When I talk to people who are buying knives, one of the first things I suggest to them is that they not run to their local big box store and buy a knife set thinking it’ll have everything in it they’ll need. You’re far better off buying two or three knives for your kitchen that pull multiple duties and handle the majority of your kitchen tasks than buying a huge set full of knives you’ll never use, and poorly-made blades that manufacturers design to fit on retail shelves, not cut your food.
The folks at America’s Test Kitchen tested a variety of knife blocks in the video above, and we even made mention of some of your essential knives several times, but the video really drives home the point. Too often manufacturers skimp on the build quality, size, and even in some cases the blade geometry in order to fit more pieces into a block that fits neatly on a store shelf at a low price. Knife sets are often filled with redundant blades, blades that are too short to get the job done (like the serrated knives in the sets in the video), and so-called “utility knives” for tasks which are almost always better served by a traditional chef’s knife. What’s worse is the fact that when you read “8 piece knife set” on the side of a box in the store, two of those pieces are probably the block itself and a honing steel that comes with the set.
ATK notes that most home chefs aren’t familiar with the right way to use a honing steel, and it’s the only point in the video with which we beg to differ, but everything else in the video is spot on. You’re far better off buying a few knives that do a lot of things than a ton of knives that do nothing. If you’re looking for some good blades, we have some budget suggestions over here. Which knives do you keep in your kitchen? Do you prefer to shop a la carte and buy the good stuff, or is it just a matter of budget for you? Let us know in the comments below.
What You Need to Know About Knife Blocks | America’s Test Kitchen