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Best Knife for Cutting A Tomato?

It seems like almost every dish I cook nowadays starts with a base of cut tomatoes, and as we go into summer and get better tomatoes in the market, I'm thinking of hot nights with sliced tomatoes.

The problem is none of my knives seem up to the job. I read about the Wusthof tomato knife and thought that it might fit the bill.

Then somehow I found the name of this store www.knifewear.com -- apparently they bring tomatoes to farmers' markets sliced beautifully. So I wrote them to ask for their recommendation for a tomato knife and they said what I really need is a nakiri. Not being too sophisticated about knives, I had never heard of a nakiri.

Now, I've done a bit of research and it seems that a good nakiri might be more versatile than the Wusthof tomato knife.

Does anyone have any opinions about the perfect knife for tomatoes, also taking into account that my knife-wielding skills are not the best?

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  1. Any sharp knife will do. I keep my knives well honed and sharpen them every 6 months or so, and I never have trouble. If I were to want to slice them perfectly, I'd use my Wusthof Santoku which I use rarely and is extra sharp.

    I've heard tomato knives, but never tried one. I assume they'd be slightly serrated.

    1. I have half a dozen assorted inexpensive small knives in my knife block. They get much more use than my larger knives. One of them is like this:


      The micro-serrations cope really well with soft tomatoes, and it's perfect for other salad prep and for citrus fruits and melons etc. It's also goes in the picnic basket as the only sharpie needed for bread, cold chicken and cheeses.

      I wouldn't be without it, and at about $10 it's not a big cost.

      1. I like to use a serrated fish fileting knife.

        1. I prefer a santoku to a nakiri for cutting tomatoes. The basic blade shape is similar, but instead of a flat squared-off tip, a santoku has a blunt drop tip that is handy for cutting out the stem part. My personal go-to knife is a Glestain santoku. It holds a razor-sharp edge, and the deep dimples really work.

          5 Replies
          1. re: tanuki soup

            What do the dimples do? Improve the cut or keep the product from adhering to the blade?

            1. re: scubadoo97

              <keep the product from adhering to the blade?>

              Supposed to do that.

              1. re: scubadoo97

                Yes, the latter. I've owned a number of knives with grantons, cullens, dimples, or whatever you call them, but IME the huge ones on the Glestain are the only ones that make a noticeable difference. Even non-foodie friends have commented on it (without any prompting).

                1. re: tanuki soup

                  Thanks. That's what I would have thought TS. Just curious about your impression and recommendation for a tomato knife. I have never used them so didn't know how well it kept food from sticking

                  For me it's all about the edge.
                  When a soft tomato results in resistance it's time to refine the edge

            2. I also was looking for a good small knife for slicing tomatoes, et al. I looked at the Wusthof tomato knife but didn't particularly like the "fork" end. I ended up buying the 5" Classic Ikon Sausage knife with the serrated edge and I've been very happy with it. It's also great for cutting bagels, sandwiches, etc. See http://www.wusthof.com/desktopdefault...

              2 Replies
              1. re: TomDel

                I have a Henckels version of that specifically for Belgian waffles and similar small breads.

                I use a straight edge 6" utility for tomatoes.


                1. re: TomDel

                  I have a similar Wursthof, it works great for this.

                2. Best option: keep your knives sharp. Very sharp. Use whatever knife you like.

                  Second best option: use serrated knives. 'Tomato knives' are serrated. There is no need to drop $50 on a serrated 'tomato knife' though - cheaper serrated knives will work just as well.

                  Worst option: decide your knives are defective whenever they need a new sharpening and buy new knives until the process repeats.

                  "So I wrote them to ask for their recommendation for a tomato knife and they said what I really need is a nakiri."
                  Nakiris are nice knives. Kind of a Japanese vegetable knife. But you don't NEED one to cut tomatoes. Any sharp knife will cut tomatoes just fine.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    I agree about cheaper serrated knives. I have a Victorinox serrated paring knife that is great for tomatoes. Also great for small or thin bread loaves, like baguette.


                    1. re: cowboyardee

                      I have the Tojiro DP Nakiri and can slice a tomato paper thin, but as you said, I keep it razor sharp.

                      1. re: cowboyardee

                        My take as well. The tomato is one of my test for sharpness

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          Well, I come from a more practical standpoint, I think, and I find that having a couple of knives with different degrees of serration will give me all I need for tomato work (though, admittedly, I never desire to slice tomatoes paper thin).

