• 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Santoku Knives in 2022  (Food Coordinator-Reviewed) 1
  • 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Santoku Knives in 2022  (Food Coordinator-Reviewed) 2
  • 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Santoku Knives in 2022  (Food Coordinator-Reviewed) 3
  • 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Santoku Knives in 2022  (Food Coordinator-Reviewed) 4
  • 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Santoku Knives in 2022  (Food Coordinator-Reviewed) 5

10 Best Tried and True Japanese Santoku Knives in 2022 (Food Coordinator-Reviewed)

Japanese Santoku knives are versatile tools that deserve a home in every chef's tool kit, both home and professional. Santoku means "three virtues" in Japanese, and can be used to slice, chop, and dice meat, fish, and vegetables. If you don't have one, you're missing out on the great craftsmanship of Japanese blades. That's why our editors searched Japanese E-commerce sites for the best santoku knives. We then picked out the most popular products and tested them.


We focused on 4 things:


  1. How well does it cut?
  2. How long does it stay sharp?
  3. How easy is it to use?
  4. How easy is it to maintain?


We then ranked the products and put what we learned into a buying guide to help you choose the best Japanese santoku knives out there.

Featured in this article

Yuki Hirao
mybest US Editors
  • Last updated: 05-18-2022
Table of Contents

What's Special about a Santoku Knife?

What's Special about a Santoku Knife?

The "three virtues" which give the santoku its name are slicing, dicing, and mincing. The shape of this knife makes it useful for cutting meat, fish, and vegetables. In particular, blades made of stainless steel are resistant to rust and chipping, very sharp, and easy to clean and care for, making them perfect for home cooks.


Chef's knives (the closest Japanese equivalent is the gyuto knife) are similar and equally popular, but santoku knives have shorter and thinner blades, making them better for smaller kitchens. The shape of the edge also differs, with santoku knives having a gentle curve or fairly straight edge, which makes them good for julienne-cutting vegetables.


If you have a santoku knife and a small petty knife (similar to a paring knife) you can probably cover all your kitchen cutting needs.

