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8 best steak knives for the perfect slice every time

We cut to the chase and found the razor-sharp tools for the job

Qin Xie
Thursday 22 April 2021 17:34
<p>Stainless steel is strong and durable and will resist corrosion</p>

Stainless steel is strong and durable and will resist corrosion

What’s worse than a piece of overcooked steak? A knife that’s so blunt, you’re having to fight it for every shredded bite.

When you’ve struggled with a steak knife – and many of us have – you know the value that a razor-sharp blade can bring to the table.

While most steak knives have serrated blades, we actually found during our testing that blades with a smooth edge worked best. These sliced through the meat to produce fine, even cuts, rather than tearing through it and ripping it apart.

That’s not to say serrated knives can’t be just effective though, as some are. For these, you should look for smaller, pointy teeth rather than larger or rounded teeth. With the latter, we found they just catch on the grain of the meat rather than cutting through it.

The material is important too. Stainless steel is strong and durable and will resist corrosion but it comes with many different grades, which will influence the price.

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If you use your steak knife all the time, it’s obviously worth investing in a good set. But if it’s only for occasional use, you’d be much better off buying a cheaper set with a lower grade of steel.

We tested a whole range of steak knives on the market and used them to cut through a medium rare bavette steak. It’s a meat with a loose grain, which means plenty of opportunities for those serrated blades to get caught out. Here’s how they fared.

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Judge Windsor steak knife, set of 6

The steak knives in the Judge Windsor range come in a set of six, presented in a simple cardboard box that can also be used for storage. The knives themselves are made solely from 18/0 stainless steel with a lovely polished mirror finish; each knife features a serrated blade and a classic teardrop handle. The entire set has a 25-year guarantee and is dishwasher safe. At first, we were apprehensive about its cutting abilities – it looked more like a table knife that you’d use to spread butter than a classic steak knife but it proved us wrong. The blade cut through our steak with ease, with minimal tearing of the meat, and it performed much better than some of the more expensive alternatives we tested. And although the handle is quite thin compared to some of the other knives, we found that its width and weight helped to balance things out and made it easy to grip.

Zwilling professional S steak knife

The most expensive steak knife of the selection we tried was Zwilling’s professional S steak knife. It resembles a smaller, slimmer version of the boning knives that chefs use in professional kitchens, with the tang of the blade running the length of a flawless black plastic handle. The ice-hardened blade is smooth and razor-sharp along its entire 12cm length and is forged from a single piece of bespoke formula steel. The manufacturer has not disclosed chromium or nickel content, but the German-made knife does come with a lifetime warranty.

While it didn’t initially stand out visually for us, we were very impressed by its ability to cut through steak. The blade glided through the meat with zero tear – the phrase “like butter” came to mind – and produced pieces that we’d happily serve up in a Michelin-starred restaurant. The knife does come with a hefty price tag though – the price we’ve included is for a single knife although you can also get it in a set.

Robert Welch signature steak knife, set of 2

The Robert Welch offering is the biggest of the steak knives we tried. As well as a 12cm serrated blade, it has a long, moulded Dupont handle that brings its full length to 25cm. The blade itself is made from 420 stainless steel, a martensitic stainless steel that’s extremely strong and resistant to corrosion. The tang of the blade runs the full length of the handle, which adds to its strength during use. The set comes with a 25-year guarantee and, although it can be popped into the dishwasher, hand washing is recommended. We found the rounded teardrop shape of the handle really comfortable to hold and its extra weight added to the feel of the knife during use. When cutting the steak, the serrated blade eased through the meat with minimal tear and almost no effort at all. It’s hard to fault this one.

