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Best Buy à La Carte Knife Set
If our Test Kitchen à la carte Knife Set is too expensive for you, we've compiled a list of our favorite inexpensive options.
What You Need To Know
We performed an exhaustive test of 8 different knife sets and in the end, our testing confirmed that you are much better off shopping for knives à la carte; that way, you get only what you really need. We went back through tesitngs we've performed over the years and compiled this list of our favorite inexpensive knives to round out a set of six essential knives that fit nicely inside our Best Buy universal knife block.
Everything We Tested
This basic, inexpensive blade has consistently bested many competitors over the years—even those costing up to eight times as much. Its sharp, slim blade curves gently at the tip for good rocking motion during chopping, and its comfortable nonslip handle and excellent overall balance make it a kitchen workhorse.
An essential knife for hand-held tasks such as peeling and trimming fruit and vegetables. The sharp, flexible, short (less than 4 inches, for better agility) blade offers "superadept" precision, and the light weight and slim handle allows it to become an extension of your hand.
With the fewest, widest, and deepest serrations, this knife was a “standout.” Its sharp points bit into everything from the crustiest bread to the squishiest tomato, producing crisp, clean slices. “Perfect, no crumbs, really easy,” said one tester. A stellar blade coupled with a grippy, comfortable handle earned this knife the top spot.
This “basic, but well-made” knife was our favorite for a number of reasons: Moderately heavy, it had enough heft and rigidity to make straight cuts, while a slight flexibility gave a feeling of control. The thin, tapered, razor-sharp blade was long and wide enough to draw through a large roast in one stroke.
In our most recent testing, our old winning boning knife still performed admirably in every task, hugging the curves of bones and joints just as closely thanks to its moderate flexibility. Its textured plastic handle made it particularly easy to hold even when wet or slippery with fat. Several testers found the thicker handle to be a touch unwieldy, preventing them from changing their grips as readily, but large-handed testers preferred it.
With relatively long, narrow, sharp blades, these ambidextrous, take-apart shears were nimble and made nice smooth cuts on all foods. Lots of tiny microserrations on the anvil blade edge helped ensure a secure grip on slippery foods. And its plastic finger bows were comfortable for hands of all sizes. But because they were the lightest shears in our testing, with a fairly loose level of tension between the blades, some testers found them to be less powerful than our winner; a wider blade angle contributed to a slightly less keen-feeling edge.
This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.
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The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing.