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KEY:  GOOD ★★★  FAIR ★★  POOR ★

Knives are the most important tools in your kitchen. Good knives make cooking safer, easier, and more fun. Unfortunately, shopping the staggering array of knife styles, materials, and specialties can be bewildering. By focusing on high­-quality essentials, you get better performance for your money (and your counter space!).

Victorinox 8" Swiss Army Fibrox Pro Chef's Knife

Winner - Highly Recommended
Published in Cook's Illustrated Magazine September 2013 We butchered whole chickens, chopped butternut squash, diced onions, and minced parsley to assess each knife’s performance completing standard kitchen tasks. We noted blade design issues as well as handle comfort and security. Before, during, and after testing, we evaluated each knife’s sharpness.

Mercer Culinary Millennia 10" Wide Bread Knife

Winner - Highly Recommended
Published in Cook's Illustrated Magazine July 2016 We ran nine serrated knives through a series of tests to find one capable of handling all our usual tasks. We worked through 50 pounds of tomatoes, 18 yellow cakes, nine loaves of challah, 30 crusty rustic loaves and nine towering BLT sandwiches. Multiple testers, with varying dominant hands, hand sizes, and skill levels assessed the knives and rated them on their cutting ability and comfort.
DIMENSIONS 5" x 1" x 18" BLADE LENGTH 10" WEIGHT 4.8oz

Victorinox Fibrox Pro Paring Knife

Best Buy - Highly Recommended
Published in Cook's Illustrated Magazine June 2017 We gauged precision and agility by hulling strawberries and tested sharpness by sectioning oranges, mincing shallots, and slicing ginger root. Knives with good balance, weight, and proportion and comfortable grips performed best.

J.A. Henckels International Take Apart Kitchen Shears

Published in Cook's Country Magazine April 2011 We evaluated shears on their performance and comfort while cutting whole raw chickens, twine, parchment, woody fresh rosemary stems, and tender pie dough. We paid attention to tension, handle design and material, blade length, and overall balance.

Knife Education and Tips

Testing Knife Sharpness

To tell if a knife is sharp, use the paper test. Holding a sheet of paper firmly at the top with one hand, draw the blade down through the paper, heel to tip, with your other hand. The knife should glide through the paper and require only minimal pushing.

Sharpening vs. Honing

A sharp knife is a fast knife, and a dull knife is an accident waiting to happen. Dull knives are dangerous because a dull blade requires more force to do the job and so has a higher chance of slipping and missing the mark.

When to use a sharpening steel: Use a sharpening steel (or honing steel) to hone the edge of a slightly dulled blade. Sweeping the blade along the steel realigns the edge. When to use a knife sharpener: If your knife is quite dull, you’ll need to reshape its edge. You have three choices: You can send it out, you can use a whetstone (tricky for anyone but a professional), or you can use an electric or manual sharpener.

Knife Tips

Depending on the food being prepared, you will use different parts of the knife blade and different motions. Here are four basic motions used.

Small Items - Keep Top Down

To cut small items, such as celery, push the blade forward and down, using the blade’s curve to guide the middle of the knife through smooth strokes.

Large Items - Lift Blade Up

To cut large items, such as eggplant, lift the entire blade off the board to help make smooth strokes.

Mincing - Use Both Hands

To mince herbs and garlic, grip the handle with one hand and rest the fingers of your other hand lightly on the knife tip. This grip facilitates the up-­and­-down rocking motion needed for mincing. Pivot the knife as you work through the pile of food.

Tough Items - Use the Heel

To cut tough foods like winter squash or bone­-in chicken parts, use the heel of the knife. Use one hand to grip the handle and place the flat palm of your other hand on top of the blade. Cut straight down into the item, pushing the blade gently. Make sure your hand and the knife are dry to prevent slippage.

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