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Should I own an Electric Knife?

Like many others, I've been trying to stay away from purchasing unnecessary, space wasting STUFF and I'm wondering whether an electrick knife falls in to that category.

I've seen friends use it for the usual (i.e. ham, turkey, beef, etc) and I've even thought it might come in very handy to slice Mr. Millygirl's gravlox.

But I'm curious about others.....do you own one, do you get good use out of it? Or is it something hidden away to be pulled out once/twice a year?

Help me decide please.

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  1. I don't have one, and don't really think I'd get enough use out of it to warrant getting one. There is a specific knife for slicing salmon (that also works nicely with tomatoes), though I don't have it, I've used it at a friend's, and it was wonderful to slice the gravlax I'd made.

    3 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      Really, I was not aware of that. Must check it out, thanks MMRuth.

      1. re: MMRuth

        That seems unnecessary to me - I use a 30-year old Sabatier 8" carbon steel utility knife for such things. It sharpens to a razor edge (my wife won't go near it!) and slices tomatoes, smoked salmon, and darn near anything else with ease.

        There are very few tasks for which I can justify buying a special-purpose knife. And to the OP - no, you don't need an electric knife. All you need is a couple of top-quality "manual" knives and a good sharpener and you're set for life. Even during a power outage. ;-)

      2. Nooooo ... I think they are horrible. I don't own one, but I've had Thanksgiving with people who did, and the electric knife absolutely ruined the turkey. I believe it was serrated, not sure if they all are. They should be a cookware crime.

        2 Replies
        1. re: foiegras

          Really???? That bad, huh! Interesting because I thought it did a pretty good job of the turkey I had. That's what made me think, maybe I need one.
          It will be interesting to hear what others think.

          1. re: foiegras

            I don't favor electric knives, but in the case of your friend's turkey, I think that the tool was not at fault. They slice exceptionally well, but I don't need another gizmo in the kitchen.
            I believe that all electric knives are more or less serrated.

          2. Millygirl,

            I second foiegras. I don't have an electric knife and I have seen them used in a few BBQ joints. I think they are ok if you have a lot of cooked meat to cut through and you absolutely do not care for presentation.

            However, they are useless if you only cut cooked meat once a awhile and if you care about how your meat looks. You know traditional carving knife is very long, right? It is made long and narrow, so you can make your cut in one long stroke -- at least minimalizes the numbers of stroke. If you are to saw back and forth on a meat, you will tear the meat apart slowly. The more, the worse, and it will not look very good. Some will even argue the meat tastes worse. I am not going that far. This is the same theory as a Japanese Yanagiba for preparing sushi. Japanese chefs use one stroke to cut the fish meat.

            An electric knife will absolutely create a very rough surface for your meat if not tears it apart.

            Just try it at home. Do an experiment. Go get a cheese or a ham or something like these, cut it with one long stroke using a long knife and then cut it with repeat back and forth sawing action (intentional) with the same knife, and then look at the surfaces.

            The serrated part of an electric knife also does not help.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              And then eat both ;) IMO the electric knife ruined the eating experience by destroying the surface of the turkey slices. Texture is important ... not just taste.

              1. re: foiegras

                Ok, ok :) I thought only Sushi people care about the smooth texture of the meat. :D

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Wow, okay than....settled. Seems I don't need one. Right??? :)

                  1. re: millygirl


                    I didn't say it won't work. It certainly works, but it depends on your needs. I won't mind some BBQ chopped pork (cubed like pork) from an electric knife. However, it will be very difficult to create a nice smooth slice of meat using an electric knife. :) It all depends on your needs.

            2. Alton Brown seems to favor them for some unusual tasks but in general I don't think they are needed. I haven't owned one in over 20 yrs and I can't of a time I said "I wish I had an electric knife for this job".

              1. An electric knife is tops for cutting foam rubber; food, not so much. I was given an electric knife as a gift many years ago and after a couple of trys, it went out the door. No thank you for me.

                1. my dad gave me an electric knife at some point. Occasionally if he is here when I make a turkey, he'll ask where it is. I honestly have no idea if it made the move with us this last time or not.
                  If I find mine, you are welcome to it!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: elfcook

                    I have one in the cabinet I got as a gift about 15 ys ago.. well.. I still have the handle.. I've no idea if the blade is down in the cabinet. I don't think I ever used it. I like my knives.

                  2. I guess I am in the minority here but I have an electric knife. That being said, I only use it 2, maybe 3, times a year for slicing my brisket for Jewish holidays. I make a lot at once, around 18-20 lbs. and the electric knife is a life saver for me when slicing the meat. I don't do this in front of my guests, since the brisket is made a day or 2 in advance and sliced then too.

                    By no means would I say that you must own one, but for me, using it even 3 times a year is worth it to have one. And it's not like they are expensive (or at least mine was not) and they don't take up a lot of room.

                    1. Don't bother. I remember relatives who had them growing up. We always thought of them as meat shredders.

                      I sharp slicing knife and a little investment of time into learning how to sharpen it or at least how to hone it with a steel between professional sharpening is much more useful.

