What to Look for When Buying Steak Knives

  • George Steckel
  • Mar 7, 2021
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You can use a high-quality chef knife to create thin slices of steak for recipes like bulgogi or carne asada, but every grown-up kitchen needs a set of steak knives, too. Whether you're setting your dining room table for a dinner party of eight or laying out a single place setting on your living room's TV tray, you won't want to use an 8-inch chef knife when cutting steaks. Instead, you and your guests should be able to enjoy those juicy steaks with a proper steak knife in-hand.

If you're in the market for a new set of steak knives, read on to learn how to choose the best steak knives for your kitchen based on blade-style, construction, materials, and care.

Top 3 Steak Knife Buying Tips

1. Blade Style

When it comes to selecting a set of steak knives for your kitchen, the most important choice you'll need to make regards the style of blade. Steak knives come with either a serrated blade or a non-serrated blade. Similar to Made In's utility knife, a serrated knife has a scalloped blade edge. Similar to Made In's paring knife, a non-serrated knife has a straight-edged blade.

Serrated Steak Knives

Visit any steakhouse or BBQ joint, and you'll find their tables stocked with the most classic choice – serrated steak knives. Serrated knives are most commonly used as bread knives or for slicing through fruits and vegetables with waxy exteriors and soft interiors. They're perfect for these tasks because their toothed edges easily tear through a food's tough exterior without squishing its delicate insides.

Many prefer them for cutting steak for the same reason. Their toothy, sharp blades eat right through the fibers of a steak. Plus, they're often thought to stay sharp longer because the knife's entire blade will never come into contact with a ceramic plate’s hard surface. As a result, the gaps between tooths stay sharp longer.

However, when a serrated knife does need to be sharpened, it's a tough task for one to tackle at home. Serrated knives are best taken to a professional for maintenance.

Non-Serrated Steak Knives

Serrated knives are the most traditional choice, but that doesn't mean they're necessarily the best choice. Many steak aficionados prefer non-serrated knives with smooth edges because they dedicated slice through beef without tearing the fibers and spilling the steak's juices. With a non-serrated steak knife, your meat's juicy insides are more likely to end up in your mouth than on your plate.

While straight-edges steak knives do grow dull more quickly than serrated knives, you can easily hone and sharpen them at home with the right tools (a honing rod and set of whetstones).

Choosing between a set of serrated or non-serrated knives is largely left to personal preference and your commitment to ongoing maintenance. All said, if you select a high-quality set of steak knives with solid construction and top-grade materials, you can't go wrong.

2. Material

You'll find that most steak knife blades are made from one of two materials: stainless steel or carbon steel. While stainless steel steak knives stay looking pretty with less maintenance, they grow dull much more quickly than carbon steel steak knives. Carbon steel knives require some careful maintenance to keep their blades looking good-as-new, but you'll find that the blades stay extremely sharp for longer and are also easier to hone and sharpen.

For a long-lasting set of steak knives, we recommend choosing a set with carbon steel blades and simply being careful to dry their blades immediately after use.

3. Construction

When it comes to a steak knife's construction, much is left to personal taste. For example, choose the shape and color of the handle based on your style and preference. (Although, a black handle is traditional.)

The most important aspect of a steak knife's construction to look for is whether the blade and handle consist of one piece of metal or two. Higher quality steak knives feature a blade that runs up through the handle, conjoining the two halves of the knife with a single piece of high carbon steel. This results in a knife with a more balanced weight and a much more substantial body.

Make the Most of Your Steak Knives with Proper Care

Regardless of which steak knife set you decide to purchase for your home, you can extend the lives of your kitchen tools with proper care and maintenance. Read up on your manufacturer's guidelines to learn how best to use, wash, store, hone, and sharpen your new set of knives.

Although some knife sets will say that they are dishwasher safe, it's still usually best to hand-wash and promptly dry your knives to minimize the time they spend in the water and prevent them from rusting or staining.

Store knives safely inside knife sleeves, on a wall-mounted magnet, in a countertop knife block that's lined with cork, or in an in-drawer knife organizer, which is also lined with a soft material like cork.

With a high-quality set of steak knives and the proper care, you and your guests can forget about fighting about your future steak dinners and focus on enjoying them as you savor every expertly sliced bite, no matter the cut of meat.

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