If you’ve been cutting vegetables with a steak knife all these years, then do yourself a favor and buy a good kitchen knife! Your knife will make or break the entire cooking experience, so it’s important to have the right tools for the job. Here’s what you should look for when choosing a new kitchen knife.
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“A good knife is hard to find.”
Ok, so that isn’t exactly how the quote goes, but picking out the right kitchen knife can be pretty overwhelming, especially if you’re new to the wonderful world of cooking.
Let me show you what I look for in a knife so you can pick out a good one too!
Why You Need a Good Kitchen Knife
Your knife will make or break the entire cooking experience. It sounds dramatic, but it’s true!
I can remember trying to cut potatoes while on a camping trip many years ago. I didn’t have access to a good kitchen knife, so I just had to do the best I could with what I had available: a steak knife.
While my good kitchen knife could have made quick work out of that bag of potatoes, all that steak knife did was make me frustrated. It took longer and required more physical effort than was necessary.
You see, steak knives are for cutting cooked foods, not for preparing whole raw foods. And since I was trying to use the steak knife for a task it was clearly not meant to handle, I was absolutely miserable trying to cut those potatoes.
Having the right tools for the job is absolutely essential if you want to enjoy the cooking experience.
Luckily, choosing a good kitchen knife really isn’t as hard as you might think.
How to Choose the Best Kitchen Knife
You don’t need a big knife set. In fact, you really only need one kind of knife in addition to the steak knives you probably already have at home: a santoku.
I know lots of people rave about chef’s knives, but I actually prefer a santoku. I used my mom’s chef’s knife once, and it just didn’t feel right. Maybe I’m just too used to santoku knives at this point, but I definitely prefer santokus over chef’s knives.
Note: The only time I don’t use a santoku is when I cut tomatoes. I find that a serrated steak knife works better against those tender skins.
My 7” santoku is the main knife I use because it’s extremely versatile. It’s a good size for cutting all kinds of fruit and vegetables.
I do have a smaller, 5.5″ santoku that I bought thinking it would be good for smaller fruits and veggies, but I rarely use it. It’s just too small, and it seems to take longer to cut than when I use my 7″ santoku.
Regardless of the size knife you choose, make sure you get one that has a full tang. That means you can see the metal running all the way from the tip of the knife to the end of the handle.
Some full tang knives are entirely one piece. The handle and blade are one piece of metal like this:
Other full tang knives have extra handle pieces bolted to the tang like this:
When shopping for a new knife, you’ll probably also see some knives that only have a half or partial tang. This means the blade only extends partway into the handle, and the handle and blade are essentially two components that have been attached together like this:
I had a half-tang santoku once and it came apart while I was using it. Very dangerous! Get the full tang so you have a sturdier and safer knife.
I have two 7″ full tang santoku knives: a KitchenAid and a J.A. Henckels. The J.A. Henckels was more expensive, and I do like it a little bit better than the KitchenAid. I think it has to do with the weight of the knife and the feel of the handle.
Even so, both knives do their jobs extremely well, so I can’t say that I’m brand-loyal to one or the other.
My best advice is to choose a knife that looks well made, has a full tang, and fits within your budget. More on that next!
Where to Find a Good Kitchen Knife
You can always order your knives from Amazon or visit retailers such as Bed Bath & Beyond or just about any department store.
But if you want a good santoku without the big price tag, look for one at TJ Maxx, Ross, or another similar store. You can probably find a good starter knife there and then upgrade later if you think you need to.
My KitchenAid santoku came from Ross, and it has held up wonderfully!
Other Knife Tips
To keep your knife sharp, be sure to use a wood cutting board instead of a plastic one. Plastic cutting boards will dull your knife faster than wood, so a wooden board is best if you want to keep your knife in tip-top shape.
Of course, your knife will get dull eventually. Go ahead and grab a knife sharpener so you always have a sharp knife to work with.
Dull knives will cause you to work harder than you need to, plus they’re more dangerous. It’s much easier to cut yourself when you’re pressing harder and forcing your knife to penetrate whatever it is you’re trying to cut. I know this from experience!
Just keep your knife sharp and you’ll be much happier and safer in the kitchen.
Also, if you’d like a tutorial on how to use your new santoku knife, check out Dani Spies’ YouTube video. She gives an excellent demonstration of how to use this versatile knife!
Wrapping It Up
And there you have it! Choosing the best kitchen knife really isn’t as hard as you might think. All you need to look for is a 7″ full tang santoku knife to make quick work in the kitchen.
Trust me: once you’ve used a santoku, you’ll never look back!
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What about you? What’s your favorite kind of kitchen knife?
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