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Henckels vs Zwilling Knives: Which is the better choice?

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Join us in this Henckels vs. Zwilling knives comparison as we discuss two distinct brands that come under the same ownership. However, their shared parent company sporting the name Zwilling J.A. Henckels (probably not the best move) can be extremely confusing telling the two brands apart.

In reality, Henckels and Zwilling are like night and day with very different product ranges, so please don’t mix them up!

Zwilling J.A. Henckels ZWILLING Chef's Knife, 8 Inch, Black

Understanding Zwilling J.A. Henckels

ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Zwilling gourmet 7-pc knife block set, 3.15 Pound

To wrap your head around Zwilling and Henckels knives, we must begin at the origin. In the beginning, there was Zwilling, a German manufacturer of kitchen knives that became a registered trademark in 1731. Indeed, they’ve been around for quite some time, and despite the name of its founder Peter Henckels, they operated under the sole name Zwilling for over a century.

It was not until Peter Henckels’ son Johaan Abraham (J.A.) Henckels took over the company whose brand name Zwilling J.A. Henckels came into the picture. Under his leadership, J.A. Henckels had extended the company’s name, designed the iconic red logo, and established the sub-brand Henckels knives.

Created to offer more affordable knives, Henckels aims to appeal to the wider public by offering something different to Zwilling.

Related: J. A. Henckels Knives Review: Are Henckels Knives good?

What is Zwilling?

ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Professional S 2-Piece Chef's Set

“Zwilling” is a German word that translates to “twin,” as seen on the red logo featuring a silhouette of two men. Zwilling was the original brand established centuries ago and has since become a premium knife brand with a high worldwide reputation.

Furthermore, Zwilling knives are high-end compared to the average brand, so they typically come at a higher price than Henckels.

 

What is Henckels?

Henckels Classic 8" Chef Knife, German Stainless Steel, Balanced Blade

Also established by Zwilling J.A. Henckels, J.A. Henckels International knives is an entry-level brand that joined the fray much later in 1895. With the mission of broadening their customer base, this brand strived to produce industry-leading knives at various prices to appeal to more people.

Unlike Zwilling, Henckels International features a single stick figure logo with a white background.

 

How are they different?

ZWILLING Twin Signature 3-pc German Knife Set, Razor-Sharp, Made in Company-Owned German Factory with Special Formula Steel perfected for almost 300 Years, Dishwasher Safe

Zwilling and Henckels’ knives differ in various ways, the most prominent being where they are manufactured. In the world of kitchen knives, Germany and Japan are the leading nations when it comes to blade craftsmanship. Being the premium knife brand that it is, Zwilling knives are all manufactured in both Germany and Japan and distributed worldwide.

On the other hand, they manufacture Henckels knives in regions across China, India, Thailand, and Spain. Due to their lower-cost stamped knives, Henckels knives use cheaper materials and more cost-efficient supply chain networks. Hence, the overall quality of their knives may not be at the level of Zwilling knives, but they are certainly more affordable and accessible to the everyday home cook.

Henckels and Zwilling knives have their own knife collections and unique product offerings. These differences stem from their respective construction and craftsmanship methods that yield differing results. For the most part, both Zwilling and Henckels offer forged and stamped knives in their collections, but each excels in different areas.

 

Stamped vs. Forged Knives

HENCKELS Premium Quality 15-Piece Knife Set with Block, Razor-Sharp, German Engineered Knife Informed by over 100 Years of Masterful Knife Making, Lightweight and Strong, Dishwasher Safe

If you’re clueless about stamped and forged knives (as I once was), read on! Ultimately, stamped knives are made by cutting out metal from a large sheet of steel using a laser cutter. Due to the economic efficiency of this method of craftsmanship, stamped knives are typically cheaper to mass produce than forged knives.

Now you may be wondering what forged knives are. Forged knives are made from one steel bar and undergo exposure to extreme temperatures that allow the craftsman to mold it into shape. This intensive process requires a combination of computing technology and practical “handyman” work to get the job done.

Keeping that in mind, it’s no wonder Henckels knives are far more affordable than Zwilling knives. It all comes down to each product’s offerings. For instance, the Zwilling chef knife features a V-edge blade that is ice-hardened for excellent durability, sharpness, and resistance to corrosion and rust (1).

