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Choosing Steak Knives

Don't massacre your gorgeous, juicy steak with poor cutlery. After testing a wide range of steak knives, we've come up with a list of must-have features to look for when you shop.

Fine Cooking Issue 93
Photo: Scott Phillips
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If you’ve taken the time to carefully choose and cook a juicy steak, don’t massacre your masterpiece with poor cutlery. Shopping for steak knives can be overwhelming—prices range from less than $20 to more than $400 for a set of four, blade choices include serrated or smooth, and handle styles range from black plastic to all-stainless to exotic woods. After testing a range of steak knives, we suggest looking for the features listed in the panel below.

The following knives (pictured above right, in order) impressed our testers with their ease of cutting, balance, weight, and overall feel:

Chicago Cutlery’s Kyoto knife was an overall favorite for its smooth, oval-shaped handle. Slightly longer and heftier than the other knives and with a modern look, this one outperformed many of the pricier models. A set of four is $99.99 at Kohls.com.

Chroma was the darling of testers, with its surgical design (by carmaker F. A. Porsche) and the way it feels like an extension of your hand. The knives are $139.95 for four at Amazon.com.

Solicut, a 60-year-old German cutlery company that just began selling in the United States, makes a beautifully balanced knife that glides through meat. Its triple-riveted handle comes in black, Brazilian kingwood, and Andalusian olive wood (shown, $84 each or $504 for a set of six at Cutleryandmore.com).

J. A. Henckels makes a Twin Four Star II knife that had more flexibility in the blade than the other models tested as well as thinner handles shaped to fit in the hand nicely. The knives cost $169.95 for four at Cooking.com.

Features to look for:

  • Non-serrated blades. Straight-edged knives glide, rather than saw, through meat, resulting in smooth, not jagged, pieces. Straight-edged knives can also be sharpened, and it’s the sharp edge that’s key to cutting through meat effortlessly.
  • Forged blades. To some degree, the price of knives is related to what they are made of and how they are made. Stamped knives are punched out of a sheet of steel, while forged knives are made by heating a thick piece of steel and pounding it into shape with a hammer. The forging process results in a heavier knife that holds a sharp edge longer, and this more involved process usually results in a more expensive knife. We think it’s worth it.
  • Comfortable handles. I was impressed when I was offered a choice of six kinds of steak knives with my meal at a fine steak restaurant. It showed that the restaurant recognized that a large part of the performance of a knife is its feel, which differs from person to person.
    To find the best knife for you, visit a well-stocked kitchen store where you can hold a range of knives. You’ll get an idea of what handle material you prefer and what brand fits your hand well.


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