- Why We Love Steak Knives
- A Brief History of the Steak Knife
- What to Look For in a Good Steak Knife
- Are Steak Knives Worth It?
- Serrated VS Non-Serrated Steak Knives
- Dalstrong Steak Sets You Need to Try
- Frequently Asked Questions
Our list of favorite steak knife sets:
- 4 Piece Steak Knife Set | Shogun Series
- 4-Piece Serrated Steak Knife Set | Gladiator Series | NSF Certified
- 8-Piece Steak Knife Set | Red ABS Handles with Storage Block | Gladiator Series | Knives NSF Certified
- 4-Piece Steak Knife Set | Frost Fire Series | NSF Certified
- 4-Piece Steak Knife Set | Shadow Black Series | NSF Certified | Dalstrong ©
1. Why We Love Steak Knives
Steak knives! If you’re a fan of steak (and who among us isn’t?) you want to make sure that you make the most of the experience of eating a steak. That’s just part of the process: you find the right cut of meat, you cook it to perfection (you might even search online for detailed instructions on how to cook a steak to make sure you don’t mess up), and then, when the time comes, you use your best steak knives to indulge.
It’s interesting, the role we assign to steak knives culturally. They seem like a bit of a luxury item, especially with the way they’re often thrown in as a special gift or one of the various prizes you could win at the office party’s raffle. They have a certain amount of cultural cachet that basic dinner knives just don’t. They feel special because they are special.
After all, the classic steak dinner isn’t an every-night type thing. Or at least, it shouldn’t be, if you care about making it special. There should be an air of rarity to it. Like something you save for special occasions, when you’re celebrating an accomplishment or winding down after an especially rough work week. It’s something you treat yourself with, not necessarily something you consume every single day.
And the tools you use to consume this extra special meal should also be special in of themselves. They should look good. They should feel good to use. And, most importantly, they should be designed specifically to cut through meat without tearing it, and to maximize the enjoyment of your hard-earned meal. A good set of steak knives does this and more.
The social aspect is also another thing to consider (after all, we’re talking about a set of steak knives here, not just a single knife). When you have people over for a nice steak dinner, you also want them to have an enjoyable experience. And just like every other element you slave over to ensure your guests have a nice time – ambiance, music, food, entertainment – the cutlery you lay out for them should send that welcoming message as well.
There's no better way to show the fact that you value them and their company other than providing them great tools to eat a great meal. Everyone’s different, naturally, but at least for me, that’s the ultimate love language.
So let’s talk about steak knives; why they’re used, how they’re used, and where you can find the very best ones.
2. A Brief History of the Steak Knife
Like many things that make up our everyday lives, steak knives feel like they’ve been around forever. But believe it or not, steak knives – at least the prevalent, American-style steak knives we’re talking about here – are a much more recent development than you might think.
The type of specialized steak knives we know and love today started to emerge in the United States shortly after World War II. Prior to this, table knives in the United States were a little different. They were sharp, but they required constant upkeep. Sharpening and polishing your table knives was an almost daily task. The decline in the number of domestic workers made this constant upkeep less feasible.
With the emergence of stainless steel, these daily tasks became less daunting. The knives no longer needed to be polished, but they did require constant sharpening due to the limits of manufacturing at the time. It was when World War II ended that serrated stainless steel knives started to become commonplace. Their main advantage, of course, was that they didn’t require polishing or frequent sharpening. They were a huge success, catching on quickly among the middle class.
By the 1950s, the use of heat treatment during knifemaking made it so that knives could remain sharp without the need of serrations, but by that point serrated steak knives had caught on so widely that the format stuck. Since then, serrated steak knives have become the standard, and one of the most popular types of knife altogether.
3. What to Look For in a Good Steak Knife
There’s several important factors to take into consideration when buying a steak knife set. To be clear, this is true of any knife set. However, unlike the general-usage tools like a chef’s knife, the steak knife is designed for a specific use. It’s meant to cut into a steak in a way that maximizes the enjoyment of the steak. Whether you’re eating juicy ribeyes or flank steaks, we want to make sure we’re not tearing the steak apart. Our thinking should be oriented in that direction.
