5 Things to Know About Buying, Using, and Caring for Steak Knives

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

If you’ve ever tried to tear into a juicy sirloin with a butter knife (or, gasp, your teeth), you totally get the importance of a good set of steak knives. Here’s all you need to know about choosing and using your set.

1. There are two types of blades.

The next time you’re at a kitchen store, take a close look at the blades on the steak knives on offer — you’ll notice that some are straight while some are serrated. There’s no right or wrong answer here, and this is usually a matter of preference. For what it’s worth, here’s one opinion from Christopher Costa, director of product management for Victorinox: “I find that serrated can tear or shred meat, especially if the meat is overcooked. You’ll end up with a burger pretty quickly.”

2. You don’t have to spend a ton to get a quality set.

Sure, you can drop more than a couple-hundred bucks on a set of four knives. If you really love steak and have the money, then we won’t stop you, but you certainly don’t have to spend that much. You can totally get an effective (and stylish) set for well under $100.

3. They can do double duty.

A good steak knife is really just a utility knife on a slightly smaller scale. In a pinch, they can be used for all sorts of cooking prep: cubing cheese, splitting cherry tomatoes, halving a sandwich, coring an apple, trimming fat off meat, and much more.

That said, you don’t necessarily want to default to using your steak knives for all your kitchen prep. For example, this is not your knife for deboning stuff.

4. They need some TLC.

Steak knives are most often used atop plates, a super-hard surface that can wreak havoc on their sharpness and acuity. If you notice they’re simply not cutting as well as they once were, try honing them with a steel or stone — this process straightens out the very edge of the metal, which can get rolled over from use. As with any knives, it’s best to hand-wash, especially if they have wooden handles.

5. They need a good home.

If your set doesn’t come with a box or storage case, you might be tempted to throw them into your drawer organizer with all your butter knives. But that’s not the best idea, as they can wreak havoc on each other — and your fingers.

Consider getting an in-drawer knife block or one that sits on your counter. Magnetic strips also work well for steak knives. If you don’t want to spend any extra money, you can carefully wrap them up in a tea towel or make mini sheaths out of empty cereal boxes.