kitchen knives

When you set up your kitchen, you go through the list of things you need to have to make it functional—dishes, pots and pans, and cutlery top the list, but what about knives? Kitchen knives are an important tool in your kitchen, and there are many different types of kitchen knives you can choose to help you slice, dice, and serve.

Kitchen Knives Buying Guide Quick Reference Handout

Table of Contents

    1. What are the best kitchen knives?
    2. Knife sets or individual knives?
    3. Types of kitchen knives
    4. Care and maintenance of knives

What Are The Best Kitchen Knives?

knife buying guide

In a kitchen, cooking begins with knives and there is a knife for every task. When you use a knife designed for whatever you’re cutting, food prep becomes quick and easy. If you’re looking for a knife or two to add to your kitchen, you can begin your search by asking yourself these questions.

1. How good are your knife skills?

If you’re just setting up your kitchen and you’ve never really handled knives, you may want to look for a set of knives that aren’t as sharp. You can find nylon knives or serrated knives that aren’t as sharp as some expert knives, and you can use these while perfecting your chopping and dicing skills. If you’re a seasoned home cook or you’ve been slicing and dicing for a while, you’ll want to look for high-quality forged knives you can keep sharp and ready to cut.

2. Do you want a knife set or individual knives?

When choosing knives you can opt for knife sets or individual knives. Individual knives are great for beginners who want to perfect their knife skills or who won’t use all of the knives in a set. Individual knives are also good for expert-level cooks who want the perfect chef’s knife or a unique paring knife.

Knife sets are a great choice for anyone who knows they will make use of the different knives included in the set. Knife sets often include a serrated bread knife and a chef’s knife, and some also have several steak knives you can use for meals.

3. Do you want a forged or a stamped knife?

When shopping for knives you’ll see the terms ‘forged’ and ‘stamped.’ Forged knives are made from a bar of steel that is heated and pounded into the shape of a knife. A stamped knife is cut out or stamped from one single sheet of steel. Once it’s cut out it’s honed or sharpened and heat treated. An easy way to tell the difference between a forged knife and a stamped knife is to hold one in each hand. The forged knife should feel heavier than the stamped knife.

4. Are you looking for the best knife material?

If you ask a chef what the best knife material is, he or she will most likely say high-carbon stainless steel. This material is tough enough to stand up to heavy use, easy to sharpen and maintain, and has a nice sharp edge that stays sharp over time.

Knife sets and individual knives

Your first decision when selecting new knives is whether you’d like a full knife set or if you want to choose individual knives.

Kitchen knife sets 

kitchen knives set

You don’t need to choose individual knives when you have a kitchen knife set on your counter. You would choose a kitchen knife set if you want a variety of different knives but you don’t want to choose them individually.

Kitchen knife sets are available in varying sizes including 2-4 knives, 5-7 knives, and up to 21 knives. You can find kitchen knife sets from brands like Cuisinart and Zwilling, and you can choose a kitchen knife set with every type of knife you’ll need including chef’s knives, utility knives, and bread knives. Some also include steak knives. The knives are stored in a butcher block that keeps them ready to pick up when you need to slice or chop.

Types of kitchen knives you can choose individually

If you’d like to choose your kitchen knives individually, you’ll find a wide selection of different types of knives at Best Buy. You can choose from different brands or blade types including stainless steel, high carbon stainless steel, carbon forged, and others.

Here are just a few kitchen knives you can choose for different tasks and the way you cook.

1. Chef’s knife for chopping, slicing, and dicing

If you’re chopping celery and carrots, or you’re dicing onions up into tiny pieces, you may like a one-size-fits-all chef’s knife. Known as the workhorse of the kitchen, a chef’s knife will be one of the most versatile knives you own. It typically has an 8” long blade that’s 1.5” wide.

A chef’s knife is available with French or German blades. You can tell the difference between the two types of blades just by looking at them. With a French blade, you’ll get a continuous curve all along the entire edge of the knife. With a German blade, you get a straighter cutting edge that curves at the tip. The type of chef’s knife you choose depends on how you prefer to cut your food. Chef’s knives are available from brands like JA Henckels, Wusthof, and more.

2. Utility knives

When you want to slice meat, fruit, or vegetables, a utility knife will be your go-to. It comes with a straight-edged or serrated blade that usually measures between 4” and 7” long. A utility knife is specifically for slicing meat into smaller pieces, slicing sandwiches, or slicing fruit.

