Santoku means "three uses" in Japanese. This refers to the fact that these knives are versatile tools that deserve a home in every chef's tool kit, both home and professional. If you don't have one, you're missing out on the great craftsmanship of Japanese blades. That's why our editors searched Japanese convenience stores and Amazon for the best santoku knives available online. We then picked out the most popular products and tested them.
We focused on 3 things:
We then ranked the products and put what we learned into a buying guide to help you choose the best Japanese santoku knives available online.
The "three uses" 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. 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 have shorter blades, making them better for small kitchens. The shape of the edge also differs. Santoku have 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.
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 and with the advice of our expert, we ranked the top 18 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.
|Japanese||藤次郎株式会社藤次郎 DPコバルト合金鋼割込 口金付 三徳 170mm F-503|
|Materials||Cobalt alloy steel blade, 13-chrome stainless steel coating, reinforced laminate handle|
|Size and weight||6.75-inch blade, 11.5-inch overall/6.3 oz.|
|Other Available Blade Lengths||5, 6, 6.5, 7, 8, 9.5 inches|
|Ease of use||4.0|
|Japanese||スミカマ霞KASUMI チタンコーティング 三徳包丁 18cm|
|Materials||Molybdenum vanadium steel blade, titanium coating, polypropylene resin handle|
|Size and weight||7-inch blade, 12.5 inches overall/4 oz.|
|Other available blade lengths||3, 4, 4.75, 5, 8 inches|
|Ease of use||3.5|
|Japanese||下村工業ヴェルダン 三徳庖丁 ホワイト 165mm|
|Materials||Stainless molybdenum steel/18-8 Stainless|
|Size and weight||6.5-inch blade, 11.5 inches overall/4.5 oz.|
|Other available blade lengths||5.75 inches|
|Ease of use||3.5|
|Japanese||ミソノ刃物モリブデン鋼 三徳庖丁 16cm No.583|
|Materials||High carbon high grade 13-chrome/stainless steel/molybdenum steel blade, reinforced black wood handle|
|Size and weight||6-inch blade, 10.5 inches overall/5 oz.|
|Other available blade lengths||5.5, 7 inches|
|Ease of use||4.0|
|Japanese||正広家庭用ステンレス包丁 MSC MS-200 三徳型包丁 165mm 11061|
|Materials||Stainless Masahiro original material MDS (0.8% carbon, 13% chromium, molybdenum, vanadium steel) blade, rosewood handle|
|Size and weight||6.5-inch blade, 11.5 inches overall/3.5 oz.|
|Other available blade lengths||6, 7 inches|
|Ease of use||3.5|
|Materials||13 chrome stainless 3-layer steel blade, 18-8 stainless handle|
|Size and weight||7-inch blade, 12 inches overall/6 oz.|
|Other available blade lengths||bread knife, 4, 5.5, 8 inches|
|Ease of use||3.5|
|Japanese||無印良品オールステンレス 三徳包丁 刃渡り約17cm|
|Materials||Stainless steel blade and handle|
|Size and weight||6.75-inch blade/8.5 oz.|
|Other available blade lengths||4.75 inches|
|Ease of use||4.0|
|Japanese||貝印関孫六 三徳包丁 165mm|
|Materials||High carbon stainless knife steel blade, 18-8 stainless handle|
|Size and weight||6.5-inch blade, 12 inches overall/4.75 oz.|
|Other available blade lengths||4.75, 5.75, 6, 7, 8, 9.5 inches|
|Ease of use||4.0|
|Japanese||ホンマ科学グレステン Mタイプ 三徳庖丁 17cm 817TMM|
|Size and Weight||6.5-inch blade, 11.5 inches overall/4.5 oz.|
|Other available blade lengths||7.5 inches|
|Ease of use||4.5|
Cobalt Alloy Santoku 170mm
Kasumi Titanium-Coated Santoku 18cm
Verdun Santoku Knife White 165mm
Molybdenum Steel Santoku Knife 16 cm
Home Stainless Steel Santoku Knife 165 mm
Stainless Steel Santoku Knife 17 cm
Seki Magoroku Santoku Knife 165 mm
Glestain M Type Santoku Knife 17 cm
|Features||mybest's Top Choice! Profes...||You Can Slice Easily and Co...||Beauty and Quality at a Goo...||Beloved by Professionals, a...||Recommended if You're Looki...||Want a Longer Blade? This i...||Recommended for its Quality...||Buy it if Sharpness is Your...||Buy This if You Hate Food S...|
