A carving knife is a thing of beauty, even if it’s used only a couple times a year. When you need a long, thin, and most important of all, sharp blade to do your slicing, nothing else will do. (Above: Wusthof Classic 2-Piece Hollow-Ground Carving Set.)
If you’re in the market for a carving knife (or your old one isn’t quite up to snuff) and you’re concerned about quality, don’t let the sea of choices drown you. As long as you go with a name brand (see Best Chef Knives. . .), you’ll get similar performance and longevity. But please be aware that some major brands have quite a range of product lines (sort of like cars). And if you value finish and feel, you should stick with their higher-end lines.
In general, I recommend spending at least $80. No doubt you can find a carving knife out there for less, but, odds are, it won’t feel as solid in your hand, won’t be as nicely finished, and—most important of all—won’t retain a sharp cutting edge for years to come.
Here are a few quality suggestions—which means, with proper care (see Top Ten Tips), any one of these could last 30 years or more . . .
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Recommended Carving Knives
Henckels Pro S Carving Knife, 8-inch
The Pro S series is a top-tier line produced by one of Germany’s oldest and finest manufacturers. Or, from Wusthof, the other major German knife maker, a similar version: Wustohof Classic Carving Knife, 9-inch @ Amazon: $130.
Wusthof Classic Ikon Carving Knife, 9-inch
My very favorite Wusthof line—Classic Ikon. What a beautiful (and I might add, extremely comfortable) handle, no? Like most of the German knives on this page, it looks and feels like wood, but is actually synthetic.
Henckels Pro 2-piece Carving Set
If you need a carving fork as well, here’s a set from Henckels. I love the modern styling, but you pay a bit more for it. The knife lacks a bolster which actually is a plus—it makes sharpening easier. (8-inch knife, 7-inch fork)
Wusthof Classic 2-piece
Hollow-Ground Carving Set
This carving knife set is currently a steal. It’s the same blade as the plain Wusthof Classic above, but with a hollowed-out edge that can help prevent whatever you’re cutting from sticking to the blade. (8-inch knife, 6-inch fork)
Messermeister Carving Knife, 10-inch
Messermeister makes a carving set with a knife that’s 2 inches longer for only $20 more. Messermeister is a top-tier German knifemaker—not as well-known as Wusthof, but comparable quality. If you feel the extra length could come in handy, you’re getting premium quality at a great price.
Henckels Four Star Hollow-edge Ham Slicer, 10-inch
If you know you’re going to be doing some serious slicing (if you’re serving something like a ham or roast), this Henckels Four Star slicer can’t be beat (with a 10-inch blade like the Messermeister). It’s designed to cut across a large expanse of meat, yet keep the thickness of each slice consistently thin. Wusthof carries a similar version in their Classic line, but with a much narrower blade: Wusthof Classic Hollow-Edge Carving Knife, 10-inch. @ Amazon: $137
IMPORTANT TIP! Never try to saw through a joint with a knife you care about and want to keep sharp. You’ll totally dull (or, worse yet, damage) the cutting edge in half a minute. I am not exaggerating.
1) Cut around the joint until you can get full access and then, twist the leg/wing while you delicately slice through, OR, better yet . . .
2) switch to a boning knife (Wusthof, Global) for agility, OR . . .
3) use a pair of kitchen shears (Kershaw, Messermeister), or a knife you don’t care about, to sever the bone cartilage.
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Japanese Carving Knives
If you don’t mind paying a bit more, you might want to go Japanese. You’ll get a lighter knife with a thinner blade, ground to a sharper angle that will slice meat like butter. But please be aware that Japanese knives are made of a harder, brittler, steel than German, and cannot take as much abuse. If you try hacking at bones, you will risk chipping the blade. Seriously.
Shun Classic Hollow-ground Slicer, 9-inch
Miyabi Kaizen Slicer, 9 1/2-inch
And finally, to top things off, let me recommend two knives you can break your piggie bank for—both manufactured in Japan, both with a unique styling and attention to detail you would expect from a custom knifemaker. (Please note the Bob Kramer (Zwilling-J.A. Henckels) is made of carbon steel that can stay super-sharp, but is susceptible to rust. Over time though, it will develop a protective patina.)
Miyabi Birchwood Slicer, 9-inch
Bob Kramer Carbon Steel Carving Knife, 9-inch
BUY NOW @ Amazon: $330
I hope this quick tour through the carving knife world has given you some ideas. Whatever knife you buy, make sure to treat it kindly and learn how to hone it. That will guarantee it lives a long and prosperous life!