A good carving knife is essential to slicing large items like turkeys and hams, and selecting the right blade is crucial. Who wants to spend hours preparing Thanksgiving dinner only to ruin your beautifully cooked bird with a cheap knife? I’ve done the research so that this never happens to you. Here are the 7 best carving knives on the market.
The Dalstrong Shogun Series Carving Knife checks all of my boxes, and actually comes in a few bucks cheaper than the other top priced knives on this list. It’s precision forged from a single piece of AUS-10V Japanese steel, and repeatedly heated and nitrogen cooled to increase strength and durability.
And the steel needs to be super hard in order to maintain the 8 to 12 degree blade angle, which is absurdly sharp. Such a steep angle makes it a bit tough for home cooks to sharpen themselves, so I’d recommend taking this to a professional every 9 months or so, depending on use.
The hollow-ground indentations are pretty standard, as is the size, but the rest of this knife is anything but normal. The 66 layers of Damascus steel are simply breathtaking, as is the triple riveted handle.
It’s a small detail, but I actually really like the sheath that comes with this knife. It locks around the blade, holding it firm, and I know the knife is well protected by the soft suede interior. And if that isn’t reassurance enough, Dalstrong also offers a 100% satisfaction or your money back guarantee.
Wusthof is another very popular brand that makes high quality kitchen knives. Forged from a single piece of high-carbon stainless steel, and triple riveted, this carving knife is incredibly durable.
This is what you might expect from the name, and the fact that it’s made in Germany. Although this particular knife doesn’t have the hollow-ground indentations of other carving knives, it still cuts with surprisingly smooth accuracy.
Sharpened to a 10 degree blade angle, this tool is super sharp right out of the box. And at 9 inches long, the Wusthof is slightly more manageable than extra-long carving knives, and more versatile to boot.
That said, because it’s made from a relatively “soft” steel, it will have a harder time maintaining that incredibly sharp edge, meaning you’ll need to hone and sharpen more often. The 10 degree angle makes this difficult to do – definitely a no go on pre-set knife sharpeners that are usually set to a 15 – 20 degree blade angle – but not impossible.
If you feel confident in your honing and sharpening skills, this knife is great. The “softness” of the steel makes it more resistant to chipping, and a little maintenance goes a long way.
Global knives’ all stainless steel, unique design makes them instantly recognizable. And the prominent Global handle is in particular hard to miss.
Made from a single piece of stainless steel, the Global G-3 Carving Knife is very sharp and very durable. I really like the relatively small size of this carving knife as well. At just 8 ¼ inches, the G-3 is certainly long enough to easily carve most hams and turkeys, but short enough to remain practical for other uses.
The feel of this knife is great. It’s lightweight but still well balanced. I love the look and the stainless steel handle, but it can get a little slippery when wet, at least more than a normal wooden handle would be under similar conditions.
Global knives are made in Japan, and the G-3 is stamped, rather than forged.
Although this knife is technically dishwasher safe, I’d advise against that – and against putting any carving knife in the dishwasher for that matter – as anything but hand washing can prematurely dull or damage the blade.
Given the slightly lower price point and superior quality, the Global G-3 is a great alternative to leading brands.
This WALLOP Carving Knife is next level pretty. The first thing to catch the eye, at least for me, is the pakkawood handle. Triple riveted and polished to perfection, the walnut finish is simply mesmerizing.
But of course, carving knives are functional first, and eye-candy second. Thankfully, the WALLOP does not disappoint with respect to craftsmanship either.
The blade is forged – not stamped – from a single piece of German stainless steel and hardened to a 56 on the Rockwell Hardness Scale. Although this is relatively “soft” as far as hardness goes, it actually means the knife is less brittle, and therefore less prone to cracks and chips, which is a big plus.
The knife is 12 inches long, which is certainly big, but right there alongside other carving knives of the same class. What I like though, beyond the size of this blade, is its shape.
The cutting edge is flat enough to make for great carving, while the slight upward curve makes it versatile enough to employ other knife techniques.
