If you spend a significant amount of time preparing food or simply need to slice into the entrée you ordered delivered, having the right tool is paramount. A quick search for the best knives will net you block sets, chef’s sharp blade trios and single knives for a variety of cooking needs.
How do you know what you’re looking for? Knife blocks will typically have between four and 16 pieces, but generally, offer a variety of the following instruments:
- Chef’s knife: An all-purpose knife for chopping, slicing and dicing that has a curved blade. Typically 8 or 10 inches, a chef’s knife is a must-have for any kitchen.
- Paring knife: Similar in size to a steak knife, this tool is for more exacting work such as chopping vegetables and peeling.
- Utility knife: A serrated blade of varying lengths, this knife is used for cutting into things with a hard outer surface but soft innards – think bread, fruit and tomatoes.
Yet the sheer volume of cutlery available online can intimidate even the most seasoned chef. We tested block-fulls of knives and single knife offerings on everyday family meals—from chicken parmesan to stir fry — to see which tools made the cut. Our reviews are based on quality, feel, weight and, of course, cutting ability.
We tested the main types of main types of knives you’ll need in your kitchen. Although we’ve tested some pricier pieces, most of the knives on this list shouldn’t break the bank. Here are our favorites.
1. Robert Welch Signature Santoku Knife 17cm: $50
This 6.5 inch blade is made of German steel and offers an excellently dexterous cut. Ideal for precision slicing and dicing, this super-sharp scalloped blade is balanced and well-weighted for an ergonomic grip that won’t leave your hand tired no matter how many onions you slice. Unlike other santokus, the Robert Welch knife is dishwasher safe.
2. Zyliss Control Utility Knife, 5.5. inch: $24.99
Used for just about everything short of meat, this German-forged blade offers “safety touchpoints” for a controlled rocking mechanism and an easy grip. Cut with a small indentation for extra balance, we used the Zyliss knife to chop tomatoes and were pleased with the smooth slice. A smaller version of this knife is available as part of a 16-piece knife block set, and both are dishwasher safe.
3. Dalstrong Shogun Series 9.5 Chef Knife: $129.99
Extremely popular among knife connoisseurs, Dalstrong’s chef knife offers powerful performance that doesn’t weigh on your hand. Made of 66 layers of high-carbon Japanese stainless steel, then expertly packaged for a true “wow” effect, this miraculously lightweight tool could be the only knife you’ll ever need. The Shogun can cut harder vegetables, slice through raw chicken with ease and evenly cut semi-frozen items. Professional chefs recommend this item for its ease of use, yet this large knife isn’t intimidating for home cooks.
4. Dalstrong Gladiator Series 5.5 inch serrated utility knife: $39.99
This small knife was the favorite of the Gladiator series block knife set and functioned better than the set’s larger bread knife. Ideal for soft textures like sausages or on breads, this super sharp knife requires little effort to create even slices and leaves minimal crumbs. We tested this knife on bruschetta and fried chicken, and found the knife among the most agile of all the knives we tested.
5. Kyocera Ceramic paring knife, 3 inch: $19.99
Fans of ceramic knives will recognize the Kyocera name as the leader in non-metal cutlery. These germ–resistant blades are impervious to acid, oil and salt, and cut effectively while being safe to the touch. We like this lightweight knife for precise tasks like mincing garlic or julienning basil, but have also used it as a steak knife without issue. Available on its own or as part of a set, Kyocera offers great entry-level knives that can also withstand the demands of a more expert kitchen.
6. Sakai Takayuki 45 Layer Damascus Wa Nakiri 160mm: $155
Made with a hammered Damascus finish and a Swedish steel cutting core, this beautiful Japanese knife has elements from across the globe. Incredibly sharp and also easy to handle, this Chubo knife has a light handle and heavy blade for precise cutting despite its square shape.
While perhaps designed for the more discerning chef, we tested this at home and were able to easily chop vegetables and slice through raw chicken. Chubo knives are not machine washable and must be wiped off after use to maintain the integrity of the blade.
7. OXO Good Grips PRO 8-Inch Slicing Knife: $22.99
True to its name, this Oxo knife feels good in your hand and slices through meats like butter — we felt like professional sushi chefs while running this surprisingly sharp blade through fish. This knife is an excellent basic for budding cooks and is nimble enough to do advanced work.
8. Wusthof Gourmet 4-Piece Steak Knife Set: $79.95
While thinner than other Wusthof knives, these 4.5 inch blades are sturdy and will cut through any meat with ease. The knives look lovely on a table and have a nice weight in your hand that will only add to the enjoyment of whatever dish you’re cutting into bite-sized pieces.
9. Chubo Inox Petty 150mm: $75
This 5.9 inch utility knife is a nice counterweight to serrated utility knives. It’s incredibly light and precise, with impressive sharpness right out of the box. We tested this knife while making a vegetarian stir-fry and were pleased with how it cut vegetables and tofu easily. Like the other Chubo knife on this list, it is not machine washable.
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