HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >

Discussion

Best lower-end knife? [Moved from Home Cooking]

My roommate moved out this weekend, taking with her most of the knives in the kitchen. I have a chinese cleaver and a butter knife or two...but that's it. So I'd like to get a set of knives for everyday use. Unfortunately I can't afford a really good set of nice German or Japanese knives, etc. (there are couches to buy!) but is there a decent lower-end set that anyone can recommend?

Thanks,
S

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. How about the Chinese-made Sabatier sets?

    1. Best entry level knives are branded Forschner and made by Vitorionix (Swiss Army). They are outstanding quality but lack the heaviness of the German entries. I still have a chef's knife from 1979 that I have sharpened a hundred times and even a professional chef who came to my house for a personal cooking lesson (DW idea for a bday present) thought they were of very good quality. America's Test Kitchen likes them as well if you are looking for confirmation from another reliable source.

      1. For good value, I also like Forschner. Also take a look at American made Chicago or Dexter. Go to a knife shop and get a feel of the knives. My advice is NOT to buy a set...for starter, an 8 inch chef (some like a 10 inch) and a paring knife. If you want to add, maybe a smaller sandwich or utility knife, bread knife if you are cutting lots of bread, a boning knife if you do a lot of cutting meat from bones, etc. I cook almost everyday and I can probably get by with just a chef knife and a paring knife plus a bread knife to cut bread. Also a sharpening steel is important.

        1 Reply
        1. re: PBSF

          I have about three of these, from boning knife to 12" and 10" chefs knives, and love them. Very reasonably priced. Do a great job.

        2. Go to a restaurant supply store. Very economical knives (though you may have to dry them 'cause they'll rust)

          1 Reply
          1. re: NYchowcook

            My chef's knife is from the restaurant supply store (Russell is the brand name). I've never had any rust problems, and I'm on knife #2. Seems to me to hold a pretty good edge.

            As cheesy as it sounds to use a $15.00 chef's knife--complete with white plastic handle--the things hold up infinitely better than the Henckels I got as a wedding gift. I sent one Henckels back because the handle split and eventually came apart, and the other knives from the same set are starting to grumble as well, and these are knives that NEVER see the inside of a dishwasher.

          2. I like the Henckels Classic knives, especially the paring and sandwich knives. Kohl's runs their Henckels knives for 40% off pretty often, which makes them a pretty good price.

            1. Don't mean to sound arrogant, just curious: why do you want a *set* of knives instead of just one or two basic kinds? For a long time I used to have a half dozen of those supermarket serrated knives and one hefty but unsharpened and too-big-for-my-hands knife that a roomate left behind. But recently I purchased one good chefs knife and one good paring knife and I think I am all set for a few decades. I don't use any of my old knives any more (except maybe the bread knife) beacuse these two do the job beautifully! I bought $3 or $4 sleeves for these two acquisitions and so I don't need a block to keep them safe either.
              I realized that part of the reason I needed a set of knives in the past was because I didn't wash and dry mine by hand right away. And so I needed enough to last me until I ran the dishwasher next. :">

              3 Replies
              1. re: sweetTooth

                I agree with sweettooth. And it may just be that I don't spend enough time in the kitchen, but one nice chef's knife and japanese made paring knife that cost me $5 and scares me with it's sharpness have been all that i use. Granted I don't do any carving or cleaving and kind of suffer through bread though I feel that I could get away with an inexpensive serrated bread knife.

                1. re: oranj

                  I third this suggestion. All I ever use are my santoku (my boyfriend prefers the chef's) and a paring knife. Paring knife length can be a very personal choice, but they're always $5-10 so you can get one or two for different things. But a good chef's knife or santoku is way better than a cheap set.

                  1. re: oranj

                    for inexpensive bread knife, I've been happy w/ a KMart serrated knife. It's held its edge.

                2. I agree with others about Forschner/Victorinox. They are lighter because they are stamped, not forged - but this doesn't make them "cheap". They're not stamped to keep the costs down, but because high-quality stamped knives are often preferred by professionals. Foschner/Victorinox are used in commercial kitchens all over the world. The steel is solingen German steel, just like Henckel's and WT.

