If you are a beginner cooking enthusiast, it can sometimes feel like all your knives suck. What’s worse is that when you want to buy new ones, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available to you. And when you are on a budget, things can get even more complicated!
Well, the good news is that we can help with that. Whether you want to give a knife as a gift, you are on the hunt for the ultimate knife gift set, or you are just looking for that perfect kitchen knife for your own use, here is a look at some of the best kitchen knives you can buy today.
Since this guide is tailored to beginners and people who are just starting to explore cooking as a hobby, we wanted to make sure that all our recommendations are high quality yet affordable. For this reason, all the knives on this list cost no more than $100 at the time of writing.
In this guide:
- Where to start
- Types of knives
- Home cook knives starter pack
- Complete beginner set under $100
- Best kitchen knives under $100
- How to properly sharpen your knives
- Should you buy a knife set?
- Final Thoughts
Where to start?
When trying to figure out where to start when buying kitchen knives, the first thing you need to ask yourself is how much you want to spend based on how passionate you are about cooking. Kitchen knives are available at all sorts of price points. You just need to figure out how much you want to spend on yours. Of course, generally speaking, the more expensive the knife, the better performance you’ll get out of it (although as we’ll see later on in this guide, this may not always be the case!)
You also need to have a basic understanding of the different types of knives available to you.
Types of Knives
Here are some common knife types that most people will interact with in the kitchen. Planning to give a knife as a gift? Better get familiar with some of these knife names!
- Steak knives: Steak knives are short table knives that are 3 to 6 inches long. They have serrated edges and are designed to be used together with forks to cut bite-sized pieces of meat on your plate. They are not prep knives.
- Chef’s knives: Chef’s knives are the core prep knives for most prep work. They are usually between 6 to 14 inches long with a long non-serrated blade.
- Petty/ Utility/ Paring Knives: Paring knives are small all-purpose knives that are similar in shape and usage to Chef’s knives except they are about half the length in size, about 3 to 6 inches long. They are used for peeling fruits and vegetables, dicing herbs, cutting vegetables, and doing detail-oriented work like garnishing.
- Bread knives: Bread knives are serrated knives that are typically 8 to 10 inches long designed for cutting bread and baked goods. They have a toothlike edge that works like a saw.
- Cleavers: Cleavers are large knife types with rectangular blades that look similar to hatchet blades. They are usually used as kitchen or butcher knives for splitting up large pieces of bones or meat.
- Butcher’s knives: Butcher knives are knives that are designed to butcher and dress animal carcasses. They feature large rectangular blades that are used to split, strip, and cut meat.
- Carving knives: Carving knives are designed to slice thin cuts of meat. They may feature a scalloped blade to improve the separation of sliced cuts of meat.
Most beginners and non-professional cooks will only need a handful of knives in their kitchens.
The knives you buy will usually depend on how often you cook specific dishes. For example, if you are chopping large cuts of meat every weekend, or if you are cutting up large birds every other day, you’ll probably want to invest in a cleaver or butcher’s knife.
Home Cook Knives Starter Pack
If you are just starting your cooking journey, or if you are someone who does not cook professionally but are passionate about cooking, here is a great starter pack:
- A Chef’s Knife
- A Petty/ Utility/ Paring Knife
- A Bread Knife
- A pair of kitchen shears
- A cleaver or slicer
- A high-quality cutting board, such as the ProTeak (highly recommended by America’s Test Kitchen) or the OXO Good Grips
Our top picks for each:
Complete Beginner Set Under $100
If you only have $100 to spend on a beginner’s knife set, here’s what to get:
You can then upgrade as needed depending on how passionate you feel about your knives and your cooking.
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Best Kitchen Knives under $100
Best Chef’s Knives
Here are some of the best kitchen knives for beginners and cooking enthusiasts. If you are looking to give a knife as a gift to someone who enjoys cooking, this is a great starting point.
1. Wusthof Knives
Wusthof knives are usually the first knives professional chefs use. They are usually used throughout most culinary schools. They are extremely durable and great workhorse knives to have in a kitchen. By far the best kitchen knife for its cost and definitely worth every penny.
- KITCHEN WORKHORSE – The WÜSTHOF 8” Classic Chef’s Knife is essential for preparing any meal. This all-purpose cook’s...
- WÜSTHOF CLASSIC SERIES – The full Tang, Triple Riveted handles of the classic line offer the widest range of cutlery that...
