The Best Kitchen Knives to Make Meal Prep Faster
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Meal prep can be a lifesaver. It takes the guesswork out of your nutrition, and keeps you from hitting the drive-thru after a long day at work. But there’s a downside to batch-prepping your meals: Chopping a week’s worth of fruits, veggies, and meat can get tedious. Want to make the task go faster? Make sure you have the right knives for the job. Here’s how to find the best kitchen knives for your weekly meal prep.
3 Types of Knives You Need in Your Kitchen
A knife block can be helpful, but if you’re short on storage space, you can really get away with three basic kitchen knives. Add these to your list of essential cooking tools and you’re ready to chop, slice, and dice with ease.
1. Chef’s knife
A high-quality chef’s knife “is the multipurpose unicorn of the kitchen,” says Shanna Robinson, a chef and wellness educator. This knife can handle pretty much any type of knife cut you need to do for your meal prep.
The blades of a chef’s knife can be made with a variety of metals, but Robinson recommends looking for one made from carbon steel, since it’s durable and easy to sharpen. Here are three of the best chef’s knives:
- Victorinox 7.5-Inch Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife. Safety first! This knife has a non-slip handle that’s easy to grip even when it’s wet.
- TUO 7-inch Santoku Chef Knife. This Japanese-style chef’s knife has a straight edge with hollow notches that help it slice through meat and veggies without sticking.
- Mercer Culinary Renaissance 8-Inch Forged Chef’s Knife. Made with stain-resistant German steel, this chef’s knife has a tapered edge that helps increase efficiency while cutting everything from fruit to seafood.
2. Serrated knife
A serrated knife is made with tooth-like edges on the blade. This is the best kitchen knife to have on hand when you need to cut a loaf of crusty bread — the serrations will saw through the crust without squishing the soft bread inside. Serrated knives are also helpful for slicing fragile foods, like tomatoes.
Look for a serrated knife made from durable materials like carbon steel, stainless steel, or a hybrid of metals. Here are two to try:
- Mercer Culinary Millenia 10-Inch Bread Knife. Made with sharp Japanese steel, this inexpensive knife has deep serrations for easy cutting and an ergonomic handle for a comfy and safe grip.
- Wüsthof Classic 10-inch Bread Knife. It’s a splurge, but this serrated knife is made from a stainless steel alloy and designed to last. Plus, it’ll look great in your kitchen.
3. Paring knife
Think of a paring knife as a mini version of a chef’s knife. Its small blade is perfect for delicate cuts, like deveining shrimp or peeling fruits and vegetables. Here are two great options:
- J.A. Henckels 4-inch Paring Knife. Made with a single piece of high-carbon stainless steel, this curved blade makes cutting a breeze.
- Kuhn Rikon Straight 4-Inch Paring Knife. This ultra-sharp stainless steel knife features a non-stick coating for cleaner chopping, and the sleek design is available in a variety of colors to match your kitchen decor.
Should I Buy One Knife or a Set?
If you have room in your kitchen — and your budget — you may want to consider a knife set. Not only will you get greater variety, but these sets often include a knife block, which makes storage and organization easier.
“A set is a time saver when you don’t have to search in an overloaded drawer,” says Yannick Tirbois, executive chef instructor at Le Cordon Bleu Shanghai and co-founder of Culinary Ambition. “They also help avoid damaging or scratching your knives and preserve the quality. Most of all, it is much safer as you can’t mistakenly grab the knife by its blade and get injured.”
Here are three of the best knife block sets.
- Farberware Edgekeeper 16-piece Knife Block Set. This budget-friendly set of stainless knives includes a wood block with a built-in knife sharpener.
- Calphalon Classic Self-Sharpening Stainless Steel Knife Block Set. For serious foodies, this set has full stainless steel construction, ceramic sharpeners built into the block, and labeled blades so you always have the right knife for the task.
- Mercer Culinary Renaissance 6-Piece Tempered Knife Block Set. Not a fan of the wood blocks? This modern tempered-glass knife block covers the basics and takes up minimal counter space.
How to Test a Knife to Know It’s Good
A sharp and durable blade is important, of course — but when you’re shopping for the best kitchen knives, don’t overlook the handle. “A knife is the extension of your arm,” Tirbois says. “The handle should feel natural in your hand, and the grip should be solid, consistent, and non-slip.”
A good handle will enhance your grip so you can manipulate the blade safely, Tirbois adds. So your best bet is to hold a few different knives to figure out which brands feel best in your hands.
Should I Buy a Knife Sharpener?
Yes, a knife sharpener is a must if you invest in high-quality kitchen knives, says Gianna Stanley, a private chef based in New York City.
But is a built-in knife sharpener good enough, or should you buy a separate sharpener? That depends on how serious you are about honing (see what we did there?) your knife-sharpening skills.
The basic knife sharpener included with most knife sets is enough to sharpen many knives. But, Stanley adds, “If you have patience and a willingness to learn, you can get the best sharpening from a whetstone.” You can also invest in professional knife-sharpening if you’d rather leave it to the experts.
And dishwashers can dull even the sharpest of blades — so even if your knives are dishwasher safe, washing them by hand can cut down on how often you need to sharpen them.