It’s hard to put into words how great this knife is. It is impeccably balanced, gorgeous to look at and scores a high 60 on the Rockwell scale. It slices, chops and glides through anything gracefully and is somehow also fairly corrosion-resistant. It’s made of a slightly altered AUS-10 steel, which is technically a high carbon stainless mix (it carries properties of stainless and carbon steels). Its biggest fault is a penchant for staining, but staining only occurs when not properly cleaned and dried after use.
As nice as it is, though, we don’t recommend everyone runs out and spends $209 on a single knife (for what it’s worth, MAC’s more premium 8-inch chef’s knife is excellent and $60 more affordable than the Korin option). This is a knife you give as a gift to someone who you know will maintain it — maybe yourself.
Best Kitchen Knife Brands
Victorinox Swiss Army makes a lot of stuff — an actual mountain of utility and pocket knives, fragrances, watches of all sorts, luggage and travel gear and, yes, plenty of kitchen knives. What makes its kitchen knives great is a combination of simple design choices (the handles are never too aggressive on the ergonomics end), solid materials and a level of mass availability that’s absent from other companies making good knives (you can find Victorinox in loads of brick-and-mortar stores and everywhere online). It’s become famous for its uber-affordable Fibrox line, and rightfully so, but its more premium collections of rosewood-handled blades and Grand Maitre line are worth a look as well.
Wüsthof’s classic 8-inch chef’s knife is probably the most frequently recommended premium knife on the internet, and the rest of its kitchen knives are right up there with it. The German company is easily one of the most consistent makers of high-quality knives, and it does so at pretty much every price point. If you want a German-style knife, Wüsthof is a good place to start looking.
Awarded the prestigious Good Design Award in 1990 and the even more rare Good Design Long Life Award years later, Global’s kitchen knives are atypical but pretty awesome. Made of Cromova 18 steel — a semi-mysterious mixture of chromium, molybdenum and vanadium that belongs to Global’s parent company, Yoshikin — its knives buck convention and are one solid piece of hardwearing, edge-holding stainless steel. The handle feels a bit like the outside of a golf ball and, though you might doubt its usefulness at first, it does feel nice in the hand. Of all Global’s attributes, its greatest is maneuverability — its knives are so, so light and super balanced.
Mac knives are recommended all over the place — see: Wirecutter, Epicurious and Buzzfeed — as an ideal entry point into knives that aren’t going to chip and widdle away. After testing a number of Mac Knives, we recommend steering clear of its sub-$100 options — there’s better value elsewhere. That said, the company uses good steel and more accessible bolster and handle designs than most at its price range.
Zwilling J.A. Henckels International
With solid materials, classic designs, widespread availability and a very long legacy, the knives from Zwilling Group’s biggest cutlery line, J.A. Henckels International, are some of the best you can buy. Period. Also, the company’s good frequently go on sale, meaning with a little patience, you can get a knife (like the recommendation for best Western-style chef’s knife) for way under the listed price.
Other Essential Kitchen Knives
Best Bread Knife: Hoffritz Commercial Bread Knife
The long serrated bread knife is essential, and anyone who thinks otherwise hasn’t tried to cut even slices of bread with a chef’s knife. But, unlike chef’s knives, bread knives don’t really gain much value when made with better materials — fact is, sharpening a bread knife is next to impossible. These two things combined make for an easy purchasing decision: buy cheap. This knife from Hoffritz, an old name in knifemaking that’s recently released a line of products aimed at the commercial kitchen, makes for an ideal bread butchering tool. Tojiro also makes a decent enough bread knife ($16) that looks a bit better and is slightly longer as well.
Best Paring Knife: Victorinox 3.25-Inch Spear Point Paring Knife
The simple truth is that, though a paring knife is probably the second most useful knife in the cook’s arsenal, it still lags way behind a do-it-all chef’s knife. So, like the bread knife, the paring knife should follow the cheaper-is-better idea.
Victorinox’s little paring knife pieces apart cherry tomatoes, shallots, garlic cloves (if you don’t like the big knife, small object dynamic), pulling some rind off a lemon and whatever else you need it for. If you want something nicer, Mac’s 4-inch forged blade paring knife ($38) feels a bit more solid in the hand and is made with steel that will likely last a fair bit longer. Both come with recommendations from the gear testing team at Serious Eats, too.
Best Serrated Utility Knife: Wüsthof Classic Serrated Utility Knife
There are a dozen names for this knife — tomato knife, citrus knife, sausage knife and so on — affirming its place in the “essentials” category. Knives like these, which are predominantly used for foods with firm exteriors and reasonably soft interiors, need to carve through foods without destroying what lies on the inside (a la tomatoes or oranges), so better steel and engineering is the better long-run choice. Wüsthof’s is a good size, a hefty weight (relative to its size) and does the trick perfectly. We also tried Zwilling’s ($70) similarly priced option but found the added weight and slightly lower cost of Wüsthof’s to better it in most ways.
Nonessential Kitchen Knives
Best Slicer (Carving Knife): Victorinox Fibrox 12-Inch Slicer
There are a lot of great slicers out there (also called carving knives), and unless you frequently cook whole birds, roasts or other large cuts of meat, you can get away with using your chef’s knife on the off-chance you do go that route one night. The slicer is a long, narrow blade that’s slightly flexible, meant for penetrating and divvying up those larger pieces of meat and separating them from bone and other tendons. Our pick, Victorinox’s 12-inch slicer is just that, and it provides a nice, no BS grip for putting some muscle to get through tougher meats.
Best Cheese Knife: Swissmar Cheese Plane
A cheese knife is really more for show than it is actual use. Unless you’re buying your cheese by the wheel, and bless you for that, you really don’t need one (just use a paring knife to break down blocks). But, if you must have one, you may as well get something your other knives would have a hard time accomplishing, like creating a slice of cheese with some degree of uniformity and elegance. Hence, Swissmar’s cheese plane, which pulls delightful bites of cheese off blocks and ensures every slice is roughly the same size.
Best Oyster Knife: OXO Good Grips Oyster Knife
Oyster knives are almost all the same in that most have a bent tip blade for prying the creature open and some stubby handle to apply force. You could buy pretty much any decent oyster knife under $10 and be happy, but we prefer OXO’s version with the company’s Good Grip handle.