Steak knives form part of a specialty group of knives that you use more for eating the food than its cooking and preparation. For this reason, it is more at the dining table than in the kitchen. For this reason, you are more likely to forget about it until you have served your beef dishes and the alternative knives are not suitable. Ideally, you would want to pick a steak knife set, especially for your family dinners. Here is a look at what steak knives are, their function and how to properly use them, and tips for picking the best one.
What are steak knives?
A steak knife is what you use for cutting cooked steak dishes and even chicken. They are the sharpest knife on the dining table and help cut and push pieces of meat cleanly, unlike a dinner table knife. Unless you are serving for yourself, you will need a steak knife set to fit everyone at the table. A steak knife measures about four to six inches long, and the thickness varies depending on the manufacturer. Also, the blade could be serrated or non-serrated (straight-edged). Most European steak knives tend to be straight-edged, while serrated blades are more common in the US.
Steak knives originated in Europe, where a sharp knife and hands were the main utensils. In Asia and Africa, knives were mainly reserved for the kitchen. The US and European cuisine also called for table knives, with most meat cuts arriving at the table whole.
Are steak knives worth it?
If you have a decent knife collection, steak knives may seem like an unwelcome luxury, and you may believe that a chef knife can easily do that purpose. However, the chef knife or your typical kitchen knives are too long and excessive for the task at hand. You don't want to be holding an 18-inch or more chef or slicing knife to cut a piece of meat on a plate.
The steak knives are sturdy but easy on the hands yet sharp enough to easily cut the piece of meat without destroying the fibers or squashing the meat and squeezing the juicy fibers out. So, on top of comfort and convenience, they help preserve the dish's quality. You do not spend much time planning or struggling to cut instead of savoring the tasty bits.
Some of the meals you will need a steak knife are all grilled, roasted, boiled, or fried beef dishes, poultry steak, fish steak, and pork steak. Beyond your brisket, the roast chicken, or the thanksgiving brisket, you can use your steak knife for other functions. It is essentially a utility knife on a small scale, and you can use it for prep functions like;
- Slicing tomatoes and small fruits
- Cutting sandwiches and halving diner rolls
- Trimming the fat off meat
- Coring apples
- Cubing cheeses
- Preparing vegetables
Difference between steak knives and dinner knives
The main difference between steak knives and diner knives is their function and sharpness. The dinner knife is used for portioning every other dish save for meat. It is also the longest knife on the table and can serve as a salad knife when the salad knife is unavailable or when cutting bigger salad leaves.
On the other hand, the steak knife is for cutting meat dishes, so it is sharper than the dinner knife. It is slightly shorter than the dinner knife though it can be used in place of a diner knife. Thus, you do not need the dinner knife on the table when you have a meat dish. The steak knife is also more versatile in function and can work proficiently outside the dining table setup.
Where do you place steak knives?
The steak knife also has its specific place when arranging cutlery in a formal or informal setup. You follow the basics with the steak knife-like all knives going to the right of the plate. In fact, it replaces the dinner knife since they have a similar main function, and the steak knife is present on meat dishes.
All the cutlery is arranged in order of use so that a basic arrangement will have the salad fork and dinner fork on the right of the plate. Next is the dinner plate, the steak knife, teaspoon, and the soup spoon. If there are multiple knives, they still go on the right in order of use. For example, the dessert knife will follow a steak knife. You place the knives with the sharp side facing the plate. If you have a butter knife or spreader, it goes above the plate horizontally or on top of a bread plate.
How to use steak knives
Using steak knives correctly ensures you maintain your dinner etiquette, especially in formal settings. You start by properly holding the knife and fork, with the knife going to your dominant hand and the fork on the other hand. Hold the knife with the finger staying at the base while the fork should be held like a pencil and facing downward.
Cut the steak with the fork holding the food under it, and turn it around 180 degrees. After cutting, you switch the fork and knife in your hands, the fork now coming to your dominant hand. Keep the knife on the plate at a 12 O'clock, 3 O'clock angle. You can eat the steak with the fork’s tines pointing upward.
