After working all day on your prized piece of meat in your oven or smoker, waiting for the moment that you can finally tuck into it, there’s one final step to complete before you can serve. You’re going to have to carve it. Using any old chef’s knife from your kitchen draws can work, but there’s nothing like using a quality carving or slicing knife to make your job easier and the final product so much better. We’ll take you through everything you need to know about what makes the best carving knife and slicing knife.
We can’t express enough how much of a difference a good knife makes. The balanced weight, the build quality, the sharpness and the designs of a quality knife will make you want to use it continuously. Before buying a quality, dedicated carving or slicing knife, we’d recommend picking up a quality chef’s knife to start you out. I use a Wüsthof Classic 7-Inch Chef’s Knife. This was a gift and is probably the best thing anybody has every bought me, I love it.
Is there a difference between a carving knife and a slicing knife?
A carving knife has a long, thin blade with a sharp point on the end. These are mainly used for carving poultry or any cuts of meat with the bone still inside. They are ideal for carving away the meat from a turkey or chicken, or a leg of lamb or even beef ribs. Anything where the meat needs to be carved away from the bone. You can get away with using a normal chef’s knife for carving but a good quality carving knife will make the job an absolute joy.
A slicing knife is very similar to a carving knife. They have long, thin blades but instead of narrowing to a point they have an even height throughout. Normally, they’ll have a rounded, bullnose tip rather than a point. They tend to be slightly thinner and longer than carving knives which make them a great option for cutting brisket or other larger roasts. Due to the thin blade, they are good at cutting delicate items as well. The length and width of them allow you to make long horizontal sawing motions which reduce the need for downward pressure. This keeps what ever it is you’re cutting in good shape as the knife will slide through nicely.
Both of these types of knives will be a massive improvement over a cheap chef’s knife for carving or slicing. They can be used for either and are still subject to misunderstandings as to which is which due to their similarities. So, for the purpose of this guide we’re going to say that the words ‘slicing’ and ‘carving’ are basically interchangeable, but now you know the difference.
Best All-Round Meat Carving Knife
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Wusthof are one of the best knife makers in the world and we’re huge fans their products. Their 9-inch carving knife is about as good a carving knife as you’ll ever get. It has a thin, narrow blade that is forged from a single piece of high carbon stainless steel. This gives it an extremely sharp edge and, like all Wüsthof knives, makes it an absolute joy to use. You can just as easily carve a turkey as you can slice up a low and slow brisket. Not only is the blade near perfect, but the handle is balanced, strong and comfortable. The handle is full tang, meaning that the piece of metal that the blade is made from extends fully into the handle. This helps it with balance and durability. It has synthetic grips triple-riveted onto it to give a comfortable and strong handle. You don’t realize how good a knife can be until you use a Wüsthof for the first time. We highly recommend this and their entire range and think it is the best meat carving knife you can buy. It makes easy work of all carving and slicing jobs and is the best knife for carving turkey on Thanksgiving or at Christmas.
For such a premium product, you’re looking at a premium price tag. The Wüsthof Classic carving knife will cost you at least $100 depending on size and where you buy it from. But don’t let that put you off. Think of it as an investment as this knife will last you forever and is even covered with a lifetime warranty.
Best All-Round Meat Slicing Knife
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If you’re looking for a knife that is aimed at just slicing, then the Victorinox 12 Inch Slicing knife is the one for you. Victorinox are the company behind the famous Swiss Army pocket knives so you know their products are going to be some of the best around. This slicing knife is another example of what they can do. It’s got a 12 inch Granton blade which is long, narrow and very sharp. A Granton blade is one that has grooves in the side to create pockets of air which help to prevent food from sticking to the blade. This generally allows for much smoother cutting and an easier motion to get perfect slices. At 12 inches, it’s a long knife, but we think that this length is perfect for a slicing knife. It allows you to cut even the largest briskets or hams with very little effort.
The handle is made from Victorinox’s Fibrox Pro range of handles, which feature ergonomic, non-slip designs which are comfortable and very well balanced. If you’re looking for the best meat slicing knife that can make short, efficient work of the largest cuts of meat then the Victorinox 12 inch slicer is the one to buy.
Best Budget Meat Carving Knife
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The Mercer Genesis range of knives provide a great alternative to the expensive Wusthofs. The 8 inch Genesis is usually around a quarter of the price of the Wüsthof we reviewed earlier. But don’t think you’re getting a bad knife. It uses the same high-carbon stainless steel as the Wüsthof which means that you’re potentially able to get the same cutting capabilities. Out of the box the Mercer definitely isn’t as sharp but with a little work you can get it cutting just as well as the Wüsthof with the peace of mind that it’ll retain its edge for just as long.
The handle is made from a soft plastic that relatively comfortable and easy to grip. It has quite a large bolster which makes the blade grip with your thumb and first finger tricky. Also, it isn’t quite as balanced as the Wüsthof which can make cutting a little more difficult. Having said that, it’s still a great knife.
