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Choosing a kitchen knife can be confusing. These items can be plain different. There are so many tasks in the kitchen and there is no one knife to handle them all. This is why you will need at least a few types of such knives. According to your needs and habits, you will determine how many kitchen knives you should get. Our guide will help you understand the uses of each generic model, distinguish between common brands, types and identify what is needed- in short how to find the best kitchen knives for you.
Before purchasing, you will have to answer yourself the following questions:
- What is your cuisine style? Are you a vegetarian, a vegan? Or you often buy raw meat and cook it at home?
- Do you cook meals from scratch or you buy things that are almost done and only call for light preparation?
- How easily do you deal with food that’s regularly found in your kitchen? Do you struggle peeling, cutting, chopping and so on?
Answering these will help you identify your needs firstly. There is no need in buying a knife that is designed for meat cutting if you are vegetarian or you never have time to cook your meat at home. Also, you won’t need plenty of cutting tools if you mostly buy ready meals and do only light cooking at home.
Let us take a look now at the best known types of kitchen knives, at what they’re like and what they can do best. It is important to realize that “any knife will do” is not a helpful approach. No one likes to struggle. Make your kitchen jobs easy by choosing the right knife. Don’t trouble yourself and double or triple the time you spend in the kitchen.
The Paring Knife
Blade dimension: small, 3 to 4 inches.
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The paring knife is seen by many as the best kitchen knife. It is ideal if you deal with a lot of vegetables. The blade ends in a sharp point. Because of their smaller dimensions, these knives allow for great control. They will help you accomplish high precision tasks as well. These are suitable to all the basic utility work.
Paring knives are not all made equal. You can have them with straight or wavy edges, with the basic cook’s knife shape or the bird’s beak shape. When it resembles the latter, it can be used to peel vegetables and fruits. It is also ideal for carving. Note that also a straight blade is good for peeling, so you’re not bound to this curved shape. Thanks to their sharp pointed end, paring knives are also good for discarding the black eyes from a potato or separating meat from bones. These will successfully skin onions or tail vegetables. They will peel oranges and apples and especially cut tomatoes.
Chef’s Knife (Cook’s Knife)
This is the common, generic kitchen knife. The popular one. This is the all-rounder everyone is aiming for. At the wide end, the blade is larger than the handle. The blade is broad overall and curves upwards towards its tip. It has a robust backbone to make the knife more firm. A chef’s knife may come in medium and mini shape. Sizes are between 6 and 12 inches.
The best chef knife is a straight-edges one, because it can be sharpened as needed instead of replaced.
It is good for mincing, cutting, chopping and slicing. Its size will help you achieve high speeds at chopping. Choose a smaller knife if you want it to be more lightweight. Also, if you have small hands pick one with a shorter blade.
The best chef knives have bolsters. These are pieces of metal between the handle and the blade. Their role is to anchor the thumb and stop the knife from slipping. This is a very important feature. Whether it has a full or partial tang is not as important. Another important aspect is to identify a knife with a good balance. It will feel awkward if one of its halves (the blade or the handle) is a lot heavier than the other.
Main feature: very wide and heavy blade.
Not everyone is in need of a cleaver. It is the tool of cooks who prepare raw meat and who have to deal with the bones. This is a big knife with a very wide beveled blade and a thick spine. It can cut through poultry bones. You need strength to operate it. One cannot use this heavy blade for slicing, but for chopping and pounding ingredients.
There are also Chinese cleavers on the market. This particular type features a thinner blade than the regular cleaver. It can deal with meat but cannot split a bone. It has a narrower spine and can be used to tenderize the meat.
The Japanese Kitchen Knife
Main feature: a very sharp edge.
If it’s Japanese, you know it’s going to be somewhat different. Counted among the best kitchen knives, the Sashimi is traditionally Japanese and can cut through a whole range of ingredients. It helps you prepare food easily and quickly. Its edge is super sharp. The blade is regularly the hollow-ground type. Be careful and don’t use it for chopping or other high-impact tasks. When using force, it loses its edge quickly. Prefer it for slicing and dicing. It handles ingredients from fruit and vegetables to meat.
There is also a Japanese version of the chef’s knife. It is known as the Santoku. Its very wide blade will slice meat but also chop vegetables. Because its spine is really narrow, it will make thin cuts. You may even use the blade width to crush garlic cloves. The Santoku is great for all ingredients.