                          They last almost forever, are handy for cutting crusty bread as well, and compared to the effort of keeping straight-edge knives THAT sharp, I just go for serrated.

                          But it is a joy to use a fine sharp forged straight-edged knife in almost any application.

                          1. re: Bada Bing

                            I keep my straight-edged knives that sharp, because I like them that way. It's really not that much effort if you've got the right knives and have trained yourself to sharpen well.

                        2. I use my Wusthof serrated bread knife - works like a champ.

                          1. I absolutely love the Wusthof tomato knife ... I use it all the time (and I don't have the best knife skills either).


                            I used the pointy ends for scraping out the stubborn seeds that don't want to come out. It usually does the trick.

                            Hope this helps.

                            1. Honestly, for slicing, I use my serrated bread knife. I try not to have too many unit askers and this works double duty perfectly.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: melpy

                                I too find a serrated bread knife does an excellent job. Mine isn't an expensive one but I've never had a problem.

                              2. What kind of tomato?
                                For cherry, I use a serrated knife.
                                Other than that, any sharp knife'll do just fine.

                                1. Anyone who lived through the infomercial age knows a Ginsu cuts through cans and tomatoes. Like some of the other posters say, a serrated (saw) knife will work very well and many good ones can be found for under $10. Feel free to spend $40 or more for a "tomato" knife but it won't do a better job.

                                  1. I've recently come to the conclusion that a knife sharpened-but-not-polished is the best for cutting tomatoes. For me, this means a straight-edged knife (standard 'utility' model (aka 'petty'), santoku, nakiri, whatever you like) sharpened on a 1000-1200 grit waterstone. NO progression up to finer grits, as these will take the 'tooth' off the edge.

                                    For the tomatoes we have here (northern Colorado), any knife I use with a polished edge seems to have a more difficult time getting thru the tomato's skin. (These polished knives will easily shave arm hair, too!)

                                    1. I think any sharp knife with reasonable length will work. A nakiri is really great for many vegetables, but it is not a requirement.

                                      <a good nakiri might be more versatile than the Wusthof tomato knife.>

                                      That is definitely true.

                                      <Does anyone have any opinions about the perfect knife for tomatoes>

                                      I would say that knife sharpening is probably more important than the specific knife. A sharp bread knife will do a better job at slicing tomatoes than a dull tomato knife.

                                      1. A sharp one, maybe?!!! Seriously, sometimes a cheap serrated (ginsu) is all you need, and you can use it for lots of other things. "Tomato knife" HA!

                                        1. I want to second (or rather, third) what Cowboyardee and Chem said about just using a sharp knife.

                                          If none of your knives are up to the job, it's because none of your knives are sharp. And that is affecting all of your cooking, not just tomato slicing. If you buy a new knife for tomatoes, someday it will also no longer be sharp, and then where will you be?

                                          So either learn to sharpen your knives or take them to a professional sharpener on a regular basis (it is not expensive at all, especially compared to getting new knives). Slicing a soft, ripe tomato is a good test of your knife's sharpness. If there is any problem doing it, you need to sharpen it.

                                          90% percent of my slicing and dicing is done with an 8" Japanese chef's knife, which has been used every day for over 15 years, and I have no issue whatsoever slicing the ripest of tomatoes with it. I have a large selection of both Japanese and European knives, and I will slice a tomato with whatever knife I am using for the rest of my work at the time. I keep them all very sharp. But if you just have and, most importantly, maintain, a good chef's knife, you can do almost everything. You don't need a bunch of specialized knives, and you don't need a knife just for tomatoes.

                                          1. Wow, I am the OP and I must either have the world's worst knife skills or the world's worst knives because my knives were just professionally sharpened and I still have problems with tomatoes.

                                            I have an old Kai Santoku (which the knife sharpener pronounced the best of the lot) and two old Henckels utility knives.

                                            I must admit I haven't tried my serrated bread knife on the tomatoes.

                                            Still thinking about a nakiri. I love vegetables and I think I might incorporate more in my dishes if I didn't find cutting them up such a pain.

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: omotosando

                                              <because my knives were just professionally sharpened and I still have problems with tomatoes.>

                                              I don't know what to say. Either your professional knife sharpeners are not very good, or you have very high expectation than most of us.

                                              <I must admit I haven't tried my serrated bread knife on the tomatoes.>

                                              It actually works.