For the price, you’re still getting a sharp knife, that’s made from high quality materials and will competently do any carving or slicing job you can throw at it.
Best Electric Meat Carving Knife
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Finding a quality electric carving knife can be a tough job because there are a lot of low quality electric knives out there. That doesn’t mean they’re all bad. If you’re looking for a knife that can slice brisket after brisket with very little effort, then the Cuisinart CEK-40 is a brilliant option.
It comes with two 8 inch blades, one for slicing meat and one for slicing bread. It also comes with a neat little wooden storage tray. It cuts well, managing to cleanly slice through the meat instead of hacking away at it like so many other electric knives. The blades are nowhere near as sharp or as well made as the other knives mentioned, but at a quarter of the price of the Wüsthof you can’t complain. The blades are easy to switch, it’s easy to clean and the handle feels good enough in the hand. It doesn’t have the quality build or balance of the other knives mentioned but this is a bit of a different beast so the comparison isn’t fair.
Overall, if you’re looking for a good quality electric knife to make slicing a lot of meat easier for you then the Cuisinart is a great choice.
Would we recommend it over any of the other knives though? Absolutely not. Manual knives are our preference.
Best Trimming Knife
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A curved trimming knife is a great knife to have in your arsenal if you’re going to be trimming lots of meat from the bone. They also work great for trimming the fat from a brisket or anything with excess fat. The shape of the blade provides a perfect working angle to allow close cuts around awkward bone shapes and precision accuracy when trimming fat.
As we mentioned before, Victorinox have a stunning range of high quality knives and this is no different. It has the same high quality stainless steel as the slicing knife mentioned earlier and the same material handle. This gives it great performance and sharpness longevity with maximum comfort and durability. Its blade is 6 inches, which is just the right length. You’re able to get under the layer of fat on a brisket with ease. A chore becomes a pleasure with this knife.
It’s also very reasonable priced and comes with a lifetime warranty. There’s not much we can fault it on. For us, it’s the best meat trimming knife that money can buy.
Best Knife Sharpeners
Even the best knives in the world will eventually lose their edge. To get it back again you’ll need a quality sharpener, so we’ve provided you with a few of the best knife sharpeners you can buy today.
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This little sharpener is fantastic gadget to have in your kitchen. It’s cheap, very simple to use and very effective. It uses a very strong suction cup to hold itself in place. You then drag your knife back through the tungsten carbine edge to shave off microscopic amounts of metal from your knife, thus sharpening it. And it sharpens knives very, very well. You can turn any old cheap blade, including a serrated blade, into a brilliantly sharp knife capable of cutting smoothly through anything. All you have to do is focus on drawing the knife back through, without applying any downward pressure and it’ll do the work for you.
Its positives may also be seen as negatives depending on what you’re looking for though. If you have a really high quality knife like some of the ones shown previously, you might be looking for something a little better. This can leave a slightly rough edge and marks on the side. If you have a very high quality knife, we’d recommend using either of the next two choices instead of this. If you have cheaper knives then this is perfect for keeping them cutting well.
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Using a sharpening steel rod is one of the traditional ways to sharpen your knives. It takes a little technique to get the best results but they are generally easy enough to use, and this is no different. It’s well made and feels fairly solid. The handle is a little plastic-y but is comfortable enough. The rod is made from carbon steel and plated with a nickel-chrome surface to prevent damage to your knife. It works very well and sharpens knives very quickly. It’s well priced and is a great option if you’re comfortable with sharpening steels.
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If you’re looking for the best electric knife sharpener, then the Chef’s Choice electric knife sharpener is the one to buy. It uses three-stage, precision, diamond sharpening to ensure that your most expensive knives are sharpened to perfection. And it does sharpen them to perfection. It can manage any type of knife and makes short work of even the largest knives. As it’s electric, it’s incredibly easy to sharpen multiple knives in one session by simply placing the knife in the groove and waiting a few moments.
Having such a good sharpener doesn’t come cheap. Expect to pay over $100 for one. But if you want your quality knives to stay at the best quality they can, then it might be worth investing in a quality electric sharpener to go with them.
How to Make the Most of Your New Knife
- Use a quality sharpener to keep them sharp. After a couple of uses some blades can lose their edge so having a sharpener handy will keep things working as well as they can.
- Whilst most of the knives we’ve mentioned are dishwasher safe, the manufacturers recommend hand washing rather than putting them in the dishwasher. This is due to the fierce sprays of water that dishwashers tend to use when washing.
- Wash them in hot, soapy water and simply wipe them clean.
- Stay safe with a pair of cut resistant gloves.
- Keep your knives in a safe location. We recommend using either a wooden knife block or a magnetic knife bar.
Think of a good carving/slicing knife as an investment. They’ll last you a lifetime and make carving so much easier, quicker and more effective. You’ll never have to worry about sawing through a turkey with a knife that’s too blunt, or about ripping the meat of a brisket instead of slicing it. If there is anything you think we’ve missed or have any questions then let us know in the comments.