When shopping for steak knives, you should look for quality. This might be an obvious thing to you, but for the longest time, I didn’t really think of steak knives as a type of knife that needed to be “good.” For me, as long as it did the basic job, that was good enough. I’d buy the cheapest set I could find, and then when the quality inevitably degraded, I’d go and pick up a replacement set at the store.
This type of thinking is surprisingly prevalent. People who think they’re getting a good deal by buying a cheap set of steak knives, when in reality they’re buying something closer to a subscription service, considering the amount of times they’ll find themselves replacing one set of cheap knives with another. When you buy a good set of steak knives, you’re buying something that will last you a long, long time. You’re buying quality.
Let’s discuss about some of the key elements we should be looking out for.
This one’s a big one. You should look out for high carbon stainless steel knife blades. They will definitely give you better results as well as last you a long, long time. There are other options like ceramic blades, but you should go for the tried-and-true option. High carbon stainless steel has proven itself the best type of material for steak knives. Among other things, it has great edge retention, and is resilient enough to withstand constant use over the years.
Knife weight and balance
Steak knives should feel substantial. If you’re considering a set of steak knives that feels light and flimsy, look elsewhere. Quality construction will inevitably result in some heft, which feels pleasing when you’re actually holding the knife. Also, consider a full tang blade. This will provide the appropriate balance..
Comfort is a key element with steak knives, as with any knife. Remember, these knives will be used at the dinner table and you want to make sure that using them will contribute to an overall positive dining experience. They should feel nice and easy to manage, contributing to the overall pleasurable experience of sharing a meal with friends. Make sure you pick knifes with comfortable handles.
Also keep in mind that comfort goes hand in hand with safety. A comfortable grip will spare you from discomfort and also improve the knife’s accuracy and maneuverability, which will make dining enjoyable and safe. While some cheaper varieties come with a plastic handle, we recommend holding out for pakkawood handle steak knives, or maybe a G10 garolite handle.
The social element is a huge part of buying a steak knife set, so it’s important to factor in its looks. You want to make sure these tools you’re buying are, well, nice. You want them to project that kind of specialness we discussed, to fit the meal you’re having. These knives will be used by your guests, so of course you also want them to look stylish and elegant.
They should spark conversation. Just like your table setting does. Just like your music choice does. They are as much a part of the experience as anything.
4. Are Steak Knife Sets Worth It?
You might ask yourself “do I even want to buy a set of steak knives?” “Can’t regular table knives do the trick?”
Here’s the thing. When you are putting together a kitchen dinner for a group of people, you want to make sure you send a message. You want to them to enjoy their experience. This is why you go through the extra effort of making your setting look and feel knice. You want them to know that “you are an important guest here, and we want to make sure you feel valued and looked after.”
And while most everyone instinctively knows the value of decoration, of ambiance, and of putting a lot of thought into the meal itself, not a lot of people think about how the utensils you lay out will influence the meal itself.
But it’s simple logic. By the time you’re sitting down to eat, you’ve already gone through the process of cooking the perfect steak, making sure you don’t overshoot your desire doneness, making sure the side dishes and the appetizers complement each other perfectly. Every dining experience is designed to be as pleasing as possible. Why would you risk bogging the experience down with cutlery that just isn’t up to par?
A good steak knife will slice through the steak with ease. It will make cutting through meat a pleasurable experience. It will feel great to hold (it should snug comfortably within the user’s palm), and it will look like the piece of high-quality dinnerware it is. If you’re anything like me, a guiding principle you go by when selecting steak knives is, “would my mom be impressed by this?”.
Now, a lot of this advice has been geared towards those of us who like to throw dinner parties. But what if you’re not really a dinner party kind of person? You still deserve a knife that enhances the flavor and texture of the meat instead of ruining it by just mindlessly tearing through it, dramatically downgrading the textural quality of the bite and robbing it of its juiciness.
So the answer here is an enthusiastic yes, steak knives are worth it. And make sure you get the good ones, too. Skimp out on a steak knife set and you’ll likely end up with something you’re going to have to replace within a few months. Finding a good set of high-quality steak knives is a long-term investment. Pick the right set and they will last you a long, long time.
