The Best Santoku Knife

Yaxell Super Gou Santoku Knife

Our Top Pick for 2016: Yaxell Super Gou Santoku Knife
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $319.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

The selection of knives available in the market can be dizzying. Just walk through a home store and you’ll see how many “great” Santoku knives are available. But are they all really the same quality? The answer is undoubtedly “no.” That’s why we decided to get our testing hats out and start looking at all the Santoku knives in the market. We wanted to find out which ones really were the best and which ones weren’t worth a second glance. We considered all markets that need kitchen knives such as home cooks, professional chefs and people who dabble in cooking as a once-in-a-while hobby. We wanted to find the best knives that would serve all of them consistently. In the end, we found out that there are a lot of not-so-great knives, but happily there are also some fantastic options. That’s what we bring you today — the fantastic Santoku options that are going to serve your kitchen well for years to come. Here is our list.

Table of contents

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Excellent All-purpose Knife
Yaxell’s Newest And Strongest Knives
Ideal For Anything That Needs To Be Sliced Paper Thin
Hand-hammered Finish
Ultra-hard Micro Carbide Powder Stainless Steel
High-carbon German Stainless Steel
Hollow-ground Feature
Enveloped With 80 Layers Of Alternating Hard And Soft Steel
Laser-controlled And Tested Cutting Edge
Prevents Food From Sticking To The Blade
Super Strong, Tough, Thin Cutting Blade
Heft And Balance For Effortless Cutting
Pakkawood Handles In Walnut Finish
Total Of 161 Layers
Full Tang Extends Through The Handle

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Yaxell Super Gou Santoku Knife

Yaxell Super Gou Santoku Knife Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $319.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerIn the world of Santoku knives we found that the Yaxell Super Gou knife is our number one gold pick. We loved everything about this knife from its durability to build and ease-of-use to weight. Here are our official thoughts on this tool and why we picked it as number one.

What we liked most about this knife was its strength. It is touted as one of the strongest knives you’ll find and after working with it, we definitely agree. Regardless of what we were doing—cutting hard raw vegetables, spatchcocking chicken, or slicing fruit, this brand managed to finish the job in an instant. There were no lags or hold-ups. As long as we used minimal consistent force, the knife did the rest. The blade core on the Yaxwell Super Gou is made from ultra-hard Micro-Carbide powder steel, referred to in the industry as SG2. SG2 is also referred to sometimes as SGPS. The power of these knives is evident with this brand. The core of the Yaxell is wrapped with 80-layers of hard and soft steel alternated on both sides to maximize strength. That means in the end, you actually have a blade with 161 layers of sheer power.

We also looked at the handles on our knives, thinking that this also would be an important factor to consider. The handle on the Yaxell is made from FDA-approved linen Micarta, or phenolic laminate. This makes the handle sturdier by composition. Each knife handle is hand-polished for a great look. This definitely is a knife that you can work with for a long time and never have to worry about hand or wrist fatigue.

The Yaxell weighs 8-ounces. We found that this is a fantastic weight because it gives the knife the added strength it needs for durability, while still being easy to handle by the cook. Its dimensions are 11.8-inches by 1.8-inches by 0.8-inches. Again its sizing is a huge advantage and set it apart in the world of Santoku knives. We enjoyed working with it because of the care and details manufacturers put into its overall body. It also is corrosion resistant and that means you will likely be using it for years without any dulling or signs of wear. For convenience, it also is dishwasher safe so you won’t have to worry about special care when it comes to cleaning. This is a great product that requires minimum care—something we like. When we are doing our testing we look for products that are low-maintenance and high-performance—a perfect combination.

The manufacturer did a great job with construction and they stand behind their work with a full warranty against defects in workmanship or in materials. We love companies that are willing to stand behind their products and it is no wonder why Yaxell is standing behind this one. They know what we found out—this is a high-performing strong blade that can do any job in the kitchen that is required. Most likely it won’t need a warranty, but having one is an extra precaution to protect the customer.

