Consider Your Knife Needs
Starting from scratch? Then a small knife set might be your best bet. You’ll save money over buying knives individually and they often come with a block for storage. Just make sure the set includes knives you’ll use like a chef’s knife, a long serrated bread knife, and a 4-5 inch utility knife. Skip sets that include lots of pieces you don’t need.
Buy the Basics
The single most important cutting implement in any kitchen is the chef’s knife, which comes in sizes between 6 and 14 inches. We recommend 8-inch knives, which are long enough to slice through a roast or cut up a large piece of meat, but not too big for finer tasks like mincing herbs or chopping vegetables. Other good knives to own are a long serrated bread knife and a short (4- to 5-inch) utility knife.
Look for a Better Blade
The vast majority of kitchen knives are either forged and stamped. Forged blades are heated and formed from a single piece of steel while stamped blades are made from a piece of steel punched out from a large sheet of metal. If you want to hang on to your knife for a long time, opt for a forged blade; they are stronger, and far more sturdy in your hand than knives made from stamped steel.
Pay Attention to Design
Knives with a full tang (a blade that is made of a single piece of metal that runs all the way through the knife handle) tend to offer the best control. A bolster (a thick piece of metal between the handle and the blade) offers extra weight and can help balance the knife. It also provides an easy place to grip if you use a pinch grip to hold your knife. A curved blade, which is easy to rock back and forth on a cutting board, will help with finer tasks like mincing or slicing small foods.
Take It For a Test Run
You may not be able to slice and dice in the store, but make sure you pick up any knife you’re considering. Find a length you’re comfortable with and make sure the grip feels good in your hand. Depending on how you hold the knife, you may appreciate a contoured handle or rubberized grip. Also notice the heft; a heavy knife will be great for more arduous tasks like cutting through bones or root vegetables, but may tire your hand out after lots of cutting. If you want one that’s super lightweight, consider an ultra-light ceramic knife.