                                              <Still thinking about a nakiri.>

                                              I have some inexpensive to expensive Nakiri. They are great knives to have:



                                              We can tell you more than you want to know about Nakiri. They are really great knives to have. Let us know if you want to know more about Nakiri.

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                I guess my question about a Nakiri is a basic one -- how easy are they to use? When I see pictures, they look so big, which I equate in my mind with hard to maneuver, but then I read they are really very light.

                                                1. re: omotosando

                                                  <how easy are they to use?>

                                                  I think they are very easy to use. Very short learning curve.

                                                  <they look so big, which I equate in my mind with hard to maneuver>

                                                  It depends on your experience. Have you used a German Chef's knife or French Chef's knife? Most Chef's knives have 8 inch blade length. Most Nakiri are 6-7 inch. So Nakiri are actually shorter and smaller.

                                                  However, someone here suggested that you have only used paring knives. If so, then yes, a Nakiri is larger than a paring knife.

                                              2. re: omotosando

                                                OK, from what little I know about it, the Kai is a very cheap knife. If all you have is that and a couple utility knives, you probably do need a new knife.

                                                But, since you don't have a chef's knife, I would get that first, before a nakiri. A nakiri is a nice knife to have, but I think you should start with a chef's knife. It can be Japanese or European (I prefer Japanese, but that's really besides the point here. If your technique is in question, a European knife might stand up to more abuse).

                                                And also figure out how you are going to store it, so that it doesn't get damaged. No throwing it in a drawer. And then figure out how you are going to sharpen it. You can spend more on a sharpening system than the knife itself. If you go the route of a professional sharpener, you might want to seek out another one. Your Henckels knives should be salvageable, but a utility knife won't take the place of a chef's knife. Any knife that has just been sharpened should cut a tomato, unless you are really abusing them by throwing them into a drawer with other utensils, or putting them through the dishwasher.

                                                1. re: omotosando

                                                  I agree with Chem. There are a few possibilities as to why your knives aren't sharp enough:

                                                  - Your professional sharpener didn't sharpen it well.

                                                  - Your professional sharpener sharpened it well but it lost its edge before you started cutting tomatoes. This would most likely be the case if you use glass or ceramic cutting boards, which cause very quick dulling, or else seriously banging up your knives in storage.

                                                  - Your knife was sharp, but it's edge quickly failed due to a sharpening defect called a 'wire edge.' This isn't especially likely but it is possible. This is usually caused by sharpener error, though it's easy to fix and even decent sharpeners sometimes have this issue.

                                                  - The knife is made of such bad steel (or badly tempered steel) that it doesn't readily take or hold an edge. I don't have any personal experience with the Kai Wasabi knives, but from what I know of them, this is not likely. Henckels can vary quite a bit in quality, depending on the line, but most should be able to get sharp at least initially.

                                                  I'd take it back to the sharpener and tell him your problem. If a resharpening doesn't get the knife sharp enough to easily slice a tomato (and it should be easy), find another sharpener.

                                                  Also note that though a sharp knife can cut a tomato with many different cutting motions, you might find the most success using either a slice or a draw cut. For a slice, the heel of the knife is placed on the tomato and the knife is pulled toward you in a single long stroke, without much downward pressure. In a draw cut, the tip of the knife is kept on the board during this cut, while the knife is again pulled toward you (kind of like drawing a line with a pencil) - the upside of this cut is it'll leave the tomato right where it is, making it easy to cut a fine and even dice (if desired).

                                                  1. re: omotosando

                                                    I would suggest you take the plunge and try your serrated bread knife on a tomato--what do you have to lose?

                                                  2. I use a cheap (and I mean CHEAP) little plastic-handled serrated paring knife. Pick them up at the grocery or discount store as needed. Toss and replace when dull. Also works well on all the delicious soft summer peaches coming into our local farmers markets.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: pedalfaster

                                                      pedalfaster, I agree!

                                                      We have good knives, great knives, Wustoff, ceramic, Japanese and Victorinox. Still, I grab any serrated knife -- my favorite is a Victorinox 5" serrated with a plastic handle -- and it can easily slice any tomato paper-thin.

                                                    2. I think a good knife sharpening system might be money well spent in the long run.

                                                      1. I use a serrated bread knife (victorinox), or the OXO utility knife. Cook's illustrated says it's useless, but I couldn't live without it!

                                                        1. My favorite (and best) knife for tomatoes is still, believe it or not, a serrated Ginsu knife that I bought about thirty five years ago. It's still as sharp as it ever was and still can make tomato slices as thin as I might want them.

