Our longtime inexpensive favorite remains a pleasure to use. With a sharp, gently curved blade, it effortlessly dispatched every task we set before it, mincing garlic precisely and breaking down chicken and dense butternut squash with authority. Its light weight and rounded spine made it easy to wield for long periods, and its textured plastic handle was comfortable to grip for hands of all sizes.
Essential Knives for Every Kitchen
With so many knives on the market, which ones belong in your collection?
The blade on this paring knife is identical to that of our original winner; it’s just as sharp, thin, and nimble as ever, and it’s capable of making ultraprecise slices and incisions. Its plastic handle is easy to grip and accommodates large and small hands easily. In addition, the handle doesn’t add too much weight to the knife overall, allowing for agile, effortless use.
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.
The lightest knife we tested, this nakiri was a true pleasure to use and seemed nearly weightless in our hands. With a thin, relatively tall, medium-length blade, it was capable of both coarser work (chopping greens or delicata squash) and fine, precise cuts (making carrot brunoise, mincing parsley). Its oval-profile handle felt great in our hands, and the magnolia wood used to make it helped us keep our grip on it, even when it got wet.
Our favorite santoku wowed testers of all abilities, who raved that it felt “agile, sharp, and really good in hand.” “Solid but light,” it made “fine, level cuts” with “great precision and control.” This knife features an asymmetrical blade with a 70/30 bevel that the company hand-sharpens specifically for either right- or left-handers.
Lightweight, and with a medium-size handle, this petty knife felt great in our hands, maneuvering nimbly around chicken joints and bones and making quick work of mushrooms and shallots. It sported the sharpest blade straight out of the box; thin, keen, and just the right length, it was capable of producing near-surgical incisions. One tiny quibble? The plastic handle was just a touch slick when wet.
Our previous winner turned in another gold medal performance: “Every slice is perfect,” said one tester. It was comfortable and sharp, with a long, tall blade that was “just flexible enough so you feel like it’s doing what you tell it to.”
Superior blades gave our former favorite the edge yet again. With a razor-sharp 25-degree angle, the shears’ cutter blade sliced through every kind of food with equal ease. Deep, angular serrations on the anvil blade helped secure slippery foods. The blades’ length (the longest in the lineup) ensured smooth, continuous cutting; their overall narrowness made them easy to maneuver; and a medium level of tension between them provided just enough shearing force without taxing our hands. They’re ambidextrous, comfortable to hold, and can be taken apart for cleaning.
Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them.
Roomy, knife-friendly, and exceptionally durable, this teak slab was worth every penny. It resisted warping and cracking, showed only minor scratches, never seemed “thirsty,” and—despite its heft—was easy to lift and clean, thanks to handholds on each end.
Our top-rated sharpener had the winning combination of producing truly exceptional and consistent results quickly, neatly, and efficiently. The manual clearly outlined a few specific steps that must be followed each time, and it took about 2 minutes from start to finish to get a polished, razor-sharp edge. Narrow, spring-loaded slots made it easy and unambiguous to maintain a consistent angle as we moved the knife through the three slots. It rapidly removed a notch we cut in the blade and easily sharpened both our everyday chef’s knife and pricey carbon-steel chef’s knife. We subtracted half a point because the slots left very light cosmetic scratches along the sides of our knives.