Compare the Best Japanese Santoku Knives

Image
1
Kai Seki Magoroku Shoso Santoku Knife 1

Kai

2
Tojiro Fujitorasaku All-Stainless Steel Santoku 170mm 1

Tojiro

3
Kai Shun Classic Dimpled Santoku Knife 1

Kai

4
Kai Seki Magoroku Damascus Santoku Knife 1

Kai

5
Yasuda Hamono Seki Kotetsu VG-10. Santoku Knife 1

Yasuda Hamono

6
Yoshida Metal Industries Global Santoku G-57 1

Yoshida Metal Industries

7
Shimomura NeoVerdun Santoku Knife 1

Shimomura

8
Shimomura Verdun Santoku Knife 1

Shimomura

9
Muji All-Stainless Steel Santoku Knife 17 cm 1

Muji

10
Satake Akari Santoku Knife With Bolster 1

Satake

Name

Seki Magoroku Shoso Santoku Knife

Fujitorasaku All-Stainless Steel Santoku 170mm

Shun Classic Dimpled Santoku Knife

Seki Magoroku Damascus Santoku Knife

Seki Kotetsu VG-10. Santoku Knife

Global Santoku G-57

NeoVerdun Santoku Knife

Verdun Santoku Knife

All-Stainless Steel Santoku Knife 17 cm

Akari Santoku Knife With Bolster

Features

A Versatile and Dishwasher-Safe Japanese Knife

Fantastic Sharpness Resulting in Clean and Smooth Cuts

A Hefty Knife That Uses its Own Weight to Help Cut

Highly Durable Knife That Stays Sharp

Round Handle for Extra Grip

Easy to Maintain, but Loses Its Sharpness

Excellent Maintainability, Average Sharpness

Comfortable Handle but Mediocre Edge Retention

A Knife With a Comfortable Weight

A Santoku With a Comfortable Wooden Handle

Price$37.85$88.94$187.52$113.10$76.33$88.60$20.72$22.90$25.80$58.76
Japanese貝印関孫六 三徳包丁 165mm藤次郎 藤寅作オールステンレス三徳170mm貝印 旬Shun Classic 三徳ナイフ(ディンプル)貝印 関孫六 ダマスカス三徳包丁安田刃物 関虎徹 V金10号 三徳包丁吉田金属工業 グローバル 三徳 16cm下村工業 NEOVerdun 三徳包丁下村工業 ヴェルダン 三徳庖丁無印良品オールステンレス 三徳包丁 刃渡り約17cm佐竹産業 暁里 口金付本割込三徳包丁
MaterialsHigh carbon stainless knife steel blade, 18-8 stainless handleComposite (Cobalt alloy steel + 13-chrome stainless steel)Damascus (stainless steel clad composite) blade, reinforced laminated wood handleDamascus (stainless composite) blade, reinforced laminated wood handleComposite (VG-10) blade, reinforced laminated wood handleFully stainless steelStainless molybdenum steel/18-8 StainlessStainless steelStainless steel blade and handleComposite blade, mahogany-style reinforced laminated wood handle
Size and weight6.5-inch blade, 12 inches overall/4.75 oz.6.69-inch blade, 11.61-inch overall/5.29 oz.6.88-inch blade, 12.2 inches overall/7.23 oz.6.5-inch blade, 11.5 inches overall/5.57 oz.7.1-inch blade, 12 inches overall/5.3 oz.6.3-inch blade, 11 inches overall/5.8 oz.6.5-inch blade, 11.5 inches overall/4.5 oz.6.5-inch blade, 11.5 inches overall/4.5 oz.6.75-inch blade/8.5 oz.6.7-inch blade, 11.8 inches overall/9.8 oz.
Cutting5.05.05.04.34.34.33.43.43.83.4
Edge retention3.74.34.34.33.83.73.43.43.53.3
Ease of use4.03.43.23.33.43.44.04.53.24.0
Ease of maintenance3.63.53.33.33.73.54.13.63.53.3
Overall score4.144.113.843.823.823.773.553.553.483.45
Link

10 Best Japanese Santoku Knives

We picked out some of the most popular products and tested them for sharpness, ease of use, and rust resistance.

Then, based on our tests, we ranked the top 10 Japanese santoku knives available online.

Japanese prices for some of the products are given, but they've been converted into US dollars to make it easy for you.

1

KaiSeki Magoroku Shoso Santoku Knife

$37.85

Japanese貝印関孫六 三徳包丁 165mm
MaterialsHigh carbon stainless knife steel blade, 18-8 stainless handle
Size and weight6.5-inch blade, 12 inches overall/4.75 oz.
Cutting5.0
Edge retention3.7
Ease of use4.0
Ease of maintenance3.6
Overall score4.14
2

TojiroFujitorasaku All-Stainless Steel Santoku 170mm

$88.94

Japanese藤次郎 藤寅作オールステンレス三徳170mm
MaterialsComposite (Cobalt alloy steel + 13-chrome stainless steel)
Size and weight6.69-inch blade, 11.61-inch overall/5.29 oz.
Cutting5.0
Edge retention4.3
Ease of use3.4
Ease of maintenance3.5
Overall score4.11
3

KaiShun Classic Dimpled Santoku Knife

$187.52

Japanese貝印 旬Shun Classic 三徳ナイフ(ディンプル)
MaterialsDamascus (stainless steel clad composite) blade, reinforced laminated wood handle
Size and weight6.88-inch blade, 12.2 inches overall/7.23 oz.
Cutting5.0
Edge retention4.3
Ease of use3.2
Ease of maintenance3.3
Overall score3.84
4

KaiSeki Magoroku Damascus Santoku Knife

$113.10

Japanese貝印 関孫六 ダマスカス三徳包丁
MaterialsDamascus (stainless composite) blade, reinforced laminated wood handle
Size and weight6.5-inch blade, 11.5 inches overall/5.57 oz.
Cutting4.3
Edge retention4.3
Ease of use3.3
Ease of maintenance3.3
Overall score3.82
5

Yasuda HamonoSeki Kotetsu VG-10. Santoku Knife

$76.33

Japanese安田刃物 関虎徹 V金10号 三徳包丁
MaterialsComposite (VG-10) blade, reinforced laminated wood handle
Size and weight7.1-inch blade, 12 inches overall/5.3 oz.
Cutting4.3
Edge retention3.8
Ease of use3.4
Ease of maintenance3.7
Overall score3.82
6

Yoshida Metal IndustriesGlobal Santoku G-57

$88.60

Japanese吉田金属工業 グローバル 三徳 16cm
MaterialsFully stainless steel
Size and weight6.3-inch blade, 11 inches overall/5.8 oz.
Cutting4.3
Edge retention3.7
Ease of use3.4
Ease of maintenance3.5
Overall score3.77
7

