Answering “What kitchen knife should I buy” is challenging, but deciding on a good kitchen knife is vital. In terms of cooking, you only need one knife – a good chef’s knife. This knife will perform the bulk of your cutting tasks in the kitchen. As you discover further needs, you can purchase knives specific to the cutting task. A paring knife for slicing fruit, a boning knife for working with meat, and so forth.
#1 tool in the kitchen – The Kitchen Knife
I will start by just saying it. A good knife is the number one tool in the kitchen. Whether you are just beginning or an accomplished cook, the kitchen knife is where all delicious and healthy meals begin. When I first began my cooking quest, I struggled with many cutting and chopping tasks. I guess I figured all knives were basically the same. Boy, was I wrong. I find that good tools make any task more enjoyable. A good car makes driving fun, good yard tools make gardening more rewarding. It is the same in the kitchen. A good knife will make you a better cook and will give you that sweet sense of accomplishment as you serve well prepared meals.
How much should I spend?
Every cook needs at least one good kitchen knife in their knife drawer, but what is a fair price to pay? Like many buying decisions, the answer depends on a variety of factors. So I will simplify it. Plan to spend $50 dollars for a good chef’s or santoku knife. It should be 7” – 8”. After that, feel free to buy whatever suits your needs and budget. When I began gaining cooking skills, I, too, asked “What Kitchen Knife should I buy?” Hopefully, this article will give you the information and encouragement to make a great decision.
What is in my knife drawer today?
Fair question. I have nine highly rated (Amazon 4 star or better) blades from a variety of manufacturers. I have different styles, different steel, heavy and lightweight, and different handle material. But day in and day out, I return to the same blade for 80% of my cutting chores: The Victorinox 8” chef’s knife with Fibrox handle. Alternatively, I stumbled upon a clearance sale and bought a set of 2 Sharper Image knives for a measly $20. The blades are cheap and require sharpening all the time, but I use them because the stainless steel handle feels good in my hand. Finally, a few shorter knives are helpful for small and more delicate cutting jobs.
What makes a great knife?
Simple. Quality of construction. The blade, handle, weight and balance all figure into the question of quality. But quality does not guarantee user satisfaction and acceptability. Many higher quality knives collect dust in knife drawers simply because they don’t “feel” right in the user’s hand. My definition of a great knife: A well-constructed knife that feels good in your hand.
Signs of a good quality kitchen knife
- Handle – Look for the phrase “full tang” when it comes to the handle. Also, consider the handle material. Look for long lasting, solid wood like oak, walnut, or bamboo. Silicon handles are also common on higher quality cutlery.
- Blade – Look for the word “forged”. A forged blade is far superior to stamped blades. Also, look for words like “High Carbide” or “High Carbon”. Damascus steel is another high quality steel.
- Weight – Look for the word “balanced” and compare weights. Some blades are designed to be lightweight and others to be heavy. Understand what weight feels good in your hand.
- Price – Knives that cost more than $40 USD will be of good quality. Of course, knives over $100 USD will be of better quality and so on.
No so good signs
- Handle – Wood handles should be triple riveted. If not, this is a sign of poor construction. Also, avoid plastic or blended wood handles.
- Blade – If you see the word “stamped”, you should think twice about this knife.
- Packaging – Avoid knives that come in molded plastic packaging. These knives are designed to be low-end consumer products.
- Price – Any knife less than $20 USD is poor quality.
What about Ceramic Knives?
Good job! You have done a little research already. Unfortunately, I am withholding comment at this point because I do not own any ceramic knives. I have read many good reviews and surprisingly few bad comments, but I have yet to purchase any ceramic cutlery. Leave comments below if you have any recommendations on ceramic knives.
Other knife buying factors
I will spare you the discussion on bolster, blade thickness, Rockwell scores and edge degree. I will focus on eye-appeal instead. Just like a knife should “feel” good in your hand, it should also “look” good in your hand. It is a small distinction but one worth consideration. For years, I admired the distinctive look of wood handles. However, when faced with a pile of uncut vegetables on the cutting board, I like how the silicon or stainless steel handle looks in my hand. I feel like a better cook.
Final Decision – What Kitchen Knife should I buy?
If you want to skip the hype, misleading labeling, and time-consuming research, buy a Victorinox 8” chef’s knife.
You now have many sensible tips for buying a good knife. You are better equipped to answer the question of “What Kitchen Knife should I buy”. I hope you will use this article to make a wise purchase. I truly do.