What Are the Best Steak Knife Sets?

Published on 11/16/2023 · 10 min readDive into our selection of the best steak knife sets, blending sharpness, comfort, and elegance to elevate your dining experience with every slice.
Di Doherty, Kitchen Expert
By Kitchen Expert Di Doherty

Photo by Di Doherty

Steak knives are sharp table knives that are designed to cut through meat. A high-quality knife will make all the difference in how easy it is to slice beef, pork, and poultry. Steak knives should be used every time protein is served (except for fish), meaning that it’s something that you’ll get a lot of use out of over its lifetime.

As I’m someone who loves steak, pork chops, and chicken breasts, a steak knife is a necessary tool. A good steak knife can also be used in the kitchen in place of a utility knife, with serrated ones being particularly useful.

How to Pick the Right Steak Knife Set for the Job

For most people, a steak knife is going to be an essential piece of tableware. That means that you want to be sure to select a set of steak knives that’ll suit what you most often serve and your cutting style, as well as feel good in your hand.

What’s the Best Blade Material to Get?

The most important part of any knife is the blade; that’s what distinguishes a well-made knife from a poorly made one. There are several different materials that knife blades can be made out of, each with advantages and disadvantages.

  • Stainless steel: This choice of blade material is the most durable and easiest to care for. It’s also going to be the most common. I’m partial to stainless steel as it’s tough, rust resistant, and pretty.
  • Carbon steel: This is an excellent choice if having an extremely sharp blade is your main priority. Because of its hardness, it’s easy to sharpen, and it stays sharp for a long time. It’s also highly durable and resistant to scratching and chipping. However, carbon steel rusts easily, meaning you have to be diligent about drying it immediately after every use or wash.
  • High-carbon stainless steel: If you’re looking for the rust resistance of carbon steel but the sharpness of carbon steel, high-carbon stainless steel is a good compromise. It’s a more expensive choice but results in a harder, rust-resistant blade that lasts longer and holds an edge well.
  • Ceramic: This is a less common material for steak knives, but ceramic knives were popular for a time. Ceramic holds a fine edge extremely well, but it’s brittle. Dropping a ceramic knife can result in it shattering, and they’re prone to chipping.

Steak Knife Construction

When looking for a new steak knife set, you’re likely to see a lot of jargon to describe different knives. However, if you aren’t familiar with the terminology it can be difficult to know what's a good thing and what isn’t. If you’re armed with the knowledge of what the different terms mean, you can make an educated choice about the best knife for your needs.

  • Stamped: You may have seen knives referred to as being “stamped.” This is a quick and inexpensive way to manufacture blades, so less expensive knives are usually stamped. Stamped knives have the advantage of being incredibly lightweight; however, they aren’t as durable, don’t hold an edge as well, and have a weaker attachment to the handle, so the blade can snap off with heavy use.
  • Forged: A forged knife is made through a process of shaping a piece of steel into a knife blade and tang. It’s the process blacksmiths used in antiquity, though the process has been greatly refined over the years.** **In general, forged blades are going to be of higher quality. A forged knife will be thicker, hold an edge better, and be more durable. They are, however, heavier.
  • Tang: The tang is the part of the knife that extends into the handle to affix the blade to it. Unless you prioritize the blade being extremely light, you want your knife to have a tang — preferably a full tang. This not only makes the knife stronger as the strain is distributed across the entire tang, but it also makes it more balanced.

A steak knife with a visible tang. Photo by Di Doherty

  • Blade type: There are two types of blades that a steak knife can have.
    • Serrated edge: A serrated knife has teeth. These teeth have the advantage of gripping what you’re cutting better, making it easier to saw through. Serrated blades also hold an edge for longer, meaning they need to be sharpened less often. That’s a good thing, as it’s a lot harder to sharpen a blade of this type than a straight blade.
    • Straight edge: Most knives have a straight edge. A straight-edged blade is preferable because it’s easier to sharpen and less likely to tear what it’s cutting, which helps preserve the juices. However, these knives don’t grip as well and will lose their edge more quickly.
  • Handle construction: A well-made handle is almost as important as a well-made blade. You want the handle of the knife to be solid, comfortable to hold, and durable. Handles can be made from several different materials.
    • Wood: Wood is a classic material for knife handles, and I have to admit it’s my favorite. I find it comfortable to hold and beautiful. However, it suffers in the dishwasher, can hold onto bacteria if not washed properly, and needs to be oiled every so often.
    • Plastic: Plastic handles are practical. They are durable, can have a rubbery texture to ensure grip, and do well in the dishwasher. However, I find most of them unattractive and less comfortable to hold, partially because cheaper knives often have plastic handles.
    • Metal: A metal handle can be stylish, but they need to be well constructed or else they’re slippery. Most metal handles are also less comfortable to hold than a wooden handle or well-made plastic one.