Opinel bon appetit south table knives, set of 4

These Opinel table knives each feature a smooth 11cm blade made from martensitic stainless steel, which makes it extremely strong and resistant to corrosion and comes with a lifetime warranty. The handles – in an elongated trapezium that’s rounded off at the edges, similar to a Harley pattern – are made from wood. In the South collection we tested, these are olive wood, which are polished to allow their grain to shine through. Each, therefore, has a unique pattern. The knife is extremely lightweight, which we’re not a fan of, but it did produce lovely thin slices of meat with a little effort. The olive wood handles gave the knife a lovely rustic feel like you’re dining in a Tuscan villa, but they will need regular oiling to keep their loveliness. If you’re looking for a low maintenance alternative, the Bon Appetit range also has slightly cheaper sets with painted white wood handles. The other thing we found was that unlike all of the other knives we tested, the tang of the blade doesn’t line up with the top of the handle on this one, which might make it a bit more difficult to clean.

Stellar Rochester steak knife, set of 6

The slimline steak knives from Stellar’s Rochester range are made from 18/10 stainless steel and come with a lifetime guarantee. The blades are slightly serrated near the tip, before running smooth and blunt towards the base, leaving it with a relatively small cutting surface. The handle, meanwhile, is slim and long – think Manhattan-style cutlery. The set comes in a cardboard presentation box that doubles as storage. Although only a small portion of the knife is designed for cutting – half the blade is deliberately blunt –this didn’t impact its effectiveness. We found that it sliced through the meat with ease. In fact, we quite liked this design feature as it made it look more elegant than some of the more chunky serrated blades. And despite its slimline design, the knife was weighty, balanced and handled well. For those with bigger hands though, gripping the thin handles may prove to be a challenge.

Stellar kitchen steak knife, set of 6

We also tested the kitchen range from Stellar, which comes in a cardboard presentation box too and includes a lifetime guarantee. The stainless steel knives feature the rounded Old English-style handles that are easy to grip but they actually feel lighter than the Rochester version despite being bigger. Like the Rochester range, Stellar’s kitchen knives also feature a partially serrated blade. But while the teeth on the Rochester range are quite small, the ones on the kitchen range are much bigger, which made it slightly harder to cut through meat. During our testing, the same cut required more time and effort with the kitchen range as the teeth were catching on the meat rather than gliding through it. Although the Rochester range was much easier for cutting, the kitchen range polishes to a mirror finish, which makes it a much more glamorous addition to the dining table.

ProCook gourmet X30 steak knife, set of 6

ProCook’s gourmet X30 range is a set of six steak knives that come in a lovely, giftable presentation box. The stainless steel set features serrated blades, with fairly chunky teeth running the length of the blade. From there, the tang of the blade runs the full length of the moulded handles with three trivets securing it in place. The whole set comes with a ten year guarantee. The knives were a good weight, evenly balanced, and easy to use. The handle, we felt, was particularly well made as it was entirely smooth with no crevices where food could become trapped. In testing, we found that it cut through the meat fairly effortlessly and the results were considerably smoother than some of the other serrated options we tried. The only flaw we can attribute to this set is that the knives aren’t as elegant as some of the other options but that’s entirely a matter of preference.

Napoleon steak knife

Napoleon’s steak knife features a long blade – it’s almost 13cm, which is the longest of the knives we tried – with a serrated tip and then a sharp, smooth cutting edge that runs the rest of its length. The idea is that the serrated tip helps you to grip onto the meat while the smooth edge does the bulk of the heavy lifting. The blade’s tang runs the length of the slightly curved rosewood handle, which actually feels quite short in comparison to the blade. In testing, the knife handled well. It cut through the meat with zero effort and produced fairly smooth cuts. Compared to some of the more refined steak knives, this one feels more masculine, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But we felt that you’re more likely to take this to an asado than bring it out for a fancy dinner party.

The verdict: Steak knives

The Judge Windsor range offered exceptional value for money and the steak knives were remarkably efficient for slicing through meat. If money was no objective though, we’d go for the Zwilling professional S steak knife as it was so effortless to use. For a stylish and cheaper alternative, the Robert Welch signature steak knife is our top choice.

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Nothing pairs better with a great steak like a good red, check out our round-up of the 8 best corkscrews that open bottles with ease

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