ShimomuraNeoVerdun Santoku Knife

OVD-11

$20.72

Japanese下村工業 NEOVerdun 三徳包丁
MaterialsStainless molybdenum steel/18-8 Stainless
Size and weight6.5-inch blade, 11.5 inches overall/4.5 oz.
Cutting3.4
Edge retention3.4
Ease of use4.0
Ease of maintenance4.1
Overall score3.55
8

ShimomuraVerdun Santoku Knife

OVD-11

$22.90

Japanese下村工業 ヴェルダン 三徳庖丁
MaterialsStainless steel
Size and weight6.5-inch blade, 11.5 inches overall/4.5 oz.
Cutting3.4
Edge retention3.4
Ease of use4.5
Ease of maintenance3.6
Overall score3.55
9

MujiAll-Stainless Steel Santoku Knife 17 cm

$25.80

Japanese無印良品オールステンレス 三徳包丁 刃渡り約17cm
MaterialsStainless steel blade and handle
Size and weight6.75-inch blade/8.5 oz.
Cutting3.8
Edge retention3.5
Ease of use3.2
Ease of maintenance3.5
Overall score3.48
10

SatakeAkari Santoku Knife With Bolster

$58.76

Japanese佐竹産業 暁里 口金付本割込三徳包丁
MaterialsComposite blade, mahogany-style reinforced laminated wood handle
Size and weight6.7-inch blade, 11.8 inches overall/9.8 oz.
Cutting3.4
Edge retention3.3
Ease of use4.0
Ease of maintenance3.3
Overall score3.45

How We Tested the Santoku Knives

How We Tested the Santoku Knives

We put each product through a series of tests to check for the following:


  1. How well does it cut?
  2. How long does it stay sharp?
  3. How easy is it to use?
  4. How easy is it to maintain?

Then we gave them a score out of 5 and ranked them.

Test ① How Well Does it Cut?

Test ① How Well Does it Cut?

First, we tested the sharpness of each knife. We used three foods for this test: tomatoes, skin-on chicken, and a large sushi roll


We had food coordinator Yuki Hirao check how easily and smoothly she was able to cut each food and how clean the cuts were in order to evaluate the sharpness on a five-point scale.

Test ② How Long Does it Stay Sharp?

Test ② How Long Does it Stay Sharp?

No matter how sharp a knife is, they eventually become dull if you continue to use them. The longer a knife can retain its edge, the easier and safer it is to use.


In this test, we dragged each knife on a plastic cutting board 3,000 times under the same conditions to simulate a knife that has been used for roughly three months. We compared how well the knives cut in comparison to when they were new and gave high scores to the knives that maintained their sharpness.

Test ③ How Easy it Felt to Use

Test ③ How Easy it Felt to Use

Next, we tested each santoku's usability.


While actually cutting the food we prepared, we comprehensively evaluated each knife for how easy it was to grip, how well the food was released from the knife, and its weight.

Highlights: Knives With Curved, Textured Handles Were Easier to Use

Highlights: Knives With Curved, Textured Handles Were Easier to Use

While it may not be a surprise, we found that knives with textured handles were less prone to slipping during use, making them easier to use than non-textured knives.


Additionally, knives with straight handles were difficult to grip. Because they required more effort to hold, it resulted in more fatigue during periods of extended use. We recommend choosing a knife with a curved, ergonomic handle

Test ④ How Easy They Were to Maintain

Test ④ How Easy They Were to Maintain

Santoku knives can be used daily, so it’s also important to keep them in a good condition. As the final test, we evaluated each santoku knife based on its corrosion resistance and how easy they were to wash.


For corrosion resistance, we evaluated each knife's materials based on its listed product specifications. To evaluate how easy they were to wash, we checked to see if the knives had a bolster or not, their shape, and whether they were dishwasher-safe or not.

Highlights: Single-Piece Stainless Steel Knives Were Easy to Maintain

Highlights: Single-Piece Stainless Steel Knives Were Easy to Maintain

We found that when it comes to keeping clean, single-piece stainless-steel knives got higher scores than other knives, but we also found that as long as a knife has a bolster, it didn't make that much of a difference in comparison to single-piece knives, as they were both easy to wash.

How to Choose a Santoku Knife - Buying Guide

We recommend considering the following points before buying a santoku knife.

Materials Can Make or Break How Well A Knife Cuts

Santoku knives are available in a variety of materials. We've picked up the most common materials, so take this into consideration when choosing your next Japanese santoku knife.

Stainless Steel: Rust-Resistant and Easy to Maintain

Stainless Steel: Rust-Resistant and Easy to Maintain

The most common blade material used in santoku knives is stainless steel, a rust-resistant alloy made by adding chromium to iron.


