Best Steak Knives: A Review. How to be Elegant within a Budget?

Best Steak Knives Review

 

This article is on the topic of the best steak knives. The purpose of this post is to provide you with some valuable information when doing steak knives review. And, finally, to offer our recommendations and our top picks. Look ==>

 

Question #1 is what makes this or that a set of ‘best steak knives’?

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Just like a good kitchen knife, for a good steak knife to make the cut, it’s gotta be sharp, comfortable, well-balanced, and sturdy. But that’s where the similarity ends. Steak knives differ from kitchen knives in two important ways:

 

1) A steak knife must look good. A kitchen knife tends to be all utility and no form. A steak knife, on the other hand, should look and feel elegant. It should make me want to touch it. You don’t want to buy a plastic-handled bottom-of-the-barrel knife and then use it on a top-dollar dry-aged rib eye. It’s not just a tool but a small piece of art.

2) A steak knife is used on a plate, not on a cutting board. In other words, steak knives are for showing off. They will be used when you want to lay out the fancy china and impress your guests. You want something that not only works well but looks great at the same time. Otherwise, you may just as well cut the meat in the kitchen and bring it out to your guests like we used to do for our toddlers.

 

The steak knife set needs to look and feel good.

They come in sets because they get used as a set.

It may be nouveau-chic to serve several different Flintstones or Winnie The Pooh glasses. But there are some conventions that remain. And using a balanced, matching set of steak knives is one of them. I often look for reasons to serve good cuts of meat just so I can use my steak knives.

Another misconception is that steak knives are just kitchen knives. They are most certainly not. Kitchen knives are used on a wooden or poly cutting board, which is easy on knife edges. Steak knives are used on hard plates, which can dull an edge very quickly. You need a tough steel that can still take a mean edge. And they need to be stainless, not carbon, because of the salt content of meat.

In the case of high-carbon blades, you would need to clean, oil and sharpen each blade immediately after using it. There are more sure-fire ways of losing the ambiance of an evening, I just can’t think of one right now.

Also, i  do not recommend ceramic steak knives. They do not have a good edge, are very difficult to sharpen, and are extremely brittle. Imagine how much fun it would be if one of your guests suddenly says: “excuse me, but i think i just broke my knife.” Fun, huh?

 

Enjoy the Steak.

The first and most obvious benefit to having a great set of steak knives is that eating a steak will be a lot easier and more enjoyable. You’ve just spent a lot of money buying the best cut of meat. And then spent a good deal of time preparing this meat with great care. You want your guests to pay attention to the steak, not the knife. Have you ever had to use so much pressure that when you finally made your cut, the hunk of beef went sailing away? Not the best of impressions.

Be proud of your steak knives.

A good set of steak knives will give you a sense of pride in your kitchen and culinary abilities, whether they are real or perceived. When you feel good, you prepare food good. It will also impress your dinner guests and show them that you have enough respect for them and your food to only offer the best.

There is absolutely no downside to owning a good set of steak knives, and no benefit whatsoever to owning a cheap, poorly made and designed set. Well-prepared food is deserving of respect, and should be eaten with the very best cutlery and tableware possible. Leave the cheap stuff at the bargain stores, and do your kitchen and dining room a favor. Give them the cutlery they deserve.

 

There are also dozens of styles available, from the utilitarian to the ultramodern. But for most people’s taste, a steak knife should look like a steak knife, and that means a traditional upswept blade with riveted handles. This means you can forget many models with molded-rubber or plastic handles, the sort you see on restaurant-grade kitchen knives.

When it comes to edge choice, there are basically three options: straight, serrated, and micro-serrated.

Straight-edged knives, tend to be the standard. And they are a good choice. Straight out of the box, they cut through a steak like butter, leaving a smooth, clean cut face. And if plates were made out of wood or plastic like a good cutting board, these would be the knife of choice for me. The problems arise a dozen meals down the line when the hard ceramic plate renders that formerly razor-sharp edge about as useful as a spoon.

Even fancy, expensive straight-edged knives from high-end manufacturers suffer from the same problem, despite their hard forged stainless steel edges. You should be willing to sharpen your knives every half dozen steaks or so, as you would with your other fine cutlery.

Micro-serrated edges are barely an improvement over straight edges. They are machined on to the the straight edge of low-quality stamped knives to help them grip food slightly better. Just like on a straight-edge, the microscopic serrations dull and wear down easily. The serrations are too small to get any kind of sharpening instrument between the points, where the actual cutting is done, and they will dull quickly and become worthless. They cannot be sharpened to any decent degree. They also rip and tear a lot worse than a standard serrated blade. Micro-serrated blades are common on cheap steak knives, and in my opinion, are best avoided. Unlike a straight edge, which can be re-sharpened, there’s only two things you can do with a micro-serrated edge that’s gone dull: One is to dump it in the trash… okay, there’s only one.

