You don’t have to be Mario Batali to own a quality set of knives. Whatever level your cooking skills may be at, a good knife set is like the essential tool belt of the kitchen. You need a variety of pieces in your arsenal to take on the toughest of meat to the most delicate tomato.
Bread knives, chef’s knives, and paring knives are standard pieces in your average set. Each one has a distinct use, so don’t whip out your boning knife to cut into a sandwich, as this can severely damage the knife and make it less efficient.
Did you know the quality of your food can be lessened with a dull knife? Poorly made knives can also tack on up to 15 minutes extra to prep time. Your hands fingers can get bruised and your palms sore.
Whichever way you slice it, invest in a cutlery set you can trust. Here are our top picks.
A knife’s one and only function is to cut. If it’s not sharp it, you can bet that it won’t perform well. Angled slots within the built-in ceramic sharpener ensure that each time you take out or put back any one of these sleek knives, it will feel like new. Ask anyone who knows their cutlery, and they will tell you that stainless steel is one of the best materials for it. It’s durable and long-lasting due to its composition, so these knives will sharpen easily and stay sharp. One of the most annoying things about poorly-made knives is that after about 45 minutes of constant chopping, your hands probably go numb. But Calphalon knives have a comfort grip and countered design to relieve fatigue. And you’ll never misplace an instrument, as each knife handle is labeled to help you stay organized.
Built to resist rust, corrosion and discoloration over time, the precision-forged German steel gives every knife in this set superior strength. Although small in quantity, the M23500 makes up in quality. And as the name suggests, the Renaissance set can meet all your needs between its six pieces. Many would agree that the Renaissance line has a “neutral balance”, which is great for slicing, but maybe not so much for “tip work” or for heavy chopping. The handle type is similar to what many companies use, so you’ll likely be familiar with the feel: Delrin material, triple-riveted, and offers exceptional grip for both lefties and righties. Add a touch of modernism to your kitchen aesthetic with this piece; the transparent window takes all the guesswork out of selecting the right knife. Its vertical style makes it easy to store and saves much more space than a bulky traditional block.
Home chefs will love how affordable this versatile Chicago Cutlery set is. The brand has a history of making professional knives so you’re getting a great value without sacrificing quality. With full-metal tang, you get better control, a weighted feel in the handle and overall, a more substantial profile; as opposed to partial tang, in which the blade only extends partway through. The handsome golden-brown stained wood block contrasts well against the padded, non-slip black poly–handles on the knives. Always hand wash and dry these specialty knives and never put them in the dishwasher. Don’t even think about it…
Japanese knives tend to have thin, delicate blades which produce beautiful precision cuts. Think of the thinnest, most tender piece of sashimi at the world’s finest sushi restaurant. Although it doesn’t come with a storage block, you’ll want to purchase one separately so that these fine knives maintain their features. The premium three-piece set includes a 4-inch Paring Knife, a 8-inch Bread Knife and a 8.25-inch Chef’s Knife. The blades are made of 37 layers of high and low carbon steel, which justifies the price. (Damascus knives always cost a little more.) Ranked a 60 on the Rockwell scale (which measures the hardness of metals), so these knives will hold their edge longer than those derived from softer materials. Its Micarta handle will resist grease and oils, but make sure to give it a wipe down before putting it away regardless.
This package houses just about everything you could ever want—and by everything we mean a peeler, a parer, a small utility, a serrated utility, a slightly larger fine edge utility, a chef knife, a Santoku hollow edge (for mincing food), a bread knife, eight steak knives, kitchen shears, sharpening steel and the bamboo storage block. Oh, and no bolsters here, which could be a good thing if you prefer the lighter feel. The ice-hardened FRIODUR blades on every one of these knives provide optimal sharpness and resist chipping. These knives are dishwasher safe – you’re welcome – saving you time on kitchen clean up.