A straight-edged steak knife with a metal handle. Photo by Di Doherty

Caring for Steak Knives

A good set of steak knives is an investment and a tool that you’ll most likely use several times a week, so taking proper care of them is in your best interest. While the exact best way to care for your knife will likely be to follow the manufacturer's instructions, there are a lot of commonalities in steak knife care.

  • Avoid the dishwasher: While some manufacturers say that their knives are dishwasher safe, it’s best to wash all your sharp knives by hand. The dishwasher dulls knife edges and is hard on the blade and handle, shortening their lifespan.
  • Keep them sharp: Make sure to properly hone and sharpen your knives. A sharp knife is more effective, less dangerous, and longer lasting. How to best keep the knife sharp depends on the blade type.
    • Serrated knives: Serrated knives don’t need to be sharpened very often, as the teeth do most of the work. However, when they do need to be sharpened, it’s best to send them to the manufacturer. If you’d prefer to do it at home, it requires a honing rod and time, as you have to sharpen each serration individually.
    • Straight-edged knives: Straight-edge knives need to be sharpened more often but are easier to sharpen. Make sure to use a honing rod about once a week to keep the sharp edge straight and effective, and when that no longer makes a difference, sharpen them with a whetstone.
  • Care for the handle: An ergonomic handle is an important part of a good steak knife. Be sure to care for the handles as well, particularly if they’re made of wood. The dishwasher is hard on knife handles, too, so it’s best to handwash them and either dry them promptly or put them somewhere they can safely air dry. If the handle’s made of wood, be sure to oil it at least once a year. Depending on how often you use it, what type of wood it is, the oil you use, and the dish soap you use, it may need to be done more often. Pay attention to when the handle starts to feel dried out.

A serrate steak knife with rust spots from the dishwasher. Photo by Di Doherty

My 6 Top Picks for Steak Knives

All of these are excellent choices, but a lot of what makes the best steak knives comes down to personal preference. Be sure to give proper consideration to what works best for you before making a purchase.

1. WÜSTHOF Classic Ikon 4-Piece Steak Knife Set

WÜSTHOF makes a classic-looking set of steak knives that come with a case. These knives have full-tang construction, making them durable and well balanced. They have a 4 ½-inch straight blade made of German steel, so it’ll hold an edge well. In addition, the understated design will go with almost any silverware set or tableware. However, they are made of high-carbon steel, so they’ll be prone to rust, and they’re a serious investment.

2. Zwilling Pro 4.5" Steak Knife Set Of 4

If you’re looking for reliable steak knives, Zwilling’s set is a good choice. The forged blade has a full tang that’s secured to the handle with rivets. The knives have a stainless steel blade and a sleek, boning knife style, making them good for carving near bones. However, they don’t come with a storage case and cost almost $300.

3. Henckels Modernist Steak Knife Set of 4, Stainless Steel

For those looking for quality knives on a budget, Henckels steak knives are an excellent choice. These knives are dishwasher safe, making cleaning them easy, and are under $50. The serrated edge means that they don’t have to be sharpened as often, and they’re lightweight. However, they only have a partial tang, making them less durable, and serrated blades are harder to sharpen.

4. Messermeister Oliva Elite 4-Piece Fine Edge Steak Knife

Messermeister makes an undeniably pretty knife set. They have a straight-edge blade that’s easy to sharpen, handles made of olive wood, and a pointed tip. The partial tang will make the blade lighter but less rugged — though for the price I’d have expected a full tang. Additionally, the wooden handles ensure the knives are handwash only.

5. Miyabi Artisan 4-Piece Steak Knife Set

If you want to make a statement at your dinner table, this steak knife set is a showstopper. The Tsuchime (hammered) finish helps prevent food from sticking while giving the blade a handcrafted look. Pakkawood handles add elegance, and the blade is honed to a razor-sharp edge. However, they’re heavy and the price is enough to make anyone balk.

6. Misen Steak Knives - 4 Piece

Those looking for a stylish and affordable serrated steak knife should consider Misen. The knives have a sleek design, a full tang secured with rivets, and a blue handle. Even though the handle is synthetic, the manufacturer says that they’re handwash only. Additionally, some buyers have complained that Misen prioritized style over comfort with its handle design.

7. Shun Classic Blonde 4-Piece Steak Knife Set

For those who prefer high-end Japanese steak knives, Shun delivers a knife set with superior craftsmanship. The set has beautiful blonde wood handles and a full tang, and it comes in a box to make them ideal to give as a gift. That being said, the price means that you’d better really like whoever you plan to give them to.

Let Us Help You Find the Best Steak Knife Set for You

It can be overwhelming to try to find the right choice for your needs, particularly with the variety of steak knives on the market. Some of it also boils down to personal preference regarding what the blade is made out of, blade length, and handle material. As a steak knife set is something that you’ll use a lot over its lifetime, don’t be afraid to take your time. If you feel you need more information, recommendations, or advice, reach out to one of our Curated Kitchen Experts! Any of our Kitchen Experts would be more than happy to help you find the steak knife set that’s just right for you.

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