Main feature: a very stiff blade.
You can use this to cut meat, including poultry and fish. Boning knives come in many shapes, so be aware of these. A wide one is the best for pork, but also works with chicken meat. Narrow blade models easily cut through cartilage and can chop well. A curved blade boning knife is the best when you want to improve the cutting angle and cut well around the bone, like really close to it.
Main features: 4-6 inches long, serrated edge.
To cut steaks and chicken, you need a heavy-duty knife, yet not a massive one. The best steak knives are usually the ones with a serrated edge. Its blade measures 4-6 inches in length. Thickness varies. Once the sharpness wears off, you will have to replace the knife. Avoid placing it in the dishwasher, because it damages the edge much sooner. We made a list of some of the steak knives you won’t go wrong with:
Best Steak Knives
- Wusthof Gourmet/Classic (especially the Wusthof Classic Ikom Steak Knives): Durable, sturdy,compact steak knives with very thin yet sharp blades. Forged in German high carbon steel this knife features recessed bloster so as to sharpen the full length of the cutting edge. Expensive
- Shun Steak Knives: Elegant, balanced and well-angled edge. Forged in High carbon steel with razor sharp edge and dishwasher safe as well. Shun offers limited lifetime warranty. Expensive
- Schmidt Brothers : Offers relatively inexpensive models of steak knives. Features stainless steel blades.
- Chicago Cuttlery SteakHouse Knives : Cheap yet popular steak knives. Serrated edge with high carbon steel, full tang blades.
- Laguiole en Aubrac: French made, highly rated steak knives that has serrated and non serrated models. Mirror polished razor sharp blades made form stain less steel. Expensive
Kitchen Knife Set
If you’re going for a set, take your time to look for one that contains only knives you know you will be using. Here’s what to look for:
– a paring knife,
– a chef’s knife,
– a bread (serrated) knife,
– a utility knife.
Sets can have very different numbers of kitchen knives, from just the basics to more than 15. Big sets contain many specialized knives and other similar tools. Ultimately, your purchase will also be influenced by price.
Here are some suggestions – the best big/small sets, cheap or more expensive sets.
Best Kitchen Knife Set
- Old Hickory 5 Piece Cutlery Set –cheap; wooden handles. Types of knives it includes: small paring, big paring, butcher’s, boning and slicing.
- Ethan Becker Signature Cooking Knives, Series 1 – affordable, with santoprene handles and hardened stainless steel blades. Includes: small santoku, big santoku, utility, French cook knife.
- Boker Gorm 7 Piece Kitchen Block Set – on the expensive side; black micarta handles; features all important knife sizes; stainless steel blades; excellent control through design and material.
- Wusthof Silverpoint II 18 Piece Knife Block Set– complete set; high precision; blade forged through laser technology. Includes: flat cut paring knife, spear point paring, bird’s beak peeling knife, 6 steak knives, bread knife, utility knife, serrated utility knife and more, plus kitchen shears and sharpening steel.
- A straight edge is good for cutting raw meat, for slicing fish but also for cutting vegetables. It is easy to sharpen, which is a great advantage. It required frequent sharpening. It can also lose its edge pretty fast if it’s not made of something durable. If the blade is not too big, it can make really precise cuts.
- A serrated edge or a wavy one cuts bread well – it’s great with products that are soft but have a crust or skin. You can use it to cut vegetables, fruits or sausages for example.
- A Granton edge has grooves on its side. It is good for slicing juicy or fatty foods. It cuts meat without shredding it.
You will notice that kitchen knife handles are made of a variety of materials. The most common are wood, plastic and metal. If you must handle a lot of kitchen work and you usually deal with heat, your hands may easily sweat. In fact, it is hard to avoid moisture in the kitchen. Firstly, we advise that you choose something that feels comfortable in your hand. Also, metal and plastic do not go well with humidity. To have a better grip and feel more comfortable, pick knives that have a wooden or a rubber handle.
Other features of the handle: You may feel tempted to buy intricate, ornate knives. Resist the temptation. If it has any intricacies – like carvings – it will be difficult to clean it. Reside will stick to it and bacteria will grow. Also, be mindful of the metal rivets. While these are excellent elements to secure the tang inside the handle, you don’t want them to stick out. These must be smooth and integrate perfectly into the handle.
What Brands to Go For?