                  I definitely would not buy a set - that's a real good way to waste money, unless you are specifically looking for what's in that set. Buy an 8" chef's (about $30), and a 4" paring knife (about $14.00). Save the rest for a good steel, like the Henckel Pro-s, for about $30.00. When you have the bucks, fill in with a medium size knife - like a 6" cook's knife, or a boning knife if you find yourself cutting up chickens and cleaning up fatty or sinewy cuts a lot. I think bread knives are useless - the chef's knife, kept sharp, will cut through any bread without squishing.

                  Sweettooth is right - take care of them and they'll always be available.

                  1. You may try to go to Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, or Homegoods and look at their knives. You can usually find very good knives for very little money. Agree with the other posters, you don't need a set. A couple of good knives will do all kinds of tasks,just make sure they feel comfortable in your hand or you won't be using them.

                    1. Chef Revival has good entry level knives that will not break the bank. Many culinary programs across the country issue their knives in student's knife kits. It's a good product for what you pay especially in comparison to the lower end lines of more expensive brands like Henckels.

                      Find them here:
                      http://chefrevival.com/catalog/index....

                      Start with a 8" or 10" chef's knife and a paring knife. Add a slicer then a boning knife. From there, it just depends on what you find yourself doing!

                      1. I have to agree with the above: Forschner's are great.
                        Another option: Dexters. I got a few from a restaurant supply shop and have been very happy with them. Not flashy, and no cool pedigree, but excellent quality.

                        Matt

                        1. I bought a set of the Member's Mark forged knives for my mom at Sam's Club about 18 months ago at Sam's Club and she (and others I have heard from) really like them. 13 pc set (includes block, steel and 6 steak knives) for under $100. Includes lifetime free (just S&H) sharpening.

                          If I wanted a set on a budget, it would be hard not to take a good look at these.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: RSMBob

                            Sam's Club has the white plastic-handled knives in their restaurant supply section. They have just recently added a 7" Santoku. VERY inexpensive but work well!

                          2. Forschner's are hard to beat. That's what the butcher shop in my neighborhood uses for everything from breaking down a whole carcass to fine boning. So does the poultry shop and the fish market. These guys use them all day, day in and day out. The butcher also sells them.
                            I can't count the number of knives I have that I rarely use. But I grab the 10" chefs and the 4" paring several times each day. I steel my knives every time I use them, wash and dry them right away.
                            I have some specialty knives - huge chefs, "tomato knife," flexible boning knife, cleaver, slicer, mezzaluna - but I can live and cook well with two. There's no need to buy a set. The block takes up counter space and gets grungy.

                            1. By FAR, the best knife I've ever used is Japanese from Hida Tool and Hardware on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley. It cost around $50.00. It was recommended by Sally Schmidt at The Apple Farm Cooking School in Philo, CA. (Anderson Valley) Have given it to friends and family as gifts and they don't know how they did without it.
                              Hida has a large selection.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Cerise 37

                                Which model(s) were recommended? They certainly do have a large selection! And several are in the $50 range.

                              2. One added comment about the Japanese knife. You have to wash and dry it by hand. Don't let it sit in water.

                                1. Keep the cleaver, sharpen it up, learn to use it well. Get a good paring knife sized for your hand, keep it sharp. Look for a good offset handle serrated bread knife. These three things will get you through 95% of the work you'll do.

                                  Avoid sets, you'll be buying things you won't use.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Scrapironchef

                                    I agree that you should keep the cleaver... if it's good quality. If not, a chef's knife is your best option. The French Sabatier (not the cheaper Chinese made) is a great quality low-end knife. CutleryandMore.com has a great selection at good prices. You can get an 8 inch chef's knife for $50.

                                    1. re: HaagenDazs

                                      My assumption is that the cleaver was a basic carbon steel one, short of a really lousy handle, it's hard to find a truly bad one. The one I spent $4.85 on in college still serves me well 25+ years later.

                                  2. I am with those who recommend one or two quality knives rather than a set. I used one carbon-steel chef's knife for two decades, then recently switched to the MAC Santoku. I have a knife set that looks pretty in its wooden block but goes unused. You are much better off investing in one knife, a sharpening steel (the wand thing you use before or after every session), and a small paring knife and maybe one serrated-edge bread knife. Make sure the primary knife fits your hands and is neither too light nor heavy for you, and learn how to keep it clean and sharp.

                                    1. Forschner all the way. If you can find a restaurant supply store, they probably sell them at prices well below what you can find in department stores and online.

