What every best Kitchen Knives has:
- A sharp edge.
- Solid construction.
- A comfortable handle.
Consumer Reports tests nearly 30 kitchen knife sets, for cutting performance, handle comfort and handle balance. Six are recommended, and one set is also designated as a Best Buy. The report includes a buying guide and some of the knives have consumer reviews as well, however, it's not clear if they tested all of the knives in each set and there's no breakdown of how each individual knife performed.
In this specific article, editors of Cook's Illustrated test paring knives. Testing is thorough, well-documented and challenges the knives across a variety of common kitchen tasks. Comfort and balance are also taken into account. Elsewhere on this site, they also test chef's knives, steak knives, serrated knives, carbon steel knives and knife block sets. There are also some individual knife reviews.
Michael Chu puts 11 knives through rigorous testing, cutting carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and scallions. Each knife gets a thorough review, and he comments on other factors as well, such as weight, shape and comfort. He also asked other testers to try the knives to bolster his conclusions. Elsewhere on this site, Chu also tests and rates ceramic chef's knives. While there is no date on these tests, comments indicate that it was done some time in 2005; however, readers are still commenting as of 2016, giving input into these knives' durability over an 11-year span.
Several editors at TheKitchn.com weigh in on their favorite chef's knives, calling it a starting point for anyone who might be looking. Each of the five chosen knives gets a brief overview of why it's a favorite.
Amazon has hundreds of kitchen knives in all models and price ranges. It is an excellent source for real world reviews of kitchen knives over the long-term, especially to judge edge retention and sharpening experiences. It's also a great way to learn how well the kitchen knives perform in peoples home kitchens for a variety of tasks. The top-rated knives get hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of customer reviews.
While this article is more about why you should own individual knives rather than just buying a knife set, within the discussions of each type of knife at least one is recommended. Several of the recommended knives have links to more in-depth reviews elsewhere on the site. In addition, Alan Henry makes it clear that he has personal experience using some of the recommended knives.
Self-described "foodie" Matt Maroon assembles of list of products that he feels are the minimum necessary to create gourmet food. This includes a chef's knife and paring knife, and he makes specific recommendations. He also notes that many people like a bread knife, but he doesn't name a brand. This is an older review, but the knives he chooses have only gotten more popular since this was published.
Williams Sonoma has fewer knives and many fewer reviews than Amazon, but it still has a sufficient selection to make it worthwhile as a review site. In addition to ratings, reviewers have the option to recommend a product, and to indicate if they think it's a good value. Some high-end knife sets are made specifically for sale only through Williams-Sonoma.
Wirecutter has a number of knife tests in various categories, including serrated knives. Elsewhere on the site, you can find testing and roundups of steak knives, chef's knifes, paring knives and knife block sets. Testing is hands on, well-documented, and often includes assistance from line cooks and well-known chefs and food writers.
Sarah DiGregorio consults with Tim Hayward, author of "Knife: The Culture, Craft and Cult of the Cook's Knife" to narrow the crowded knife field. Ultimately she chooses 14 to test over a two week period. That testing included heavy tasks like cutting up whole chickens, and more delicate tasks such as chopping basil. She notes "price isn't necessarily commensurate with quality and performance," and her ultimate choices come at a range of price points.
Although Reviews.com has varying levels of quality in their roundups, this is a happy exception, with thorough testing by an obviously knowledgeable contributor working in conjunction with cooking instructor Deborah Brownstein. Three top choices are ultimately named, but runners up are also included. Testing is rigorous and thorough.
Matt Duckor and a co-worker tested 14 chef's knives at a variety of price points to recommend two top picks. Both are similar, varying mostly in price. Even more useful are his comments on the knives he didn't choose, most roundups don't tell much about the discards, so that can be useful information, especially since the focus of this article is which knife to choose if you can have only one.
Three knives are chose as top choice in this roundup, along with "also tested" knives that didn't quite make the cut. Although discussion is brief, it's clear that testing was performed. Knives at a variety of price points were included.
Although hands on testing wasn't isn't performed for this roundup, Marian Bull did consult with chef Sean Gray of New York City's Momofuku Ko restaurant. His insights are very valuable because he sees many of the knives in this roundup used in professional settings, and often for long periods of time.
Daniel Gritzer tests a number of paring knives to see which perform best in those tasks that require the type of fine work these small knives were designed to do. His ultimate choices are well-reviewed by experts elsewhere as well.