If you are resting or finished eating, you should indicate using the fork and knife position on your plate. The signals you use will depend on whether you use the American style or European (continental) style. For the American Style, when resting, you put the knife at a 12 O'clock and 3 O'clock angle while the fork must remain upwards.
For the European style, you place the knife and fork to form an ‘X’ on the plate. On the other hand, the signal that you have finished eating is similar with both styles, the knife and fork placed parallel to each other and the handles at the five o'clock position.
What to consider when choosing the best steak knives
If you are out shopping, whether, for a steak knife set or a single knife, it would be prudent to consider the following factors.
The price of the steak knives ranges from as low as 5 dollars to upwards of $200. Of course, you have more quality with a higher price. Also, purchasing a steak knife set tends to give more value for the money than buying the knives singly though you get more variety with the latter.
It would be best if you got high carbon stainless steel, preferably with full tang. If you have the budget, also consider handcrafted and ice-hardened blades with honing polishing. Whatever you purchase, be sure you are getting more value, especially on the durability and ease of cutting front.
Type of edge
There are two main kinds of edges for steak knives. You have serrated edges and straight or plain edges. The serrated edge knives are more common for steak knives, and they have teeth like ridges, almost representing a small saw. These teeth make the knives perfect for cutting meat with tough exteriors but juicy insides.
The downside, though, is when using a serrated knife, you will have to use a saw-like motion for making the cuts which will hinder once motion cuts and is likely to tear at fibers. The upside of serrated blades is their ease of maintenance and longevity. You do not have to keep sharpening them since the serration reduces the surface area of the knife that is in contact with the plates and other surfaces. There is no risk of chipping and can go for years without the need to sharpen them.
Straight edge blades, on the other hand, provide clean one-motion cuts. They will give you bits with the highest aesthetics and preserve the most juice in the meat. However, you will need to sharpen them regularly as the blades dull faster. With regular sharpening comes reduced shelf life.
Style and function
Because you will be using the steak knife set at dinner, they should look the part. Look for appealing styles, if possible, those that easily blend in with the rest of the cutlery. Consider how impressive the knife is from the color, the finishing, the design, and even the look of the handles. As for function, it should be brilliantly sharp and retain the edge for long. You should also consider the ease of cleaning and how the handle integrates with the blade. It should not leave ridges or gaps where food can enter as that would be unhygienic.
The material for both the handle and the blade goes a long way in determining the quality of the knife. High carbon stainless steel or stainless steel is the standard. Other brands also have proprietary steel alloys with added compounds for durability and to aid long edge retention. You should look for hardwood handles or heavy-duty and well-finished plastic for the handle material.
Balance and ergonomics
Balance and ergonomic involve aspects like blade weight, its length, and the design of the handle. You want something that will feel right and comfortable in your hands, so the design is important. As for the length, the blade should be around five inches long and the handle similar length or shorter depending on its weight. Longer blades may look elegant when arranged but deny you the flexibility you need when cutting the meat or fish steak.
The best steak knives in the market
The Felix brand comes from a family steeped in the German knife-making tradition as back as 1790. The Sirius series brings an excellent balance between visually captivating and superior performance.
The blade features 130 layers of stainless DSC Inox Damascus steel, allowing you to cut cleanly through any steak. The ergonomic hand uses stabilized maple wood to provide food-safe quality, easy maintenance, and a comfortable, secure grip. Other features include;
- Vacuum-hardened steel which adds durability and hardness
- Traditional forging techniques
- 60 Rockwell hardness rating
- Made in Germany
- 5-year manufacturer warranty
- Blade length 11cm
- Excellent edge retention
Due Cigni is Italy’s representative at the premium knives niche. The knives are made in Maniago, Italy, also known as the city of cutlery. The brand has been in business for over a century, and it shows in the quality of its knives.