 

Serrated blades cut much more efficiently, stay sharp longer, and the cutting edges do not actually contact the plate, so they do not dull as quickly. And, serrated blades are not that hard to sharpen with modern sharpeners, many of which are designed specifically for serrated blades. The objections to serrated blades are that they don’t make clean, smooth cuts. Because there is more of a jigsaw, back-and-forth motion, the piece comes away a little ragged.

I know, a little bit earlier in this article I mentioned that the best steak knives are a little piece of art. I am not contradicting myself when I say those little jagged bits dangling off your slice of steak are not going to ruin your meal. If you were serving sushi, you’d want each piece to come away in a flawless, smooth cut where each side has a mirrored finish. But in a sushi restaurant only one guy gets to hold the knife! They aren’t passing out individual sushi knives to the diners.

 

1. Wusthof Classic Ikon Steak Knives   

Like many fine Western models, Germany’s Wusthof Classic Ikon Steak Knives have full-tang blades, meaning they extend into the handle for durability and sturdiness; their razor-thin blades make extra-clean cuts.

With Old-World German styling and workmanship, Wusthof Classic Ikon steak knives are the unofficial industry-standard. With sharp and durable A-2 Stainless Steel straight edge blades, and gorgeous, almost indestructible composition scales, these knives are at home on any table. They come with a Lifetime Guarantee, a handsome storage box and are very elegant-looking.

 

The Wüsthof Classic Ikon steak knives aren’t cheap, but their price is comparable to other brands of similar quality. We readily admit that aesthetics played the largest role in this pick. The Ikon’s classic, understated elegance is one of the best features. Their razor-sharp blades have the ideal upswept shape. The unique double-concave curves of their satiny black POM handles fit the hand wonderfully. Whether you have small or  larger hands, you will find these blades the most comfortable to hold of all the knives we tested. Their full-tang construction adds strength and pleasing heft. Lastly, their construction is flawless—as it should be for the price. Because in truth, it’s the flawless fit-and-finish, more than anything else, that separates an exceptional luxury steak knife from a really great mid-priced one.

 

2. Global GSF-4023 Steak Knives   

These Japanese high-carbon stainless-steel blades feature steep edges with what we imagine is the sharpness of a samurai sword.

This hand made lightweight design features perfect balance, providing you with a greater control. Ergonomic, molded handles ensure comfortable slicing and Global’s signature dimple pattern provides a stronger grip. Seamless construction from a single piece of high-tech stainless steel eliminates food and dirt traps.

Reviews on Amazon for these knives are all very favorable with an overall rating of 4.8 out of 5 Stars. The lower star review rating had to do with the fact that this set does not come with any special packaging or storage box. These are definitely in the higher price range and customers who review this set on Amazon commented on how they felt a storage container for when these knives were not being used would have been a nice touch.

These razor sharp blades slice cleanly through everything from tenderloins to T-bones. Plus, the double beveled edges accommodate both right handers and left handed users.

 

Global manufactures hollow handles, then fills each one just enough to achieve the desired weight. With the ideal balance, Global helps reduce fatigue and greater control.

Global knives are manufactured by Yoshikin in Niigata, Japan. They were designed in 1985 by Komin Yamada. When Komin Yamada was commissioned for the job he developed a range of knives that was truly new and revolutionary, using the best materials available and the latest manufacturing techniques.

This set is made in Japan and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

 

3. Shun Shima Steak Knives   

Shun knives come from Seki City, which has been widely regarded as the heart of Japanese cutlery since the 13th century. The Shima steak knife is particularly notable for its distinctive lines. Its contoured handle tapers slightly at the end in a “pinch-point” for added stability, and its re-curved blade slices at an angle, minimizing your overall sawing experience.

 

Named after Tokyo’s famed Shima Steakhouse, these elegant knives feature acutely angled edges for maximum sharpness and inlaid ebony handles contoured for balance and comfort.