While not as sharp as steel, otherwise known as hagane in Japanese, stainless steel santoku knives are available in a wide price range, and are easy to maintain, thanks to their rust resistance, making them better suited for domestic use.


However, just because they have a high resistance to rust doesn't mean you don't need to take care of them; make sure to wipe off any moisture after you use them.

Molybdenum Vanadium Steel: Stays Sharp for a Long Time

Molybdenum Vanadium Steel: Stays Sharp for a Long Time

Molybdenum vanadium steel is made by adding molybdenum and vanadium to regular stainless steel to make it harder and stronger, which enables it to hold a sharper edge, and for longer. However, because it's harder than your average stainless steel, it's also more difficult to sharpen.


This material is suitable for home kitchen knives, but is also used for professional-grade knives as well as medical scalpels, so you know it's capable of fine cuts. It's resistant to rust and longer-lasting than plain stainless steel.

Cobalt Alloy: Hard and Sharp, but Easy to Sharpen

Cobalt Alloy: Hard and Sharp, but Easy to Sharpen

Cobalt alloy is an incredibly hard material that is also easy to sharpen. While knives made from cobalt alloy are sharper than those made from molybdenum vanadium, the latter is superior in terms of rust resistance and how long it holds its sharpness. Still, cobalt alloy is another common material used in santoku knives for home use.

Hagane Steel: Superior Sharpness, But Requires Delicate Care

Hagane Steel: Superior Sharpness, But Requires Delicate Care

Knives made of hagane steel are best for those who want sharpness above all else. Since hagane is an incredibly strong material, it can easily slice through hard fish bones with ease.


However, while this material is superior in terms of sharpness, its hardness also means that it can easily chip. It's also prone to rusting as well. If you're not someone who can take good care of your kitchen tools, choose something else.

Stainless Steel Composite: Hard Stainless Steel Used as a Core Material for Increased Sharpness

Stainless Steel Composite: Hard Stainless Steel Used as a Core Material for Increased Sharpness

Stainless steel composite knives use hard stainless steel at their core for increased sharpness, sandwiched by softer stainless steel to make it easy to sharpen and maintain. However, knives made from this material are not as sharp as those made from steel or steel composites.

Damascus: Known for its Unique Pattern

Damascus: Known for its Unique Pattern

Damascus steel is a type of laminated steel in which multiple metals are layered on a core material.


While Damascus is often thought of as a sharp material, in honesty, it depends on the quality of steel used. Still, Damascus knives are indeed often sharp and available for affordable prices.

Choose a Blade Length That's Easy to Handle

Choose a Blade Length That's Easy to Handle

A large knife is more difficult to work with, but if it's too small, your food prep time will increase. For a santoku knife, we recommend a blade length of 6 to 7 inches. It's also a good idea to not exceed the size of your cutting board, so that you don't cut up your counter accidentally or chip the blade on a plate.

Consider the Weight of the Knife

Consider the Weight of the Knife

You may think a lighter knife is easier to hold and manipulate, but in fact a good knife should have some heft to it. Most santoku knives are in the range of 3.5 to 10 ounces.


We recommend something between 4 and 7 ounces. Having a little weight helps you cut more easily. If it's too light, you have to supply more force. Of course, if it's really heavy, you'll get tired just from holding it.

Smooth Bolsters Make it Easy to Clean

Smooth Bolsters Make it Easy to Clean

Some knives are stainless steel all the way into the handle, while others have plastic or wood handles. If there are gaps where the materials join, water, dish soap, and bacteria can get in. Obviously, the solid steel types are the easiest to wash in this sense.


If your knife has a handle made of a different material, look for a steel cap where the handle and blade meet. This is called a bolster


Knives with a smooth bolster that seamlessly connects the blade and the handle are easy to clean and are less likely to accumulate bacteria due to their lack of any gaps between materials. Additionally, bolsters can prevent water from getting inside wooden handles, preventing them from rotting.

Love Food and Cooking? Check out These Other Great Items!

You've got your fancy knife; now you need something to keep it sharp, to cut on, and an alternative when a knife just won't get the job done.

In Collaboration With Food Coordinator Yuki Hirao

Yuki Hirao
Food Coordinator
Yuki Hirao

This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.

Author: Kano Ichiyama/Translation:Susan Lucier-Ogawa, Mitsuki Nagasawa, Emi Amemiya/Photos: Koichi Miura, Yuuki Inagaki, Saya Iwagami


 Updated: January 6, 2022

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