Every household kitchen needs certain essentials. Proper silverware, dishes, cups, appliances, you name it. Among these items should be a set of capable steak knives.
Why? Well, unless you’ve sworn off meat, managing to cut steak and pork chops is going to be a bit of a challenge. Ever see someone try to use a paring knife or butter knife to cut up their steak?
We have. Trust us, It’s not pretty.
If all of this talk about steak has your carnivorous mouth drooling, you’re not alone. But before you sizzle up a mouthwatering steak or delectable pork chop, you’ll need to get yourself a capable steak knife crafted to perfection and ready to tackle any type of protein you throw its way.
Just like the rest of your kitchen knives, your steak knife should be well built, offer good balance, be easy to maneuver and manipulate in hand, and have a durable strong blade with teeth as eager to chew into that steak as you are.
In this guide, we’ll take you through some of the best tips we have for buying the best steak knife without breaking the bank.
Here's What to Look for When Shopping for Steak Knives
With the multitude of steak knives on the market, it can be hard to sort the good from the bad. Should you buy that high-end set that costs an arm and a leg? Is straight vs serrated the better call? What about the type of steel? Or handle design? Does it even matter?
Here we break down the best tips to buy a quality steak knife (without the frustration).
An Introduction to the Steak Knife
Similar to your other knives, your kitchen knife needs to be sharp and strong. Because they are typically used on hard surfaces (such as your dinner plate) and not the soft and forgiving surface of a cutting board, steel type, hardness and durability are important.
Edge retention is also a key factor, with steak knives taking a lot of abuse, they need to maintain an edge despite being put to task. Although serrated knives offer longer edge retention and improved sawing capability, they are also almost impossible to sharpen.
Let’s look at these and other tips to buy the right steak knife below…
Does it Feel Right?
Choosing a steak knife is more than just aesthetics or the type of blade. The best steak knife will be the one that ‘feels right’ in hand. Cheaper, mass-produced steak knives often are generic in feel, with little difference from blade to blade.
Conversely, forged blades that are made with precision and care go to great lengths to ensure the knife feels like an extension of your own hand, enabling you to make safe, precise cuts with ease.
Simply put, if it doesn’t feel right, put it back.
The Handle: get a grip man (or woman)
Steak knives have handles that may be made from various materials. Generally speaking, the two best types of handle material for a steak knife are treated wood and epoxy resin (such as that used at Vertoku). These both other several advantages in both appearance and performance in the kitchen.
Wood Handles: the good and the bad
- Traditional look and feel
- Susceptible to moisture damage over time
- Plain and boring
Plastic Handles: the good and the bad
- Impervious to moisture
- Can slip in hand when wet
- The blade may come loose over time
- May damage under pressure
- Can melt in dishwasher
Epoxy Resin Handles: the good and the bad
- Impervious to moisture
- Heat resistant
- Antimicrobial surface
- Offers a good grip
At Vertoku, our handles are made with a proprietary blend of stabilized wood and epoxy resins. This painstaking process enables us to create truly unique, one-of-a-kind knife handles that are as ergonomic as they are breathtakingly beautiful.
We believe that a knife’s handle should complement the entirety of the tool, offering a safe and stable grip, unbeatable durability, comfortable feel in hand, and balance.
Balanced Life, Balanced Steak Knife
Speaking of balance…
Although often more of a consideration for larger knives (such as a chef’s knife), a good balance offers the user of the steak knife several benefits. A well-balanced blade will feel comfortable in hand, reduce wrist strain when in use, improve safety, and result in more uniform, precise cuts.
TIP: The balance of a knife is best assessed by holding it at the point where the blade meets the handle. If it feels awkward or noticeably heavy on one or the other side, it’s an easy pass. Similarly, when gripped in hand, you shouldn’t feel like the weight of the knife is directing your hand downward.
Blade Type: Are Serrated or Straight-Edge Steak Knives Better?
Which is ‘better’ might be more so in the hand of the beholder so to speak, but here are some key differences to consider.
Serrated Steak Knife
Serrated blades are the miniature saws of the knife world. They meld together both tearing and slicing motions into one cut, capable of working their way through even the toughest selection of meats.
Although ideal for tough cuts, a serrated blade may not be the best choice for those dishes which are more tender and delicate (i.e. lamb loin or fish).
Straight Blade Steak Knife
For delicate dishes and softer cuts of meat, a serrated blade might just make a mess of things, while a straight blade glides through cuts like a hot knife through butter. A straight blade is often ideal when a cut doesn’t require the back and forth sawing motion commonly employed with it’s serrated counterpart.
Apart from use, maintenance and upkeep is a big concern with steak knives. While straight blades are comparatively easy and simple to clean, sharpen and hone, serrated blades are not.
In the end, the right type of blade here as more to do with the foods you regularly eat, as well as personal preference. It honestly doesn’t hurt to have both types on hand just in case.
Stamped Steel vs Forged: a battle royal
Most big box retailers sell ‘stamped’ steak knives. These knives are made on an assembly line and are stamped from a single sheet of steel. As you might imagine, they often lack in quality, durability, ergonomics, balance and edge retention. The upside is that they are cheap and easily replaceable.
Forged blades, by contrast, utilize hand-forged steel of exceptional caliber. Using centuries-old artisanship and blacksmithing techniques, each blade is pounded into perfection and honed to excel in every category.
At Vertoku, our blades are always forged, using a carefully sourced selection of the finest high carbon steel. This results in a finished product that is superior in durability, edge retention and balance. It’s something you can feel in your hand as soon as you pick it up, but really shines when to the task in the kitchen.
Budget: don’t go broke
Although we mentioned the pitfalls of mass produced ‘stamped steel’ steak knife sets you’ll find at your local home goods store, that doesn’t mean we think you should go out of pocket to get a good knife.
Despite the trend online towards upscale, high-end blades that will cost you a second mortgage, affordable options do exist that perform as well or better.
We may be a bit biased, but one of the reasons we founded Vertoku was to make affordable high-end kitchen knives accessible to the masses. We felt like the home cook or weekend kitchen warrior deserved knives that would elevate their cooking without having to spend a fortune.
Aesthetics and Presentation
At the end of the day, most of us want to have our cake and eat it too. Meaning, all things being equal, we’d prefer a steak knife that looks as good as it performs.
Japanese Inspired Artisan Blades
At Vertoku, our blades are hand-crafted, inspired by Japanese designs and craftsmanship, offering unparalleled build quality as well a breathtaking visual quality. Each blade’s pattern is unique to that individual knife, offering an interesting accompaniment to the meal and something sure to delight family and guests alike.
But we didn’t stop there. The wood resin epoxy handle is also handcrafted and available in several styles and designs, from traditional wood grain, to blue epoxy resin combinations. Also available in colored resin patterns, each handle is as unique as its user, making for a wonderful talking piece at the dinner table.
Final Thoughts About Choosing the Best Steak Knife
Unless you’re a vegetarian, the steak knife is a ‘must have’ kitchen utensil. From steaks to poultry, these knives were designed to slice up proteins with precision and ease. But knowing which type of steak knife is best can be a challenge.
Stores are lined with a multitude of options ranging in price from dirt cheap to “we’d need to win the lotto”.
By following the tips in this guide you too can sort through the noise and find a steak knife, or set of steak knives that you and your family/guests will enjoy for decades.