                      1. Yes, if you want to trim your rose bushes.

                        Seriously, they are tiring to use because of the vibration, and you can't cut delicately. My parents were big on theirs, but I hated it whenever they asked me to carve a ham or a turkey. A really sharp slicing knife with a flexible blade is a joy to use, and it much more practical. You'll be able to cut thinner slices and you won't feel like you were working on your landscaping.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: RGC1982


                          That is some funny stuff: (..if you want to trim your rose bushes)

                        2. I definitely believe in using an electric knife. I may not use it all the time, but it really is the best thing for turkey and larger roasts, especially when there are a lot of people to be fed!

                          I always take my clues from the chefs on Food Network. Alton Brown, in specific, espouses the virtue of one with Turkey, roasts and the like. After at least five years, or more I think, I have come to agree with him as I always use it on turkey and brisket/tri-tip. It is especially good for cutting lots of meat for a crowd.

                          For the person who replied that it ruined their turkey, well, it was more then likely because they did not know HOW to cut the turkey in the first place. Alton taught me that you MUST, just like any roast or steak, cut AGAINST the grain and definitely not with it. In fact, I use his technique of cutting the entire breast off of the carcass and then cutting straight down, perpendicular, for create slices. Again, it is also great for cutting roasts or briskets and the like.

                          By the way, I have found that you can get a very good electric knife, cheap! I bought mine years ago at Target for somewhere between 10 and 15 bucks. Heck, a decent knife sets you back $30 to $50 or more, so how bad can it be to spend just $10 to $15 for an electric version? Try it, I am sure you will like it!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: jdk4asu

                            Speaking of properly carving a turkey, if you're really concerned about smoothness/presentation what I do when I have company and a turkey is use the electric knife to remove the breasts from the carcass and then slice the breasts with a regular carving knife.

                            When it's just wifey and me, I'll just slice it all with the electric knife. I can usually break down a roaster chicken with an electric knife faster than I can with a carving knife.

                            1. re: jdk4asu

                              I absolutely agree with this. I love my electric knife for turkey, tri-tips pork tenderloin and even rib roasts. I am always happy with the quality of the slices (& yes--I am fussy). The knife just glides through the meat. And try it on freshly baked bread which normally collapses if you try to cut it warm. Like was already said--they're cheap--go for it. And I have the world's smallest kitchen but stil have room for this.

                            2. An electric knife can be a useful tool. The question is where it can be used effectively.

                              Delicate food like gravlax? Definitely not. You need a sharp blade, preferably with good grantons.

                              A turkey? Maybe. A good carving knife is ideal, but the electric carver can ostensibly do a good job if handled properly

                              Soft crusty bread? You betcha. An electric knife may rip up the crumb a bit more than a bread knife, but the reciprocal action minimizes the mashing you have to do to get through the crust.

                              Whether it makes sense for you to have this tool in your toolbox depends on what you cook and what your other knife options are. You'll never need it, but there are some things it does reasonably well.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                I agree. I have one, and don't use it often, but for some tasks it can't be beat.

                              2. All I can think about is the dinner party scene in the movie "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Tim Curry, in make-up, dressed in a bustier, lacy panties, fishnet stockings and heels, greets his guests and then -- the timing is perfect, you hear the electric knife before you actually see it -- carves the evening's roast. Now, part of the drama of the scene is *what* he's carving, but I'm not going to get into it.

                                I'm aware that some people need a (good-quality) electric knife in order to cut large amounts of sliced meat. Wouldn't it be nice if we could have a slicing machine -- just when we need one.

                                I, personally, would never use an electric carving knife. I'm quite attached to the knives I have now. I own two very good slicing knives and a couple of conventional chef's knives, but my favorite for the last few years is my razor-sharp Chinese cleaver, which I use to cut, dice and slice everything.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: shaogo


                                  I hope you know you won't have to commit to your knives like to your wife. You can have multiple knives including electric and not feel guilty about it.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    "You can have multiple knives ... and not feel guilty about it."

                                    I thought that was only in Utah. :-)

                                    1. re: shaogo

                                      Big Knife Love, they call it ...

                                      I have no problem with multiple knives, I'm doing that now ... it's swinging between manual and electric that gives me heartburn.

                                      It may well be that the terrible turkey resulted from inexpert use of the electric knife ... but to me that's a very real hazard with a piece of equipment you use only 2-3 times a year. I found that in addition to ruining the texture, the ragged surface made the turkey seem dry, when in reality I don't think it was.

                                      1. re: foiegras

                                        Well, your standard carving knife is going to hurt you one day when she find out you have an electric knife who you visit 2-3 times a year.

                                2. An electric knife is an incredibly useful home appliance. I would rate it up there with the electric comb, the electric cutting board and electric toilet paper.

                                  In all seriousness, I think electric knives are holdovers from when it the 60s, when it would have been harder to get a decent quality knife. A good knife will do a better job on any job you would point an electric knife at (and more quietly, to boot).

                                  1. Perfect for slicing crusty bread or for perfectly slicing any meat. I make a lot of bread and like to slice it thin.

                                    I also at Thanksgiving remove the turkey breast and thigh meat from the bones, then slice it perfectly with the electric and then reassemble the bird as attractively as possible on a big platter.

                                    The point is the whether you're slicing pork, beef. turkey or whatever, an electric allows you the control to make thin slices without waste. Plus these knives are quite inexpenpesive and usually come with two blades, one for meat, and one for bread.

                                    1. I have an electric knife. I use it when I BBQ and have 2, 14 lb. briskets to carve up. I'll also chop 2, 6-8 lb boston butts. It saves me a ton of time.

                                      I wouldn't have one if I didn't BBQ.