The best kitchen knives

Updated on 16 February 2011 | 1 Comment

You only need 5 types of kitchen knives. Find out which ones to buy, what to look for when buying them and how to maintain them so they keep for years.

There is no debate about it. The most important pieces of kitchen equipment are knives and you only need 5 types of knives so forget all those fancy sets. I’ll show you what knives you should buy, what to look for when buying them and how to maintain them so they keep for years. 

The only knives you need

I find it astonishing that good quality knives are often overlooked in favour of other expensive kitchen items. You should spend a little money on knives and in my opinion the best you can have without completely smashing the bank are those manufactured by the German masters Henckels

The beauty of a strong, well sharpened knife will amaze you and certainly improve your cooking. Also, and certainly ironically, well sharpened knives keep your fingers intact as you’ll experience less slipping. And here’s the best bit. You don’t need to purchase a stupidly expensive set of which some of the contents you never use. Here are the only five knives you need in your kitchen... 

1. Paring knife

The smallest of the five knives which is perfect for preparing vegetables and fruit.  You can buy as part of a 3 piece set which also includes the small and large chef’s knives covered below. At a cost of £117.99 for the set you’re on to a bargain. 

2. Small chef’s knife

These knifes can be used for anything, even filleting and de-boning joints (if you’re a real cooking enthusiast a boning knife is the number one tool of the trade but I really do feel a small chefs knife will do the job just fine). 

3. Large chef’s knife

Unsurprisingly this knife serves the same function as a small chef’s knife, just on a larger scale - perfect for recipes involving deboning a chicken, such as this chicken chasseur by Richard Corrigan

4. Carving knife

We’d all be lost without a good old carving knife. This is an absolute must for carving all those roasts we British chow down all year round! 

5. Bread knife

Finally the highly versatile bread knife, I find myself also using this knife for cutting tomatoes and thick skinned fruits. 

What to look for when buying kitchen knives

This is a reasonably straightforward process for the domestic kitchen. The main boxes to tick are for durability, balance and how sharp they stay. I’ve nailed my colours to the mast with the Henckels brand. They really do tick all the boxes. I would be glad to hear any counter arguments from readers though – please share your thoughts using the comments box below! 

Stay sharp

Now having invested your money you really should keep them nice and sharp. Try and sharpen the knife every time you use it before cooking with a knife sharpening steel. Here’s a great guide to doing it properly and safely.

If you treat your knives well they will last for a seriously long time (I’ve had one knife for 15 years now which I still use everyday). Never bung them in the dishwasher either! Always hand wash your knives and try not to bash them about. Also investing in a block or a rack is a great idea. 

Also worth your attention

Put those new knives to good use by rustling up this excellent lamb and roots stew!


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