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The Best Electric Knives
Motorized cutlery may seem like a 1960s artifact, but we found one newer model to be surprisingly useful.
What You Need To Know
Electric knives may seem like relics of the past, but they’re still shimmying away in 21st-century kitchens. An electric knife has two identical serrated blades, riveted together, which are snapped into a motorized base that doubles as the knife’s handle. At the touch of the start button, these dual blades move in opposite directions—one forward, one backward—which creates a sawing motion that cuts food with minimal downward pressure. This makes them useful for delicate items, such as breads and other baked goods, that you want to cut without squishing and especially good for cutting skin-on poultry without ripping or pulling the skin.
In theory, an electric knife does most of the work for you. But we hadn’t been impressed when we previously tested them; overall, they shredded poultry and were irritatingly loud. Our former winner, the Oster Electric Knife Set, was recommended only with reservations. But with new models available, we decided to retest the category. Were any of these newer retro devices up to snuff?
To find out, we chose four top-selling electric knives, priced from roughly $20.00 to roughly $125.00. Slicing poultry and bread are two top uses for electric knives, so we used each knife to carve a large roasted turkey and a smaller whole chicken, as well as to slice loaves of both crusty and soft bread. For comparison, we also carved a turkey and a chicken with our winning chef’s knife, the Victorinox 8” Swiss Army Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife, and cut both kinds of bread with our winning bread knife, the Mercer Culinary Millennia 10” Wide Bread Knife.
Slicing ability, comfort, and noise level emerged as our most important criteria. We also looked at features including different types of blades, storage options, safety locks, and built-in cutting guides.
When it came to slicing ability, we were surprised to find that the breads—both hearty and delicate loaves—were more challenging to slice than the birds. One knife seemed to float atop the crusty loaf of bread, literally only scratching the surface. The other models performed better, but all struggled with the tough loaf bottom. (We had to tilt each loaf on its side, a trick we use with regular bread knives, to finish the job.)
And even if the knives did bite in, sometimes their slices were ragged. One knife required significant downward pressure to cut through dense bread, which squished the loaf and resulted in uneven slices. Another model handled the crusty bread well but had issues with delicate Japanese milk bread; the bread shifted under the knife’s pressure, again making it harder to cut a clean line. The rest of the knives performed better, but in general, we ...
Everything We Tested
Reviews you can trust
Reviews you can trust
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. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.