Mince Meat: The 8 Best Butcher Knives

Any captain of the kitchen should already have his standard sidearm: The Chef’s knife. But a grillmaster will need something else: A butcher knife. The two are often confused by the layperson who believes that one can replace the other. Generally, these type of knives are heavier and have a curved blade for going through thick cuts of meat while chef’s knives are lighter and have broader utility for numerous tasks above and beyond hacking through flesh. Make sure before you buy either that you’re getting the right piece for the right purpose.

A quality butcher’s knife looks like a scimitar, so using it may tempt you to get in touch with your inner Genghis Khan. The end will have a little more girth than the handle – a notable difference from the tapered chef’s knife. You’ll almost always want them to have a high carbon-steel content for a sharper edge that goes through meat more efficiently, including hacking at cartilage. Unless you’re looking to save money, you’ll want one that is forged, not stamped, since it will be sturdier and heavier. Before you fire up the grill, make sure you have one of the 8 best butcher knives on hand.

Old Hickory 10-Inch

Old Hickory 10-Inch

Pro: Inexpensive
Con: Susceptible to corrosion

Camp and Kitchen: Butcher knives tend to shy away from their wood-handled roots these days, since modern polymers are better at resisting bacterial infection than their wooden counterparts. That isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with a nice piece of hickory, as proven by this piece. Made from carbon steel you won’t necessarily want to be using it for hours on end, but the home chef who just needs a solid knife for barbecues or average, everyday use need not spend many times more. Keep it clean and run it over the knife sharpener once in a while and you’ll never need anything else. [Purchase: $18]

Dexter-Russell 10-Inch

Dexter-Russell 10-Inch

Pro: Flatter back with limited scimitar curve
Con: Less roll to cutting motion

American Made: Dexter-Russell is the biggest cutlery maker in the United States because they’re the only one that can compete with imports from Sweden, Germany, and Japan for quality. This is among their sani-safe model for professional kitchens with a polypropylene handle that repels bacteria and seals tight around the full tang blade in order to stay cleaner longer. The high carbon steel is stain-free thanks to a micro-pore reduction process. Individually honed they’ll cut paper right out of the box. We like the 10-inch, but you can go larger or smaller and get the same exact quality. [Purchase: $31]

F Dick Ergogrip 10-Inch

F. Dick Ergogrip 10-Inch

Pro: Long-lasting, durable handle
Con: Larger grip can be awkward for smaller hands

German Engineered: In the kitchen, nothing can wear you out quite as fast as cutting up a mass of meat. Utilizing an extra large thumb rest you’ll be able to find the grip and leverage you need on the Ergogrip to play without pain or wear and tear on your fingers, forearms, biceps, and rotator cuff. The high carbon stainless steel blade is welded directly into the handle for a gapless seal that is NSF friendly and won’t carry contaminates from one job to another. A huge variety of handles are available, along with a rainbow of color combinations to keep your cutting tools separate for a cleaner kitchen. [Purchase: $34]

TWIN Master 10-Inch

TWIN Master 10-Inch

Pro: Extremely wide blade
Con: Stamped blade

Hard Edge: Henckels’ knives are a special breed, and this is first among equals. The FRIODUR ice-hardened stainless steel blade has a 57-degree Rockwell Hardness rating that sticks the landing. The wider, upturned end comes to a very broad point much like a machete, making it ideal for hacking apart larger hunks of meat than for much detail work. Approved by both the NSF and the FDA, you’ll find it to be as uncompromising when it comes to contaminants and stains as it is to flesh and bone. While the metal is tempered to rigid perfection, the synthetic resin handle is comfortable and ergonomic. [Purchase: $34]

Wenger Swibo 8 25-Inch

Wenger Swibo 8.25-Inch

Pro: Flexible
Con: Stainless steel

Strange Cut: We’re going to break our own rule here in that the Swibo from Wenger doesn’t follow the traditional western butcher knife design. Rather than looking like a scimitar, this has a more Japanese-inspired, fixed blade knife build. You won’t get the big swings for separating meat, but the small size isn’t made for that. Rather, this is a butcher’s knife for a little more delicate work or meat cutters who like the flat backing for greater control. Stainless steel won’t corrode, but also won’t give you a razor’s edge. Heat treated for slightly more flex than most butcher’s blades. [Purchase: $44]

Wusthof PRO 10-Inch Cimeter

Wusthof PRO 10-Inch Cimeter

Pro: Highly rounded blade
Con: Style takes time to master

Smooth Operator: It’s going to take a few passes and a little practice to learn how to use this swooping slicer to maximum effect. Once you get the rhythm down, you’ll wonder how you ever made clean cuts without it. The rubberized ABS polymer handle has a little give for a tight grip that works well even when wet or bloody. A stamped blade of high carbon steel made to Wüsthof’s timeless and exacting specifications, you’ll go through brisket, sirloin, and game foul at speed. Overkill for the casual cook this is made for commercial kitchens where speed counts and fatigue is common. [Purchase: $40]

Victorinox Cutlery 12-Inch Straight

Victorinox Cutlery 12-Inch Straight

Pro: Fibrox NSF approved handle
Con: Large

Heavy Hitter: Really, most everything you need to know about knives can be summed up in the phrase “buy a Victorinox.” Their worst, low-grade steak knife blade will never break your heart or your hands, dull too quickly, or fall apart. Smaller choppers will find this a tad unwieldy, but when you need to hack into a whole roast, side of spare ribs, or a tough carcass, you’ll want this on your hip and in your hand. The blade is conically ground with a wider break point for separating cuts quickly. Made with high-carbon, cold-rolled steel, it can be sharpened quickly due to the bolsterless edge so if you’re working commercially, you can steel in seconds without interrupting your work. [Purchase: $46]

Global GF-27 7-Inch

Global GF-27 7-Inch

Pro: Seamless design
Con: Expensive

Small Wonder: Normally we wouldn’t advise going under 8-inches for a butcher knife, but given the density and heft of the Global knife, bigger wouldn’t necessarily be better. Their CROMOVA stainless steel has a Japanese edge that bears a longer taper that stays sharp, cutting down time against the grinding stone. Completely seamless construction serves up a nice flow with no traps where contaminates can hide. In the blade’s metal is 18% chromium that keeps stains at bay. Useful since your wallet will only want to buy this knife once. [Purchase: $101]

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