If you’re looking these up you are either curious on what Cutco is because you saw them being demo’d at a home show, or someone mentioned these knives to you.
Then, you wondered, “What on Earth makes these knives so expensive?”, and most likely followed that question up with, “Are they really worth the money?”.
I’m going to give you the most annoying answer there is: It depends.
Do I own these? No. I saw them at the home show and our Brother and Sister-in-Law bought them there.
- They use them every day since they cook at home every day.
- After the initial sticker shock I have never heard either of them complain about the price.
- Our Brother-in-Law cut himself with one of the knives last week and verified that even a few months into their use they are still as sharp as the day they received them.
- I’ve used them at their house and I’m convinced I could do surgery with these tools. They slice anything with very little effort.
Would I personally buy a set? Probably not, because I am too cheap and because I don’t cook enough to warrant it.
But, I would invest in a few of their ad-hoc items (not a full set) because I was pretty blown away by their scissors . Even for a little over a hundred dollars, I think they are probably worth it. Check the other reviews if you want to be convinced, but most everyone says these are hands down the best kitchen scissors on the market and can cut through literally “anything”.
These do introduce a certain element of danger though – all of a sudden you start looking around the house for a scissor challenge and pretty soon your gutters are chopped into confetti.
After using these in person and reading reviews from people who are completely loyal to this brand, the company has earned my respect and I don’t think it’s a scam like some others out there who seem enraged by the price of what they consider an “inferior” product.
We bought my Mother-In-Law the ($50-ish dollar) Cutco ice cream scoop because she had used a friend’s and said putting it into frozen ice cream was like “cutting soft butter”. So I have eaten my own dog food so to speak in advocating their purchase.
Why They Are Expensive
Cutco products can be classified as an overly-pricey but legitimately high-quality product that is backed by a trusted reputation, a la Pampered Chef kitchenware, which I also feel is really nice in quality but usually over-priced for what you get.
These are a bit of a luxury item that makes the buyer “feel” good about their purchase, and rightfully so. Again this is targeted to a very specific customer which seem to be primarily family households.
These are expensive for a few reasons:
Lifetime warranty. It is lifetime, no hassle, and completely reliable. Cutco prides themselves on their warranties and how easy the replacement process is.
Free lifetime sharpening. If you purchase a full set (runs around $1700.00) Cutco will typically have a rep go to your HOUSE and sharpen your knives for you. I don’t know of any other company offering this type of service. You can of course also mail your dulled knives in and they will mail them back sharpened, for life.
They are manufactured in America and go through several manual refining processes. While some of their manufacture processes are automated, the knife-making requires manual refining which means the company has to pay labor costs here in America, which are typically higher than what you might pay for products made in other countries.
Sales model. Cutco products are sold by commissioned sales teams who typically do physical demonstrations for potential customers at home shows or other kitchen venues. This isn’t a pro or a con to you or me, but it’s part of the reason these knives do run higher in cost.
Materials. I can’t say these materials are top grade – plenty of debates can be found online about the steel being sub-par to the top of the line grade steel vs. those who claim it is surgical quality and processed in a way that makes it higher quality than the metal alone would imply. But whether or not these claims are true, what we know is that the steel holds up without any staining, retains its sharpness for many uses, and can be resharpened for decades without degrading the quality of the metal.
Reputation. You do have to pay more for proven entities that you know will be around in 30 years when you need a replacement knife. You could alternatively go with “JoBlow’s Knives” and probably pay 1/10th of the price, but you are probably not signing up for a lifelong contract. When MAC lovers buy a MAC, they have a pretty solid understanding of what they will be getting. This is the reason people love, trust, and return to buy Cutco products. They know the brand and that they deliver on their promises.
The Home Show
I had ventured down the row to purchase some cool sheets (with straps so they never fall off – read about those here) and when I looked back I saw my Brother and Sister-in-Law getting roped into a sales demo for some knife company. I went over to them and watched them getting the sales “spiel” from the salesman.
Blah, blah, blah the knives are good – sure… whatever.
They said they were going to buy them.
I asked how much the set went for and was told seventeen hundred dollars. WAIT, WHAT? SEVEN-TEEN HUNDRED?
COUGH… CHOKE… “WAIT, HOW MUCH”???? I took a closer look to see if they were made out of gold, which for that price, I would have thought they were.
“Do the penny thing for her”, my Sister-in-Law said.
I was thinking, “The penny thing better be really cool”. Okay, yes, it was cool.
The dude took a penny, took his scissor, and made an animal out of it like he was cutting up a piece of paper. It was neat, but wait, SEVENTEEN HUNDRED? Not that neat.
But I’m not going to lie, it made me want (and I still think about them often) those scissors. If they can do that to metal, think of all the food possibilities… mostly I’m thinking it would be nice for cubing up chicken.
It didn’t totally surprise me that my Brother-in-Law signed up for this, because he needed a better knife set and he is the definition of a hassle-free person. Meaning, he will never sharpen a knife, he will only use things that can be beat up terribly and still work, and he throws EVERYTHING in the kitchen into the dishwasher.
These knives were supposedly durable, resilient, indestructible (or replaced if destroyed), and never required maintenance or sharpening from the buyer since the company will sharpen them for life.
I was still surprised however, that my Sister-in-Law, who would do anything to save a buck, was okay with this purchase. But that’s why they work, she knows when to argue and when not to.
A girl in her twenties with a really sparkly wedding ring positioned herself next to me with her husband. She tells the other sales guy “we decided we’ll do the black set”. I’m thinking that’s an awfully casual decision for these expensive knives.
I asked her, “are you buying these?”, and without hesitation she said “yeah, my family has them, and it’s the only knife set we would ever buy”.
So I realized the appeal factor behind these went beyond owning a sharp knife.
These knives have a reputation as a high-quality, trusted brand, really meant for people who will make this the only set of knives they will ever purchase. I suppose in that sense they are worth the money.
I have read reviews from people who have owned Cutco for over 40 years, love them, and swear by them.
The Cutco Customer
The Cutco customer seems to be primarily families who enjoy owning nice things.
The Cutco customer buys from companies with a trusted reputation who honor their warranty policies.
The Cutco customer doesn’t want to hassle with dragging out a whetstone or grinder sharpener every 2 months to maintain their kitchenware.
The Cutco customer ISN’T a professional chef who wants a specialized knife, like something forged with a specific tang weight. These are the people who seem to get the most outraged at the idea of the Cutco knife being a “good” knife since they have their own opinions of what “good” means.
The Cutco customer isn’t going to put on a Hibachi grill show with their cling clanging fancy knifes. They’re probably cutting some meat and veggies every night.
The Cutco customer is not a college kid who isn’t cooking much besides heating up Ramen 6 out of 7 nights of the week.
The Cutco customer is someone who believes you can use a serrated knife to cut things like steak and it doesn’t necessarily make you a less than civilized cretin.
The Cutco customer makes good use of their kitchen, often.
The Cutco customer is probably not slicing up paper thin pieces of fish. I’m not sure what you would do with that anyway, but it seems to be one of the concerns from the “anti-Cutco” camp – that the serrated knives can’t cut things thin enough. Which might be why there is a Cutco knife included in the set which is not serrated – for that paper-thin fish need that all of us (do not) have.
In conclusion, I’d say this is a personal decision and comes down to how low-maintenance you are. If very, this might be the decision for you. You can purchase Cutco from Home & Garden Shows, the www.cutco.com website, or from Amazon.
If you like having a mixed set of knives and are more into the “chef” grade knives, if you like doing your own knife maintenance such as sharpening and careful cleaning, you might be better off with a set like this Dahlstrong.
It all comes down to personal preference.