It’s funny, because as a knife guy, I still do most of my cutting in the kitchen. Nonetheless, I have spent countless dollars agglomerating an assortment of pocket knives and camping knives yet until recently, I was still using an old set of hand-me-down Chicago Cutlery knives that were roughly 40 years old. Not to say they didn’t function adequately, but considering how invested I am in this hobby, it was finally time to get into a good set of kitchen knives.
Enter the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Cronidur knives. I picked up a few knives including a chef’s knife, a 5″ santoku, a paring knife, and a bread knife. They say that to have a fully functional kitchen knife set, you only really need three essential knives: a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife. I got each of these as well as splurged on the santoku knife for chopping vegetables. I may yet go back and get a serrated utility knife, but I’ll see if I need it first. Zwilling also offers a 7″ santoku knife, a prep knife, a carving knife, and a honing steel available. In all honesty, my needs in the kitchen as a chef are pretty minimal as I’m not really cooking presentation quality food, just the food that I like to eat. As such, I saw no reason to spend money on additional knives I didn’t need.
To speak to the Cronidur knives in general first, they tug on all the right strings of a knife guy’s heart. From a build quality standpoint, they are superb. The fit and finish is impeccable. The knives are forged and employ a unique profile that allows easy and comfortable use of the pinch grip. They were designed by Matteo Thun, and are aesthetically stunning with the hidden full tang that is really set off by the black linen micarta handle. The steel that these knives are made with is one of the real highlights: Cronidur 30. Cronidur 30 is a nitrogen steel, meaning that the carbon is pared back in the material in favor of nitrogen. In addition, Zwilling touts their use of their Friodur treatment on this particular set. What this means is that they use an additional chilling process on top of their heat treatment to eek out a little more hardness out of the blade. Material science aside, the ultimate significance to the user is that these knives have an extremely hard steel that is particularly resistant to corrosion compared to other stainless steel kitchen knives. In light of this, the knives will also hold an edge for a very long time if used properly (meaning cut on a cutting board made from plastic or wood as opposed to a granite counter top or the like). So far, each knife has been absolutely laser sharp out of the box.
So now let’s talk about each knife individually to discuss what makes them so great.
As any professional chef will tell you, the knife they reach for first and use most often is their trusty chef’s knife. As such, if you are just looking one single knife and aren’t sure which one to get, get a chef’s knife. It is by far the most versatile and can handle most cutting tasks that other knives can so long as you use a little grace.
That said, the Cronidur chef’s knife is a particularly great chef’s knife. Upon first glance, you will notice that the belly of the blade has a slightly higher curvature compared to other chef’s knives which are typically a little more flat. I find this shape to be much more useful than other knives I have used because it allows greater ease and larger range when rocking the knife during cuts. The handle is smooth, but the ergonomics are great so you don’t have to worry about any slip when your hands are wet. In addition, the geometry where the blade meets the handle is ideal for using the pinch grip, as mentioned previously. The chef’s knife is also particularly well balanced and just right in the weight department (heavy but not too heavy). The chef’s knife is 8 inches long, and makes cutting herbs, vegetables, fish or meat a breeze.
The paring knife is great as well, coming in right at 4″. I typically like a 4″ long paring knife versus the also common 3″ as I feel that it is a touch more versatile. Some will claim that you have more precision with the a shorter knife, but I find that with a little practice you can have similar precision with the added benefit of an inch more cutting surface.
This knife has excellent shape, with a sweeping but mostly flat belly and an extremely sharp tip that makes precision cutting effortless. The knife is lightweight with excellent ergonomics that allow for a variety of different grip styles. The knife is easy to manipulate and works great for peeling vegetables or for other high precision work.
The bread knife is probably the one you will use least out of the bunch, but it is still invaluable as there is nothing else in the kitchen that can serve as a replacement. This particular knife comes in at 8″, which is par for the course as bread knives go. Some people prefer a longer knife in the 9-10″ range for bread, but I find that it is simply not necessary and the minimal time savings a longer knife would provide would go unnoticed for me.
The knife is serrated, and is unbelievably sharp. It easily pierces the crust of anything from a toasted baguette to a raw loaf and you are met with subsequent effortlessness throughout the duration of your cut. I also find it useful for a few types of meat such as sausages, some cheeses, and fruits and vegetables with skins such as tomatoes. Like the other knives, balance is spot on and ergonomics are great. This knife gets nothing but my highest recommendation.
5″ Santoku Knife
The santoku was my splurge purchase, because the rest of my collection already rounds out my functional needs in the kitchen quite nicely. However, a santoku knife definitely has its place. My favorite things to do with santoku knives is dicing. This is the first knife I reach for when it’s time to dice onions or potatoes. I also will occasionally use it for chopping meat, although my chef’s knife usually performs this function.
This particular santoku knife has a relatively flat cutting surface with just a little bit of curve for some light rocking. As such, I like to use it as more of a chopper. It has an extremely sharp angle to the edge, moreso than any other knife in the set. I chose the scalloped blade as I like that it reduces the friction to some degree. I don’t find this that much harder to clean so the benefits were worth it. The ergonomics, weight, and balance all make this knife an admirable performer and a nice addition to the set. I would wait and get the other three first before this one, but if you opt to get this one as a fourth, you won’t be disappointed.
Hopefully you have found this break down of the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Cronidur kitchen knives helpful. I find them to be top notch in every respect. There are a few other things that are worth quickly mentioning. First is that you have to care for these knives for them to last. That means hand washing them with minimal soap. I would not recommend putting them, or any kitchen knives for that matter, in the dishwasher. Next is that they have a lifetime warranty against manufacturing and workmanship defects. Finally, I have dealt with Zwilling for unrelated issues in the past and find their responsiveness to any issues to be prompt with a focus on resolving the issue to your satisfaction. All in all, if you can swing the coin to get into this set, it’s well worth it! Your life in the kitchen will be completely changed and I trust that you will come to love these knives as I have.
Finally, if these don’t suit your fancy, visit our kitchen knife reviews page to check out some other kitchen knives that may better fit your liking.