Best Steak Knives, Reviews – 2021
Knife enthusiasts know the importance of having the correct knife for the correct purpose. Just like any other tool, there are many different types of knives. And just as you wouldn’t use a plus-shaped screwdriver on a star-shaped screw, you shouldn’t use ordinary table knives for steak. Steak is usually cut by slicing across muscle fibres. This is important because slicing across muscle fibres means that while the cut of the meat is uniform and flat, it can be more difficult to slice into pieces while eating. An ordinary table knife isn’t particularly sharp, and it’s not meant to cut tougher materials like steak. Since it wasn’t designed with this application in mind, the user can be left sawing and spending an unnecessary amount of effort just to enjoy their meal. This isn’t proper and is not the best way to enjoy steak.
If you’re a fan of steak and want to elevate your experience, you’re most likely looking for a good steak knife. While steak knives are pretty standard, and usually even the most unimpressive of the bunch will be better than a table knife, what’s the point of buying something if you’re not going to purchase the best item available for your needs and means? For someone just starting to research this subject, things may seem entirely unintelligible, with most reviewers using fancy words and unnecessary linguistic peacocking. Noticing such a deficit, I thought it best to explain the basic terms and essential context before delving into my picks. If you’re already a connoisseur, feel free to scroll past this section. But for the rest of you, I hope I can do justice to the art form of knife culture through my simplistic explanations.
First off, let’s lead with a short history lesson. Specialised knives specifically designed for use with steaks only started around 1945-46. You see, table knives used to always be sharp until the early 20th century when global factors and changing ideals lead to the emergence of specialised knives. The most significant factor contributing to this was the decline in the number of domestic/household workers. Since sharp knives needed to be kept awake by regular sharpening and polishing, people just did not have the time to keep up, and thus sharper table knives came to a decline. However, as I’ve expressed above, steak requires sharp knives and with advancements in technology, stainless steel steak knives saw a rise in popularity, which required no polishing. Soon after, serration became common to avoid the need for sharpening, and with modern technology and heat-treatment, there is no need for even serration anymore since knives will remain sharp for their entire expected lifespan.
However, the debate between serration and straight-edge isn’t as simple as avoiding sharpening, and the decision you will be making should take into account all their strengths and weaknesses. There are two main types of cutting motions you can make while preparing or consuming food with the help of a knife. These are either “push cuts” or “slice cuts.” A push cut is when you place the blade’s edge against the steak and push into it, cutting off a piece. A slicing cut is when you place the edge against the steak and saw back-and-forth while pushing in. The most basic comparison is that a plain or straight edge is much better at push cuts, while serrations are a lot more useful for slicing or sawing cuts.
This depends on your preference and how you want to eat your steak, as there is no objectively better side for this. The other point is that plain edges might need to be sharpened from time to time for the most optimal experience, whereas serrated blades can stay much sharper for much longer. Counter-balancing is the point that straight-edged blades can be sharped easily with a whetstone, while serrated blades need specialised tools and machinery to sharpen correctly. It is not a simple answer and the one you decide to pick is entirely up to you.
Moving on to further important terminology, first up is the size of the blade. This is somewhat up to you, depending on your stature and the size of your hands. However, I recommend going with a smaller blade rather than a larger one. Smaller blades will be easier to manoeuvre and will therefore be more precise. While a longer blade might look better on the table, it will not be as satisfying or easy to use as a relatively shorter one.
The next term you need to understand is knife tang, and this requires some explanation. Knives are not just a blade and a handle. The metal blade has a thin, dull end that extends into the handle to hold the blade in place properly and to improve the balance and lifespan of any knife or sword. This protrusion is called the “tang,” and there’s no debate about which tang is better for a steak knife. It’s always the more extended tang, a full tang being when it extends to the hilt, i.e., end of the handle. A longer tang offers more security, better fitting, ease of use, and a longer lifespan than a short or half-length tang.
As for the rest of the terms, they’re pretty self-explanatory, and I assume you’ll already have some idea of what quality, fitting, and balance are. However, one bit may seem easy but sparks a lot of debate, and that’s the handle. Of course, you know what the handle is, but there are many different types of handles, and the material you want will depend on your personal preferences and tastes. I recommend reading up about the various advantages and disadvantages of each type of handle if you want the best experience, but the scope of this article does not allow for a thorough explanation of this subject.
With all of this explanation out of the way, let’s get into the list itself. Keep in mind that this list is not in any particular order, and I recommend reading my short reviews to figure out which choice is best for you.
Dalstrong Shadow Black Series Set – $119
Starting very strong, we have Dalstrong’s incredibly unique and exquisitely designed Shadow Black Series. The angular look might look uncomfortable, but it’s designed carefully to maintain the extraordinary look while still being very ergonomic and comfortable. It’s a plain-edged blade with a full-body tang, but don’t worry. The blade is treated with state-of-the-art technology and is highly resistant to blunting. Unfortunately, this does come with the downside of a more “brittle” blade, which can break if it falls from a sufficient height. However, the price isn’t too high, at least not for the quality and work put into the product. And each of the blades in the set of 4 come with individual sheathes, in case you only use them occasionally and want to preserve them for longer.
