Selecting the right kitchen knife from numerous sizes, shapes, types, and brands can be daunting and overwhelming. A good knife can save you time and trouble when it comes to slicing, chopping, dicing, and mincing.
So, what to look for in a kitchen knife? Our buying guide and list of the best kitchen knives will help you find the right one.
How to Choose a Kitchen Knife – Buying Guide
If you don’t have cutlery, you don’t have a kitchen. You use knives every day (assuming you cook), so put some time and effort into choosing one. Here are some features you need to consider.
Size and Shape
Kitchen knives come in different sizes and shapes. Home cooks, get a chef’s knife or santoku knife. They’re the most useful and versatile and can slice, chop, dice, and mince their way through anything–from fruits and vegetables to fish and meat.
We all want something sharp, but size, shape, and weight are also important factors, as they’re what gives you control over the knife so you don’t hurt yourself. An 8-inch chef’s knife is the most commonly used among home cooks. But if you’ve got little hands, you may want to go with a santoku knife, which runs smaller.
There’s also specialized knives that can expand your culinary repertoire.
Chef’s Knife: Long, Curved Blade for Fast Mincing and Slicing
The chef’s knife, also known as a cook’s knife, is an all-purpose kitchen knife that is used for most types of slicing, chopping, dicing, and mincing. Chef’s knives have a longer, more rounded blade. They come in various lengths, but the most popular run from 8 to 10 inches.
The curved blade allows the knife to rock back and forth for fast chopping and dicing. Also, its long sharp edge is great for slicing meat, as well as separating meat from bones. These pack speed and efficiency.
Santoku Knife: the Smaller All-Purpose Knife
Here’s another all-purpose kitchen knife with roots planted firmly in Japan. It is excellent for slicing, chopping, and mincing almost anything–fruits and vegetables and fish and boneless meat. It’s lightweight, with a thinner, shorter blade, which allows for more control over the knife.
It’s got this almost straight edge with round tip. The wide, flat blade is useful when you’re scooping chopped ingredients into a pot or bowl. The knives come with either smooth, standard blades or Granton blades. Granton blades have those little hollows along the sides; those are where the juices go when you cut moist food, so you can cut out little slivers of meat without them tearing.
Santoku knives are shorter than chef’s knives with standard length of 6 and 7 inches, which makes them ideal for home cooks with smaller hands.
Paring Knife: for Intricate Work
Paring knives are very handy. They’re these small knives with short blades, generally 2 1/2 to 4 inches long. Since the blades are so small and thin and they’ve got such small tips, paring knives are ideal for peeling, slicing, or trimming small fruits and vegetables. They’ll also pull off intricate work–such as deveining a shrimp or carving a sculpture from an apple.
Carving Knife: Carve Thin Slices off Huge Chunks of Meat
Carving knives are designed to slice meat (poultry and roasts) and fish. They’ve got long, thin blades that range from 8 to 15 inches long. They’re ideal for cutting large pieces of meat into precise, thin slices.
Cleaver Knife: Cut through Giant Blocks of Meat
A cleaver knife, also known as a butcher’s knife, is large and is typically rectangular. The thick and heavy blade will easily chop and cut through thick meat and bone.
Bread Knife: Won’t Crush your Toast
A bread knife has a straight or slightly curved blade with a serrated edge. That’s how it slices cleanly through bread without crushing it.
Let’s talk about metal. When it comes to kitchen blades, you’ve got two main types: stainless steel and high carbon steel. Each metal has its own pros and cons.
Stainless Steel: Durable and–Big Surprise–Doesn’t Rust
Stainless steel blades are durable and–as their name suggests–don’t really discolor or rust. But this doesn’t mean they’ll never go red and nasty. If you keep exposing them to salt, acid, and moisture, they can corrode. So, make sure to dry the blade after washing. Watch out when cutting citrus fruit.
However, the edge does dull much quicker than that of high carbon blades, so they need to be sharpened frequently.
High Carbon Steel: Sharper, Stronger, but Not Stainless
High carbon steel blades are stronger and very sharp. They also keep their edge longer than stainless steel blades, so you won’t need to pull out your whetstone as much. They’re easier to sharpen than the stainless sort.
But, yes, they tend to rust easily. They can also get stained when they come in contact with acidic foods such as lemons and tomatoes. In order to prevent rusting and discoloration, wash and dry your blade thoroughly after use.
When it comes to handles, you’ve got shape, weight, and material, and they all determine how a knife feels in your hand. The most common materials used in knife handles are wood, stainless steel, and plastic.
Wood handles used to be very popular, since they’re so warm and comfortable. But now we know bacteria can get trapped in the grain, so consumers are shifting toward metal and plastic handles. Stainless steel handles are durable and easy to clean, but they can be slippery when wet. Plastic handles likewise offer themselves up for cleaning, but they’re also kind of flimsy.
Top 10 Best Kitchen Knives to Buy Online
Here are 10 kitchen knives that’ll make your cooking more fun and easy. They’ll put some zest in your meal.
10. Maestro Cutlery 7-inch Cleaver Butcher Chopper Knife
Easily Chop Meat and Veggies with This Highly Durable Knife
The Maestro Cutlery cleaver knife combines high carbon steel and stainless steel to present us with a blade that stays sharp, slices through everything, and resists rust and stains. It’s full tang (the blade extends all the way down the handle), which means a) it’ll stand up to more pressure and b) it’s better balanced. The handle’s pretty strong itself; it’s made out of polyoxymethylene (POM) and triple-riveted.
It’ll effortlessly chop through meat, bones, and large chunks of food. The 7-inch blade is hefty enough for some real force, but light enough for you to wreck havoc on vegetables without tiring out your hand.
