What is the Best Kitchen Knife For You?
A big part of becoming a competent home cook is investing in the right tools. In this article, we’ll talk about the different types of kitchen knives around, what they’re made of, and how to find the very best ones for your situation and personal preferences.
- Why You Should Care About Kitchen Knives
- Types of Kitchen Knives and Their Uses
- Common Blade & Handle Materials Used For Kitchen Knives
- Essential Kitchen Knives You Should Own
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why You Should Care About Kitchen Knives
I remember how it used to be. Cooking wasn’t something I really paid much attention to; food just kind of happened in front of me. Before I learned the joys of home cooking, I was all about getting take-out and relying on other people to cook for me. Of course, part of growing up is finding the joy in cooking your own meals, and that involves using the right tools.
Still, for the longest time I only had a single kitchen knife; an extremely cheap overall chefs knife that I’d inherited from a forgetful roommate. I used this dull little tool for several years without ever thinking that there could be a better way. I still remember the day I actually used a high-quality super sharp knife. It was like I was suddenly cooking on “God mode.”
Kitchen knives may sound like a strange thing to dedicate a lot of mental energy to, but it makes sense when you really think about it. Food unites us, and cooking for others is one of the most profound ways of communicating care and affection. It makes sense that the instruments we use to facilitate this process are of particular importance too.
If you’re planning to start your kitchen knife journey, you’re probably wondering what the best kitchen knife is for you. Let’s talk about it.
2. Types of Kitchen Knives and Their Uses
As you know, there are several types of kitchen knives. Some of them can be used for a wide array of tasks, and others are a little bit more specialized. Let’s check the most common types of knives available, and what you can use each of them for.
Let’s start with the must-have knives that belong in the kitchen of any self-respecting cook. In addition to the knives below, you should also consider getting tools such as kitchen shears, knife sharpeners, and a honing rod. Of course, a cutting board is an essential purchase that you’ll be using a lot.
Must-have kitchen knives
There was nowhere else we could start but with chef knives, the go-to multi-purpose kitchen tool. If you’re only going to have one kitchen knife, it should be this one. The classic 8inch chefs knife is an extremely versatile kitchen tool that can be used for all manner of tasks, from mincing to dicing to chopping, etc.
Why are chef knives so versatile? It’s largely because of its curved blade, medium size, and straightforward construction. Because of its shape, you can use it in a rocking motion for chopping lots of vegetables all at once, as well as to quickly and easily cut and portion meat. Of course, there are small differences here and there; a Japanese chefs knife tend to be thinner than a classic German chef knife and a western chefs knife.
Your pro chef knife is your best friend. You should make sure to find a very good one, because you’ll likely be using it a lot. Generally, it is recommended to use an 8-inch chefs knife. A lot of brands offer great quality chefs knives such as Wusthof Classic, Fibrox Pro, and Dalstrong. Sur La Table also carries these brands, except Dalstrong.
Check out a list of top-of-the-line Dalstrong chef's knives.
The paring knife is the short, slim little knife you see in knife sets. They feature a pointed tip and are meant for small, precise cuts. There are several types of paring knives:
- Spear point paring knives (also known as spear tip paring knives) are the most common type. These are very versatile, but they’re especially adept at peeling, slicing, and coring fruits and vegetables.
- Bird’s beak paring knives (also known as tourne knives) are fantastic for extremely precise detail work, thanks to their distinctive shape. They’re especially good at coring fruits and vegetables, fluting mushrooms, and performing other tasks that require finesse (such as decorative work).
- Sheep’s foot paring knives are great for cutting hard and soft cheeses, as well as chopping fruits and vegetables into long and thin strips.
- Serrated edge paring knives are usually a little longer, and are thus suited for slicing larger fruits and vegetables. Thanks to their serrated sharp edges, they’re your go-to for any precise task that requires some sawing action.
The emphasis for paring knives is on maneuverability. And thanks to their size and shape, they’re great for any tiny, precise incision you need to make on your produce.
Check out many great options for Dalstrong paring knives.
Speaking of serrations, here’s the main serrated knife you should have in your kitchen. Bread knife is meant to cut into pieces of bread. They are long and evenly sized knives with saw-like blades that are meant to be sawed through baguettes, bagels, sourdough, etc.
The reason for the serrations is to be able to bite into the crust of the bread and cut downward without damaging the bread’s structural integrity. So bread knives are an absolute must-have for any baking enthusiast.
Here’s a few excellent Dalstrong bread knives for home cooks like you to pick from.
