-tang knife features a 7-inch long stainless steel blade with a hollowed edge which helps prevent food from sticking to the sides of the blade.
The large black handle is triple-riveted and also features a nice-looking steel endcap. The handle feels quite comfortable in one’s hand. However, some people might prefer knives with a slightly thinner and less squared-off handle.
- Low price
- Full-tang construction
- Comfortable handle
- Made in China – if that matters to you
- The exact type of steel not stated
Babish 6.5″ German Steel Cutlery, Santoku Knife
- Forged from a single piece of high-carbon 1.4116 German steel
- Tempered, ground, and polished for maximum sharpness
- Full-tang handle provides a balanced, comfortable grip
Are you looking for good quality, nice-looking Santoku knife, that won’t cost a fortune? The Babish branded Santoku knife may be the one to check out as it doesn’t cost much and delivers adequate quality.
The knife has a 6.5-inch blade with a Granton edge that prevents slices of food from sticking to the blade. What’s a bit unexpected for a knife of this price range is the fact that it has a full-tang construction. Or at least that’s what the manufacturer says. The knife is forged from known steel, which is often not the case for knives at the cheaper end of the spectrum. Specifically, it’s the 1.4116 stainless steel. While it’s not the best steel out there, it’s not bad either and some manufacturers use it even for higher-end knives.
This Santoku enjoys positive reviews from customers. With proper care and periodical sharpening, this might be the cheap solution you are looking for.
- Low price
- Better steel than other budget knives
- Based on some customer comments it’s not clear whether the knife really has a full tang
KitchenAid Gourmet Triple Rivet Santoku Knife Set
- CUTLERY ESSENTIAL: These KitchenAid santoku knives are a must have for everyday meal prep. The...
- LONG-LASTING SHARPNESS: Forged knives are expertly crafted using semi-polished, imported high-carbon...
- ERGONOMIC HANDLE: Constructed for perfect stability and control, the eastern-style ergonomic handles...
What’s better than one Santoku knife? Two Santoku knives! This is a Santoku set made by Kitchenaid that consists of 5-inch and 7-inch knives. The smaller knife might be useful for cutting smaller vegetables and fruits. And the larger one may take upon the role of your everyday chef’s knife.
The specs state that high-carbon Japanese steel has been used for these knives. However the specs also specifically state that it’s the 420J2 steel and that’s anything but high-carbon steel. Don’t be discouraged though, it’s pretty common steel used in many budget-oriented knives and it has good corrosion resistance.
Interestingly, the knives come with their own blade covers. These may prove useful in case you don’t have any knife block to put the knives into.
In terms of customer reviews, the knife set is doing pretty good with the majority of buyers on Amazon being happy with the purchase. Many of them state that this knife-combo provides a rather good price-performance ratio. Expectedly, there are some negative reviews as well. A common criticism goes towards the knives’ not exactly stellar ability to hold a sharp edge and therefore requiring frequent sharpening.
- Low price
- It’s a knife set
- Blade cover included
- Lower-end steel
- Gets dull quickly
Santoku Knives vs Chef Knives
The main difference between these two types of knives lies in the way they are used to cut stuff. A rocking motion that finishes the cut is the most common way to use the western chef knives. Due to the santoku blade’s design, the rocking action is much more limited compared to its distant western relative. Instead, the knife cuts primarily with single downward movements of the blade while the blade lands evenly from tip to toe.
Compared to the traditional western chef knife, the Santoku is slightly shorter, thinner, and lighter. The blade’s length rarely measures more than 7 inches, whereas the chef knife’s blade is usually around 8 inches long.
Japanese Santoku knives are generally lighter than their western counterparts. They may be made of higher quality (harder) steel, often incorporating beautiful patterns called suminagashi. The patterns are formed by the use of various steel alloys and folding techniques.
The reason why the higher-quality steel has to be used is not that the Japanese make higher quality staff in general. In fact, it is needed to prevent the blade from getting dull way too quickly because of its thinness, sharper edge, and cutting motion. If the same steel was used for the Santoku and a traditional chef knife, the Santoku would be more likely to get dull.
One downside of the harder steel is the fact that it is easier for the edge to suffer chips when it, for example, hits a bone. However, if maintained and used properly, the Santoku will stay sharper for longer periods of time than a chef knife made of softer steel.
How To Choose A Santoku Knife?
In this buying guide section, we will take a look at the most important factors the buyer should consider when choosing a new Santoku knife. Some of the factors may have been mentioned in the previous paragraphs.
The best knives in general are made of a single from a single piece of steel. This is called a full-tang construction and it means that the steel from the blade runs all the way into the handle where it’s usually sandwiched between two pieces of wood, plastic, or other material.
This is true also for Santoku knives. The full-tang construction provides better balance and the knife is much more resilient.
A cheap partial-tang knife can potentially break at the spot where the blade and handle meet. Not only does that mean the knife is ruined, but it can also cause nasty injuries as well.
So please, if you have the budget, do yourself a favor and go for a full-tang Santoku knife.
The length of the blade is also a very important factor to consider. It is a factor that is also very subjective. Some people prefer knives with longer blades and others prefer shorter blades. I would say the most popular blade length is 6 or 7 inches. Of course, there are also shorter versions with 4 or 5-inch blades. These may be a good choice when you are looking for a smaller nimble knife or if you have smaller hands. Shorter blades are popular among women as well.
Anyway, the advice is to get what feels good for you and if you are not sure and cannot try to handle the knife in person, then choose a blade that’s somewhere in the middle of the pack.
High-quality knives are usually made of high carbon steel and the Santoku is no exception. You certainly don’t want a general-purpose knife made of low-quality steel that rusts quickly and doesn’t hold a sharp edge.
It’s difficult to say which steel should you go for. I’d recommend checking what kind of steel was used for the knife you are considering and then perhaps reading some reviews and specs of the steel. The type of steel is pretty much always mentioned in the specs of the knife. That is if you are not eyeing some 5-dollar knives.
But it’s not only about the blade, it’s also about the material of the handle.
First and foremost, the handle should feel good in one’s hand and it should be designed ins such a way, that it does not slip. Some manufacturers equip their knives with rubbery handles, others prefer wood or even steel.
It should not be too big nor, too small. Of course, that’s not always easy to evaluate when shopping online.
If the handle is bolstered to the tang, the bolsters should be perfectly smooth without any sharp edges or burs. Otherwise, it would be uncomfortable to use the knife.
Not everyone has won a jackpot, so we have to keep the price in mind as well, right?
There’s a pretty big selection of Santoku knives on the market to choose from. The price can range from a couple of bucks to hundreds of dollars.
If would like to purchase a knife of reasonable quality, be prepared to pay between 50 to 100 US dollars. If that’s too much for you, then you will have to either wait for sales such as Black Friday or you will have to choose something of potentially lower quality. Don’t worry though, there are pretty good bargains to choose from.
Santoku knives that are over 100 dollars are usually parts of some premium lines. They often feature fancy embellishments in the form of Damascus steel blades and beautiful wooden handles. some of them are even handmade. Are they worth the price? Well, that depends entirely on your preferences.
This concludes our Santoku knives buying guide. I hope you enjoyed the reading and found some inspiration for your future knife purchases. The article will get updated with new information and models, so feel free to come back from time to time. If you have any questions about the article or Santoku knives, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Last update on 2023-02-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API