Meat Cleavers: The 6 Best Steak Knives

Aug 13, 2015

Category: Gear

Ideally, your meat is so tender and well-cooked that it practically falls to pieces the minute it lands on a plate. Even so, it is a necessity to have a good set of steak knives whether you’re throwing out filet mignon, ribeyes, or juicy new york strips. Amateurs will underestimate the value of a comfortable, sharp, balanced and attractive steak knife to complement a fine cut of beef. Presentation and performance are half the battle when it comes to cooking. A delectable T-Bone hot off the grill can be utterly ruined if you’re forced to saw and gnaw like a caveman.

These knives follow the same basic rules that apply to chef’s knives. They should be easy to use, sharp as your mother-in-law’s tongue, and balanced perfectly so that you never slip or score your plate during a cut. The difference between a knife made for steak and a knife for the kitchen is that a steak blade must also be presentable enough to impress the people using it and comfortable enough for anyone’s hand. It should also be made of proper materials for cutting on a plate, which requires more grace and precision than hacking away on a cutting board. For whatever you’re going to be cooking up, invest in one of the 6 best steak knives for a smoother cut.

JA Henckels 8-Piece Stainless-Steel Steak Knife Set

J.A. Henckels 8-Piece Stainless-Steel Steak Knife Set

Pro: Do not dull as quickly as straight-edge knives
Con: Serrated

Serration Nation: Chefs, cooks, knife makers, and steak lovers agree that serrated knives are inferior when it comes to cutting meat. You want a smooth, clean cut that is fast, easy, and doesn’t leave your meat looking like you just attacked it with a hedge trimmer. The reason to buy serrated knives is to help maintain the integrity of your blade as it hits a ceramic or porcelain plate time and again. Among the serrated sets, this affordable 8-piece from Henckels is the perfect choice. They are made in Spain with a high carbon content that is sharp with deep serrations let them keep their edge longer. With 18/10 steel handles these can complement any decor and the swooping 4-inch blade is comfortable to use; but beefcakes with big hands might find these a little too dainty for their uber-macho tastes. [Purchase: $90]

Victorinox 4-3-4-Inch Straight-Edge

Victorinox 4-3/4-Inch Straight-Edge

Pro: Hand-made, lifetime warranty
Con: Do not come with a storage box

Most for the Money: We never want to encourage you to spend more than you must, but if you only drop $30 or even $50 on a set of knives, you’re just flushing money away. To get a long-lasting, attractive, well-made set of knives, you have to spend a little more. In the long run, these carbon-steel blades will pay for themselves in the cash you won’t be wasting on inferior poseurs. They will dull if used rigorously on ceramic plates, but often a quick honing is all it takes to get them back to factory standard. If you keep a good knife sharpener on hand then these can be passed down to your kids as razor keen as the day they came out of the box. The classic rosewood handles go with nearly anything and have a rustic feel that is still stylish and refined. They’re big enough for rough customers, but do feel a little light for a real meat slasher. [Purchase: $144]

Global GSF-4023

Global GSF-4023

Pro: Perfectly balanced
Con: Solid steel

Samurai Steel: Since steak isn’t a staple of the Japanese diet the way it is in the west, it isn’t as common for companies from the land of the rising sun to offer up wares for cutting meat. When they do, look out. These solid CROMOVA 18 stainless steel knives have very fine serrations on them that adds just a touch of balance against straight or deeply serrated knives, though it makes them nearly impossible for the layperson to sharpen without scraping off the serration. Their balance is ideal and the body feels more like a throwing knife than it does a utensil. Each blade is ground to a straight point rather than beveled like western knives which gives them more staying power when used on plates. Grip is attained through a series of holes put into the handle which also improves traction, especially when dealing with greasy fingers or slippery sauces. [Purchase: $220]

Wusthof Classic Ikon Steak Knives

Wusthof Classic Ikon Steak Knives

Pro: Extremely comfortable contoured handle
Con: Do not blend with most table settings

Comfort Cuts: It just wouldn’t be a proper knife list if we didn’t include something from Wüsthof. Any of their knives are amazing, but these are a beacon on a moonless night. Made with a single piece of high-carbon stainless steel straight from Germany you can bet on pure engineering precision from these blades. They’re double bolstered for greater weight and an easier grip that lets you take on tough cuts or charred meats with ease. Each handle follows along with the tradition of other knives in the Ikon series and are made comfortably with enough heft for giants and enough grace for delicate diners. You’ll find more comfort and less strain when cutting than any other knife we’ve found. They are also true showpieces that you’ll almost feel guilty using. Truth be told, you could get equal cutting power from many blades that are half the price, but they won’t look or feel half as good. The only issue with the handles is they have a black, slightly industrial appearance that doesn’t blend with silverware easily. [Purchase: $235]

Dubost Laguiole Olive Oil Wood

Dubost Laguiole Olive Oil Wood

Pro: Holds an edge longer
Con: Handle requires oiling

Accept No Imitations: Knives from the Laguiole part of France can cost many thousands of dollars. You can also find many frauds out there who will stamp the knives with distinctive bee logo of the region and sell them for a pittance. Those knives are grossly inferior and will disappoint. If you don’t have a mint to spare, but still want a Laguiole blade, consider this set from Dubost. These are family made by bladesmiths who have been doing this work for four generations. Every part is inspected thoroughly at each stage so that no defects pass through. The stainless steel body is a full tang attached to the olive wood handle by three rivets. You will need to give them a little more care and maintenance than most knives since the wooden handle needs oiling on occasion to remain supple. That is offset by the fact that they don’t blunt as easily as many steak knives even after being misused. With just a little TLC this can look and feel brand new for many years. [Purchase: $250]

Laguiole en Aubrac

Laguiole en Aubrac

Pro: Multiple handles to choose from
Con: Airy, elegant design

For the Chateau: Also from the much-lauded Laguiole region of France – where some of the finest knives in the world are made – comes these stunning beauties. The knives are hand-crafted by master cutlers who handle each part, from the handle to the blade. Each set is made to order with your choice of grip from juniper wood, buffalo horn, ebony and ivory, and many others. No two sets are exactly alike making them the perfect showpiece for dazzling and delighting your refined guests. The blades are Sandvik steel from Sweden and bear the Laguiole bee to help prove their authenticity. Decorative chasing added by the craftsman adorns each steak knife to show their personal dedication to quality. The blades are 4.5-inches apiece with 4.75-inch handles. Weight will vary from 1.75 oz. to 3.25 oz depending on which material you choose for the handle. An understated black wooden box adds a sense of sophistication and presentation to revealing the knives. The balance is wonderful, but the handles are all made with elegance at their core, so getting enough leverage on a tough cut of meat can be difficult. [Purchase: $512]

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