  • Shima 4 Piece Steak Knife Set by Shun
  • Slightly curved blade for precision cutting; 16 degree razor sharp edge cuts effortlessly; meat retains more juices
  • Made of Japanese high-carbon stainless steel for longer edge retention; mirror polished finish protects against corrosion
  • Full-tang construction for balance; fully-riveted handle made of ebony PakkaWood to protect against moisture
  • Slim, flat handle shape provides lateral control and prevents twisting, ensuring a better grip

 

The secret to the Shun cutting ability is layered steel. Shun has applied this artistry to their steak knives. They start with Japan’s incredible super-steel, and layer it with legendary Damascus stainless. This creates a blade that not only looks exquisite, but also takes a wicked edge, and holds it very well, even with severe abuse. They take this full-tang blade and mate it to beautiful pakkawood scales, polished to a beautiful mirror-like sheen. They have a great feel, balance, and simply glide through just about anything they encounter. They are not cheap, but they will last several generations, and are absolutely heirloom-quality.

 

Steak lovers know that the perfect steak should be juicy and tender. Steaks cooked to perfection shouldn’t be ruined by dull or inadequate cutlery. The Shun Shima 4 Piece Steak Knife Set is the ultimate set of knives for steak enthusiasts. Gift boxed for a beautiful presentation, everything has been thought of in this elegant, ultra-sharp knife set.

From the slightly curved blade for precision cutting, to the 16 degree razor sharp edge for effortless cutting; steaks retains more juices and flavor when the proper utensil is used. Less effort exerted and less fibers cut with each pass of the blade means more of the flavorful juices remain in the steak. Shima Steak Knives are made of Japanese AUS8A high-carbon stainless steel for longer edge retention. Each blade features a mirror polished finish which protects blades against corrosion. The full-tang construction of each handle provides perfect balance, while the slim, flat handle shape provides lateral control and prevents twisting, ensuring a better grip. Each handle is fully-riveted and made of ebony PakkaWood to protect against moisture and enhanced with steel rondels. Superior knives for the ultimate dining experience, Shun Shima Steak Knives will enhance every flavorful bite.

 

Henckels offers two different sets that compare nicely to their competitors.

 

4. Twin Gourmet Steak Knives  

The Twin Gourmet Steak Knife Set with Wood Case from Henckels (set of 8) are made of high-carbon stainless steel in Germany and feature the classic black-handled, triple riveted design. If you’ve already got a set of German steel in a knife block, these knives will match them nicely.

 

5. Stainless Steel Steak Knives   

If you prefer the look of steel, then the Stainless Steak Knife Set with Wood Case from Henckels (set of 8)  are a better option. Made from the same high-carbon steel as the black-handle version, these Spanish-made knives are slim, nimble, elegant, and have a voracious appetite for cutting through rare meat.

 

Care & Maintenance

All the knives on our best steak knives review are low-maintenance, but there are a few things you should do to keep them performing their best.

First, hand-wash them, and dry them afterwards. Dishwashers are hard on knives, both because of the high temperatures and chemicals in the soap, and because of the banging around. Spending a few minutes after dinner hand-washing your steak knives will go a long way toward keeping them performing well for years.

Second, store them in the box they came in; in a knife block, knife roll, or knife tray; or on a magnetic strip. You don’t need anything fancy; you just need to keep the blades protected from the wear and tear they’d suffer sitting amongst your everyday forks and spoons. This will also protect your fingers from the accidental nick we have all received from digging into that chaos of metal we call our silverware drawer.

Third, keep the edges sharp by running them on a knife steel before each use. Remember, though, that a steel is only there to maintain a sharp edge, not to create one. After many, many steak dinners, your knives will need to be re-sharpened—something you can do at home or have done professionally at any good cutler for a few dollars per blade.

 

Special Terms

Pakkawood is an industry term for resin-impregnated real wood. These resins are biologically inert and food-safe. They make the wood denser and far more stable and water-resistant. Pakkawood is often dyed black, but it can also be clear- or color-stained to highlight the wood’s natural grain.

Also, you’ll see a lot of talk about forged versus stamped blades. Forged blades are made of a single chunk of steel that’s hammered into shape. Stamped blades are punched out of flat sheets of steel, with any additional shaping done by grinding metal away. For many years, forged knives were more or less inherently superior to stamped blades: the forging process produced knives with stronger, more uniform, more easily sharpened, and more durable blades.

But stamped knives have closed the gap considerably. Stamped knives also have the advantage of being far less expensive. There’s no reason, in short, to insist on forged blades anymore, although you’ll still find them on most high-end knives.

Most manufacturers offer two distinct lines: one that is forged and one that is stamped. This provides customers with a cost comparison. For those on a tight budget, you can still get a good quality set of steak knives at a reasonable price.