Because of its quality, ease of use and warranty, we named the Yaxell Super Gou as our number one gold pick in the line of Santoku’s available. It stood up to all of our testing tasks—easy and difficult—and never once taxed our cook’s hands throughout the process. If you’re looking for a fantastic addition to your kitchen, consider the Yaxell. You’ll love it and likely it will quickly become your go-to tool for getting the job done.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Shun TDM0743 Premier 7-Inch Sumo Santoku

Shun TDM0743 Premier 7-Inch Sumo Santoku

View it on Amazon for $225.00*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerOur silver product is the Shun TDM0743 Premier 7-Inch Sumo Santoku. We liked this product because of its look, strength and efficiency. There are a lot of benefits to the look—it creates a professional element in any kitchen that shows your guests you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t! It also is strong- made out of steel that is wrapped in layers for durability. And, it’s efficiently able to handle chopping, cutting and dicing. Here is our official review on the Sumo.

What we liked about this knife at first was its look. It’s elegant. It’s sleek. It can dress up any kitchen. If you are a professional cook, or just want to look like one, this is a great place to start. The blade is hand-hammered, a process that gives it a distinct design on the steel. You can see the care and workmanship that went into the construction from the start. It is definitely a positive contribution to anyone’s kitchen. The hand-hammering, or “tsuchime” in Japanese, is not only a good look but it also is functional. It helps to stop food from sticking to the blade when working with it. We found that as we chopped or cut, food was much more likely to drop off than stick to the blade and get in the way. This cut down on time needed to brush food off and start up again. Efficiency and quickness are features you’ll definitely find with this knife.

The cut of the knife is rounded on the blade side and at the tip of the top side. This makes it easy to “rock” with the blade and cut through anything you need for your meal. The curve at the top was a nice visual feature, but it also can save your hands if you tend to put your hand on top to control the blade.

We tested the Sumo out with a wide variety of items—fruits, veggies, meats, etc. We wanted to see if it worked better, or worse, with any one thing. In the end, it was able to slice, dice and chop anything we needed. Its blade is 7-inches which was a fantastic and convenient length to work with. It is constructed from VG100 Japanese-made core that has 16-layers per side of Damascus steel. This is what gives the Sumo the strength it has. Again, we tried cutting just about everything a professional cook would have to in one day at a busy restaurant. The Sumo was the perfect companion to handle all the hard- to easy- jobs and give us the results we wanted.

In terms of size, the Sumo is 0.65-pounds and its dimensions are 2.44-inches by 12.75-inches by 0.88-inches, with a 7-inch blade. We liked that over 5-inches is dedicated to the handle. It made for a sturdy fit in our cooks’ hands. Down the length of the wooden handle are varying widths to help with a firm and steady grip. We loved the handle—it felt comfortable and solid, but still helped us to control the blade well. The wood on the handle is made from Pakkawood and it is sanded and polished down to a fine finish. Its polish is prefect and we loved the look of wood grain showing through. This not only was a great knife to use, but it was a great knife to look at. The company’s logo is imprinted on the blade and that gives it yet another distinct feature.

Overall this definitely was one of the top products we tested and it easily earned its number two rating. It offers power, cutting efficiency and control. The design is beautiful and professional. If you want a great looking knife that can perform all your kitchen duties, consider the Sumo. You won’t be disappointed.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Wusthof Classic Ikon 7-Inch Santoku

Wusthof Classic Ikon 7-Inch Santoku

View it on Amazon for $129.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardNext in line we have the bronze product which is the Wusthof Classic Ikon 7-Inch Santoku, Hollow-edge knife. This knife stood out to us because of its handle design, blade strength and overall look. It is powerful and a definite improvement for any cook. Here are all of our thoughts on this knife.

The Wusthof is another fantastic tool for the kitchen. We loved the design of this knife because it is very user-friendly. The hilt is triple-riveted for strength. When testing our knives, we tasked them with cutting through everything we could think of—bones, raw vegetables, fruits, thick meats, large fish, etc. Our goal was to find out what performed well with all foods and not just a few. The Wusthof definitely stood up to our testing with ease. Part of why we liked it so much was its handle. The black design is contoured to fit your hand and gives you one of the securest grips we found. This was a huge bonus. We think of our cooks working on large meals, or working on a professional level. They need a tool that performs well but is also comfortable to work with for extended periods of time. We can see this knife playing well to anyone who needs their knives for long-term use. At no point will their hand become labored or cramped.

