CR’s Good-Better-Best Gift Guide: Knives

Consumer Reports News: December 17, 2010 04:05 PM

What better gift for your fresh-faced foodie than a new knife set by culinary queen Martha Stewart? Actually, Martha's knives are the worst in our Ratings of nearly 50 models. Okay then, Paula Deen. Nope, hers are on the dull end too. Rachael Ray? Better, but still not what you'd call leading edge. The truth is, whether you're giving knives or treating yourself, you're better off avoiding the celebrity set altogether. Nary a one made the recommended list in our latest knives review. Consider one of these instead:

Good: Oxo Good Grip Professional, $80
This 14-piece set includes all the essentials—8-inch chef's knife, slicer, utility knife, parer—plus six steak knives. The blades are stamped, not forged, which makes for a light-weight, affordable set. Experienced chef's may find them a little too flexible, but we judged them comfortable, well-balanced, and surprisingly sharp.

Better: Ginsu Chikara, $100
Spending another $20 will get you forged blades with excellent cutting performance. The 8-piece set includes a santoku knife, a cross between a chef's knife and cleaver that's especially adept at slicing and dicing. The tradeoff is there's no slicer, which some prefer for carving meats, and it doesn't include steak knives.

Best: Henckels Twin Professional "S", $290
Henckels, along with Wusthof, is one of the finest names in forged knives. This 7-piece set is just slightly better than the Wusthofs we tested, but it costs quite a bit less. Not that $290 is cut-rate, but the fine-edged Henckels with classic three-rivet handles should stand the test of time, provided they're cared for properly. That means hand-washing and regular honing, no exceptions.

—Daniel DiClerico

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