9. Global G2 8-inch Chef’s Knife
Low Maintenance Lightweight Chef’s Knife
Global G2’s 8-inch chef’s knife is lightweight and well-balanced. It’s got this thin, razor-sharp edge that just doesn’t go dull. The blade and handle are formed from the same metal, so it’s easy to clean, and you don’t need to worry about bacteria lurking in the cracks.
The handle’s molded so it’ll fit comfortably in your hand and is dimpled so it won’t slip. Since it’s metal, there’s no cracking or warping. It’s also pretty slim, so small hands’ll guide it easily. If you’ve got large hands, though, your fingers are going to brush up against each other.
8. Zwilling J.A. Henckels Four-Star 8-inch Chef’s Knife
Solid German-Made Kitchen Knife for All Your Cutting Purposes
This chef’s knife’s got a wide, sturdy blade with a fine cutting edge. It’s got some heft to it, so it can handle some heavy-duty tasks–goes through meat like butter and glides when you’re trimming off fat. It’s also exceptionally well-suited for chopping and dicing vegetables. It’s so sharp, it’ll slide right through a tomato, and not spray you with seeds and juice.
The polypropylene handle won’t slip and, since it’s got no rivets, there’s nowhere for water and undesirables to gather. It won’t leave your hand sore, even after you’ve chopping for hours.
7. Tojiro 235mm (9 1/4-inch) Bread Knife
Perfect Bread Knife that Leave You with No Crumbs (Almost)
You’ve got this extremely sharp serrated edge and a handle made of real wood (it’s warm, soft, and comfortable). The knife’ll give you smooth slices with minimal crumbs. It’ll work with anything–sourdough, French, crusty, soft, stale, if you’d give it a chance–and will leave you with super thin slices.
The blade’s thinner than most, but it’ll take you through a loaf with two or three strokes. It’ll also go through anything juicy and not pepper you with droplets–tomatoes, meat roast, grapes. And, when it comes to serrated blades, you want something in this price range, since they’re tough to sharpen.
6. Zwilling J.A. Henckels International Classic 4-inch Paring Knife
Small, Versatile Knife for Detailed Tasks
The Zwilling J.A. Henckels International Classic paring knife has this razor edge that holds its sharpness. It’s sturdy and well-balanced and light. The handle’s a bit small, so if you’ve got big hands, they’re going to crimp. It’s also kind of sharp at the edges–yes, still talking about the handle–so don’t grip it for too long or too tightly.
This small knife is perfect for peeling, slicing, cutting, and shaping fruit and vegetables–anything that requires attention to detail. The blade’s sharp and pointed, so it shines when trimming meat. Treat it well, though, because it’ll rust and stain when neglected.
5. Shun Classic 7-Inch Santoku Knife with Hollow Ground
Sharp Blade That Doesn’t Stick to Food
From Japan, an all-purpose kitchen knife. The little hollows along the edge of the blade suck up juices, so meats and most stuff doesn’t stick to the blade. (Don’t expect any miracles with onions, though.) It’s so sharp, it’ll go through carrots and potatoes, no resistance–so you can chop at mach speed without hurting yourself.
It keeps its edge well, and the handle slides itself into your hand. (Your right hand!) It’s got this D-shape to it, so you can hold onto the knife for hours without going sore, and it’s easy to control.
4. Mac Superior 6.5-inch Santoku Knife
Great Value for Your Money: Sharp and Well-Balanced Knife
You don’t have the Granton edge with this one; the blade actually has a bit of a sandy texture, which is supposed to keep food from sticking. It does a decent job, but if you’re dicing up onions or slicing cucumbers for a salad, the pieces are going to cling. It’s sharp, works beautifully on most everything, but will bend on tendons and tougher meat.
The handle’s pakkawood; it keeps the softness of wood, and the resistance to water of plastic. It fits comfortably into smaller hands.
3. Wusthof Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
Lasts Forever and Maneuvers through Anything
The curved sweep of this blade means it’ll rock–for when you’re chopping, dicing, and mincing. It’s full tang, so it’s balanced and got some heft to it; it’ll carve through thick blocks of meat and vegetables with no effort at all. The handle’s thick enough for larger hands, but leaves you enough control to debone and butterfly chicken.
It’ll last so long, you can past it down as a family heirloom; put it away wet, and it’ll come out the next day shining.
2. Mac Professional 8-inch Chef’s Knife with Hollow Edge
Don’t Exert Any Force: It’ll Cut through Anything Anyway
Here’s another knife with a Granton edge which’ll go through anything–blocks of meat, vegetables, citruses with the peels still on. If you’re slicing up a lime for a drink, it’ll give you these paper-thin circles, but, again, there’s some sticking to the blade.
It’ll do some delicate work too–filleting fish, julienning vegetables, carving up fruit. It’s lighter than your European types, but that’s why it’s easy to maneuver and doesn’t tire out your hand. (The handle’s pakkawood as well, and has enough girth for bigger palms.)
1. Shun Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
Super Slick Knife with a Thin, Razor-Sharp Blade
The blade’s so thin, it’ll cut a tomato in a flash–doesn’t pause at the skin, doesn’t spray juice all over your kitchen. It’ll go through meat like butter, but make sure your chicken’s fully thawed. It’ll bend against frozen meats and corn cobs. It’ll also chip when coming up against bones or the kitchen floor. (So don’t drop it.)
Here’s another pakkawood handle–balanced throughout and comfortable. The size is perfect–easily maneuverable, short enough to rock through a mince without too much effort on your part.
Hope we’ve somewhat narrowed down your choices. Just remember, the most important factor when choosing a kitchen knife is how it feels in your hand. The size, shape, and weight of a knife matters as much as the sharpness. The “one” will simply feel like an extension of your hand. Happy cooking!
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