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Any chef (professional, home, or otherwise) will tell you that using the right knife is key when it comes to working in the kitchen. Not only can they flawlessly slice, dice, and chop—important for those who are particular about texture or want a more refined dining experience—but having the right tools makes cooking much more enjoyable. And while purchasing quality cookware can certainly be an investment, you’ll get your money’s worth from high-quality pieces which have the potential to last you a lifetime.
When choosing knives, in particular, it all comes down to your personal preference: Do you want an all-purpose cutting knife? A tool to help with more detailed prep work? Or maybe you want a set to get you started? Once that's decided, you'll have a much easier time shopping.
Here, the best knives on the market and some quick pointers on each.
Material The Almost 4” Knife
Material’s paring knife is “3.5 inches, precisely,” making it ideal for minute tasks such as removing pepper seeds, peeling produce, deveining shrimp, hulling strawberries, slicing garlic, and so much more. And with its softly-colored handles in neutral shades of cream, black, and gray, this pick is also particularly attractive. Looks aside, it’s made with durable Japanese steel with a sharp 26-degree edge, plus a comfy grip that makes this tiny tool easy to maneuver.
If you’re really in love with this little number, consider getting the whole (matching!) set—AKA The Trio of Knives—plus an angled wooden stand.
Made In The Knife Sets
Whether you’re limited on space or you already have a favorite set of steak knives and don't need more, Made In’s The Knife Set is ideal. The four-piece French-made set, which is available with red, black, or gray handles, is made of nitrogen-treated stainless steel that’s one solid piece from tip to handle for optimum durability.
And if you can’t decide between a Santoku or chef’s knife? Well, you don't have to. You’ll get the 8-inch chef knife and 7-inch Santoku knife for multi-tasking prep work; a serrated utility knife for slicing bread, cold cuts, and blocks of cheese; and a paring knife for detailed work like slicing and peeling.
J.A. Henckels Definition 20-Piece Self-Sharpening Knife Block Set
When you need a little bit of everything, this 20-piece German-forged knife set has all the essentials and then some. It comes with 11 prep tools, including two different paring knives, an all-purpose Santoku knife, bread knife, and a carving knife; a set of sheers; and eight serrated steak knives, which is ideal if you have a large family or frequently entertain.
Your collection will stay handy and organized in its dark-stained ash wood base and even better, the stainless steel cap on the upper level sharpens knives as they slide in and out of place (just an FYI—serrated knives don’t need to be sharpened). All in all, it’s a solid set for cooks looking for both quality and variety.
Wüsthof Steak Knife Set
A good piece of steak is a thing to be savored. Wüsthof’s lovely eight-piece set should be a staple in any carnivore’s kitchen, giving diners the ability to cut clean bites that enrich the overall experience. With a minimalist shiny stainless steel design, they’re fitting for any kind of dining decor, and the right amount of weightiness makes them comfortable to grip. Add in the gorgeous rosewood box, and any dinner at home will feel like a high-end steakhouse.
These serrated knives are made in Germany from high-carbon stainless steel, then polished to a brilliant shine. In addition to being the perfect cutlery for entertaining guests, this set is a wonderful gift for any meat aficionado.
Food52 Five Two Essential Knives
You’ve seen knives that are modern, sleek, and perhaps even colorful. But pretty? Now, that’s harder to find. Enter, Food52’s trio of must-have knives which you can purchase individually or as a set. The collection, which was designed based on the feedback of 4,500 foodies, includes a chef’s knife, a serrated knife, and a paring knife—each made with premium Japanese steel.
The cutlery comes in a palette of four dreamy shades—Nordic Sea, Maple, Rhubarb, and Smoked Salt—with brass rivets set in the handles for a vintage-inspired touch. It may be a toss-up as to which you love more: Their impeccable slicing abilities or their Insta-worthy appeal.
Kamikoto Kanpeki Knife Set
If you’re a fan of Japanese cutlery, consider this set essential. It includes a slicing knife, a Nakiri vegetable knife, and a utility knife to tackle just about any task in the kitchen. What makes this threesome extra special is that they’re made with single-bevel blades, ensuring extra sharpness necessary for cooking with Eastern technique.
The Kanpeki set is handcrafted with durable, corrosion-resistant steel in Honshu, Japan, and they’re even accompanied by a certificate to ensure authenticity (as well as a lifetime guarantee). Nestled in their own ash wood box, these highly-reviewed knives make a lovely gift for foodie friends or yourself.
Italic Zest 7-Piece Forged Knife Set
Touted as a true direct-to-consumer brand, Italic’s wide variety of merchandise offers name brand quality without the insane name brand price tag. One of their latest releases is the Zest 7-Piece Forged Knife Set which is made from German stainless steel blades which are designed for lasting sharpness and durability.
The Zest includes a chef’s knife, slicing knife, serrated bread knife, utility knife, and paring knife, as well as a pair of shears. You can keep everything within reach on the bamboo block, which is magnetized for a floating effect, and it offers super easy access while cooking. Wherever you place it, just be sure the exposed blades are far out of the reach of curious children.
Miyabi SG2 6.5-Inch Birchwood Nakiri Knife
While a Santoku knife can slice produce, meat, fish, cheese, and the like, a Nakiri’s specialty is vegetables. So, why might you want a Nakiri over a Santoku, you ask? If you’re an avid veggie eater, you’re especially particular about your slices and dices, or you like using separate knives for meal prep, you might want to consider the style that’s specifically designed for this purpose.
If that’s the case, the Japanese-made Miyabi Nakiri knife is a top pick. The blade is constructed with a special core surrounded by 100 layers of ice-hardened steel for optimum weightiness and durability. The knife's finishing touch, though, is its trademark birchwood handle which is both comfortable to hold and a work of art.
Misen Chef’s Knife
When the folks at Misen set out to create “the perfect knife,” they didn't play around. Four years and 37 prototypes later, the brand's Chef's Knife was created—and at a ridiculously affordable price. That last bit should come as no surprise, though, as quality kitchen tools at reasonable costs are the backbone of the company itself.
This under-$100 beauty is designed with AICHI AUS-10 steel and 15-degree blade angles for sharpness and durability that’ll last you a lifetime. There are thousands of five-star reviews to back up this knife’s impeccable function, but if you’re still on the edge (get it?) a 60-day home trial period and no-questions-asked lifetime guarantee should be enough to convince you it’s with a shot.
Not sure what you're shopping for? Check out the info below.
Chef’s Knife: A style originating Germany and France, this multi-purpose knife is the core of a collection. It has two beveled edges (meaning the blade angles up on both sides) and is relatively weighty.
Santoku Knife: Translating to “three uses,” the all-purpose Santoku has roots in Japan. It can have one or two beveled edges, is lighter in weight than a chef’s knife, and has a thinner blade for finer slices.
Paring Knife: With its short, sharp blade, these knives are ideal for detailed prep work like dicing garlic, seeding peppers, and deveining shrimp.
Nakiri Knife: Another Japanese knife, the Nakiri is designed specifically for cutting vegetables.
Serrated Knife: With their toothed blades, large serrated knives are ideal for sawing through crusty breads, cakes, and thick-skinned fruits. Some steak knives are also serrated.