And this thing is sharp. The blade is double-beveled, and honed to a scalpel-like 8 to 12 degree blade angle. The hollow-ground indentations – also called a scalloped blade, or known as a Granton edge – add a bit of visual texture and ensure effortless carving.
Finally the lifetime warranty means the WALLOP carving knife is totally risk-free!
The Mairico 11-inch carving knife may be one of the best budget knives I’ve seen in quite some time. For only $25, the quality of this thing is other-wordly. I’m truly blown away by the craftsmanship.
First, I’m going to cover a few negatives, even though I typically save those things for last. I want to do this because in this instance, I prefer to get them out of the way before getting to the real reasons why I think the Mairico carving knife is so worthwhile.
So let’s talk about the blade. The Mairico is made from a no frills, single piece of stainless steel sharpened to 15 degrees and hardened. The angle is a slightly higher than many of the other knives I recommend (which average between 10 and 12 degrees), but here’s why that doesn’t actually matter to me:
Super precise blade angles are for precision cutting, which typically applies to things like vegetables, not briskets or turkeys, the usual targets for a carving knife. And while low angle blades are indeed super sharp, they also tend to lose their edges much faster than edges in the 12 to 15 degree range.
The other reason that I’m ok with the 15 degree angle on this knife is the fact that it makes it easy to sharpen and hone. While some knives in the 8 to 12 degree range are super sharp, you will eventually need to sharpen them, and doing that yourself can be exceptionally difficult for anyone other than a professional. Most at-home knife sharpeners are built for a 12 to 15 degree blade angle, and using them on your super fine 8 degree blade will just ruin it.
So now the things I like about this knife (even though the alleged faults can actually be seen as positives). I really like the price. I know this is obvious, but price matters, and not just because it’s less money out of your pocket at the outset.
The other reason that price is so significant here is because, quite frankly, I don’t worry much about sharpening or over sharpening. I feel confident using this knife, rather than anxious that I’m going to accidentally drop it.
The quality is great – the hollow-grounds make slicing easy, and the full tang and triple riveted handle feel extremely solid. It may not be as pretty as a hammered Damascus blade, but it nevertheless slices like one, which is, after all, the whole point.
The PAUDIN 8-Inch Damascus Carving Knife is another blade that I appreciate for its versatility. The fact that it’s only 8 inches long (plenty long for carving) makes it pretty manageable, and the shape (akin to a long paring knife) makes it perfect for lots of other applications.
This knife is also made from top quality materials, the same as you’d find in a knife that’s twice as expensive. The blade is forged from Japanese VG10 steel, and hardened to 60 on the Rockwell Hardness Scale.
The blade features a classic Damascus pattern, which is actually folded and hammered (67 layers) rather than etched, like some cheap imitations. And the blade is sharp too, ground to a 12 to 14 degree angle. And I’m beginning to prefer a higher blade angle for carving knives too actually, since they need to be honed less frequently.
It’s a nice detail – aesthetic only – but I do think that the mosaic rivet in the center of the handle is a nice touch. It’s simple and elegant, and just enough to make your knife stand out.
On the downside, the knife shape, while promoting versatility, lacks indentations, which is bad for friction. Indentations – also known as hollow grounds – typically reduce drag, which is particularly important when carving meats.
That said, the lack of indentations is something I can live with in favor of versatility. Weighing the many positives against this small negative, I’d say the PAUDIN is a great option, especially if you’re looking for something that you can get more frequent use out of.
The Kessaku Samurai Series Carving Knife looks and performs like a $150 knife, but thankfully, the price tag isn’t anywhere near that high. Coming in at only about $45, this knife is of surprisingly high quality.
The blade, made from High Carbon 7CR17MOV Stainless Steel, is actually a bit softer than other knives, at just 58 on the Rockwell Hardness Scale. But the truth is, that’s still plenty hard for most applications, and since the blade angle is relatively high as well, this thing stays sharp for a very, very long time between maintenance.
I also really like the handle. I’ve always preferred solid pakkawood handles to split and riveted handles, and this one is particularly stunning. It’s darker than most, and so polished you can see your reflection.