5. Serrated vs. Non-Serrated Steak Knives
Are all steak knives the same? Not by a long shot. In fact, below we’ll show you some of our favorite steak knife sets around, each one of them with their own distinct qualities. But before we get into that, let’s settle some basics: should you go with serrated steak knives or straight blades?
As mentioned above when discussing the history of steak knives, the reason serrated steak knives became the standard was due to the manufacturing limitations of stainless steel shortly after World War II. The knives needed to be sharpened constantly in order to maintain their edge, so serrations were added as a workaround. Once that was no longer a problem, serrated steak knives had already become so popular that they continued being produced that way.
This is a very debated topic within the knife enthusiast community (not to mention the steak enthusiast community). Let’s talk about each type of steak knife.
Serrated edge steak knives:
- The most “classic” style of steak knife. An iconic look.
- Cuts and roasts are easy to cut with the serrations since they “bite” down on the meat and tear through the fibers effeciently.
- Since steaks tend to have a crusty sear, these do come in handy.
Straight edge steak knives:
- Straight edge allows for smooth clean cutting without tearing.
- This requires more sharpening than a serrated edge, but are also much easier to sharpen.
- They usually keep the meat’s juices intact.
There’s also a third type of steak knife blade.
Hollow edge steak knives:
- They feature measured indentations along the blade’s edge, creating an air pocket between the hollow edge and the slice.
- Helps with finer slices and prevents food from sticking to the blade.
At the end of the day, this will come down to personal preference. Perhaps the easy upkeep of the serrated blade calls to you, or maybe you just enjoy the feel of sawing through a thick piece of beef. Perhaps you enjoy using the type of steak knife that has been in common usage for 80 years. Or maybe you prefer the efficiency and cleanliness of the hollow edge.
6. Dalstrong Steak Knife Sets You Need to Try
Now that you know what you should be looking for, as well as the different types of steak knives available, let’s take a look at the very best steak knife sets you can buy.
This four piece steak knife set features four absolutely gorgeous steak knives from the Dalstrong’s famous Shogun series. This gorgeus set feature a powerful high-carbon stainless steel blade, an ultra-premium G10 garolite handle, and the beautiful Tsunami Rose blade pattern. You couldn’t ask for a more premium-feeling steak knife experience than this.
- The blade is precisely forged from a single piece of Japanese super steel, with 67-layered damascus high-carbon stainless steel cladding.
- Sharpened at 8 -12°degree angle per side. Extremely sharp right out of the box.
- Features a tapered bolster, which provides users with a natural and comfortable pinch grip.
- The blade features the gorgeous Shogun Series Tsunami Rose pattern, making these among the prettiest steak knives you’ll ever come across.
- Not everyone is a fan of an ornate-looking knife like this. There are more traditional-looking knives available in this list.
- Do keep in mind that these are straight-blade steak knives; if you’re looking for serrated steak knives, check out some of the other options below.
These are amazing, classic-looking steak knives from Dalstrong’s Gladiator Series. This four-piece set features a serrated blade, which makes it perfect for sawing through a crunchy outer crust.
- Forged from an imported and premium quality, high-carbon ThyssenKrupp German stainless steel. This gives it a fantastic edge retention and stain resistance.
- The ergonomic, comfortable handle is military grade G10.
- Hand sharpened to 14-16 degrees per side.
- An incredible value at the price, making these a perfect gift for the steak lover in your family.
- As with all serrated knives, the edge might be harder to maintain its sharpness.
- At 109g, these knives are a little lighter to handle.
Staying within the Gladiator series, this is a fantastic choice if you’re looking to host dinner for more than 4 people. This eight piece steak knife set comes with vibrant red handles, though there are other colors available if you prefer. This one also happens to be a block set, and it comes with a gorgeous solid oak wood block for storage.
- The blades are incredibly sharp, full-tang, and made of imported Thyssenkrupp high-carbon German stainless steel.
