We’re skeptical about knife block sets in the test kitchen. They can be rather expensive—some come with price tags of $700!—and they’re often filled with several knives you won’t ever use in your home kitchen. We believe there are only three knives you truly need: a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a serrated bread knife. Beyond that, a boning knife, a slicing knife (for carving), and kitchen shears (for cutting the backbone out of a chicken, for example) will help make certain tasks easier.
Here’s a list of our favorite knives (and our favorite universal knife block), what we call the America’s Test Kitchen à la carte Knife Set. It’s less expensive than the higher end sets, and made up of knives you’ll actually use.