- CHEF’S KNIFE – Features an 8” long blade, 4.5” long handle and weighs 8.5 ounce Full Bolster and Finger Guard, German...
2. Kiwi Knives
Kiwi knives are dirt-cheap Thai-style knives that are tough and sharp. They are great practice knives for the budding professional chef and nice dependable knives for the home cook.
- Chef's Knife Kiwi 488 Kitchen Cut Sharp Blade7.6" Cookware Stainless Steel
- Quantity : 1 pcs. Blade Material : Stainless Steel. Handle Material : Wood.
- Best seller and Best quality
3. MAC Knives
MAC knives may be a little pricey, but they are a great choice for anyone who is extremely passionate about cooking. With proper maintenance, they can last for decades.
- 2mm Blade, rust-resistant, exceptionally sharp, made out of high carbon and keeps the edge for a long time
- Original Molybdenum steel has better edge-retention
- Pakka wood handle
4. Global Knives
Just like MAC knives, Global knives are a little pricey but extremely well made, durable, professional-grade knives for the person who is really into cooking. They, too, can last decades when properly cared for.
- Lightweight, precisely balanced 8-inch or 20cm chef's knife
- Blade made of high-tech molybdenum/vanadium stainless steel
- Edge retains razor sharpness exceptionally well
5. Cutco Knives
If you are looking for a decent knife that gets the job done, this is it. Also, it comes with a lifetime warranty so that’s great. Cutco knives are especially good for onion-cutting, so if you have been wondering which knife to cut onions, this is it!
- Ultra sharp straight edge CUTCO's razor-sharp, straight-edge knives can be maintained and sharpened at home.
- Full tang Blade extends full length of the handle for extra strength and balance.
- Ergonomic handle Universal fit for large or small, left or right hands. Thumb and forefinger lock into place for safety and...
6. Victorinox Rosewood Pro 8″ Chef’s Knives
This is a popular workhorse knife in almost every professional kitchen. It is a great dependable knife that is comfortable to use, which is why many chefs love it.
- ELEGANCE FOR WORK & HOME. This Rosewood Chef's Knife has been the top choice of both home chefs and professionals alike. A...
- FIT FOR ALL TASKS. Designed to handle kitchen tasks both big and small, this durable knife's razor sharp and laser-tested...
- EASY HANDLING. This knife features a Rosewood handle for a comfortable grip and easy handling. This exceptional knife is...
Best Petty/Paring/Utility Knife
A paring knife is a knife used for general purposes. Here is a look at some of the best ones from the best knife brands.
1. Mercer Culinary Genesis
This is a great starter paring knife for someone who wants to seriously get into cooking.
- QUALITY CONSTRUCTION: Knife is precision-forged with high-carbon German steel for better durability, and taper-ground edge...
- SUPERIOR DESIGN: The finest handle in forged cutlery; built to last ergonomic handle offers comfort and a non-slip grip, even...
- BEST USE: The perfect in-between knife for day-to-day cutting. Ideal for slicing pickles, fruit, cheese, peeling apples, or...
2. Tojiro DP Petty Knife
When you are ready to upgrade to a more professional-grade petty knife, Tojiro knives are exactly what you need.
- Steel Type: Stain-Resistant Steel
- Blade Length: 6 -inches
- Handle Material: Composite Wood
3. Victorinox Paring Knife
Victorinox is well-known for making good, dependable knives. You cannot go wrong with this paring knife.
- A COUNTERTOP ESSENTIAL: As the master of your kitchen, you deserve the right tools to express your creativity. This...
- FIT FOR ALL TASKS: Victorinox knives are dexterous, ergonomic and universally adaptable. From classic styles to modern looks...
- EASY HANDLING: We've designed a contemporary, textured handle with a non-slip grip -- even when wet. These exceptional knives...
Best Bread Knives
The best bread knives are simple and functional. Unless you work in a professional bakery, there is no reason to break the bank when buying a bread knife. And even then, investing in a high-quality bread slicer machine would be a smarter choice.
1. Cuisinart C77TR-8SL
This is a well-made, dependable bread knife that should serve you well for many years if properly maintained.
- Superior high-carbon stainless steel blades for precision and accuracy
- Forged, durable extra-wide safety bolster for perfect stability and control
- Stainless steel rivets to secure the full-tang blade to the ergonomically designed handle
2. Komachi Bread Knife
If you are looking for a professional-grade bread knife, this is it.
- SERRATED BREAD KNIFE: The Kai PRO 8-inch Pure Komachi 2 Bread Knife slices through both crusty and tender bread with ease. If...