Nice-to-have kitchen knives
Now that we’ve covered the absolute essentials, let’s talk about other types of knives that you might want to have in your kitchen. They will absolutely come in handy, but they are not “must-haves” in the traditional sense. Once you’ve mastered the kitchen basics, you can move on to these kinds of knives to build a complete kitchen arsenal.
Think of the utility knife as the sort of middle point between a chef’s knife and a paring knife. Not only due to their size (since they usually are right in the center of those two knife types), but also in their construction and usage.
A utility knife can be used in a number of different tasks, but they’re especially good at chopping food and vegetables of a smaller size. If you’re working on a food item that your chef’s knife feels a little too big for, and your paring knife is a little too small for, then your utility knife is the way to go.
Check out Dalstrong’s selection of utility knives.
Santoku knives are very similar to a chef’s knife, but there are features that set them apart. The Santoku is a Japanese knife (made of Japanese steel) that is great for a wide array of tasks, among which is cutting fish. Think of it as a more specialized kind of chef’s knife.
It features a long blade with a more clearly defined drop point, which aids in more intricate cutting tasks. It also has divots along the blade, which help reduce stuck and drag on the food you’re preparing. So you get the size and width of a chef’s knife with a more refined construction that fits precise cutting, mincing, and dicing.
Here’s an incredible selection of top-quality Dalstrong santoku knives for home cooks and professional chefs to choose from.
Carving knives are sometimes known as slicing knives, or sometimes even brisket knives because of how closely they are associated with the classic BBQ meat.
And that connection tells you much of what you need to know about carving knives. As you know, brisket is a large piece of meat, and cutting into it with a small knife can result in portions that are less than ideal. No, to cut into a brisket you need a long, slim knife; this will lead to thin, even slices that maximize the brisket’s juiciness and tenderness.
In fact, slicing knives are great for serving a wide variety of meats such as poultry, pork, beef, lamb, or wild game. You can also use them to cut large fruits and vegetables. They come in very handy if you have to quickly slice up a melon, for instance.
Here are some top-notch Dalstrong carving knives to help you slice the perfect brisket.
A boning knife is immediately recognizable due to its slim blade and sharp edges, which tapers upwards towards a pointed tip. They’re usually on the shorter side, around six inches. And due to their use, they tend to be more rigid than flexible.
A boning knife is used to cut bones and to trim cartilage. Most commonly, you’ll see them being used in raw meat prep and portioning. Their unique shape and compact size make them a perfect tool for cutting around the bone without tearing the flesh. They’re also great for easily cutting through cartilage. They’re small, light knives meant for tough work, so it’s particularly important that they’re comfortable to hold.
If you’re looking for the best boning knives, you’ll find this great selection of Dalstrong boning knives of interest.
There are different ways to spell this type of knife. You might see them referred to as filleting knife, fillet knife, filleting knife or fillet knife. The difference is in whether you use a single or a double l, and the intricacies of those differences are a bit beyond my comprehension. For the purposes of this article, we’ll refer to it as a fillet knife.
The fillet knife is a long, slim blade most commonly used on fish. It is usually on the flexible side in order to remove bones without damaging the surrounding meat. It features a pointed tip in order to be able to pierce through skin and do bone removal work. They’re very similar to boning knives, but are usually thinner and less rigid.
This makes them ideally suited to cut through the backbone of a fish and slice through it horizontally, resulting in perfect fish fillets.
If you’re looking for a knife to slice that ideal fish fillet, here’s a collection of Dalstrong fillet knives.
Speaking of recognizable knife shapes, it doesn’t get much more iconic than the cleaver knife. It features the flat, rectangular blade that you’ve likely seen in many butcher shops (not to mention movies and television, as a shorthand for “butchering”). They tend to be heavy and wide, which is great because they’re meant to apply force.
Why’s that? Well, chopping up raw meat into smaller portions is a task that sometimes requires some force. That’s where the heft comes in handy. They can also be used to cut through bone. And they’re particularly good to use for chopping vegetables, since their broad blade makes them ideal for transferring from the cutting surface onto your cooking surface.
Cleaver knives can also be used to crush garlic cloves or ginger, which makes them a much more versatile tool than their association with butchering might lead you to believe.
Looking for the best cleaver knives around? Check out Dalstrong’s best cleaver knives.
Nakiris are Japanese style knives made for cutting vegetables that look like a smaller, slimmer version of a cleaver. It has a wide rectangular shape, which makes it a great tool for chopping vegetables.