In terms of design, the Kessaku is perfect for carving. It’s 12 inches long, super sharp, and features hollow-ground indentations to reduce drag while slicing.
If I were going to give someone a carving knife, it may very well be the Kessaku. It’s affordable, which is good for gifts, and it also comes with a beautifully ornate gift box with a magnetic closure. The etchings on the blade are nice, though not as great as a real hammered Damascus steel.
All in all, the Kessaku is a great mid-range option, and with a lifetime warranty, what’s not to love?
There are few final things to consider when picking the best carving knife for you. Obviously, cost is probably a big factor, and one to think about. Carving knives can range in price from the relatively inexpensive to the outlandish.
But besides price, I would strongly suggest that you think about intended use and versatility. Some of the knives on this list are traditional carving knives, anywhere from 10 to 12 inches long, and considering that size, they can sometimes be unwieldy.
Thankfully, some of the knives on this list are a bit smaller. The smaller size allows for carving, but also opens up your knife to alternative possibilities, like general vegetable preparation. If you’re hesitant to drop extra money on a single use item, consider a carving knife that scores high for versatility, like the PAUDIN, the Wusthof or the Global – G-3.
Lastly, let’s talk about knife care. It’s important to remember that these knives are usually made from very hard steels, making them rigid and relatively delicate. As long as you use your carving knife properly – that means no wild chopping through bone – and cut on an appropriate surface, these knives will last a very long time.
As always, I think good knives are always a worthy investment, one that you’ll hopefully be reminded of as you enjoy them for years to come. And one last thing – never put your knives in the dishwasher!
Bolster – The bolster is what connects the blade to the handle of the knife. Usually made from material that transitions seamlessly into the blade, it also often extends down to the heel. The bolster is also used to adjust weight for appropriate knife balance.
Tang – The tang is like the “root” of the knife blade, and extends into the handle. Depending on handle design, you may see a strip of the tang on either the top or bottom of the handle, or it may be hidden entirely.
Heel – The heel is the section of the blade edge that comes closest to bolster and handle.
Handle – The handle is what wraps around the knife tang, and is used for grip.
Rivet – Rivets are often used to secure the handle on either side to the internal knife tang.
Butt – The butt of the knife is located at the extreme end of the handle, and may or may not be slightly larger than the rest of the grip.
(Cutting) edge – The edge is the sharpened part of the blade that does the actual cutting. Depending on your knife, the edge may be beveled on one or both sides, and at varying angles.
Tip – Despite being called the “tip,” the tip is not actually the end of the knife. Rather, the tip refers to the end portion of the cutting edge.
Point – The point is the true end of the knife.
Scale – The knife scales refer to the two pieces of material – usually either wood or a hard plastic – that come together on either side of the tang to form the handle.
Spine – The spine is the wider, back side of the blade, opposite the cutting edge.
HRC – HRC is shorthand for the Rockwell Hardness Scale C, and refers to the hardness of steel or alloyed materials. It is measured by pressing a specially shaped indenter against a surface with a specific force.
It is important to note that a high HRC value does not always translate to actual strength, since harder steels can also be stiffer and thus more brittle. This accounts for the relative ease with which harder steel blades often chip.
Edge degree – Edge degree refers to the angle at which the blade is sharpened. Measured against the blade itself, the lower the degree often translates to sharpness. That said, lower degree blades may have difficulty holding an edge, so you’ll want to ensure that lower degree blades are composed of a very hard steel.
Full tang – “Full tang” means that the knife tang extends all the way into the handle, essentially that your knife has been made from a single piece of steel. Full tang knives are far more durable than knives composed of multiple pieces.
Stamped vs. forged – This refers to the method of manufacture. Forged knives are made from a single piece of steel which is typically heated and then pounded into shape. Heating and cooling during the forging process also enhance blade strength.
Stamped knives, on the other hand, are usually cut out – think of a cookie cutter – from a larger sheet of style, before being sharpened and honed. You can usually tell a forged knife from the bolster, which will be wider and more substantial than is possible on stamped knives.