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Buyer’s Guide: How To Choose The Best Kitchen Knife For You

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Kitchen knives are hard-working knives, requiring some care going into selecting the knives for your collection. Choosing the right knives will give you the best use of the knives and the best value for the price. Our buyers’ guide gives you all the information to make the right choice for your kitchen knives.

When buying kitchen knives, buy the best knives you can with your budget. Choose quality knives from known manufacturers. The best kitchen knives to start with are a chef’s knife or Gyuto, a paring knife or utility knife for smaller work, and a serrated or bread knife.

Choosing kitchen knives can come with some hidden pitfalls, leading to buying the wrong knives for your kitchen. Following our guidelines for choosing the best knives for your kitchen will give you peace of mind that you have made the best possible choice for your requirements!

How To Choose The Best Kitchen Knife For You
How To Choose The Best Kitchen Knife For You

If you are interested in checking out the best kitchen knives we recommend buying knives made by the Wüsthof company. You can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).

How To Select Knives For Kitchen

When selecting your knives for the kitchen, you want to get the knives that will best suit your needs without wasting your hard-earned money on unused knives sitting in your kitchen drawer.

You must evaluate several criteria before deciding on a knife or a set of knives for your kitchen. Each of these may have more or less relevance to you, depending on your circumstances, but they should be considered nonetheless.

Before deciding on knives for your kitchen, you should consider the following key aspects.

  • Frequency of use. How often you use your kitchen knives should be one of the top considerations before buying knives. If you only cook and use your knives occasionally, you may only need several good-quality knives rather than a complete set.
  • What type of cooking do you do?. Specialized cuisines may require specialized knives to get the most out of the ingredients.
  • Better quality knives will last longer. The higher the quality of the knives, the longer the knives will last, and they will be more pleasurable to use. Always buy the best knives you can with the budget you have.
  • Will you sharpen your own knives? Some knives can be difficult to sharpen, such as single bevel Japanese kitchen knives. A double bevel will be the better choice if you do the sharpening yourself.
  • What kind of steel should you choose? Stainless steel has a higher resistance to staining and rust, but it requires more frequent sharpening, and the sharpening is more difficult. Carbon steel blades are sharper and easier to sharpen but require more care to prevent rusting.
  • Should you choose Japanese kitchen knives? Japanese knives are amazing knives to use, and every cook should own at least one Japanese knife, just for the experience. However, these knives are usually single-purpose and require more care in using and maintaining than other knives. A Gyuto or a Santoku are good options to have in your knife collection.
  • Knife handle material. The material the knife handle is made from can influence the use and care of the knife. The handle must be durable and comfortable. Organic materials such as wood require more care but often give a better feel in the hand. Synthetic materials are easier to clean but can become slippery when wet or used with messy ingredients.
  • Forged or stamped knives? Forged knives are the preferred choice for durability and manufacturing quality, but they are more expensive. Stamped blades are generally thinner steel, making them less durable, but they can be good quality knives, and they are cheaper than forged blades.

Considering all these aspects carefully before looking for knives to buy will give you some insight when looking for knives for your particular needs. This allows you to make the best choice and provide you with knives you will use, enjoy using and get the most value from in the kitchen.

What Is The Most Commonly Used Knife In The Kitchen?

One of the first goals in selecting knives for the kitchen is to examine which knives would be the most useful in your kitchen. If you were to ask any chef or experienced cook, which is the most common knife used in their kitchen, you would likely get the same answer.

The most commonly used knife in the kitchen is, without a doubt, the chef’s knife. A chef’s knife is a relatively large, multipurpose knife and the knife most people reach for in the kitchen. A chef’s knife is typically between 8 and 10-inches long and can be used for slicing, dicing, and chopping. 

A chef’s knife is commonly used to cut raw meat and fish, carve cooked meat, slice and chop vegetables and fruit, and for fast chopping tasks. 

The sharp pointed tip of the chef’s knife allows it to be used for more delicate work, while the height of the blade makes it good for fast chopping of fruits, vegetables, and other softer ingredients.