Due to the nakiri’s wide shape, you can use them to cut right to the board without the need for a back-and-forth rocking motion. Simply bring the blade down in a single chopping motion. This makes it especially suited to work through large amounts of vegetables in a quick amount of time, as well as shredding larger vegetables such as cabbage or lettuce.
Looking for the ideal nakiri for your kitchen? Here’s a selection of Dalstrong nakiri knives for you to pick from.
That is nowhere near a comprehensive list. There are still so many types of knives out there that are in this list (cheese knives, tomato knives, oyster shuckers, etc.). But those knife types I mentioned are the most common you’ll likely find in a lot knife sets out there, and will cover most if not all of your basic kitchen needs.
3. Common Blade & Handle Materials Used For Kitchen Knives
Okay, now that we know the different types of knives available, let’s talk about how they’re constructed, and which material you should go with. In your search for the best kitchen knife, you should definitely take materials into consideration, as they dictate how your knife is going to perform.
Here are a few of the most commonly used materials for kitchen knives.
High quality stainless steel is one of the most popular materials for knives. It’s pretty easy to see why: not only is the material durable and resistant to corrosion, it also looks amazing. The issue is that there are various different types of stainless steel, and the quality varies considerably.
In certain environments, your stainless steel knife might stain. And for some of the types of stainless steel, they’re not the sharpest steel around. But these are the trade-offs to a very attractive, very easy to look after material for kitchen knives. When combined with other materials, stainless can be an extremely powerful choice.
There’s a lot to say about Damascus steel – in fact, we said a lot about it in our article What Are Damascus Steel Knives, and Why Do We Love Them So Much? – but to give you a quick summary: modern Damascus steel is made by putting together layers of different types of steel. That means that there’s usually a thin layer of hard, brittle steel as the cutting core, then laminated between layers of softer steel (the “cladding”).
These days, you’re most likely to find Damascus steel as the cladding on Damascus steel knives, not as the cutting core. The cutting core is usually Japanese steel or another type of steel. This retains the aesthetic appeal of Damascus while making it a more powerful, functional knife.
Carbon steel knives are some of the sharpest blades around. The trade-off here is that they’re also highly susceptible to rust, corrosion, and discoloration. Carbon steel was the standard before stainless steel came around.
These days, you’re not likely to find many high-quality kitchen knives made of carbon steel, since they’re pretty fragile and difficult to take care of. If you find carbon steel knives for sale, maybe look elsewhere for a sturdier material.
Ceramic blades are becoming less and less common, though the material is still widely used in cookware. Ceramic is also very fragile. Because it’s so brittle, you’re likely going to end up with a smashed ceramic blade if it slips from your hands. Not a great option for a high-quality kitchen knife.
Wooden handles are very traditional, and probably the oldest type of handle in existence. They can look absolutely fantastic if the wood is high quality (such as Spanish pakkawood), but they can also look and feel cheap if the materials aren’t up to snuff. Try to go for hardwoods if possible; they’re a little pricier, but they’re also the most durable and appealing.
For an example of knives with wooden handles, check out Dalstrong’s Phantom series.
Carbon fiber handle
Carbon fiber is a good go-to with strong and durable construction. Its fibers get woven into patterns and are brought together with a plastic resin. However, they can also be brittle if they’re not well crafted. This is why combining carbon fiber with another material is preferable.
For an example of this, check out Dalstrong’s Quantum 1 series, which features a G10 / carbon fiber hybrid handle.
G10 garolite handle
G10 garolite is a fantastic material, a fiberglass laminate that is extremely tough as well as highly impervious to heat, cold, and moisture. It’s comprised of glass layers compressed together with epoxy. They’re more durable than carbon fiber handles due to the glass fiber structure.
For an example of this, check out the Dalstrong Shogun series, which features G10 Garolite handles.
Stainless steel handle
Stainless steel kitchen knife handles are comfortable to hold and feature great dent and scratch resistance. They are also a little more affordable compared to some of these other materials. However, they’re also a bit heavier in comparison to other types of handles. They also look absolutely great.
For an example of this type of handle, check out the Crusader series, which features stainless steel handles.
4. Essential Kitchen Knives You Should Own
If you’re reading this article, you’re searching for the best kitchen knife to fulfill a specific need. Earlier in the blog, we pointed you in the right direction if you wanted to find a specific type of kitchen knife, but now we’ll give you our picks for some of the very best of the essential kitchen knives every home cook should own.
Here’s an absolutely gorgeous chef’s knife that will surely elevate your knife skills. As a multi-purpose tool, you need your chef’s knife to be versatile and easy to handle. As part of Dalstrong’s Frost Fire series, this gorgeous 8inch classic chef’s knife combines functionality with stunning looks.
