Kitchen knives that every cook needs
A good knife is arguably a cook’s most important and used tool in the kitchen. Our deputy food editor shares which knives every home cook and chef needs, plus which brands to buy so you don't break the bank...
Want to know the best chef knife to buy? Looking to complete your chef knife set? Our expert chef and deputy food editor and chef has highlighted the most essential and affordable knives for home cooks, from fish knives for the perfect fillet to a trusty cleaver to chop herbs.
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This is arguably the most essential knife of the lot. Extremely versatile – from chopping veg and crushing garlic, to mincing or slicing meat, it’s the one you’ll go to the most.
Affordable: Victorinox chef's knife, £31.11, Amazon
This chef’s knife is a great all-rounder. What it may lack in looks (it’s pretty utilitarian), it makes up in sharpness and durability. This is lightweight and sleek, so easy to use, and sharpens well thanks to its high-quality steel. Due to its relatively low price, it’s great for people starting out in a career in food or for people who cook daily, as its both durable and tough (and will survive a few knocks!).
This knife isn’t cheap but it’s worth every penny if you’re a serious home cook. The blade is made from a single piece of very strong steel, which means it’s unlikely to break or chip and will stay sharp over a longer period of use. The knife will also sharpen quickly and re-find its edge easily, plus it's ergonomically designed to be well balanced in the hand and a treat to work with. It also has a three-year guarantee.
A paring knife is used for smaller jobs such as cutting and preparing fruit and vegetables. It has a short, thin blade – usually around 6-10cm – so is perfect for those smaller, fiddly jobs.
This is particular model is often seen in professional kitchens, as it is light and extremely durable, and is made from the same, strong steel as the chef’s knife so will re-sharpen time and again, and hold its edge for a long time.
If you’re filleting your own fish at home then the likelihood is you’re serious enough about food to require the right knife for the job.
Wüsthof is a leading brand in knives – known for durability and strength – and is famous for using extremely strong German steel and having a reassuringly heavy weight in the hand. Coupled with this strength is enough flexibility in the blade for you to be dexterous when filleting that delicate fish.
Having a good, sharp bread knife makes all the difference between clean slices and ragged cakes and torn breads. A serrated knife has a zigzagged blade which allows long clean cuts without food sticking to the blade.
Opinel is another leading knife brand, famous for its smaller steak knives and cutlery, but this bread knife is short enough to give you great control, and the wooden handle is an attractive touch.
You may think a cleaver is only for the serious Asian cook, but once you start using it you’ll realise it’s great for things like smashing garlic cloves (by turning it on its side and hitting with the palm of your hand) and for scooping up everything you’ve chopped to throw in the pan.
This model does just the job – with an eight-inch blade perfect for most tasks, and a beautiful wooden handle with a comfortable grip.