On top of the design though, we also loved its strength. The 7-inch blade sits as an extension of the full tang. It’s made from a single piece of high-carbon steel made in Germany. In particular we loved the single-piece feature. This means that there is no chance of the blade snapping off which has happened with lesser-quality knives. The blade also is heat tempered to assure its long-lasting quality for years to come. Like the second-place pick, this knife has a feature that allows food to release from the blade, rather than stick to it. With the Wusthof it is the kullened edge that allows this to happen. Not only is that feature functional, but it gives it a distinct look that says excellence. When you look at the knife, it stands out and you can see its superiority and elegance. It also has the manufacturer’s name imprinted on the blade. We liked this feature- it says exclusivity and high-end quality.

The Wusthof has a 7-inch full tang blade and is 6.6-ounces in weight. We found that this weight is perfectly distributed on the black handle. Manufacturers were striving to blend a vegetable cleaver and a chef knife and that’s exactly what they efficiently did with this design. It can slice, dice and chop easily. Like the Sumo, it also has a rounded top. This is for the cooks who like to put their spare hand on top of a knife to increase its cutting power. Its blade is straight though so rocking with it is not possible. Still—it has enough sharp power to do the job at hand.

The Wusthof is also backed up by a lifetime warranty. This is a huge benefit for any product and we liked that the manufacturer believes they have a quality one that will stand up to the test of time. It only gave the product more points in our book while we were assessing our subjects.

In the end, the Wusthof is a great choice. It is a good tool to bring to any kitchen and it will allow you to power through the tasks at hand that much quicker. On top of that it looks good. It elevates the quality of your kitchen and likely friends will ask you where you got that knife and how they can get one too!

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): OXO Good Grips Professional 6-1/2-Inch Santoku Knife

OXO Good Grips Professional 6-1/2-Inch Santoku Knife

View it on Amazon for $19.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickOur budget product is the final choice we make. After picking our top three, gold, silver and bronze, we go back and find the one product that despite not making it to the top, still resonates with us due to quality. In the case of Santoku knives, that honor goes to the OXO Good Grips Professional 6 ½-inch Santoku knife.

This OXO knife is a great addition to any kitchen primarily because of its quality. The knife is built with a no-stain blade specially hardened for long-term use. We tested this knife out just like out others and it performed well. It’s particularly good at chopping. This likely is because of its design. It has a slightly rounded 6 ½-inch blade, with a rounded top. Like our silver pick, the Sumo, this allows for cook to rock the knife, a particularly handy trick with cutting herbs or leafy greens. Rocking can be difficult without the curved top and it can be dangerous.

The handle of the OXO is also built sturdily with a comfort-grip. We found that after testing it, hands weren’t fatigued or cramped. It has a natural curve to it that allows for easy use. This is another full tang knife also, so you will never have to worry about the blade cracking out of the handle. The blade itself is also kullened like our bronze pick. That means it will let food drop, rather than stick to it. We liked this feature because it is a time-saver. It allows you to keep working, rather than have to stop and clean the blade after chopping items like tomatoes, celery or cucumbers.

This OXO is 6 ½-inches long and it weighs 5.6-ounces. Though this is a little lighter than our other picks, it still is a good weight for its size. Its dimensions are 3.2-inches by 1.8-inches by 18-inches. The handle is a bit long as compared to the tool’s blade, but we found that this wasn’t an issue. Most of our chefs agreed that they liked the added length to help control the cut movement. Despite the length of the handle, it still had a great balance to it when using it. The handle also plays well for the overall look of the knife. It gives it the sleek higher-end quality that our other picks have.

As a budget pick, the OXO is a great item. It gets the job done, it is reliable and quality. At its price point, you can’t go wrong either. Remember that the budget buy is usually a lower cost than our other selections but we never accept a lower quality.


Pre-purchase considerations

When looking at knives we had things in mind: strength, handle, design and warranty. These four considerations where what we focused on. We believe that they are the critical features that define the good from the great in the market of Santoku knives. Here is how we broke down each one.

Strength

Our first, and primary concern with our review of Santoku knives was their strength. Any cook knows that a knife can look great. It can be light-weight. It can be easy to handle but if its blade isn’t sharp, what good is it really? As usual we considered everyone—we thought about the mom or dad making dinner for their families, we thought about the retired couple making a light breakfast for themselves and we thought about the professional chef needing high-end tools for their kitchen. We wanted to find the Santoku knives that could perform for everyone; the knives that truly could serve the needs of cooks from every line of work or life.

