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    The America’s Test Kitchen Essential Knife Set set is our answer to expensive block sets filled with superfluous and impractical tools. We’ve identified four core pieces you really need—just three knives and a pair of kitchen shears—and sourced only products that earned a Winner or Best Buy rating in our rigorous equipment tests.

    Knife Kit

    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!).

    What's In Your Kit

    Knife Kit
    Victorinox 8" Swiss Army Fibrox Pro Chef's Knife
    Knife Kit
    Mercer Culinary Millennia 10" Wide Bread Knife
    Knife Kit
    Victorinox Fibrox Pro Paring Knife, 3 1/4-inch
    Knife Kit
    J.A. Henckels International Take Apart Kitchen Shears

    Kit Details / How We Tested

    Pizza Kit

    Victorinox 8" Swiss Army Fibrox Pro Chef's Knife

    Winner - Highly Recommended

    Published in Cook's Illustrated September 2013


    HANDLE ★★★
    BLADE DESIGN ★★★
    KITCHEN TASKS ★★★
    EDGE RETENTION ★★★

    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.


    Steel Type: x50CrMoV15Blade Angle: 15 Degrees

     


    Knife Kit

    Mercer Culinary Millennia 10" Wide Bread Knife

    Winner - Highly Recommended

    Published in Cook's Illustrated July 2016


    CUTTING ★★★
    COMFORT ★★★
    EDGE RETENTION ★★★

    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

     


    Knife Kit

    Victorinox Fibrox Pro Paring Knife

    Best Buy - Highly Recommended

    Published in Cook's Illustrated January 2011


    CUTTING ★★★
    PEELING ★★★
    PRECISION ★★★
    EDGE RETENTION ★★½
    USER-FRIENDLINESS ★★

    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.


    Weight: 0.75ozBlade Length: 3 1/4-inch

     


    Knife Kit

    J.A. Henckels International Take Apart Kitchen Shears

    Best Buy - Recommended

    Published in Cook's Country April 2011


    COMFORT ★★½
    CUTTING ★★★

    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.


    Jar and screw cap gripper, nutcrackerCleanup: Separable blades. Dishwasher-safe.

     

    Knife Starter Kit

    Knives 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 Tip 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.