                                                          1. There's a technique to cheat a little with a less than sharp knife.

                                                            Make the first cut with the heel to puncture a slit then draw the knife backwards through that slit to cut the tomato in half. This should make a clean cut vs just sliding on top of the skin crushing the tomato. Once you cut it in half, turn the tomato over skin side down and make the rest of your cuts that way.

                                                            Our salad prep person did that every day with what I consider dull Dexter Chef's knives to cut wedges.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: bbqJohn

                                                              The sharp heel of the thin Nakiri blade does very well with the technique you describe.

                                                            2. Most of the recipes I make start with cutting onions, for which a sharp chef's knife works well.

                                                              For tomatoes, if I already have the chef's knife out, I use that. If not, I reach for a serrated, round-tippped knife with about a 4" blade. It's what I use also for cutting through sandwiches, spreading butter/mayo/etc., and cutting wedges or slices from lemons and limes (again, only if I'm not already using the chef's knife). It cost about $20 and may be sold as a 'deli knife' or utlity knife or tomato knife. Hugely useful.

                                                              My bread knife does a great job with the thick, crusty loaves of wood-oven-baked bread that I get regularly from a local baker, but it would be a bit too thick for tomatoes -- I can definitely get thinner slices with the chef's knife.

                                                              1. I have this, and it works great. Perfect for slicing cheese too.


                                                                The price can't be beat.

                                                                13 Replies
                                                                1. re: breadchick

                                                                  Thank you so much, Breadchick. I just ordered it on Amazon. For $6.85 and free shipping with Amazon Prime, I'll give it a try before investing in anything expensive. And made in U.S.A. to boot. Have you tried any of their other knives?

                                                                  1. re: omotosando

                                                                    You're very welcome. I have two of their paring knives - mostly because I inherited them from my mom. She had them forever and they still cut very well. I have a good collection of different brands of cutlery, most of them Wusthof - but this is the knife I use for tomatoes!

                                                                    Rada has a website, so you can see everything they make. Their stuff is so reasonable and keeps jobs here!

                                                                    1. re: breadchick

                                                                      AH HA HA HA! I have the EXACT same knife for the EXACT same purpose, also courtesy of my mom. It's just perfect for cutting tomatoes and who knew it was so reasonably priced as well? :)

                                                                      1. re: breadchick

                                                                        Wow, my $6.85 Rada knife arrived and it cuts tomatoes better than any of the other knives in my kitchen. It did well on a green pepper as well. It may not be the prettiest knife in the world, but for $6.85 it more than gets the job done.

                                                                        I am sure there are a million "better" knives out there, but for know I'm content, and certainly glad that I didn't spring $100 for the Wusthof.

                                                                        1. re: omotosando

                                                                          Radas were my mom's favorite knives. I still have quite a few of them from her kitchen. I've sharpened them all on my EdgePro but they are not what I want to use on a daily basis.

                                                                          Actually, my wife uses them since she is afraid of my Japanese knives

                                                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                            Aha, your wife is afraid of your Japanese knives! Do you have a nakiri and is she afraid of it also? That's what made me hesitate about buying a nakiri, in addition to the price (it just seemed a little frightening and daunting). But then I read that nakiris are actually quite light and I thought I was being ridiculous and that there was nothing to fear.

                                                                            Still for now, I am content with my $6.85 Radas.

                                                                            1. re: omotosando

                                                                              I really do not get this - what is so frightening about a knife? And why does it need to be so light, when every single skillet in the kitchen is heavier than the heaviest knife? Lightness in a knife can be desirable up to a point, but a knife that is too light is ineffective and less safe (you have to put more pressure on it). And surely we all know by now that a sharp knife is safer than a dull one.

                                                                              I am really struggling to understand why anyone who does any significant amount of cooking would not want to have the appropriate tools for the job, which includes, at minimum, a decent chef's knife.

                                                                              Frankly, I find the dull, undersized blades that many home cooks use to be far more frightening than a quality Japanese knife.

                                                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                                                I think some of it comes down to for a lack of better words "carelessness". I have a sister in law who is a fabulous cook but she is helter skelter in the kitchen tossing things around and indiscriminately picking things up without really looking so to speak. She already cut herself on one of my steak knives. Odds are better than not she would make it to the ER with the real sharp stuff.

                                                                            2. re: scubadoo97

                                                                              I got an Edge Pro Apex last year. To me, its the best thing since sliced bread. With very little skill and practice, it made my 20 year old Wusthof Classics sharper than factory new & pretty much the same with my Japanese knives.