Wüsthof Classic IKON Set – $349
Wüsthof is a reputable brand, well-known for very high-quality luxury knives with incredible balance and impeccable classic design. The knives in the set are honed to an incredibly sharp straight edge that Wüsthof claims they used a proprietary “Precision Edge Technology” (PEtec) that is 20% sharper than blades that can be designed without utilizing this PEtec method, while also doubling edge retention, which is a particularly weak point of plain edged blades. Also, the knives come in a friendly, sleek case that’s a great place to house them while also making them a better gift. However, their price is the point that makes most people reconsider. They are pretty expensive, but you will not be disappointed if you can find the budget for a good set of Wüsthof knives.
Bellemain Premium Set – $25
Moving from some of the most expensive steak knives on this list to one of the best budget options, let’s talk about Bellemain’s Premium set. These knives are very high-quality, well-designed and ergonomic, sitting well in average-sized hands with a lovely balance owing in part to a full tang and Bellemain’s fantastic engineers. In addition, the blade is serrated, maintaining the sharp edge for longer without the need for excessive technological advancements or sharpening stones. Plus, you could just buy a new set with how cheap these are when the blades eventually become dull with use.
MesserMeister Avanta Set – $59
MesserMeister’s Avanta series is a set of relatively inexpensive but very customisable steak knives that all come with a full tang and a very sleek and modern design. You can get the knives with several options for the hilt – POM Black, Stainless Steel, or Pakkawood – and choose between a combination edge and a plain edge. A combination edge is one where some part is serrated, and the rest is a straight edge. In MesserMeister’s Avanta set, the jagged part has micro-serrations to maintain the overall look and feel of the knife. You can also get the set with edge guards, although that option is only available with the set of six, rather than the set of four. I like the look of the pakkawood option, although you should go with whichever options strike your fancy.
J.A. Henckels International Stainless Steel Set – $60
Featuring very large, wide serrations and a sleek, elegant and timeless design language, Henckels’ stainless steel knives are an outstanding deal at the price they charge for a set of eight. They may be a little light for some people’s liking, but I think that’s an appreciable fact in itself. While lightweight, they’re still very well-balanced with a full tang and a nice weight to the steel handle. They may seem a little plain, but I prefer the term understated to define their quiet yet highly functional design language.
Chicago Cutlery Fusion Set – $35
Chicago Cutlery has been around for quite a while, starting in 1930 as a sharpening service. They make perfect kitchen implements created through forging rather than stamping. The advantage of forging is that it leads to overall stronger products. However, it is more time-consuming and expensive than plain stamping. Thankfully, the product itself isn’t costly and even features a full tang while having a straight edge. As for the handle, they describe their handle as “Asian influenced,” featuring a “cushion grip.” This marketing jargon means that the plastic used is softer and has some give to it, making for an easier and more comfortable experience. At this price, you can’t go wrong with the Chicago Cutlery Fusion Set.
Home Hero Serrated Set Black – $20
If you like the black blade’s look but don’t want to dish out Dalstrong’s relatively high asking price, Home Hero has a really good set on offer for very cheap. While the whole knife doesn’t look as crazy or unique as the Dalstrong, it’s still perfect for what it is. They also come in a regular silver, if you’re more into that look. Plus, if you didn’t like Dalstrong’s plain edge, these are serrated in a pretty standard serration style. While I can’t find a lot of information about the tang on these particular knives, Home Hero describes them as having a very sturdy and ergonomic handle, which implies that it’s a 75% tang at the very least. And regardless, they have a 100% money-back guarantee, no questions asked. The asking price is low, and it’s entirely risk-free.
While these are technically two different sets of knives, most opinions and facts are the same for both. Firstly, let’s get into the Steak-Santoku Bundle. This one comes with 4 classic raised-tip serrated full-tang high-quality steak knives and one Japanese multi-purpose Santoku knife from the internationally recognised Victorinox; the people behind the original Swiss Army Knife in 1891. While the scope of this review isn’t enough to fully cover the Santoku knife, just know that it is instrumental in the kitchen. As for the steak knives themselves, they’re top-tier quality, as you’d expect. For the second bundle, they’re pretty much the same knives as the first bundle, except round-tipped. This can be useful if you don’t intend to lead into the meat with the tip of your knife and find the regular raised tip unnecessary or even detracting from the experience.
Jean Dubost Laguiole Knives Set with Olive Wood Handles – $349
These are more luxurious than just about anything else on this list and are proportionately more expensive. However, don’t mistake these to just fit the form over function stereotype. These knives will slice through any steak you might want to try, and they’ll do it with style. The only compromise with these knives comes from the care you’ll need to take. You will have to handwash them, and you might have to resharpen the blades and oil the handles to maintain the original beautiful look of these fantastic knives. Of course, you can skip out on the oiling of the handles and they’ll still be fantastic, but it just adds an extra layer of premium presentation when the luxurious knife sits in your hand.
Shun DMS-400 Classic Set – $428
Another highly luxurious set of blades, these are more on the easier-to-care-for side of the spectrum. They’re razor-sharp, and you won’t have to resharpen them for quite a while due to their 68-layer Damascus steel cladding. Plus, the handle is Pakkawood, which doesn’t require much maintenance, if any at all. The style of these knives is simplistic but impeccable, with a stunningly beautiful box to match. Handcrafted in Japan, they’re made following the ancient traditions held for Japanese blades then and still hold today. Incredibly high quality, these are genuinely no-compromise blades.