|Japanese||藤次郎株式会社藤次郎 DPコバルト合金鋼割込 口金付 三徳 170mm F-503||スミカマ霞KASUMI チタンコーティング 三徳包丁 18cm||下村工業ヴェルダン 三徳庖丁 ホワイト 165mm||ミソノ刃物モリブデン鋼 三徳庖丁 16cm No.583||正広家庭用ステンレス包丁 MSC MS-200 三徳型包丁 165mm 11061||柳宗理キッチンナイフ||無印良品オールステンレス 三徳包丁 刃渡り約17cm||貝印関孫六 三徳包丁 165mm||ホンマ科学グレステン Mタイプ 三徳庖丁 17cm 817TMM|
|Materials||Cobalt alloy steel blade, 13-chrome stainless steel coating, reinforced laminate handle||Molybdenum vanadium steel blade, titanium coating, polypropylene resin handle||Stainless molybdenum steel/18-8 Stainless||High carbon high grade 13-chrome/stainless steel/molybdenum steel blade, reinforced black wood handle||Stainless Masahiro original material MDS (0.8% carbon, 13% chromium, molybdenum, vanadium steel) blade, rosewood handle||13 chrome stainless 3-layer steel blade, 18-8 stainless handle||Stainless steel blade and handle||High carbon stainless knife steel blade, 18-8 stainless handle||Glestain steel|
|Size and weight||6.75-inch blade, 11.5-inch overall/6.3 oz.||7-inch blade, 12.5 inches overall/4 oz.||6.5-inch blade, 11.5 inches overall/4.5 oz.||6-inch blade, 10.5 inches overall/5 oz.||6.5-inch blade, 11.5 inches overall/3.5 oz.||7-inch blade, 12 inches overall/6 oz.||6.75-inch blade/8.5 oz.||6.5-inch blade, 12 inches overall/4.75 oz.||6.5-inch blade, 11.5 inches overall/4.5 oz.|
|Other Available Blade Lengths||5, 6, 6.5, 7, 8, 9.5 inches||3, 4, 4.75, 5, 8 inches||5.75 inches||5.5, 7 inches||6, 7 inches||bread knife, 4, 5.5, 8 inches||4.75 inches||4.75, 5.75, 6, 7, 8, 9.5 inches||7.5 inches|
|Ease of use||4.0||3.5||3.5||4.0||3.5||3.5||4.0||4.0||4.5|
And why they didn't quite make it.
This 67-Layer Damascus Steel Santoku Knife From Pearl Metals has a thick, moderately heavy blade. Chicken and fish were no problem, but the tomato put up a bit of a fight. It's easy to keep clean, which is good because it showed a little rust on the cutting edge (overall, the rust wasn't too bad). It was a decent knife in general.
Yoshida Metal Industries' Global Santoku Blade is sharp and heavy for its size because it's 100% stainless steel. Some of us liked the stamped pattern on the handle, but others didn't. It cuts very well, and the main reason it didn't place higher in our rank was that it rusted easily in our test. If you buy it, care for it diligently.
This Super Stone Barrier Santoku Knife from Kyowa has six layers of special stone coating on the side of the blade to prevent rust. It also acts as a slippery surface to allow food to fall away after cutting.
The drawback is that this coating can't extend to the cutting edge, so that part must be cleaned right away to prevent rust. There's also a slight gap in the wooden handle where water could collect.
Toru Seki V Gold No. 10 Flanged Santoku Knife from Yasuda is sharp and cuts well, although the tomato skin stuck a little. It has a cutting edge which is almost straight with a gentle curve. Rust concentrated near the edge in our test, so it requires care to prevent it from being ruined.
Nitori's Stainless Steel Santoku Knife is average in its sharpness and performance. The handle is not well-designed; it's not ergonomic and is made of cheap-looking plastic. It's a basic knife that could go in the dishwasher.
Eternal King Santoku Knife from Ernest got our highest score for rust resistance, but it's not a smooth-edged blade. It has tiny serrations that are supposed to make it so it never needs sharpening. However, that means you have to use it like a saw or it won't cut. If you care most about something that won't rust or need sharpening, it could be good for you.
This All-Purpose Kitchen Knife from Seria is a dollar, and it performs like you'd expect for that price. The handle is not super comfortable, the blade is not super sharp, and forget about slicing tomatoes thinly. It could be good to toss in your camping gear.
