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Knives and Cutlery Buying Guide

Understanding the differences in knife materials will help you make the best selection for your level of skill in the kitchen. You also learn about the different types of knives to help you determine whether you want to purchase a complete cutlery set or build your own collection.

Common Knife Materials

High Carbon Stainless Steel: High carbon stainless steel is the most popular steel type for high quality kitchen cutlery. It's very hard, will maintain a sharp edge, and is stain-resistant.
Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is very resistant to rust and stains. It is not hard enough to maintain the sharpest possible edge, but is a popular choice for less expensive cutlery.
Ceramic: Ceramic knives require no maintenance and can keep a sharp edge for months or even years. Although they are not made of steel, they are very hard. They can only be used  on cutting boards because they are hard enough to cut the glaze on dinnerware.

Types of Knives

Chef's Knife

  • An all-purpose knife
  • Blade usually 6-12 inches long
  • Sometimes also called a French knife
Use it for: Chopping, slicing, and dicing thicker cuts of fruits, meats, and veggies.

Carving Knife

  • Often sold in sets that include a carving fork
  • Blade usually 8-15 inches long
  • The beveled or smooth blade can vary in flexibility depending on the type of meat it's made to carve
Use it for: Fileting large fish, or carving large poultry or roasts

Steak Knife

  • In the U.S. the blades are usually serrated (sharp with saw-like teeth)
  • Blade usually 4-6 inches long
  • Vary in thickness
Use it for: Cutting portions of main dish servings, such as chicken or steak.

Paring Knife

  • Small with a sharp blade that rounded on the cutting side
  • Blade usually 3-5 inches long
  • Easy to handle
Use it for: Coring, cutting, mincing, and peeling small ingredients

Utility Knife

  • Lightweight and small
  • Blade usually 4-7 inches long
  • A good choice "in between" a chef's knife and a paring knife
Use it for: Cutting and prepping medium size fruits and vegetables

Santoku Knife

  • Considered the "Asian chef's knife"
  • Blade is thinner and shorter than a chef's knife, with a straighter cutting edge
  • Blade usually 4-7 inches long
Use it for: Cutting foods into fine pieces or butterflying poultry

Bread Knife

  • Has a serrated edge (sharp with saw-like teeth).
  • Blade usually 8-10 inches long
  • Can be difficult to sharpen
Use it for: Food that is hard on the outside and soft on the inside, such as crusty bread

Slicing Knife

  • Thin blade with either a round or pointed tip
  • Blade usually 8-12 inches long
  • Blades vary in flexibility depending on the firmness of the meat they're made to slice
Use it for: Slicing cooked fish, meat, and poultry

Boning Knife

  • Narrow and easily manipulated
  • Blade usually 4-7 inches long
  • Blades vary in rigidity depending on the size of the meat they're made to cut
Use it for: Removing the main bone (such as in a ham) from the meat
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Complementary Pieces

Round out your cutlery collection with these must-haves. You'll be prepared for every job!

  1. Knife Sharpeners & Storage: With options such as honing steels to electric knife sharpeners, these tools will keep your knives from becoming dull. When your knives aren't being used, keep them safe in a storage tray or knife bag. 
  2. Cutting & Utility Boards: With seven materials to choose from, from wood to marble, you'll find chopping boards, cheese boards, and more. 
  3. Scissors & Kitchen Shears: Easily cut through poultry joints or pry off jar lids with these versatile, multipurpose tools. 
Avoid the dishwasher. All knives should be cleaned with hot water, soap, and a non-abrasive scrubber, such as a sponge. Knives should never go in the dishwasher because the force of the water can dull the blade and sometimes cause handles to warp. 

    Cutlery Sets
    Knife Sharpeners

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