Last week when I was talking to my young neighbor, we started talking about different types of knives. When she told me that she was using Chef’s knife for just about any meat-related job, I couldn’t believe it.
The truth is that a lot of people do the same, but what they don’t know is that they are making their job more difficult by using the wrong knife for some purposes.
Of course, Chef’s knife is a must-have in every kitchen, and it covers a multitude of tasks, but only a quality butcher knife can easily go through thick cuts of meat.
This conversation encouraged me to prepare a buying guide for butcher knives, and also try out some of the best butcher knives currently on the market and see if they have what it takes to make Barbara happy.
Click to jump straight to each topic
The Differences Between Butcher And Chef’s Knife
The first difference you will notice is that butcher knife is clearly a lot heavier than a chef’s knife.
It also has a curved blade that helps it go through meat more easily.
If you are into middle-eastern history, you will probably notice that some butcher knives look like scimitar knives – ancient battle weapons.
The end that has more width than the handle makes this type of knives ideal for slicing, chopping and trimming meats.
Forged Or Stamped?
One of the most frequent questions when it comes to knife blade is whether you should choose a forged or a stamped blade.
But what exactly is the difference?
- Stamped is made with a hydraulic press which cuts a piece of metal into the desired shape. After that, the blade blank is sharpened and honed through several processes. Stamped blades are characterized by a thin and light blade. You will recognize them by their lower price. Also, they don’t have a bolster between the blade and the handle.
- Forged blades can be costly, and often they are among the priciest on the market. They are known to be stronger, thicker, heavier and better balanced than stamped knives. The bolster between the heel and handle will help you identify them more easily.
Finding a butcher knife that is not made of steel is quite difficult, but what you need to know is that not all types of steel are the same.
One of my favorite types of steel is VG-10 because it resists staining and retains sharpness for a long time.
High-carbon types, such as 420HC and 440 are famous for their durability and long-lasting sharpness.
Chopping, trimming and slicing meat can be really difficult, and that’s why you need a comfortable ergonomic handle. But the comfort of the grip is not the only factor impacting the appeal of the handle.
- Speaking in aesthetic terms, wood handles look the best, and they are easy to hold. However, they can attract a lot of bacteria, and they tend to wear out after repeated washing.
- The most preferred material today is plastic. It is because it is easy to maintain, clean and hold. The most prominent issue with plastic handles is that they are prone to cracking when exposed to higher temperatures.
- There are also stainless steel handles, which are practically maintenance free, but they do get slippery, and difficult to hold, especially when wet.
There should be a balance between the handle and the blade so that it would be easier to control the knife.
Types Of Edges
There are several types of edges you should know about:
- Straight edges: razor sharp, no curves.
- Granton edges: hollowed out sections along the blade which make meat slicing easier.
- Serrated edges: ideal for cutting through combinations of soft and crunchy textures.
More Essential Features Butcher Knives Should Have
Besides comfort, quality material, and durable blade, there are more characteristics butcher knives should have to satisfy the average chef.
- Rust resistance may seem like one of the basic qualities of stainless steel, but sometimes the ads can fool you. High carbon steel is the best at resisting corrosion.
- Slip resistance is essential for good handles.
- Edge retention should be high, which means the blades should stay sharp for a long time.
- Butcher knives need to strike the perfect balance between sturdiness and flexibility. Too easily bendable blades can cause injuries. If the blade is not hard enough, it won’t be able to cut through the meat efficiently.
Let’s get one thing straight – with butcher knives you truly get what you paid for, so if you opt for the most affordable product, you will probably not be satisfied with it.
Buying knives in sets to save money is also not a wise way to go.
If you invest money in one high-quality butcher knife, you will never have to think about that again, and you won’t have to spend more money by replacing a broken or rusty knife.
However, I would rarely go above $50, unless the product truly knocks my socks off.
The Most Recommended Butcher Knives – Barbara’s Reviews 2017
All of these factors were very helpful in finding the best butcher knives on the market, seeing their advantages and disadvantages and deciding on the winner of this challenging competition.
So, stick around and check out what I’ve prepared for you.
1. Ontario Knife 7111 Old Hickory Butcher Knife
I love Ontario Knife Company because of their long reliable history. Even my mother had several Ontario knives in her kitchen, and they never failed her. That’s why I’ve been so thrilled about trying out their product. At first glance, it is obvious that the craftsmanship and the material are of top quality.
The blade is made of high carbon steel, which speaks a lot about its endurance and durability, but the handle is made of wood, which speaks quite the opposite. Although the knife’s handle is really easy to grip, it attracts bacteria and loses its pretty look after several times of washings.
The weight and length are nice and convenient, but if you want to keep on using this knife for years to come, you should pay special attention to maintenance because if left wet it is highly likely that it will corrode. You should also consider oiling the blade after each use.
The knife was pretty dull when it arrived, but after some extensive sharpening, it was just right.
