What every best kitchen knife has

  • Smooth cutting performance: Look for a knife that's very sharp right out of the box and also holds its edge well over time.
  • Solid construction: The blade should feel strong, not flimsy, and should extend all the way through the handle for better balance and durability.
  • A comfortable handle: Whether it's made of metal, plastic, resin or wood, the handle should fit your hand well without slipping or twisting.
  • A decent warranty: All of our knife recommendations come with a lifetime warranty.

Know before you go

What's your cooking style? Your primary kitchen knife should be suitable for the jobs you do most often. For precision work, such as cutting paper-thin slices of carrot or potato, many chefs find a light, straight-bladed santoku knife the ideal tool. For mincing, by contrast, most prefer a traditional chef's knife, which has a curved blade that rocks smoothly up and down as you slice.

Are you prepared for long-term knife care? Experienced cooks agree that a high-quality knife requires regular maintenance. It should be washed by hand, dried promptly and stored securely. It will also need regular honing with a sharpening steel to maintain its edge. If you know, realistically, that you won't do these chores, then you may prefer a low-maintenance knife with a dishwasher-safe handle and a corrosion-resistant blade. Some knives also boast that they will hold their edge without sharpening, although that edge most likely won't be as keen to start with.

Buying tactics and strategies

To find a knife that fits your hands and your chopping style, you need to test it in person. Find a store with hands-on demonstrations for a variety of knives that you can hold or, better yet, practice with on a cutting surface. The handle grip should feel secure, and the blade should be wide enough to keep your knuckles from bashing into the cutting board. You will also want a weight that is comfortable for you.

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