Ginsu. Cuisinart. A thousand brands you’ve never heard of. With so many options out there, how can you choose a truly great (but reasonably priced) set of kitchen knives?

Knives are so important that many professional chefs bring their own blades to work, each hand-picked for durability, weight, sharpness, and shape. Even if you’re not a cook, your dinner knives could be so dull that you’ll struggle to carve up steak. Today, rather than covering exotic knives, I’m focusing on some great mainstream picks that anyone can afford and enjoy, starting with awesome steak knives from leading knife brand J.A. Henckels, which runs neck-and-neck with longtime rival Wüsthof in offering truly excellent cutting tools. Unlike the Ginsus, Sunbeams, and other mediocre brands out there, Henckels and Wüsthof knives have decades-long reputations for durability, long-term sharpness, and great design.

As Amazon’s #1 best-selling steak knife (with a 4.4/5-star user rating), a four-knife version of the J.A. Henckels set above has composite handles rather than steel, and sells for only $20. For $40, you can get eight Henckels knives with steel handles, a version that has an even higher 4.6/5-star Amazon rating. Having used both types of Henckels steak knives, I can tell you that the all-steel ones feel especially great in the hand and slice meat with superb precision; both versions use serrated blades that legitimately never need sharpening. Our steak knives are every bit as sharp now as they were when we bought them years ago.

More great steak and kitchen knife picks are below…

expand full story