- The blade of this Frost Fire Chef's knife is made of 7-layer high-carbon high-chromium 10CR15MOV steel, with additional cobalt and expert heat treatment.
- An absolutely beautiful honeycomb finish on the handle, which is a premium quality white resin handle in an aluminum mesh.
- The blade features a sandblast finish, which gives it a distinctive “frosted” look.
- 60-61 Rockwell hardness, which translates to amazing edge retention.
- Some might not like the honeycomb frosted look.
- Designed as a lightweight chef’s knife, this might be a little lighter than you’re expecting at first.
A paring knife is a precision specialist, so you need a top-of-the-line tool that’s sharp enough and engineered to facilitate the smallest, most precise cuts. This 3.5” paring knife from the Shogun series is an amazing example of that, and the only paring knife you will ever need.
- Great for coring, mincing, peeling, slicing, etc. You can use it for any fruit or vegetable.
- This is a powerful little blade, with an ultra-premium Japanese AUS-10V super steel cutting core and 67 layers of high-carbon stainless steel cladding.
- It also looks amazing, with the Shogun Series Tsunami Rose blade pattern giving it a distinguished look.
- Features a G10 garolite handle that is easy and comfortable to use.
- If your personal preferences are something a little smaller, check out a bird’s beak paring knife.
- The tsunami rose pattern is not for everyone.
The knives in Dalstrong’s Shadow Black series are really something else. They look like no other type of knife you will ever come across, designed as a sleek, aggressive kitchen tool. An amazing bread knife that will definitely be a conversation starter.
- This amazing kitchen tool can cut into the crustiest bread you can find with ease.
- It’s not just for bread! Slice through pastries, melons, cakes, pastries, squashes.
- Incredible titanium nitride non-reflective coating, looks amazing.
- Made of high-carbon 7CR17MOV-X super-steel.
- Because of the all-black look, it might not fit with the rest of your knives (or your kitchen decor).
- Might be a little tricky to sharpen.
Make quick work of any large piece of meat with this 12” slicing and carving German knife from Dalstrong’s Gladiator series. With its superior blade length, you’ll be able to carve roast, prep large fruits and vegetables, and easily slice bread loaves as well as layer cakes. But you know why you want this thing: its brisket cutting prowess. And it absolutely excels at that.
- Made of premium quality, high-carbon ThyssenKrupp German steel.
- Features an ergonomic, comfortable G10 handle that is impervious to heat, cold, and moisture.
- Wonderfully engineered weight and balance; feels great to hold.
- Features a finger-protective bolster.
- This knife does have some flex, so keep that in mind.
- The handle is a little on the longer side for a slicing and carving knife, for a better grip.
When you have a meat cleaver nicknamed “the Ravager”, you know you’re getting a powerful kitchen performer. This powerhouse tool will help you cut through anything from large cuts of meat and poultry to tough vegetables and fruits. It’s a ruthless tool for someone who needs both heft and power in the kitchen.
- Hand sharpened to an incredible 14-16 degree angle per side.
- Features a shorter, thicker handle than other knives in the Gladiator series, ensuring you have the right heft and balance for the tough jobs.
- Perfectly suited for both home cooks and commercial kitchens.
- German knives such as this are very low maintenance; easy to clean and look after.
- If you’re looking for a more versatile tool that combines elements of cleaver knives and chef’s knives, check out the Cleaver Hybrid & Chefs Knife 8inch.
- This is a powerful tool and it has the heft to back it up. Might be a little heavier than you’re used to.
5. Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best knife to have in the kitchen?
The best kitchen knife to have is a chef’s knife. It’s the most versatile tool, perfectly fitting for a large array of kitchen tasks. If you’re planning to only have one knife in your kitchen, it should be a chef’s knife (preferably a pro 8inch chefs knife). There are lots of brands to choose from namely Wusthof Classic, Fibrox Pro, Global Knives, Henckels Classic, Shun Classic, Mac knife Zwilling (you can shop them at Sur La Table) and then there's also Dalstrong Knives popular for its unparalleled cutting edge.
What is the most used knife by chef's?
The most popular type of knife among home cooks and professional chef's is the classic chef knife. It’s an all-purpose tool, so you can use it for anything from chopping vegetables to slicing cuts of meat. Most chef's have a go-to chef’s knife.
Which knives stay sharp the longest?
Among the different types of knife materials, carbon steel knives are known for keeping their edges longer. This helps make chopping, slicing, and dicing both easier and safer.