Guide to steak knives

Sous Chef knife experts

In this guide, you’ll hear from Sous Chef buyer Kristin Lohse, who has many years of kitchen knife experience - and is a true expert in sharpening and caring for knives.

In his blog, we’ll discuss:

  • What cleaver knives are used for
  • What to consider before you buy a Chinese cleaver
  • How cleaver knives differ
Read our ultimate guide to which kitchen knives you need - to understand more about the role of steak knives in the kitchen.

What is a steak knife?

A steak knife is a table knife designed for cutting steak and other tough foods on a plate. It features a sharp edge that makes slicing through meat much easier than with a standard table knife. 

Steak knives can come with various handle materials, such as wood, plastic, or metal, designed for comfort and aesthetic appeal.

While primarily used for steak, they're also versatile enough for other foods requiring a sharper blade. 

 “I'd recommend a smooth blade for steak knives any day.”

What is a steak knife used for?

A steak knife is specifically designed for cutting through cooked meats. Its sharp, (sometimes serrated blade) slices cleanly without tearing, preserving the meat's tenderness and flavour. 

Kristin adds: “I'd recommend a smooth blade for steak knives any day. We only sell smooth steak knife blades at Sous Chef. They don't tear through the meat as much and offer a much cleaner cut.”

While its primary purpose is for steak, it's versatile enough for other tough or fibrous foods, such as pork chops or chicken. The serrated edge is particularly useful for foods with a crusty exterior and soft interior, like breaded cutlets. 

In addition to its functional role at the dining table, a steak knife can also add an elegant touch to table settings. Its design, combining functionality with style, makes it a staple in both casual and formal dining experiences. 

Steak knives ensure diners have the right tool for a comfortable and enjoyable meal, reflecting the importance of matching cutlery to the dish served.

What does a steak knife look like?

A steak knife is distinct, designed for cutting meat. It typically has a sharp, serrated blade, making slicing through steak easier. 

Some versions come with straight edges, favoured for their clean cuts. Handles are often wooden or plastic, offering a comfortable grip. 

Classic examples include the Messermeister Avanta Pakkawood 4 Piece Steak Knife Set, known for their durability and precision. These knives vary in size but usually measure between 4 to 6 inches in length. 

The design balances functionality with aesthetics, fitting seamlessly into both casual and formal dining settings. Compact and efficient, a steak knife is a key tool at any dinner table where meat is served.

How do I choose a steak knife 

Choosing a steak knife involves considering a few key factors. What makes a good steak knife? 

  • First, look at blade type: we favour a smooth blade for steak knives, at Sous Chef.
  • Material matters, too; stainless steel is durable and resistant to rust. 
  • The handle should feel comfortable in your hand, with materials ranging from wood to plastic or metal, affecting weight and balance. 
  • Size also plays a role, with most steak knives measuring 4 to 6 inches. Opt for a set that matches your needs and aesthetic preferences, ensuring a blend of functionality and style at the dinner table.

What is a good steak knife set

A good steak knife set combines durability, sharpness, and style. It typically includes knives with stainless steel blades, known for their longevity and resistance to corrosion. Serrated edges are common, offering ease in cutting through meat without frequent sharpening.

Handles vary, with options like wood for a classic look or composite materials for durability. A set might range from 4 to 8 knives, suited for family dinners or hosting guests. 

Brands like Opinel Olivewood Deluxe Steak Knife Box Set offer sets that are not only functional but also enhance table aesthetics. The right set feels balanced in hand, slices efficiently, and complements your dining setup. 

Look for sets that come with a warranty, reflecting the manufacturer's confidence in their product's quality.

What is the best steak knife?

The best steak knife expertly balances sharpness, durability, and comfort.

For those seeking the pinnacle of design and functionality, sets from these brands are reliable choices, reflecting a blend of traditional craftsmanship and modern innovation: Laguiole en Aubrac Set of 6 Steak Knives.

What is the best replacement for steak knife

When a steak knife isn't available, a paring knife or utility knife is the next best choice. Although, neither of these knives are as attractive to eat with at the dining table!

Which is better: straight or serrated steak knives?

Choosing between straight and serrated steak knives depends on preference and use. Straight blades offer clean cuts and are preferred for their precision. They're ideal for tender steaks, slicing without tearing the meat. 

Serrated knives, on the other hand, can be better for tougher meats. Their saw-like edges cut easily without much pressure, staying sharp longer. 

Straight knives are great for an elegant dinner setting, where presentation matters. Serrated knives suit everyday use, requiring less maintenance. 

Ultimately, the choice between straight and serrated comes down to the type of meat you often serve and your commitment to knife care.

How to sharpen steak knives

sharpening steak knife

Sharpening steak knives is an easy task! Below is our comprehensive step by step guide on how to sharpen your favourite steak knives:

  • Gather sharpening tools: whetstone or sharpening rod.
  • Wet the whetstone or rod with water.
  • Hold the knife at the correct angle (eg the angle it was sharpened at, when you first buy it).
  • Move the blade across the stone or rod, maintaining the angle.
  • Repeat on the other side of the blade.
  • Maintain consistent pressure while sharpening.
  • Continue until the edge feels sharp.
  • Test sharpness by slicing through paper or tomato skin.
  • Hone the edge if necessary for finer sharpening.
  • Rinse the knife to remove any metal particles.
  • Dry the knife thoroughly before use to prevent rust.

    What is the best way to sharpen steak knives?

    Sharpen steak knives effectively using a quality knife sharpener. Electric or manual options are available, each with its advantages. 

    Electric sharpeners offer convenience and speed, while manual sharpeners provide more control over the sharpening process. 

    Alternatively, consider professional sharpening services for precision results. 

    Whichever method you choose, ensure proper technique and maintenance for long-lasting sharpness. Regular honing with a honing steel or ceramic rod can also help maintain knife edges between sharpenings. 

    What degree do you sharpen steak knives?

    This depends on the knife you buy and what angle it's sharpened at when you get it. Maintaining a consistent angle ensures uniform sharpness across the blade. Maintaining this angle is crucial for effective sharpening. 

    Use a guide or visual reference to achieve the desired angle. By adhering to this degree, you can enhance the cutting performance of your steak knives.

    How often do you need to sharpen a steak knife?

    Sharpen steak knives every 3-6 months depending on usage frequency. Heavy use may require more frequent sharpening to maintain optimal performance. Regular honing between sharpenings can extend the time between sharpening sessions. 

    Pay attention to signs of dullness such as difficulty in cutting or tearing rather than slicing. If your steak knives no longer cut smoothly, it's time for sharpening. 

    Developing a routine maintenance schedule ensures your knives are always ready for effortless cutting. With proper care, your steak knives can retain their sharpness for longer periods, enhancing your dining experience.


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