The length of the blade is useful when slicing through larger cuts of raw or cooked meat. The longer blade allows for more cutting in a single stroke of the knife, producing cleaner, thinner slices.

The versatility of the chef’s knife makes it the most useful knife in the kitchen, but it does have some limitations.

A chef’s knife is not the best choice for peeling fruits and vegetables, boning meat, or filleting fish. The blade is too large for these kitchen tasks. The tip of the chef’s knife blade is surprisingly agile, but the size of the rest of the knife makes it cumbersome for decorative knife work.

A chef’s knife should be paired with a quality paring knife to make a knife combination that will tackle most kitchen tasks with ease. 

If you prefer Japanese kitchen knives, the Gyuto is the equivalent of the western chef’s knife and is the most versatile of the Japanese kitchen knives.

TIP: It is a fairly recent trend for manufacturers to take left-handed people into account and start producing knives easier for these people to use. Find out more about left-handed people in the article below:
Left-Handed Knives: How Do They Differ + Best Ones To Buy

What Are The 3 Most Important Knives In A Kitchen?

We have mentioned that the most commonly used knife in the kitchen is a chef’s knife, but we have also seen that it is not suitable for all kitchen tasks.

Consequently, most kitchens will need a combination of knives to successfully cope with the cutting and chopping required in the kitchen.

The 3 most important kitchen knives that will give you the best range and versatility to perform most of the tasks requiring a knife are as follows.

  • A chef’s knife. The versatility of the chef’s knife in the kitchen is unrivaled by any other knife.
  • A paring knife or a utility knife. A knife with a smaller blade, such as a paring knife or a utility knife, is useful for tasks where a chef’s knife is too large.
  • A bread knife. A bread knife has much more functionality than simply slicing bread.

A Chef’s Knife

Chef’s knives, also known as cook’s knives, are designed to be comfortable to use and come in various sizes and styles. Typically a chef’s knife is six to 12 inches long, with a tapered tip. 

The blade can be stamped or forged, depending on the purpose for which it is used. It’s useful for almost any kitchen duty and can be used for long periods.

A Paring Knife

There are many knives in the kitchen, but there’s one that you need to have in your collection. A paring knife or a slightly larger utility knife is indispensable for cutting and slicing smaller ingredients, including fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish. 

A paring knife can also be used for mincing herbs, chopping, and even slicing cheese. It is great as a knife for peeling vegetables and fruit because of the small, agile blade.

If you prefer a slightly larger knife, you can substitute the paring knife for a utility knife which has a little more versatility in the larger blade, particularly for slicing meat, poultry, and fish.

Bread Knife Or Serrated Edge Knife

A serrated edge knife, commonly called a bread knife, is useful to round out your kitchen knife collection. It is perfect for slicing bread and pastries cleanly, but it has many other uses in the kitchen as well.

Many people are unaware that a bread knife makes for an excellent carving knife for roasted meats and whole-bird poultry. A serrated knife makes carving a chicken or turkey an easy task!

TIP: Knowing exactly which knives you need in the kitchen will help you purchase good-quality knives with purpose and focus. Check out what knives you really need in your kitchen in the article below:
You Need Exactly This Number Of Knives In The Kitchen + Why

How To Build Your Kitchen Knife Collection

There are two main ways to build your kitchen knife collection; buying individual knives as you need them, or buying a complete set.

There are pros and cons to each collection-building approach, which we will discuss to give you the insight you need to choose the most suitable method.

Advantages Of Buying Individual Kitchen Knives

Buying your kitchen knives one by one has some advantages over buying a complete set of knives. When purchasing individual knives, you buy only the knife that you need, rather than wasting money on a set that includes knives you don’t need.

Buying individual knives allows you to spend more on a single knife and get a better quality in a single knife that you need.

If you prefer buying your knives individually, you may not know which knives you should buy first. We have listed a recommended sequence for buying individual knives to build up a complete set of kitchen knives, starting with the most useful and versatile.