Are there big differences between the makers?
As with most products, there are great ones, and there are cheap imitations as well. There are brands with a history, which won’t let you down. For some you will have to pay more, but will last you “a lifetime”.
- Victorinox – These professional knives are now improved and come with more features. They have a full tang, rivets, great balance and ideal weight. The Swiss manufacturer is also the knife provider of the army. Its kitchen cutlery is as remarkable as the famous multifunctional Swiss Army pocket knives. All items come with a lifetime warranty.
- Korin Giutou – This refers to a chef’s knife made by the Japanese. It is fabricated of high-carbon steel. It is extremely comfortable to handle. Makes perfect slices. Very sharp, ideal for precise cutting.
- Richmond – This manufacturer makes sharp and thin blades which keep their edge. Light knives with good grip. Particularly good for herbs and vegetables. Usually these knives have rosewood handles, which make them pricier.
- Shun – The Japanese company is one of the masters. It makes blades in Damascus style. These blades have 16 covers of high carbon stainless steel. It is called the VG-10 super steel.
- Wusthof – A German company, this one has a solid reputation in the industry. It makes heavy, thick knives, which are highly resistant. Chefs tend to choose these. The blades are easy to sharpen.
5 Best Kitchen Knives of 2016
1. Victorinox 8″ Forged Chef Knife
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This knife by Victorinox is an essential in any kitchen. With having special features which include a POM handle, high carbon stainless steel blade, and polyoxyethylene handle curve, this knife is a must-have. The Victorinox Forged Kitchen Knife has a specialized curved blade and pointy tip helps with being able to cut vegetables, meat, and other ingredients with great speed and agility. The pointy tip also aids when doing activities such as skinning meat and and rinds.
- POM Handle
- Stainless Steel
- Curved Blade
- Pointy Tip
- Good for Speed
2. Misono Fruit Knife
Image Source: korin.com
The Misono fruit knife is a great knife to have in your kitchen. It is not only rust resistant, but it also has a moybdenum blade which can be resharpened which helps it stand out among the other fruit knives that do not normally carry this characteristic. This special fruit knife is one that will last a lifetime and will always stay in pristine shape.
- Able to be Resharpened
- Sharp Blade
3. Richmond Laser AS Petty
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Looking for a knife that is not for the faint of heart? Check out the Richmond Laser AS Petty. This knife is specially made by blacksmiths in Japan to ensure its sharpness and quality. The Richmond Laser can cut through everything that your kitchen has to offer with a corrosion resistant exterior. The 150 mm knife comes with a maple handle which adds both style and excellent grip to this already superb knife.
- Corrosion Resistant
- Extremely Sharp
4. Shun Kaji 7″ Cleaver
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This high-end cleaver is produces exclusively for Shun. It combines new technology in today’s knives with the old tradition and techniques of centuries before. It is a 65 layered blade and is inspired of the making of the samurai sword. The handle is especially great because it is moisture resistant and is made for good gripping and control. The Shun Kaji Cleaver is made for being able to cut meat and other ingredients and transfer them to a pot efficiently. The incredible design and quality is what lands it in the Top 5 Knives of 2016.
- Moisture Resistant Handle
5. Wusthof 8″ Extra Wide Cook’s Knife
Image Source: wusthof.com
The Wusthof 8″ Extra Wide Cook’s Knife that is crafted in Germany is made out of high-carbon stainless steel and excel in chopping, mincing, slicing, and dicing. It does it all! The wide blade of this knife makes it easier to scrape food and bring it to wherever it is wanted. This multi-purposed knife has a POM handle which fits comfortably in your hand and has an easily maintained laser cut blade. This knife’s versatility and quality will make it the only knife you will want to use in your kitchen.
- Sharp Blade
- POM Handle
- Low Maintenence
Concluding the Kitchen Knives Story
Now you know what the basic types of knives are good for, what features to focus on and which brands to look for. You only have to determine your budget and identify your needs. Also, take into consideration some of your physical features, like the size of your hands or how easily your palms sweat. These aspects will help you further with determining the exact type of kitchen knife to buy. Once you get the perfect piece or pieces, you will be inspired to unleash your talent in the kitchen. You will prepare meals faster and with more enthusiasm.
Our list of best kitchen knives are just a scratch to the surface. There is so many good kitchen knives out there. Drop a comment and let us know what do you think of this article