Henckels chef’s knives, on the other hand, feature a Spanish-made blade. While it may be forged, it does not feature the same sharpness and lasting durability level as its Zwilling counterpart.

Related: Stamped vs. Forged Knives

How are they similar?

Professional S Zwilling J.A Henckels 3 Piece Knives Set, Black/Stainless Steel (35602-000-0)

Despite their different areas of specialization, both Zwilling and Henckels operate under the same company Zwilling J.A. Henckels, and trust me when I say that matters. First of all, both brands ultimately have the same product and manufacturer warranty, guaranteeing defect-free materials and craftsmanship.

If you have a nasty experience with your knives, you can have them refunded or replaced, which goes for both Zwilling and Henckels.

 

Full-Tang and Triple-Riveted Handles

While Zwilling knives cost more than Henckels knives, they are similar to Henckels in that they use a similar design and aesthetic. For example, both brands offer full-tang construction with their knives. Both also come with triple-riveted handles that provide an ergonomic grip that is comfortable and secure.

Thus, it may be difficult to distinguish these two brands of knives at first glance. However, when comparing their equivalent products, so be sure to look out for their respective logos.

Ultimately, there is a Henckel’s equivalent for all Zwilling Pro knives. For example, the Zwilling Pro Santoku knife can be compared to the Henckels International Classic Chef’s knife. They make the Santoku vs. Chef’s Knife of similar materials and craftsmanship, and both feature a triple-riveted ergonomic handle with a black finish.

Furthermore, both knives are safe for dishwasher use and are backed by Zwilling J.A. Henckels’ lifetime manufacturer warranty.

 

What’s better about Zwilling?

ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Professional S 2-Piece Chef's Set

Many would buy a Zwilling knife over a Henckels because of where they are made. With Zwilling, you can be sure you are getting the highest quality German or Japanese knives crafted from the source. Furthermore, these long-lasting, durable knives can enjoy greater sharpness and strength.

Not only do you get higher-quality knives with Zwilling, but you also get access to a wider variety of products made of different materials. The Zwilling Pro Holm Oak knife is a classic example of this. It features special handles made from Mediterranean holm oak (2). The Zwilling Kramer Euroline Carbon collection also features grenadille wood handles for additional options.

Another notable advantage of Zwilling is that their knives have a more evenly distributed weight across the blade and handle. This means you will feel more balanced when using Zwilling’s premium quality knives. In addition, you will likely get more effortless enjoyment out of them.

On that note, Zwilling knives also have a more prominent pinky lock at the bottom of the handle, giving you more control and maneuverability during use.

 

What’s better about Henckels?

HENCKELS CLASSIC 3-pc Starter Knife Set

For the budget buyer, Henckels knives are a dream come true. There’s no doubt that the Henckels portfolio of knives has a strong resemblance to its Zwilling counterpart. However, the materials and suppliers used to allow them to be far more affordable.

On that note, the great thing about Henckels is that despite its fantastic price tag, they also receive excellent customer ratings worldwide.

Offering a wide variety of knife sets, Henckels frequently updates its knife collections to keep up with the latest trends and technologies in the culinary world. Most Henckel knives come with stamped construction, though they also offer a generous variety of forged knives.

Also, while Zwilling has the advantage with product options, Henckels has its own unique collection, such as the Modernist line, which features an aesthetic steel handle.

Another advantage of Henckels knives is their collection of lighter items that are easier to carry and use. One such example is Henckel’s Solution, a knife that bears a great resemblance to the Zwilling Professional.

While both feature a forged knife construction, the Zwilling Pro knife has a bolster that adds to its weight. In contrast, Henckels Solution knives have a consistent width from start to finish of the handle.

 

Who should get Zwilling?

ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Paring Knife, 4 Inch.

The bottom line is that Zwilling blades are superior to Henckels blades in more areas than the other way around. This is because the brand has been manufacturing knives for centuries, and specialize in crafting high-quality knives such as the Pro Zwilling forged blade.

Sourcing their materials from the best global cutlery hubs, Zwilling manufactures its knives from Japan and Germany from some of the world’s best knife makers.