Our recommended order of buying individual knives is as follows.

  1. Chefs knife
  2. Paring knife
  3. Bread knife
  4. Utility knife
  5. Santoku – everyone needs at least one Japanese kitchen knife!
  6. Fillet knife
  7. Boning knife
  8. Cleaver
  9. Carving knife

Another advantage of buying individual knives is buying specialty knives such as the Yanagiba, which do not typically come as part of a set. 

Disadvantages Of Buying Individual Kitchen Knives

While buying individual knives has advantages, some disadvantages may deter you from this method of building your kitchen knife collection.

Buying knives individually is a slow process. It may take you months or years to build up your kitchen knife portfolio.

Buying individual knives may be more expensive in the long run, particularly if the knives you buy are available in a set.

Advantages Of Buying Knife Sets

Buying your kitchen knives in a set presents some advantages over buying your kitchen knives individually.

One of the main advantages is convenience. You get all the knives you need at once without waiting until you have saved enough for your next individual knife.

Knife sets usually have a price advantage over buying the knives individually. Manufacturers offer knife sets at a lower price than what it would cost to buy each knife individually.

Even when you buy quality knives, the price for a set is lower than buying the knives separately, making it a better financial choice to buy the set than buying the knives separately over time. 

The initial monetary outlay for a set may be more than a single knife, but it will be cheaper than buying separately. 

You will be assured of the same quality in the knives throughout your collection if you buy a good quality knife set. 

Disadvantages of Buying Knife Sets

The disadvantage of buying knives in a set is that you may get knives that you do not really need in your food preparation.

If you do not use all the knives in the set, it negates any savings you may have gained by buying the set rather than individual knives.

TIP: As much as we would like them to, our kitchen knives do not last forever! Find out the main signs you need to replace your kitchen knives in the article below:
5 Signs You Need to Replace Your Kitchen Knife + How Often

What To Look For When Buying Kitchen Knives

What To Look For When Buying Kitchen Knives
What To Look For When Buying Kitchen Knives

Buying kitchen knives is a very personal undertaking since each person will have different requirements for their knives.

There are, however, some universal features to look out for when buying kitchen knives to make sure they will perform as expected.

  • Knife handles. A knife must be comfortable to use. The knife handle should fit your hand well, and the material should be durable and not become slippery when wet. Synthetic material handles are easier to clean and more durable, while wood handles give better grip and balance.
  • Height of the blade. A wide or tall blade is better for chopping raw fruit and vegetables, especially for fast chopping, while a narrower one is better for cutting raw meat and fish.
  • Knife balance. Balance is a subjective concept, but it’s important to make sure your knife is balanced. You don’t want to use a knife that feels unbalanced, as it will cause a lot of frustration. The balance is the ratio of weighting between the blade and the handle.
  • Type of steel. Stainless steel is easier to clean but harder to sharpen. Carbon steel will rust or patina faster but is sharper and easier to sharpen yourself.

BTW: If you want to know more about Japanese and other types of knives and their sharpening check out the books listed above. These books are recommended by professional sharpeners and knife makers (Amazon links):

How To Choose A Good Set Of Kitchen Knives

When buying a set of kitchen knives, you need to ensure that you will be getting a quality set of knives; otherwise, you will be stuck with a bunch of knives that you will not use.

Following some basic principles for buying a good set of kitchen knives will be well worth the effort every time you use your knives!

  • Choose quality. Look for knives made by knife manufacturers that have a reputation in the market for producing quality, durable knives. Don’t buy knife sets from manufacturers that you have never heard of.
  • Do your research. Don’t buy on a whim based on the manufacturer’s sales pitch. Read some reviews from people who have bought and used the knife set.
  • Choose knives you can sharpen easily. The need to send your knives in to be professionally sharpened will add to the cost o knife ownership. Knives you can sharpen yourself easily will be a better buy.
  • Investigate the steel quality. Most reputable knife makers will detail the steel used to make their knives. Choose either high carbon steel knives or high carbon stainless steel knives for the best options.
  • Don’t be fooled by marketing. Japanese knives made anywhere other than Japan are not Japanese kitchen knives. The my look like Japanese knives but will be made with inferior steel and manufacturing processes.
  • Don’t go cheap. Cheap knives will not perform well or last long, no matter how good they look. The price is usually indicative of quality rather than a special deal!