                                      One of the great features of most of their knives is the handle. Except for the paring knife, which is a puny little toy that disappears in your hand. You might go with the larger utility knife instead.

                                      1. Hi Miss Priss,
                                        Sorry for the delay, have been away for the Holiday.

                                        The knife is 6 1/2 inches long and around 1 3/4 at its widest point. I believe it is called a utility knife. There is no name on it. Near the handle is says Japan. I took the knife I bought at The Apple Farm Cooking School, who bought it from Hilda, with me to buy four more as gifts. If you mention The Apple Farm, they might know at Hilda.

                                        Hope this helps. You will love it!!!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Cerise 37

                                          Thanks, Cerise--I'll give them a call. Hope you had a good holiday!

                                        2. Knife makers have a lot of tricks they can use to make a cheap knife. The trick for you is to level the playing field so you can make a proper comparison. For instance the blade can be stamped out like a cookie cutter and the metal used can be softer and thinner. The handle can be molded rubber. If you can compare knives side to side, take the handle in one hand and rest the tip of the blade on the edge of a countertop and pushdown. If you have two similar shaped knives, say two 6" chef's knives, buy the one that bends the least.

                                          On the other hand, you should keep in mind that an 8" chef's knife could last a lifetime and even if you spend $200 on it, if you have it for 50 years, that works out to $4/year.

                                          Don't forget that all on-line knife sellers are allowed to discount up to 20% off list, so find one you like and buy it online.

                                          My choice for best of the least expensive knives is the Messermeister Four Seasons line.

                                          1. I have $$ Wustoff knives and I have a $12 Henckels Santoku from Target ... and that's the one I use most.

                                            1. I second, third, fourth or tenth the Forschner's. Get an 8" chef's knife, a 3 or 4 " parer and an 8 or 9 " serrated bread knife. Save the clever for Halloween. Probably could get all of them for $60 or less.

                                              1. Lee Valley (stores and online) is a tool company with special sections for kitchenware and gardeners. An odd combination, but most products are well selected. While they have the Sabatier SS line, they have an excellent $20 carbon steel chefs knife, from Portugal.
                                                And a wide selection of sharpeners. My current favorites are DMT steels and pocket sharpener (diamond stone).

                                                1. I wouldn't spend your money on one of those sets. Most of the time you only need one good chef's knife. Then a pairing knife and a serrated slicer. Unless you get into buthcering or other fine carving or garnishing, that's all you really need. Invest in one really good 7" or 8" chef's knife first and then build out from there.

                                                  1. I was able to get several wustoff knives at TJ max for a very reasonable price!

                                                    1. I just saw an episode of America's Test Kitchen where the compared different steak knives. As a class, they reported that their preference was the sharp edged knives versus the serrated or micro-serrated steak knives. Their overall winner was a set of Henkels, but was costly at around $140 for 4 knives. Their best valie was the Chicago Cutlery steak knives which was around $40 for a set of 4. The reviewers on the show said that if they were buying the knives themselves, they would definitely go with the Chicago Cutlery steak knives.

                                                      Here is the article from their website - http://www.americastestkitchen.com/te...

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: rcheng

                                                        When it comes to steak knives, you definitely want to go for a non-serated edge if you respect the meat. I heard that serated steak knives were an invention for restaurants so they could avoid the hassle of keeping knives sharpened. Over time, we came to accept serrated steak knives as normal. Basically, they are cheaper which is why we see them more. But in fact, they tear at the meat and don't give you the best slice. A better restaurant will arm you with straight edge. If I were buying new ones, I'd get sharp edge too.

                                                      2. Hi

                                                        Here is a very good suggestion if I do say so myself.
                                                        go here and get a Kyocera ceramic knife. It will last about seven years before needing sharpening, then send it to kyocera and they will sharpen it free. My is still quite sharp as knives go, but is dull compared to Kyocera. Ceramic is the hardest material on earth, next to diamond. You can get one for $62.95 and free shipping here, http://www.cutleryandmore.com/kyocera...

                                                        Or here is you want one that is not pink. http://www.cutleryandmore.com/kyocera...

                                                        I just bought my third knife, a cleaver. I have a 6 inch chefs knife and a 3 inch paring knife too. You will never be disappointed. I also have the salt and pepper grinders and a potato peeler. they never need to be sharpened.
                                                        I have a good new German knife and never use it.
                                                        Jim