 

Other Choices

Messermeister Avanta Pakkawood steak knife set  

is very reasonably priced and comes with several distinctions. Within its price range nothing else compares to matching their combination of performance, price, and quality of construction. Their blade-edges are well-formed, smooth, and extremely sharp. Their handles are finished with pakkawood, a durable resin-impregnated natural wood usually only found on more expensive knives. And unlike any other knives we found at the price, they feature full-tang construction. This is a single piece of steel forming the blade, bolsters, and handle. This adds strength, balance, and heft. The latter is an aesthetic concern, but an important one. The Messermeisters is pleasantly robust, and significantly nicer to hold than the lightweight knives typical at this price.

The Messermeisters also have a long and upswept blade. Years of development indicate this to be the ideal steak knife shape. The length allows the knife to slice through even a thick steak in one stroke. This upswept tip encourages your elbow to move up as you slice instead of straight back. In addition, Messermeisters are extremely sharp, with edges that are evenly ground and finely honed—a sign of good quality control during the production process.

Also unique to the Messermeisters’ price range, their handles are finished with pakkawood—an industry term for resin-impregnated natural wood—instead of the more common cheap plastic or unfinished wood. Pakkawood is strong, durable, and stable. This means it doesn’t absorb water which causes the handle to expand and dry out and shrink and split. These handles retain the rich and variegated look of natural wood.

The Messermeisters have a one-piece, full-tang construction, with the blade and handle forged from one continuous piece of steel that runs from end to end. This is another feature that’s usually reserved for more expensive knives. The full tang makes the knives inherently stronger than knives with partial tangs, and it makes them heavier. Weight, balance & heft are important qualities in a good steak knife.

When reviewing a product you look for flaws. And it’s easy to pick away at the slightest thing. These knives are no different. There was one flaw. The finish was not quite perfect. There were slight imperfections in the handles. But it is important to point out we were comparing these knives to others of much higher price and quality.

 

For those who just have to make a bold statement, consider two new high-end steak knife sets:

Shun Premier  

 

and

 

Wüsthof Epicure.  

 

Both perform astonishingly well—you won’t find sharper steak knives in any category.

Visually, the Shun knives are magnificent, perhaps even a little ostentatious, with their mirror-polished, hammer-finished damascus blades and decorative rear bolster.

The Wüsthofs, by contrast, are simple and austere. This set definitely goes for the understated elegance.

Both of these sets make a dramatic statement. It will be a rare and singular evening for your guests to use either of these.

Others

You simply cannot leave a review on steak knives without mentioning what many feel is the best, top of the line – Laguiole. But not only does this come with a price tag, they also come with a bit of a risk.

  1. Kenji Lopez-Alt, in an article for Serious Eats had this to say about this topic:

“For the ultimate in beef-cutting luxury, the best steak knives are the iconic knives produced in Laguiole, France. The best have got slim, sharp, serrated blades, with ergonomic, smooth, triple-riveted wooden handles featuring the distinctive bee symbol at the heel of the blade. But beware—cheap, Chinese-made imposters abound (bee symbol and everything!) and can be difficult to spot* until you get them in your hands and realize that the detailed craftsmanship is missing.

*One clue is phrases like “Give as a thank you gift to sales representatives that entertain clients regularly” in the product description.

There are way too many versions of the knife on offer online, and without ordering and trying all of them, there’s no way for me to guarantee which are fakers, and which are the real deal. Here’s a few things to remember: It’s a good bet that if you’re paying under $80 for a set of 6, however, that you’re getting the knockoffs (higher end versions with fancy handle materials can run beyond $300 a set). The knives come in straight-edged and serrated versions. You want the serrated ones. Your best bet to guarantee quality is to either visit a reputable knife retailer and try them out for yourself, or order them direct from a website where returns are simple.

Always look for a guarantee that your knives were actually constructed in France.”

 

 

Conclusions & Recommendations

Wusthof Classic Ikon Steak Knives set offers an unbeatable combination of looks, performance, quality, and price.

  • Precision forged from single piece of high-carbon German stainless steel; laser-controlled and tested cutting edge
  • Double bolsters provide heft and balance for effortless cutting; full tang extends through the handle
  • Triple-riveted black handle with innovative contoured design for comfortable, secure grip
  • Hand washing recommended; backed by lifetime warranty; made in Germany

 

You can take our word for it. I actually went out and put each of these knives in my hand. Each of these knives was actually tested and used on steak (I know, it’s a dirty job but somebody’s gotta do it). I can tell you, it is very easy to get overwhelmed when standing in the knife department at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Now go and enjoy that steak.

Update:

We have had a lot of feedback on this topic and as a result we can share with you that after extensive testing and careful review that the shun premier has received the most positive reviews. And we agree that this set is very attractive and will last for many, many years.

Resources:

Serious Eats:  Equipment – What Makes the Best Steak Knives?

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