- This wooden block is perfect for easy storage and saving countertop space, as it can easily be folded or laid flat to be put away.
- Again, an incredible bargain for the price, making it a great gift for steak lovers and home cooks.
- Beautiful hand polished satin finish.
- These are also straight edge steak knives, in case you’re looking for the serrated type.
- The bright red handles are gorgeous but may not be to everyone’s liking. Thankfully, this gorgeous set also comes in a classy white presentation, which you can check out here.
If you’re looking to dazzle your dinner guests with a gorgeous and unique-looking steak knife set, you’ll fall in love with this four-piece set from Dalstrong’s Frost Fire Series. The knives are light-weight, razor-sharp, beautiful stainless steel knives with an icy cold look. They look great, and they perform incredibly well in the kitchen as well.
- Made of 7-layer high-carbon stainless steel with added cobalt and has undegone an expert heat-treatment process.
- Very sharp at 16-18° degree angle on both sides.
- Features a slender and ergonomic white-resin handle with a beautiful honeycomb finish that eels great and looks great.
- The precision-based sandblast finish gives it a beautiful “frosted” look.
- The highly distinctive look might not be the liking for everyone.
- Other home cooks might prefer a slightly longer blade than this knife.
Here's one of the most awesome-looking steak knife sets you can find: Dalstrong’s Shadow Black Series. These steak knives look sleek, futuristic, like something out of a movie. They feature a razor-sharp high-carbon stainless steel blade, at 58+ Rockwell. The unique handle geometry which is highly inspired by the F-117 Nighth
- Its pitch-black, non-reflective titanium nitride coating gives this set an elegant, sophisticated, futuristic look.
- These knives are light and compact, but sacrifice none of their power.
- Hand sharpened to 16-18° both sides.
- The ergonomic handle shape makes this great knife fun and comfortable to operate.
- The titanium cover does might need extra care when it comes to sharpening the steel.
- If you’re on the lookout for a steak knife set that will blend seamlessly with the rest of your decor, this might not be the option for you
7. Caring For Your Steak Knife Set
Of course, caring for your steak knives is important. There are a few common-sense measures that it makes sense to implement with your steak knives as with any other type of knife in your kitchen collection, so listen up.
You should clean your steak knives just as often as you would in regular knives. For steak knives with wooden handle, hand washing is fine, but for stainless steel handles you can wash them in the dishwasher along with everything else (same with the G10 handle featured on some of the knives above).
That said, the data has shown pretty conclusively that, in the long run, hand-washing your steak knives will keep them sharper for longer. This is mostly because of the high heat and chemicals in the dishwasher has the potential to break down the blade and sharpness. Also, depending on where you put them, they could clang and bang with other elements in your dishwasher.
Keeping your steak knives sharp should also be a priority. It will help your knife easier to work and safer to use. If you use them regularly, we highly recommend you to sharpen your steak knives once a month, and hone them every 2 or 3 uses.
We also recommend to always follow the proper usage, storage, and sharpening steps. And if you’re a bit of a newbie when it comes to sharpening, here’s a detailed guide on how to sharpen a knife.
8. Frequently Asked Questions
Which are the best steak knives?
Our pick for best set of steak knives is the 4 Piece Steak Knife Set | Shogun Series.
Who makes a good set of steak knives?
A good set of steak knives should be durable, comfortable, and made of high quality materials. Don’t settle for cheap products that will wear away quickly and you’ll have to replace within a couple months.
Are steak knives better serrated or not?
This is a topic of heated debate for a lot of people. Traditionally, steak knives are serrated. But there are many great options for non-serrated steak knives, which are easier to sharpen and can cut through the meat more effortlessly. If you prefer tradition then you might be tempted to stick with the serrated type. Good quality set of serrated steak knives also work perfectly and won’t negatively affect your meal’s quality.
In conclusion, it always comes down to personal preference. Take a look at the list of options outlined above and you’ll see various choices for different types of steak knives.
Written by Jorge Farah
Born on the coast of Colombia and based in Buenos Aires, Jorge is a cooking enthusiast and kitchenware obsessive with a tremendous amount of opinions.