With thousands of brands, styles, and types from which to choose, buying kitchen knives can be an unexpected challenge!
If you’re unfamiliar with the common types of kitchen knives, blade materials, and handle materials, you may be more likely to choose an inferior-quality product that won’t live up to your standards.
However, this brief knife buying guide can educate you on the basics of kitchen knives, ensuring that you can save money, time, and energy while finding the sleekest, longest-lasting knives on the market today.
Keep reading to find out more about buying kitchen knives, why you need them, and the materials you may want to consider!
What Are Kitchen Knives?
Any knife designed for a specific, kitchen-related purpose can be considered a kitchen knife. Kitchen knives come in many shapes, sizes, and sharpnesses. There are several common types of knives that you should be familiar with before setting out to make a purchase.
Bread knives, paring knives, and chef’s knives are all typical kitchen knives that nearly any home-chef should own.
Types of Kitchen Knives
Below you will find a brief description of the most common type of kitchen knives. This will help you to determine which knives you should purchase according to your chosen cooking habits and needs.
Vegetable knives tend to be about 5-7 inches long and can be very slim like a paring knife, or very wide, like a cleaver. No matter what style vegetable knife catches your eye, it should have a sharpened, relatively thick blade that can easily cut through veggies of all types.
This type of knife should never be used to cut meat or bread. Vegetable knives don’t easily slice through meat, and using one on a loaf of bread can result in partially-squashed bread bits.
Paring knives are small enough to fit comfortably in your hand but sharp enough cut through veggies, small amounts of meat, and herbs.
These knives are great for quick dicing, peeling, and cutting tasks. They’re not well-suited to cutting up large amounts of meat, large vegetables, or slicing bread. However, for detailed, precise preparations, a paring knife is critical.
If you decide to only invest in one quality kitchen knife, it should be a chef’s knife. These knives are incredibly versatile, making them a favorite for both famous, talented chefs and inexperienced home cooks.
A quality chef’s knife ranges in length between 6 and 14 inches and can cut meat, vegetables, herbs, and hard nuts. The only thing a chef knife isn’t good for is deboning, slicing bread, and dicing fragile ingredients (like tomatoes!).
A cleaver is designed to cut through meat easily, no matter how tough or thick it may be. Most cleavers are relatively large and heavy, allowing them to generate more thrust when propelled downwards. If you tend to work with whole animals or animal cuts, a cleaver is an absolute necessity.
Slicing knives — also called carving knives — are long, sharp, slightly hooked blades that are used to carve vegetables, fruits, and meats into thin slices, which would be highly recommended by any cutlery advisor.
A slicing knife tends to be more delicate than other types of knives due to its small, razor-sharp blade and curved structure.
A slicing knife may snap, shatter, or break if used to debone an animal!
A bread knife is typically very long, very flat, and very lightweight. Its sole purpose is to slice through bread without tearing and ripping the delicate internal nooks and crannies.
Reasons to Order New Kitchen Knives
There are several reasons why you may want to order a new knife or a new set of knives. Inferior-quality blades wear down quickly and may need to be replaced, while very old knives may show signs of rusting and general wear.
Also, investing in child-sized butter knives or jam knives can help jumpstart your child’s passion for cooking! It can also help to foster a sense of independence — and, of course, you get to spend quality time with your little one as you both create yummy dishes together!
No matter who you are, what your lifestyle is like, or what types of food you like to cook, there’s a good reason to start
Features to Look For in Kitchen Knives
When choosing a kitchen knife, or a knife set, there are some critical features to keep in mind! Doing so can help to ensure that you end up with the best, highest-quality, and most affordable kitchen knives.
Kitchen knives can come in many different materials. For example, the best Spyderco knives to buy have stainless steel exteriors but carbon-steel centers. However, some cooks prefer to use ceramic-only knives.
Each material has positive and negative aspects that can influence its quality, endurance, and aesthetic style.
Ceramic is a hugely material for kitchen knife blades. It doesn’t stain very quickly, it doesn’t rust, and it can remain sharp far longer than ordinary steel! Most ceramic blades are bright white, so there’s also a special aesthetic quality about these knives.