Zwilling is one of the best knife brands in the world, and anyone willing to pay a little extra for higher-quality knives should consider them. Zwilling’s knives typically come with either forged or stamped blades, offering supreme razor-sharp edges and strong blade retention.

In addition, their collections feature combinations of German and Japanese-style knives, such as Santoku knives and chef’s knives. They often include a boning knife, a paring knife, and a knife block.

Ultimately, Zwilling excels in providing you with a high-quality forged knife. They make their blades with intensive crafting practices. These involve melting steel and molding it using a combined effort of technology and handy work.

Zwilling is on par with the best kitchen knife brands in the world. Their German blades are comparable to Wusthof knives, and their Japanese blades to Shun knives.

 

Who should get Henckels?

Henckels Classic 8" Chef Knife, German Stainless Steel, Balanced Blade

Naturally, Henckel’s knives suit buyers on a budget, those who want to get the best possible knives at the lowest possible cost. But, unfortunately, people typically confuse a good deal with a bad one by focusing solely on price and not on quality.

While Henckels knives are not the cheapest, they do an excellent job of remaining relatively affordable to the public without compromising on quality.

Henckels is an excellent alternative to high-end brands like Wusthof blades for German knives. While Henckels may not source their knives directly from Germany or Japan, they produce the same style of those knives with alternative materials.

For the average person, it is practically impossible to tell the difference from the real thing, making Henckels a fantastic choice for the everyday home cook.

Another key reason to consider Henckels knives is their unique varieties and lightweight knives. Most Henckels blades are built with an ergonomic handle that is bolster-free, meaning there is less weight on the knife when you hold it.

A classic example is the Henckels Solution knife which sports a lighter design that is easier to maneuver for more fragile individuals such as the elderly or disabled.

 

Features

 

Product Offerings

HENCKELS Premium Quality 20-Piece Statement Knife Set with Block, Razor-Sharp, German Engineered Knife Informed by over 100 Years of Masterful Knife Making, Lightweight and Strong, Dishwasher Safe

For the most part, all products in the Zwilling brand have an equivalent under the Henckels brand, but the converse is not necessarily true. For example, while both brands have a similar amount of knife set varieties, Henckels actually offers slightly more options than Zwilling.

These options are also significantly more affordable than Zwilling despite offering similar designs and set combinations of German and Japanese-style knives.

Furthermore, you’ll notice that despite their claims of being pure Japanese and German-sourced blades, some of Zwilling’s knives are made in Spain. This includes the Zwilling TWIN Gourmet and the Zwilling TWIN grip. Both of which are not made with authentic Japanese or German stainless steel.

As a more affordable brand with more options, Henckels knives are the superior choice regarding product offerings.

Winner: Henckels

 

Materials

ZWILLING Twin Signature 3-pc German Knife Set, Razor-Sharp, Made in Company-Owned German Factory with Special Formula Steel perfected for almost 300 Years, Dishwasher Safe

Zwilling and Henckels manufacture high-quality knives made of premium stainless steel, but there are key differences. Because these knives use Japanese and German styles, their best versions will come from those countries.

Unfortunately, they don’t source any Henckels kitchen knives from these locations because of their greater cost-efficiency.

As a result, Zwilling is the clear winner when offering higher-quality materials with their blades. However, while we can conclude that both Zwilling and Henckels handles are more or less the same, the blades themselves differ in quality.

Of course, many home cooks may struggle to tell the difference. Still, for professional chefs and more dedicated kitchen enthusiasts, there is no denying the higher quality steel offered by Zwilling.

Winner: Zwilling

 

Performance

ZWILLING Twin Signature 3-pc German Knife Set, Razor-Sharp, Made in Company-Owned German Factory with Special Formula Steel perfected for almost 300 Years, Dishwasher Safe

Naturally, superior materials translate well into superior performance, similar to Zwilling. As a result, the brand’s knives excel in sharpness, strength, and durability.

While Henckels sharpens their knives just as well as Zwilling (usually about 15-degree angles), the higher quality materials of Zwilling simply allows the blade to pierce through textures more effectively. Also, Zwilling utilizes even sharper angles of up to 12-degree angles for some of their knives, giving even more options than Henckels.