                                                                              i never mastered the free hand stone like my late dad. I was wondering how the Edge Pro compares to free handing by somebody who really knows what they are doing.

                                                                              1. re: Tom34

                                                                                I think the edge pro does as well as free hand sharpening if not better by a skilled user. But like anything that requires knowledge and skill the results are dependent on the user

                                                                                1. re: Tom34

                                                                                  I agree with scuba...I have both. I use the EdgePro for my "high carbon stainless" Wusthofs (which are a bitch to sharpen) and stones for my real high carbon

                                                                              2. re: omotosando

                                                                                I've sharpened the Rada santoku (I think they call it a 'cooks knife') a bunch of times. The edge retention is minimal, but for a $10 blade I still like it. It sharpens well and extremely easily - I like just starting and finishing on 800 grit (jis/waterstones) and leaving a nice aggressive toothy edge that's ready to go in about 30 seconds. They're among the better budget knives out there, and some of the best knives I can think of to practice hand sharpening on the cheap.

                                                                          2. re: breadchick

                                                                            This is also the knife I use. Perfect.

                                                                          3. What you are looking for is called a sharp knife. Any of your Wusthof knives should be able to slice a ripe tomato easily. You really do not need a saw (heavily serated) knife blade to do so.

                                                                            If you work on getting the Wusthofs sharp enough, you will have the answer to the tomatoes and have a much more pleasant knife to use for all of your other food preparation. Even my 40 year old Chicago Cutlery knives that I keep for others to use will slice a tomato most of the time.

                                                                            And yes, the Japanese knife, assuming that it is sharp, will cut a tomato, but most of the best Japanese knives are not stainless and will require even more care when used with acidic vegetables like tomatoes. The Japanese knife is likely to be a bigger challenge to learn to sharpen.

                                                                            1. The Shun Dual Density Utility Knife is the best tomato knife hands down. I have both a Nigiri and Utility, and would never cut a tomato w/ my Nigiri now that I have this. Small serrations, super sharp and thin, can make amazingly thin slices. The serrations get through the skin super easy, and then the thin blade just glides through it.

                                                                              Obviously a little expensive if you're only using it for tomatos, but it's a great knife to have around as well.


                                                                              1. Kyocera Micro Serrated. It cuts them like butter. It is very sharp and does not pull or drag when cut. I also like how light it is. Not terribly expensive and is handy for all soft fruits.

                                                                                1. I have been a HUGE fan of the Cutco Trimmer for years! It's my go-to knife for almost everything, and it slices tomatoes like a dream! And - the handle is comfortable, it has a full tang, and Cutco will sharpen it free forever! http://www.cutco.com/product/product....

                                                                                  I have several of these (plus a couple of other Cutco knives) as I can't bear to be w/o one if I do send one in for sharpening.

                                                                                  You can't find Cutco in stores - they use 'sales representatives' - I bought my first one at least 25 years ago from the son of a friend who was selling to help put himself through college! However, if you can establish a customer number through the website, you can buy on-line. You can usually find them on eBay, too!

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: crabwoman

                                                                                    Hmm...I'm not sure I'd ever recommend a Cutco knife.

                                                                                    They use low grade stainless (440A) and saber grinds on most of their knives. Their knives aren't going to hold an edge very long at all.

                                                                                    In addition to being over-priced, one should always be cautious of any product that is offered with full replacement guarantees.

                                                                                    Tomatoes aren't difficult to cut. Here's a video showing cutting see through slices off of an unsupported tomato:


                                                                                    I can do the same thing with cherry and grape tomatoes.

                                                                                    1. re: Cynic2701

                                                                                      <Here's a video showing cutting see through slices off of an unsupported tomato>

                                                                                      :) The music isn't very good.

                                                                                  2. Any decent serrated knife will do, imho. Even a cheapo one will be up to this task (as well as crusty bread cutting) for years.

                                                                                    1. I'd agree that any really sharp knife will work well. Sometimes, when I'm in too big a hurry and it's necessary to hone the knife I've used on other things first, I'll reach for my Global cheese knife. It works perfectly because it's serrated AND has open spaces all along the blade.

                                                                                      1. These Pure Komachi knives are great and inexpensive.

                                                                                        1. I have a Kyocera Ceramic Micro-serrated knife that I love for tomatoes and other soft foods. It is super sharp and cuts through like room temp. butter.