They feature elegant and innovative designs, which the Due Cigni 1896 Walnut Handle Serrated Steak Knife certainly attests. Even the most demanding consumer will appreciate the ease with which the serrated blade cuts through steak without tearing capillaries and keeping the juices locked in to preserve sweetness. Other features are;
- Walnut wood handle
- Hardness: HRC 55-57
- Blade Length: 10.5 cm - 4.13" Overall Length: 22 cm - 8.66"
- Satin blade coating
- Lifetime manufacturer warranty
The FELIX First Class Wood Steak Knife 12cm is another excellent addition from one of the oldest manufacturers in the world. It is a thing of beauty that should look at home in any setting, from professional chef servings to home dinners.
The knife is also handy and sturdy, allowing it to also serve as a daily knife. The handle adds to the aesthetic and ergonomics of the knife, thanks to the Andalusian Olivewood. Other top features include;
- It uses high-quality X50 CrMoV15 blade steel.
- Made through forging, assuring its strength and durability
- It has an extra sharp tip for easier division
- It comes with a 5-year manufacturer warranty
The Shun Kai is a premium brand renowned for its excellent and superior quality. The Shun Kai Classic Steak Knife Set consists of four pieces which is a perfect way to start your home collection for those large family dinners.
The standout feature of this collection is its extraordinary sharpness bringing chef professionalism to your dinner. The knives are hand sharpened at 16° edge on each side, allowing them to glide through your steak without damaging capillaries, thus keeping the juicy flavor inside. Other features include;
- Proprietary VG-MAX cutting core steel with 32 layers of Damascus Steel
- D-shaped ebony PakkaWood® handle
- Double bevel blade
- Lifetime manufacturer warranty
- Handcrafted in Japan
The F Dick is another top German knife brand, and the Premier series is one of the best examples of excellent knife craftsmanship. The blade is forged from one piece of steel, allowing for a seamless bolster and a fully integrated tang.
The blade is 12cm long and features laser-tested cutting-edge geometry. It also features polish honing for extra sharpness, ensuring you only need one precise cut for every bit of the steak. Its top features include;
- A perfectly balanced blade
- Lifetime warranty
- You get a half-bolster
- Made in Germany
- High-quality stainless chrome-molybdenum-vanadium steel provides long edge retention.
- Uses state-of-the-art ice-hardening technology, which guarantees stability
- The handle uses high quality and resistant plastic for durability
- Seamless and hygienic connection of the handle to the blade
If meat is on the menu, the one knife you want is the Wusthof Classic Series Steak knife. At 12cm long and with its forged blade from single chromium-molybdenum-vanadium steel, the knife can handle all other meats, not just steaks. The knife’s quality shows the result of dedicated work through the 40 steps of knife making.
The knife has excellent edge retention thanks to the laser-controlled PEtec sharpening process. Balance is also a top feature of Wusthof knives, and this steak knife also excels in this area. Other top features are;
- A unique bolster shape that allows you to use the full blade length and offers protection to the hand.
- It has an ergonomic handle with rivets, ensuring durability, easy-care, and a hygienic fit.
- It has a Rockwell hardness rating of 58
- Excellent for professional chef use or the home dining
- Lifetime manufacturer warranty
Where to buy the best steak knives
The online space is the best place to do your shopping. You can get through several stores, and it is easy to compare prices. If you still need to feel the knives in your hand, you can settle down on a shortlist of about five options and check them at a local cutlery store. The risk is that all physical stores near you may not have the model you are looking for, so online stores are better.
If you have a specific brand name, you should buy directly from the manufacturer's store on their website. You will find your knife at a lower price, and more importantly, you will have the guarantee that it is genuine.
Your best bet, though, is shopping with us. We save you the time of searching endless websites by stocking the best knives from all the biggest brands globally. We also have excellent products from reputable manufacturers you may not have heard of, which increases the likelihood of landing quality bargains. We give you variety, sale discounts, lengthy manufacturer warranties, and the convenience of buying all kinds of knives and knife accessories in one place. Shop our range of steak knives today for a memorable shopping experience.