How To Choose A Kitchen Knife

There are four characteristics you should consider when choosing a kitchen knife: the material, the blade construction, the blade edge and the handle.

The Material

Historically, knives were made from carbon steel, a mixture of iron and carbon. Blades made from carbon steel can be sharpened easily to a razor edge. But, knives made of carbon steel are prone to rusting. And, carbon steel blades can discolor when it comes in contact with acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus fruits.

Many modern knives feature blades made of stainless steel, a mixture of iron and chromium, with a smaller amount of carbon. Stainless steel blades look beautiful and shiny and resist rust. On the down side, though, stainless steel blades are very difficult to sharpen. So, once these knives lose their original sharpness, you may be locked into using a dull blade unless you want to buy a new knife.

Today, better kitchen knives are made of high-carbon steel. High Carbon Stainless Steel is a higher-grade, stainless steel alloy with more carbon than standard stainless steel. High carbon steel can be easily sharpened, doesn’t rust easily and is resistant to staining and so brings together the best qualities of carbon steel and stainless steel blades.

Knives featuring ceramic blades are relatively new to the market. Ceramic blades are incredibly hard and can maintain a sharp edge for months or even years with little or no maintenance. They are completely resistant to corrosion. However, the sharpness of these types of blades can actually ruin the glaze on dinnerware, so care must be taken to use them only on cutting boards. And, ceramic blades are also easily chipped and can crack into pieces easily if not handled with care.

Blade Construction

Metal knives can be either forged or stamped.
Forged blades are made by heating and shaping a single piece of metal into the form of a blade that is then polished and sharpened.

Stamped blades are made from sheets of metal, cut into the shape of a knife.

Most professionals prefer a forged blade over a stamped blade because forged blades tend to be thicker and heavier than their stamped counterparts.


A hollow ground blade features a cutting edge that is beveled with a concave shape. This type of edge is created when the knife’s cutting edge is ground starting on the lower half of the blade, with the grind removing a circular area of the blade. The resulting edge is thin and very sharp, but also rather fragile. These types of knives are great for delicate tasks, such as chopping herbs or vegetables, but are not suited for heavier jobs.

Flat ground edges are produced when both sides of the blade are ground to form a taper running from the blade’s spine all the way to its edge. The result is a blade that looks, in profile, like a long, thin triangular shape. Knives with a flat ground edge are heavier, thicker and more durable than those featuring a hollow ground blade.

Serrated blades feature an edge that is wavy and saw-like. Serrated knives are perfect for slicing foods that are soft on the inside, but crusty on the outside like bread and tomatoes.

Granton blades feature a scallop pattern ground into the edge. This design helps to prevent food from sticking to the blade as the food is cut.


The handles of kitchen knives can be made from a number of different materials.

Wood handles are beautiful to look at, but can be hard to care for, should be hand-washed and can harbor germs. Stainless steel handles are also beautiful and are the much more durable than wood, and stainless steel is resistant to microorganisms. But stainless can be slippery to use with wet hands and stainless steel handles tend to be very heavy.

Finally, knife handles can be made of plastic or composite materials. While not as attractive as wood and lighter in weight, like stainless, plastic is unlikely to harbor germs and is easy to care for. And, unlike wood, plastic-handled knives can be washed in the dishwasher.

Users Reading this article are also interested in:
Top Searches on Cooking Utensils:
Kitchen Herbs Stainless Dishwasher
About The Author, Marye
Mary Kenkel helps you find the best for your favorite room in the house! Visit today to sign up for our free newsletter.