3. Bread knives

There’s nothing as amazing as the smell of fresh bread. You’re going to want to slice it up and eat it right away, but if you tried to do so with a knife other than a bread knife you would end up with a crumbly mess. A bread knife has either a straight or curved blade, and it has ridges or a serrated edge designed to slice straight through the crusty edge and melt right through the interior without tearing it. A bread knife can be used on loaves of bread, baked goods like banana bread, or to slice up bagels.

4. Carving knives

When you put effort into cooking a big family meal like turkey, roast beef, or ham, you’re going to want to make sure you cut the meat up into thin, even strips. That type of thin-slicing calls for a carving knife. It has a distinctive style with a long, thin blade, and it lets you carve up meat like a pro. A carving knife is designed to slice up dense meat like roast turkey and chicken, and it can slice thin, even strips of roast beef or ham.

5. Paring knife for peeling vegetables

When it comes to peeling potatoes or taking the skin off an apple, nothing is faster than a paring knife. Paring knives are small, with blades that are typically 3” to 5” long, and have an arch so they are great for peeling round fruits and vegetables. You can also use the sharp tip to core apples, green peppers, or tomatoes.

6. Steak knives to put on the table with your meal

Most knives are for preparing your food, but steak knives are handy to put beside your place settings when you serve a meal like steak, chicken, or pork. Steak knives usually come in packs so you can pick up a set and serve more than one person at a time, and the blade is generally 4” to 6” long.

7. Kitchen shears

kitchen shearsKitchen shears are a versatile food prep tool. They cut quickly through different types of meats, vegetables, or herbs. Some types of kitchen shears have a notched blade that makes cutting through poultry bones easy. When choosing kitchen shears look for a non-slip handle so you don’t struggle if your hands are wet. Some types of kitchen shears are dishwasher safe or have blades you can separate for easy clean-up.

Care and maintenance of knives

Keeping your knives in tip-top shape is easy when you know how to take care of them. Here are a few kitchen tools you can use to keep your knives in perfect condition.

Honing Steel

Sharpening steel, also known as honing steel, sharpens your knives when you drag the blade over the steel. If you sharpen your knives regularly with your honing steel they’ll always be sharp and ready to cut.

Knife sharpeners

kitchen sharpening steelWhen you want to keep your knives and kitchen shears sharp, a kitchen sharpener is a must. You can choose from a few different types of kitchen sharpeners including sharpening stones, scissor sharpeners, and electric sharpeners.

  • A sharpening stone is a stone made from materials like aluminum oxide. It has a fine grit surface, and as you drag your blade back and forth across the stone it will eliminate burrs on your knife’s edges.

electric knife sharpener

  • A scissor sharpener is a great tool to have. You can drag the blade of your kitchen scissors across the sharpener and it will revive a dull blade and remove any edges that dull your shears.
  • An electric knife sharpener is a sharpener powered by electricity. You can plug it in and pull your knife through the gap of the sharpener. Without any effort on your part, the knife sharpener will revive a dull blade and ensure your knife is sharp and ready to slice.

Kitchen blocks and knife storage

wusthof kitchen knives

There are quite a few different types of storage options you can choose for your knives.

  • Kitchen blocks are generally made from wood or plastic and have slots for your kitchen knives.
  • Magnetic strip knife holders can be mounted on your wall to keep knives within reach.
  • In-drawer knife holders keep your knives organized while letting you stash them away in your kitchen drawers.

Cutting boards

Cutting boards are a must-have when you regularly use knives. They save your kitchen countertops from scratches and give you a clean, smooth surface to cut fruit, vegetables, and meat. You can find cutting boards made of plastic, different types of wood, and glass.

Which kitchen knives will you choose?

Having a good kitchen knife or set of knives can make a world of difference when you’re prepping a meal. Learning to cook and improving your slicing, dicing, and chopping skills are effortless when you have a sharp, high-quality knife, and as you improve your skills you can upgrade to different knives for more complicated kitchen tasks.

Take the next step

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When you break down knives into their specific tasks, it becomes simple to pick and choose which knives will work for you and for your kitchen. You can find a wide selection of kitchen knives, knife sets, scissors, and knife storage at Best Buy.

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