Take your time when selecting a knife set and investigate as much about the knives and the manufacturer as to can to give yourself the assurance that you are making a good purchase.

Best German, Japanese and Ceramic Kitchen Knife Sets
Best German, Japanese, and Ceramic Kitchen Knife Sets

TIP: The concept of a self-sharpening knife sounds a little mysterious and magical as if it is something that belongs in fiction rather than real life! Find out more about self-sharpening knives in the article below:
Self-Sharpening Knives: All You Need To Know About Them

Best German Kitchen Knife Set 

German knives are renowned for the quality of manufacture, the balance of the knives, and the high-quality steel used in the knives.

Wusthof is a popular brand of quality knives, preferred by many famous chefs for their superior quality. 

The Wusthof 3-Piece Cooks Knife Set (Amazon link) is a classic combination of useful kitchen knives bundled as a set. The knives included in the set are 3 knives from the Wusthof Classic knife series.

Wusthof’s Classic Series Knives are precision-forged from a single block of High Carbon Stainless Steel which can be hardened to 58-HRC. Precision Edge Technology (PEtec) produces a blade that is 20% sharper and doubles the edge retention of many other knives.

The knives included in the set are as follows.

  • Paring knife. The paring knife has a 3.5-inch or 88.9mm blade, ideal for fine, more delicate cutting and peeling kitchen tasks.
  • Utility knife. The utility knife has a 6-inch or 152.4mm blade, which is narrower than the chef’s knife. This makes it ideal for slicing meat and fish.
  • Chef’s knife. The chef’s knife has an 8-inch or 203,2mm blade. The blade is wide to provide ideal chopping geometry, and the steel is tough enough to handle the multipurpose function of the knife.

The Wustof Classic knives are full tang to provide durability, balance, and stability. The handles are fade and discoloration-resistant polypropylene and riveted to the knives with stainless steel rivets. This securing method, combined with the synthetic handle material, provides a long-lasting combination.

Combine this set with the Wusthof Classic 9-inch Bread Knife (Amazon link), and you have a winning combination of knives for your kitchen that can last a lifetime! 

If you are interested in buying the Wusthof 3-Piece Cooks Knife Set check out the latest prices on Amazon.

Best Japanese Kitchen Knife Set 

Japanese knives are popular in the western world for their superior steel and sharpness reputation. Japanese knives have gained an almost cult following due to their prowess in the kitchen, creating a high demand for these knives.

The Yoshihiro Hammered Damascus 6-Piece Knife Set (Amazon link) is a great way to obtain a full set of kitchen knives to cover almost any cutting, slicing, or chopping task in the kitchen.

The handles on the knives in the set are made from Mahogany, which gives the knives a classic natural look. The handles are western-style rather than the traditional Wa-style handles, making them easier to use for people more familiar with western-style handles.

The steel used in the knives is 16-layer Damascus, with a central core of VG-10 stainless steel. VG-10 is often referred to as high carbon stainless steel because it exhibits the strength and hardness of carbon steel and the stainless qualities of stainless steel.

The hammered effect on the Damascus steel provides both beauty and function. The hammered texture helps to break the surface tension between the ingredients and the steel, reducing the ingredients sticking to the blade.

The set consists of the following 6 knives.