Kakusei's Takaaki Nakamura All-Purpose Knife has a thick blade that makes cutting difficult. The handle is plastic even though it looks like wood. The blade has an indentation which adds to the resistance felt when cutting, and also makes cleaning more fussy. It rusted easily in our test. It's very inexpensive, though.
This Perforated Knife from Daiso has holes to supposedly prevent food from sticking, but it didn't work at all. It's hard to grip and isn't sharp enough to cut a tomato. But it's a dollar, so maybe it could be good as a prop for your low-budget slasher movie.
We put each product through a series of tests to check for the following:
Then we gave them a score from 0.5 to 5 and ranked them.
We found that serrated blades did not slice well. The one we used broke our tomato, and the chicken skin required some sawing to get the job done. Some manufacturers market serrated blades as never needing sharpening, but they don't work for all tasks.
Most of the non-serrated blades performed admirably, so save the serrations for slicing French bread.
For this test we evaluated things like ergonomics, whether the food got stuck on the blade or not, the heft of the knife, and so on.
We found that coated blades were very good for slicing tomatoes and just slid through like butter! The one with a titanium coating and the one with a stone coating both were wonderful to work with.
Our number 2 choice in particular, Sumikama's Kasumi knife, could produce wafer-thin slices of our watery tomato, and sticky foods like cucumbers would slide right off the blade.
Finally, we wanted to see how easily the tools would rust.
We performed a test that would make any chef who loves their kitchen tools cringe. We sprayed salt water on each knife and checked it after 3 hours and then again after 24 hours.
The highest score was given to the blade that rusted the least. We focused our attention on the knife edge, since the coatings on some would help to prevent rust on the rest of the blade.
We discovered that knives which were only stainless steel with no alloys or coatings were especially prone to rusting. After just an hour, blades labeled "stainless" or "stainless knife steel" showed light rust. It didn't matter if they were also labeled as "strong against rust."
If you buy a knife that is not 100% rust proof, it will have instructions that say to wipe off dirt and moisture immediately after use. You'd be wise to heed those directions.
We recommend considering the following points before buying a stainless santoku knife.
Look for a knife that suits how you will use it as well as your budget. The products in this article are primarily for home use, and prices range from one dollar to more than one hundred.
Stainless steel is lightweight and inexpensive. They tend to lose their edge and need sharpening more often than other types. Even if you sharpen them, they won't last as long, but because they're cheaper, replacement won't require a bank loan.
They range from a dollar to 30 or 40 bucks. These are good knives for beginner cooks; they're easy to handle and can take some abuse (but watch out for rust.)
Molybdenum and vanadium are added to steel to make it harder and stronger, which means they can hold a sharper edge, and for longer.
This material is suitable for home kitchen knives, but is also used for medical scalpels, so you know it's capable of fine cuts. It's resistant to rust and longer-lasting than plain stainless steel. These knives cost more, starting at about $50 to $100.
More carbon added during the manufacturing process makes a durable blade which is hard and can be extremely sharp. These knives are popular with professional chefs because they're highly resistant to rust, easy to sharpen, and can withstand repeated use.
They aren't cheap - from $100 to $200 each, but they will last decades if properly cared for.
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.
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 5 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.
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 it has a wooden handle, look for a steel cap where the handle and blade meet. This is called a bolster, and helps prevent water from getting into the handle. We also recommend choosing wood with antibacterial properties.
Japan has a lot of famous knife manufacturers. Many of them are based in Seki City in Gifu prefecture, such as Tojiro, Misono, and Masahiro. In fact, it's known as the City of Blades, and the craftsmen there have been making cutlery and swords for over 700 years.
By the way, we also tested a home-use Henkels santoku knife, but didn't include it in this article because it's not Japanese. Actually, it didn't do so well anyway, but their professional-grade knives are much better.
You've got your fancy knife; what are you going to make with it? Here are some suggestions.
A knife is an essential cooking tool, and there are so many to choose from. mybest looked at 18 of the most popular Japanese santoku knives available online and tested them all.
We found that almost all need care to prevent rust, but some are clearly more susceptible than others. We also learned that the materials and presence of a coating can make a big difference in performance.
Author: Kano Ichiyama/Translation:Susan Lucier-Ogawa/Photos: Koichi Miura, Yuuki Inagaki, Saya Iwagami
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