Kitchen Knife Buying Guide

Kitchen Knife Buying Guide

The single most critical tool in your culinary armory is a sharp kitchen knife. It is the only instrument capable of chopping up an entire chicken as well as delicately mincing garlic or herbs. But, purchasing a superb knife, or a fantastic knife set, is difficult. For starters, practically every knife is sharp when it’s new, as we validated in our most recent large kitchen knife test, where the great majority of models performed well in terms of cutting ability.

Instead of focusing just on sharpness, consider construction, ergonomics, and feel, since these elements, combined with how you use and care for a chef’s knife, decide how long it will last and how simple it will be to use for repeated cutting chores day after day.

That’s precisely what we did in our most recent test and evaluation of eight chef’s knives, which we performed in both our laboratories and our own kitchens. Here’s what you should know before purchasing a kitchen knife.

A Knife’s Components


On forged blades, a thick belt of steel. It aids with knife balance and protects your hands from inadvertent slips.


The blade’s cutting edge. The center portion slices and cuts. To smooth and align a sharp edge, sharpen it with a knife steel—a specific, textured rod—before each use. As cutting becomes less accurate, sharpen the blade using a stone or other item to generate a fresh edge. To test the sharpness, cut paper along the edge. To avoid rust, immediately wash and dry the blade after use.


For the finest ergonomics, use a knife with an oval-shaped handle. Knives with grooves, finger slots, or curves should be avoided since they are seldom ergonomic for a wide range of users. Wooden or metal handles are more secure, but plastic or synthetic handles might become slippery.


The blade’s top, opposite the edge.


The tang is the section of the blade that extends into the handle and provides the knife balance.


The blade’s front quarter. It’s ideal for little or delicate meals. The tip is suitable for piercing. Advice: Do not use the tip or any other portion of the knife as a bottle opener or for any other use that it was not designed for.

What to Look for While Buying Kitchen Knives

Concentrate on the Fundamentals

In your kitchen, you only need two knives: a chef’s knife and a serrated bread knife. Except for crusty bread, the chef’s knife can cut almost anything, whereas the bread knife, well, you can probably guess. A tiny utility or paring knife, as well as kitchen shears, are useful for anything from twine to cutting a rotisserie chicken into pieces. But, unless you’re dedicated to purchasing or making a whole set, you may stick to the fundamentals.

Evaluate the Size

The size of your chef’s knife is important since it is the workhorse of the kitchen. Most are between 6 and 10 inches long. Shorter blades are simpler to use and manage, while longer knives may be used to cut through bigger meals like melons or roasts. An 8-inch chef’s knife finds the sweet spot for many people, which is why it’s the most frequent size you’ll encounter.

Understand the Terms

Forged or stamped knives are used. Forged knives, which are often more expensive, are made by cutting and pounding a single piece of molten steel into the required form. The blade is strong, with a thick bolster, which is a flared piece of metal where the handle meets the blade and is meant to protect the user’s hand while cutting. Since forged blades are less flexible than stamped blades, they are less likely to bend over time.

Stamped knives, which are made using a cookie-cutter machine, are typically the same thickness throughout, except at the cutting edge, which is finer. They often lack a bolster and a heel. Stamped knives were generally regarded inferior and less expensive, however there are a few high-end businesses who produce superior stamped knives, notably Global.

Think about Composition.

Steel is the metal used to make the majority of knife blades, but not all steel is created equal. Most blades combine stainless steel and carbon steel in variable proportions. Stainless steel is resistant to rust and corrosion, although carbon steel has a superior edge. Seek for a knife that provides “high-carbon stainless steel” if you want to merge the best of both metals.

Keep the Handle

The easiest way to acquire a feel for a knife is to use it or, at the absolute least, hold it in the shop. Several stores, such as Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table, offer return policies that enable you to swap a knife within 30 to 60 days after purchase. Test a new knife in your own kitchen to ensure that it is comfortable, simple to operate, and does not create cramping when cutting.

Knife Brands to Be Aware Of

The majority of high-end knives are made in Germany or Japan. German producers mostly produce European-style knives with larger blades and a big bolster. Several Japanese manufacturers prefer a sharper edge and a thinner blade. Several of the brands shown here have previously been tested by or have recently been examined by our in-house ergonomics expert.

Chicago Cutlery/ Cutco/ Global/ J.A. Henckels/ Keemake/ KitchenAid/ Mac/ Mercer/ Shun/ Wusthof/ Zyliss