  • Sujihiki. This knife is a 9.5-inch or 240mm slicer, ideal for slicing raw or cooked meat and fish. It is the equivalent of a carving knife.
  • Large Gyuto. The large gyuto is a 9.5-inch or 240mm blade knife used for tasks you would normally use a standard chef’s knife.
  • Medium Gyuto. A smaller Gyuto with an 8.25-inch or 210mm blade, is used for similar tasks as the larger Gyuto, but where a smaller blade is more appropriate.
  • Nakiri. The Nakiri is a vegetable, herb, and fruit chopping and processing knife, with a 6.5-inch or 165mm blade resembling a mini-cleaver.
  • Santoku. The Santoku is the equivalent of a multipurpose utility knife and has a 7-inch or 180mm blade.
  • Petty. The petty is a Japanese knife equivalent to a paring knife and has a 5.3-inch or 135mm blade.

The knives in this set are all double-beveled, making them easier to sharpen than the traditional single-bevel Japanese knives.

This knife set is fairly pricey, but you will have a quality, hand-crafted knife set that will last a lifetime and make you the envy of all your friends!

If you are interested in buying the Yoshihiro Hammered Damascus 6-Piece Knife Set check out the latest prices on Amazon.

TIP: There are many different types of knives, each with its own purpose and function, affecting how the edge of the knife will wear. Check out how often you need to sharpen different knives in the article below:
How Often To Sharpen A Knife? (Answers For All Knife Types)

Japanese Kitchen Knife Set (Cheaper Alternative)

If you prefer the advantages offered by Japanese knives but cannot afford a full set of knives, you can start with a smaller set with two knives that provide enough versatility to be useful in any kitchen without compromising on quality.

The Yoshihiro Hammered Damascus Dual Knife Set is the ideal combination of two knives that provide a duo of cutting tools to handle most needs in the kitchen.

The steel is 46-layer hammered Damascus with a VG-10 stainless steel core. The hammered texture adds beauty to the knives and helps prevent food from sticking to the blade’s sides.

The two knives in the set are as follows.

  • Gyuto. The Gyuto is an 8.25-inch or 210mm blade.
  • Petty. The petty has a 6-inch or 150mm blade.

Both knives have a Wa-style traditional handle with a hidden tang design, making the knives lightweight and well-balanced. The wood used in the handles is Ambrosia, which gives a pleasing natural look to the knives.

Each knife comes with its own wood saya, or sheath, to protect the blades when the knives are stored.

If you are interested in buying the Yoshihiro Hammered Damascus Dual Knife Set check out the latest prices on Amazon.

Best Ceramic Kitchen Knife Set 

If you are looking for an ultra-sharp alternative to steel knives, a set of ceramic knives can be a great alternative.

Ceramics are harder than steel, sharper than steel knives, and hold an edge for up to 10 times longer than knives with steel blades.

The Kyocera Revolution Ceramic Knife Set (Amazon link) offers an alternative to steel-bladed knives and contains 4 knives in the set. Ceramic blades are easier to clean, will not rust, are resistant to acidic foods, and will not cause sliced ingredients to discolor.

The set comes with 4 knives in the following sizes.

  • Large knife. A taller blade with a length of 6-inches or 152mm
  • Medium knife. A slightly shorter knife at 5.5-inches or 139.7mm
  • Utility knife. The 4.5inch or 114.3mm blade is more agile than the larger knives.
  • Paring knife. The paring knife has a 3-inch or 76.2mm blade ideal for fine or detailed work.

Ceramic knives may be sharper and hold an edge longer than steel knives, but the hardness of the material comes at a price.

The ceramic knives are more brittle than steel and can chip, crack and snap if misused or dropped. Extra care is needed when using these knives to keep them in good condition.

If you are interested in buying the Kyocera Revolution Ceramic Knife Set check out the latest prices on Amazon.

Conclusion

Choosing knives for the kitchen is an exciting adventure when you begin to discover the variety and quality of the knives available to make your food preparation pleasurable.

Always choose the best knives you can get within your budget, and you will be rewarded with reliable, safe, and sharp knives to last you a long time, possibly even a lifetime!

TIP: Kitchen knives can be expensive, but even if your knives are not top of the range, they still need care and maintenance. Find out the best oils for kitchen knives in the article below:
These Are The 2 Best Oils For Kitchen Knives (+ How to Use)