- A trustworthy manufacturer
- Traditional design
- Quality high carbon steel
- Handle-blade balance is great
- Prone to stains and rust
- Needs extra maintenance
- Not dishwasher safe
- It arrived dull
2. Ontario Knife 7025 7-Inch Butcher Knife
Another product from the same company, this one is only slightly different because it is made with fully heat treated 1095 carbon steel. I like the feel of the handle in my hand and the fact that it is additionally secured with brass compression rivets. However, the hardwood is still an issue for me.
Before I move on to other good and bad features of this butcher knife, I have to mention a legal disclaimer that really worried me: “This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.” Sounds a bit scary, right?
Even though the blade seems very thin, the steel is rigid and strong. Since it is not stainless steel, though, you will have to pay attention to maintenance to prevent stains and rust. As the previous Ontario Knife Company product, this also needed additional sharpening when it arrived at my address. However, once I sharpened it, it was very sharp.
You need to ask yourself, are you willing to spend an hour or more to sharpen the knife?
And be aware that you will need to do that quite often. One of the biggest problems with this knife wasn’t sharpening though, it was that after some time, I’ve noticed that the blade started curving to the left.
- The steel seams rigid enough
- The handle is ergonomic and secure
- When sharpened upon arrival, this knife can cut through anything
- The price is meager
- The legal disclaimer (oh my Gosh)
- Difficult to maintain
- Hardwood handle
- The blade curved to the left
- Prone to corrosion
3. Victorinox Cutlery 12-Inch Straight Butcher Knife
At first, I had my doubts about ordering this knife, mostly because of its price. I thought “no knife can be worth that money.” Guess what? This one is… mostly.
First, I have to commend the high carbon stainless-steel blade, because it provides the edge retention and durability of the high carbon, but also the rust-resistance of stainless steel.
Although the blade is extremely sharp and sustains sharpness for a very long time, it is not forged, but stamped so it is thin as strong as one could expect from a high-quality and high priced butcher knife. What I do like about this knife is the handle. It is a Fibrox, which means it is slip-resistant, ergonomically designed and easy to clean.
The safe grip and the balance should be every meat-related task a breeze, but the 12-inch blade is a bit too long for my taste, so using it can be tricky. I’m used to using 7 or 10 inch knives which are much more convenient., Black Fibrox Handle
- The blade is made of high carbon stainless steel, so there is no danger of rusting
- It is sharp and retains that sharpness for a long time
- The handle is ergonomic and slip-resistant
- The 12-inch blade is too big for safe wielding
- The blade is stamped not forged
- For the price I expect the product to be flawless
4. UltraSource Butcher Knife, 10″ Cimeter Blade
This knife provides with similar qualities as the previous product, but for a much lower price. It also addresses the issue of too big blade with a 10-inch blade which is perfectly convenient for breaking down meat into smaller pieces.
The textured handle is slip-resistant and antibacterial infused, so there are no problems like with the wood handles. One of the things I like the most is that the handle is liquid welded where it meets the blade for easy cleaning.
The balance between the two is achieved with front, and rear safety bolsters to provide a confident grip and minimize hand fatigue. The protective finger guards on both sides of the handle are also useful features.
The knife makes very precise cuts, and it is flexible enough to comfortably debone beef, pork, and poultry. The curved blade is especially handy for removing bones from fish. The edge is effortless to sharpen, and once you do, it remains like that for a long time.
The only downside I can find to this knife is that, no matter how hard I try, I can’t find the downside.
- The perfect length of the edge
- The slip-resistant handle
- Easy to clean, especially thanks to liquid welded handle-blade
- The protective finger guards
- Precise and sharp
- Easy to maintain and sharp
- I didn’t get one of these earlier.
5. Dexter-Russell (S112-10PCP) – 10″ Butcher Knife
Another butcher knife with my favorite blade length – 10 inches. The Dexter-Russell’s knife is made of stainless steel and it is ideal for cutting large roasts into thin slices. The edge is straight, and the blade is pointed, so it can work for deboning as well.
The handle is made of Grip-Tex plastic, and it allows slip-free usage. It is also ergonomic and really simple to wield. The knife comes out of the box very sharp. The blade is thick and sturdy so it can be used even for the most demanding tasks.
The balance of the blade and handle is superb. The cleaning and maintenance are really simple, and there is no danger of corrosion.
However, I did expect better quality for the price. The white/silver ink on the blade I found attractive at first glance washed off after first use.
- The blade length is ideal
- It is resistant to corrosion and stains
- It’s great for deboning and slicing
- It is very sharp
- The handle is slip-free, and the grip is comfortable
- The ink on the blade washed off after first washing
- The price-quality ration isn’t perfect
Let’s Cut To The Point: The Best Butcher Knife Is…
None of the products I tried out was bad, and each of them can be useful in your kitchen, but we are here searching for the best butcher knives on the market, not the most average ones.
You probably already figured out by now that my choice is UltraSource Butcher Knife.
Its price is average for a butcher knife, but its quality is far above the average.
Everything from the handle to the blade speaks about its supremacy in this field.
The second best for that price is Dexter-Russell (S112-10PCP) – 10″ Butcher Knife, but if you are looking for a low-range knife to meet some basic culinary needs and cost close to nothing, you can get away with the American-made Ontario Knife 7111 Old Hickory Butcher Knife.