- HIGHLY ENGINEERED SERRATIONS: This serrated knife doesn't have jagged teeth that chew through bread, but wide, sharp...
- HIGH-QUALITY CONSTRUCTION: The hand-sharpened 16-degree single-beveled blade is razor sharp and made from food-safe coated...
3. Wüsthof Gourmet Bread Knife
High-quality, extremely sharp, durable, and dependable, the Wüsthof Gourmet Bread Knife checks all the right boxes. Home cook or professional chef, you cannot go wrong with it.
- WÜSTHOF GOURMET SERIES – 8" Serrated Bread Knife with synthetic polypropylene handles that resist fading, discoloration,...
- RAZOR SHARP – High Carbon Stainless Steel Blades, precisely cut with the latest state of the art technology for incredible...
- WÜSTHOF BREAD KNIFE – 8" Bread Knife slices through bread or baguettes with minimal crumbs. The serrations along the edge...
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Best Kitchen Shears
1. Kai Kitchen Shears
These kitchen shears are also highly recommended by Serious Eats, so you know they are good.
You’ll love how you can separate the blades and toss them in the dishwasher. This makes them sterilizable and super easy to clean. Shears that do not come apart are tough to clean because you are forced to scrub the area between the blade rivet.
- MULTI-PURPOSE KITCHEN SHEARS: Add an extraordinarily versatile tool to you collection with the Kai PRO Multi-Purpose Shears.
- VERSATILE KITCHEN SCISSORS: These shears are ideal for everything from opening packages to trimming flowers. They feature a...
- HIGH-QUALITY CONSTRUCTION: The blades are made from durable 420J2 stainless steel and separate for easy cleaning.
2. Hammer Stahl Kitchen Shears
These are some of the best multipurpose heavy-duty kitchen shears. They handle like a dream and come apart for easier cleaning.
- MULTIPURPOSE - Designed for use as a nutcracker, jar opener, bottle cap lifter, fish scaler, and more.
- EASY TO CLEAN - Take apart sides are easy to clean, and the shears are dishwasher safe.
- HEAVY DUTY - Comfortable, padded handle makes difficult jobs easy.
Because of their simplicity, cleavers tend to be relatively cheap. They are not as delicate as chef’s knives. Instead, the best ones are thick and heavy and designed to get the job done.
1. Dexter Cleavers
This cleaver is trusted by many professional and celebrity chefs, including Aaron Franklin of Franklin’s BBQ in Austin, one of the most well-regarded BBQ/Brisket joints in the world.
- COMMAND THE COOK with this rugged knife. In the kitchen or doing BBQ, this is the right tool for separating chicken wings,...
- MAKE THE CUT with ample size and weight to help complete the cut in one efficient motion
- ON THE EDGE you can depend on this edge toget the job done. Sharp and durable…just what the butcher ordered
2. Mercer Cleavers
Mercer Cleavers are dependable and durable and perfect for home cooks and professionals alike.
- High carbon stain-resistant German steel
- Use for cutting through thin or soft bones, or through hard vegetables such as squash
- Triple riveted pom handle is extremely durable
3. Zelite Asian-Style All-Purpose Cleaver
- ✅ EXECUTIVE CLASS: This Japanese cleaver is stunning yet offers performance second to none. Made from Japanese AUS10...
- ✅ PREMIUM JAPANESE DAMASCUS STEEL, DEEP STUNNING BLADE: This multipurpose kitchen knife has a 75mm AUS10 Super Steel...
- ✅ INNOVATIVE TRIPLE RIVETED HANDLE: The distinct humpback handle is made for extreme comfort and performance. The black G10...
Best Roast Slicers
1. Dexter Sani-slicer
These Dexter roast slicers are durable and easy to work with.
- Stamped from German Molybdenum Vanadium X50CrMoV15 Steel Alloy
- The Blades are Heat Treated and Tempered to achieve a Rockwell of 56+/- 1 HRC
- Skillfully Honed Cutlery Pro cutting edge, Laser angle Tested, Enhanced Sharpeness, Edge Holding & Ease of Re-Sharpening.
2. Light n’ Migthy Roast slicer
- THE PRO WAY TO CUT EVEN THE LARGESTROASTS WITH EASE:Our long14-inch Slicing Knife features a straight, Granton Edge to...
- ULTRA DURABLE HIGH-CARBON, STAINLESS-STEEL BLADE: Made of excellent quality High Carbon, German Stainless-Steeland ice...