High-quality ceramic blades can be nearly as hard as a diamond. However, less expensive ceramic alternatives may feature skinny blades that can chip and break, so be cautious!
Carbon steel is harder than stainless steel, but it’s also more expensive. Carbon steel blades require less sharpening than other types of metal-based knives.
Most kitchen knives feature stainless steel blades. It’s the most common type of blade material available. However, it does need consistent sharpening and extra care to prevent early rust damage.
Anyone seeking a super-sharp blade may want to try Damascus steel. It’s made of several alternating levels of steel, and typically has a carbon steel core for stability and additional hardness.
There are several potential materials for kitchen knife handles. These materials include wood, metal, plastic, and even bone!
Wooden handles have been used with cooking knives since ancient times. Often, a wooden handle can transform a blade into a beautiful piece of art. These handles can be some of the hardest, sturdiest, and most long-lasting out of all the knife handle materials.
However, wood can prove difficult to clean, as it is naturally porous. It can absorb stains and odors and break down and begin to rot if improperly maintained.
Most metal knife handles are composed of titanium or stainless steel. However, naked metal can prove difficult to grip, which is why a rubber cover is necessary.
Plastic is the most modern solution to knife handling issues. It comes in many ranges of hardness and can be contoured to facilitate easier gripping. Also, plastic is one of the easiest materials to keep clean. However, extreme damages can cause it to melt or crack.
Bone handles are unique, if not slightly macabre. But bone is porous and can be quite slippery, especially after several years of consistent use.
In addition, some animal bones may be the result of poaching or illegal activities, so it’s important to source bone-handled knives thoughtfully.
Knives built to tackle large jobs are heavier than knives made for small, precision tasks. However, no matter what kind of knife you intend on buying, it should feel slightly weighty in your hand.
Lightweight knives can slip or fly from your hand during food preparation, which is dangerous for everyone involved, including the cook!
Naturally, your budget will help to determine which knife or knife set is right for you. However, it’s important to remember that higher quality knives tend to enjoy longer lives, so a pricier initial investment might pay-off better over the long run.
Nearly all blades need to be sharpened from time to time. However, the amount of sharpening that any particular blade needs will depend on the blade material and amount of usage.
For example, a bread knife that hardly ever sees the light of day won’t need to be sharpened nearly as often as a paring knife that is used for food prep tasks. Keeping your sharpening needs in mind can help you choose a blade that is convenient, and that matches your habits and abilities.
Before making a final purchasing decision, it’s essential to check whether your preferred knives are dishwasher safe or not. Of course, if you wash your dishes by hand, this aspect may not be of utmost importance.
How to Buy Kitchen Knives
Buying kitchen knives is as simple as knowing what you’re looking for and then going out to find it! Of course, the entire process can be simplified by ordering online. Browsing online ensures that you have access to the most extensive selection of products, and at the lowest prices!
Still, you could choose to visit a department or home-living store in-person. Buying a knife in-store allows the shopper to interact with the product before making a purchasing decision. You can test the grip, weight, and general feeling when you shop in-person, which is one of the main advantages this method has over online shopping.
Buying Single Knives Vs. Buying Knife Sets
When purchasing kitchen knives, you’ll have to decide between purchasing single knives, one at a time, or purchasing a knife set. If you plan on cooking a select type of dish or a small selection of similar recipes, then buying singular knives may be the better option.
However, if you’d like to invest in a quality set that can last a lifetime and any culinary adventure, a set may be more appropriate. Of course, collections tend to be more expensive than single knives, though the cost of several single knives can accrue.
Your personal preferences — and budget — can help you to determine which route is best for you!
Buying Kitchen Knives is Easy!
You don’t have to stress over your next kitchen knife purchase — buying kitchen knives is easy and straightforward! All you need to do is determine which knives you need, what qualities are most important to you in a kitchen knife, where you’d like to shop, and whether you want to buy a few blades or a whole set!
Let this guide be your friend during your knife-buying journey. Not only are you more likely to end up with high-quality, low-priced tools, but you may also finish your shopping far sooner! What are you waiting for?
Use what you’ve learned to make the smartest, fastest, and best kitchen knife purchase!