The typical Henckels stamped blade provides exceptional strength and cutting performance and can rival Zwilling’s. However, when it comes to the forged knife, Zwilling takes the cake even when compared with Henckel’s forged knife lines.

As both brands offer the same quality-guarantee manufacturer warranty, the winner in this bout will have to go to Zwilling for its superior performance and longer-lasting products.

Winner: Zwilling

 

Design

Professional S Zwilling J.A Henckels 3 Piece Knives Set, Black/Stainless Steel (35602-000-0)

You will find great similarities between Henckels and Zwilling knives, from the blades to the handles and right down to the accompanying knife blocks. Both brands feature stunning stainless steel blades, ergonomically-friendly triple-riveted handles, and accompanying accessories. The accessories include such things as knife blocks and honing steel rods.

Also, the Zwilling logo and Henckels logo features on the blade’s surface make them iconic and easily recognizable at first glance.

Perhaps where the difference lies between these two brands in terms of design is in their unique knife collections. However, for the most part, Zwilling and Henckels have similar designs.

However, Zwilling offers some more unique collections, such as the Zwilling Kramer and the Zwilling Pro Holm Oak knives, while Henckels offers the Synergy Henckels and the Henckels Modernist.

Each knife collection has its own perks regarding the blade’s design and the materials of the handles. For instance, the Zwilling Kramer Euroline features gorgeous patterned Damascus steel blades. On the other hand, the Henckels Synergy features a combined steel and plastic handle for a seamless transition.

Regarding unique product offerings, Zwilling wins by a landslide simply because it offers more.

Their range includes Damascus blades, oak handles, and the Zwilling TWIN Four Star knife. It takes on a completely different design, featuring a rounded handle made of plastic and topped off with a stainless steel cap.

They also offer the Zwilling Kramer Meiji, which has a traditional Pakkawood rounded handle and Japanese steel blade resembling Shun’s knives.

Winner: Zwilling

 

Ergonomics

HENCKELS Premium Quality 15-Piece Knife Set with Block, Razor-Sharp, German Engineered Knife Informed by over 100 Years of Masterful Knife Making, Lightweight and Strong, Dishwasher Safe

Zwilling certainly takes the cake for offering more handle designs and materials choices, but ergonomics go beyond just the handle. For instance, Henckels kitchen knives come at a slightly lighter weight when comparing equivalent items.

Unlike other kitchen knife brands, Zwilling and Henckels design their kitchen knives with aesthetics in mind. You can also easily see where the knife is manufactured from as right underneath the logos, there is an imprinted “made in” message.

This is especially handy with Zwilling knives as they make a few of their products in Spain, which is important for those seeking pure Japanese or German knives.

Although many do not come with a bolster for additional grip, they have enough of a curve on the handle to secure your hand and lock in your finger satisfactorily.

With that in mind, the second most important thing I’d consider in a knife’s ergonomics is its weight. This can directly correspond to maneuverability and comfort. Nothing is worse than trying to chop up vegetables with a heavy knife. The strain on the arm and wrist can be felt for days and can negatively affect your physical wellbeing.

Since Henckels offers equally as effective handles as Zwilling while also sustaining more lightweight options, they are my personal pick for being the winner in ergonomics.

Winner: Henckels

 

Henckels vs Zwilling FAQ

 

Is Zwilling the same as Henckels?

As knife brands, Zwilling and Henckels are completely different in their products. While they do have similar logos, the actual knives are made from different materials and come in various designs and styles.

 

Why is Zwilling expensive?

Zwilling is more expensive than Henckels because it sources its materials from the best premium craftsman centers across the world. This typically includes Germany and Japan, producing the highest quality blades. They are made of high-end stainless steel materials that are durable, sharp, and edge retention.

ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Zwilling gourmet 7-pc knife block set, 3.15 Pound

Sources

(1) – https://www.materials.sandvik/en/products/strip-steel/strip-products/knife-steel/hardening-guide/purpose-of-hardening-and-tempering/deep-freezing/

(2) – https://www.botanical-online.com/en/botany/holm-oak

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