- UNMATCHED SHARPNESS & PERFORMANCE: Every blade is stamped from cold-rolled steeland comeswith a Bolsterless edge so you can...
How to Properly Sharpen Your Knives
Want to know the best way to sharpen your knives? Here’s how to do it:
Option 1: Get it professionally done
This is pretty easy to achieve and probably your best bet as a beginner.
All you have to do is find your local hardware store, knife shop, or culinary supply store and get your knives sharpened there. You can do this by searching for knife sharpening near me online. If you live in a town with a mall, you can get it done in a Willian-Sonoma, Sur La Table, or some other similar store.
If you do not live near a knife shop or if you do not have any culinary supplies stores near you, consider sending your knives off to get sharpened either to the manufacturer or to an online service.
How much is knife sharpening service?
Well, it is actually cheaper than a lot of people think.
First, you have to find the right knife sharpening service for you. You can search for knife sharpening near me to find out if there are local knife sharpening services that you can check out first.
Other options are to send them to the manufacturer or use an online service.
If you choose to send your knife to the manufacturer, they usually offer this service for free. Just reach out to them and request it.
If you visit a local knife shop for professional sharpening, the price is usually the same. You will be charged between $1 and $2 per inch of the blade. This means you may pay $8 to $16 to sharpen an 8″ knife at a local knife sharpening service.
You can also opt to send your knives off to get sharpened using an online knife sharpening service. This will also cost you $1 to $2 per inch of blade per knife, but you will also have to pay around $10 for shipping.
Most online services offer some sort of bulk discount for sharpening multiple knives. For example, some websites offer free shipping if you sharpen knives worth $75 and over.
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Option 2: Learn how to use a whetstone
If you want to sharpen your own knives, you’ll have to learn how to use a whetstone.
Whetstones are also often called knife sharpening stones.
Using a whetstone or knife sharpening stone might seem intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it, it is pretty easy.
When you are just starting out, consider investing in a Blade Angle Guide with your knife sharpening stone to ensure you always get the angles right every time so you won’t ruin your knives.
Option 3: Best of both worlds
If you use your knives daily, why not get the best of both worlds?
We recommend using a whetstone for daily maintenance with a strop and honing rod and sending your knives off to get professionally sharpened every 3 to 6 months. If you do not cook every day, you can get them professionally sharpened every 6 to 18 months.
Honing and stroping will help level the edge of your blade. It is essential to do it daily as part of your maintenance routine between bi-monthly sharpenings. Then have professional sharpening sessions with grind adjustment every 18 months and your knives will serve you for decades.
How often does a knife need to be sharpened?
How often you sharpen your knife will depend on how you use it.
If you use your knife daily, it will need some basic daily maintenance. You can use a knife sharpening stone for this in combination with a strop and honing rod. Then send them off to get professionally sharpened every 3 to 6 months.
If you do not use your knife daily, you can get away with doing the basic maintenance with a knife sharpening stone after every use. However, make sure to get them professionally sharpened every 6 to 18 months.
What about electric grinders?
According to some studies, electric grinders overheat the knife’s edge, reducing its edge retention ability (how long it stays sharp). Therefore, you might want to avoid it.
However, at the end of the day, since the difference is minimal, it is a question of convenience and how passionate you are about your knives.
Here are a few electric grinders that should serve you well:
Should you buy a knife set?
It depends. Generally speaking, buying a knife set will usually mean paying for a bunch of knives that you’ll never use.
However, if you are buying a knife set to give as a gift, any cooking enthusiast will appreciate it. This makes knife sets a great gift for chefs and home cooks alike.
A knife gift set is also great for anyone who cooks a lot of recipes. In this case, some variety in the knife collection is actually a good thing.
Before buying a knife set, check out the types of knives it comes with and decide whether they are a good fit.
Here are a few knife sets that we love:
In the kitchen, there is nothing more dangerous than a blunt knife. A properly sharpened knife is not only more pleasant to use, but also safer if you cut yourself because the neat cuts they make heal better.
In the end, is there really a knife you never have to sharpen? Well, no. That’s just a marketing gimmick. As long as a knife is being used, it has to be sharpened periodically. While the knives on this list will hold their sharp edges for longer, they still need to be sharpened for the best results.
Therefore, when you get one of these knives or knife sets as a gift, you need to remember that you also have to properly take care of them and keep them sharp. Happy cooking!
Oh, and if you prefer something different under $100, check out our complete guide to gifts under $100.
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