We looked at things like the material blades were constructed from. We asked about how many layers of steel were used to strengthen the blades. We asked about the tang—was it full or half. We looked at the rivets. We wanted to be sure that the knives we chose were strong enough to handle anything and that meant separating the pieces of a knife and scrutinizing them individually. We wanted only the best of the best for this list and thankfully, that’s what we got. Each blade is strong enough to handle any kitchen work of chopping, mincing and dicing quickly and efficiently.

Handle

The next thing we considered was the handle. Sure we wanted a lot of power, but we also wanted it to be comfortable in the cook’s hands. Some of the models we reviewed were bulky or hard-to-handle. Something about their handles were just not fitting right in our testers’ hands. These knives were quickly vetoed out of contention.

We looked for the knives that had curved designs to fit the natural curve of a user’s hand. We also looked for knives that were easy to grip. Without a good grip, control is impossible. We wanted to be sure that all of our users were able to confidently control these sharp tools by their handle’s design. We also look at the material the handles were made from. Some were wood, some were hard plastic—regardless, we wanted to be sure that they were easy to grip. Remember too that we consider all consumers who may be using the products we review. We wanted the parent working in the kitchen all day to make a large family meal to be comfortable using this knife for hours on end. We also wanted the professional chef to be satisfied with its comfort. We tested each one out and used it with these consumers in mind—would everyone be happy? In the end, we are confident that with our four picks they will be.

Design

Next, we looked at the design of the knives. This was a combination of the blade strength and durability, handle design, weight and length. We wanted the entire design to come together and form the perfect kitchen tool for multiple applications. We wanted to be sure that the knife as a whole had everything any cook needed to get a meal on the table easily and quickly.

Some knives we looked at looked great, and had hefty blades, but they didn’t seem sturdy enough. It seemed like manufacturers mismatched the heavy blade to the hollow handle. These didn’t work for us. They easily slipped out of our cook’s hands and were hard to control. These definitely were examples of badly designed knives.

We looked for the knives that “felt” right in our hands. Somehow their weight, length and blade were perfectly matched to their handles. Regardless of the task at hand, we felt this overall comfort with the feel of the knife as it powered through its job.

Warranty

We also looked at the manufacturers that offered an extended warranty. With large equipment we ask for a year, possibly a few years of protection for consumers. With smaller tools like Santoku knives we ask for life-time protection. We believe that the knives, with proper care, should hold up to any household or professional chores. We wanted to stand behind manufacturers who believe they created a premier product and aren’t afraid to back it up. They offer life-time guarantees that their knives will never break, bend or warp. We gave more points to the companies willing to show this confidence in their products.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

In the end, our Santoku knife selection is comprehensive and well-earned. Each manufacturer put together a great product that deserves to be heralded as the best-of on our list. The Yaxell Super Gou is our number one pick because of its durability, ease of use, perfect weight and ideal weight. The Shun TDM0743 Premier 7-inch Sumo is our number two silver product because of its look and design. The Wusthof Classic Ikon 7-Inch is our bronze third-place winner because of its handle, blade strength and overall look and the OXO Good Grips Professional 6 ½-inch is our budget buy because of its handle, design and price point. If you need a new kitchen tool that is going to perform outstandingly well for you every time you need it, consider any one of the picks on our list.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!

Resources

  1. Yaxell Super Gou Santoku Knife, 6 ½-inch, KitchenBitsShop.com
  2. Aleena Evra, Shun Premier Santoku Knife 7 Inch Review- Best Shun Premier Knife 2015, January 22, 2013
  3. Shun Premier 7-Inch Santoku Knife Review, PickMyKnife.com
  4. Wusthof Classic Ikon 7” Santoku with Hollow Edge, KnifeCenter.com
  5. The Knife Wizard, Wusthof Ikon 7-Inch Santoku Knife- Review and Information, February 25, 2016
  6. Crystal Beran, OXO Good Grips MV55-Pro Santoku Knife, BestCovery.com
  7. How to choose Kitchen Knives, Kitchen Knife Steel FAZ, Stainless Steels, February 23, 2015
  8. Mariette Mifflin, What is a Santoku knife and why would I want one?, About.com, March 16, 2016

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