The Best Value Kitchen Knives
There are a few tools that all self-respecting cooks should have in their kitchen. A good non-stick frying pan, a nice weighty casserole pot, a trusty wooden spoon — that sort of thing.
Another is a very sharp kitchen knife. There are lots of misconceptions about these, the most pernicious among them being that good knives need be expensive or imported at great cost from Japan. I am here to tell you that they don’t! In fact, some of the best and sharpest knives I use at home cost around a tenner.
With that in mind, please consider the knives MOB recommends for the everyday cook. There are very few better and easier ways to transform your kitchen experience than swapping out those sad, blunt knives found in so many kitchens than upgrading to a sharper alternative.
(I can also heartily recommend giving your loved ones knives for Christmas this year. No one has ever begrudged being handed a tool that makes the process of chopping of vegetables positively exciting.)
Kiwi Cook's Knife
I first came across Kiwi knives when chef Dan Hong told a newspaper that it was "literally the perfect knife" for most at-home cooking. I duly ordered one and guess what? He's right! The knife is extraordinarily sharp and, bonus, it has a handsome wooden handle.
It is ideal for most routine cooking tasks — slicing and dicing and chopping veg and herbs and fish and much else. The best bit? The knives, imported from Thailand, are ridiculously affordable! Around £10! So affordable, in fact, that Chef Dan said he throws his out once a month and replaces them with new ones. (We can't recommend this course of action — there's a climate crisis on — but you can always just sharpen them like a normal non-cheffy person.)
Wusthof Chef's Knife
While low-cost knives like the Kiwi are a great option, it would be remiss of me not to mention the knife I use the most. This is the Wusthof chef's knife. It is significantly more expensive than the others on the list at around £90. But, as I have written here before, it is worth the investment because you will have it for the rest of your knife. It is beautifully weighted and makes light work of almost any task, particularly more heavy-duty tasks such as carving a chicken or cutting heavier root vegetables.
It's German too, which almost invariably means it's a feat of engineering and it has a very durable blade which stays sharp for a long time. I cannot recommend it enough.
Mercer Bread Knife
I firmly believe that you don’t need lots of different knives unless you are a pretty serious chef. A couple of chef’s knives or santokus will perform most of the routine tasks required of them.
You do need a bread knife, however. I spent too much of my life without one and I think back to those days — at uni, where else — with sadness. If you already have one, read on. If you don’t, hear this: You don’t need to spend a lot on a bread knife because it’s serrated, meaning it can’t be sharpened. Once it’s blunted, you’ll need to replace it. With that in mind, one like the Mercer is a good option. It costs less than £15 and it is astonishingly sharp. You will be looking for excuses to slice bread for weeks.
James Martin 3 Piece Santoku Knife Set
Yes, that James Martin. The James Martin from Saturday Kitchen who your mum likes and who most recently made headlines for exploding a blender full of cauliflower soup across an ITV studio (look it up).
Martin, like many celebrity cooks, has attached his name to a range of knives. It is to his great credit or fortune these knives are both good and affordable. They are santoku knives, a Japanese version of the all-purpose chef's knife which is good for cutting and dicing veg, crushing and slicing garlic, or carving up a steak. A great starter set for the uni student, not least because three of them cost less than twenty quid. I was given a set at the beginning of my university career and, nearly a decade later, still use them every day.
Top tip: don't put them in the dishwasher. The handles melt.