A carving knife is a thing of beauty, even if it’s used only a couple times a year. When you need a long, thin, and most important of all, sharp blade to do your slicing, nothing else will do. (Above: Wusthof Classic 2-Piece Hollow-Ground Carving Set.)
If you’re in the market for a carving knife (or your old one isn’t quite up to snuff) and you’re concerned about quality, don’t let the sea of choices drown you. As long as you go with a name brand (see Best Chef Knives. . .), you’ll get similar performance and longevity. But please be aware that some major brands have quite a range of product lines (sort of like cars). And if you value finish and feel, you should stick with their higher-end lines.
In general, I recommend spending at least $80. No doubt you can find a carving knife out there for less, but, odds are, it won’t feel as solid in your hand, won’t be as nicely finished, and—most important of all—won’t retain a sharp cutting edge for years to come.
Here are a few quality suggestions—which means, with proper care (see Top Ten Tips), any one of these could last 30 years or more . . .
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Recommended Carving Knives
Henckels Pro S Carving Knife, 8-Inch
The Pro S series is a top-tier line produced by one of Germany’s oldest and finest manufacturers. Or, from Wusthof, the other major German knife maker, a similar version: Wustohof Classic Carving Knife, 9-Inch @ Amazon: $130.
Wusthof Classic Ikon Carving Knife, 9-Inch
My very favorite Wusthof line—Classic Ikon. What a beautiful (and I might add, extremely comfortable) handle, no? Like most of the German knives on this page, it looks and feels like wood, but is actually synthetic.
Henckels Pro 2-Piece Carving Set
If you need a carving fork as well, here’s a set from Henckels. I love the modern styling, but you pay a bit more for it. The knife lacks a bolster which actually is a plus—it makes sharpening easier. (8-inch knife, 7-inch fork)
Wusthof Classic 2-Piece Hollow-Ground Carving Set
This carving knife set is currently a steal. It’s the same blade as the plain Wusthof Classic above, but with a hollowed-out edge that can help prevent whatever you’re cutting from sticking to the blade. (8-inch knife, 6-inch fork)
Messermeister Carving Knife, 10-Inch (7-Inch Fork)
Messermeister makes a carving set with a knife that’s 2 inches longer for only $20 more. Messermeister is a top-tier German knifemaker—not as well-known as Wusthof, but comparable quality. If you feel the extra length could come in handy, you’re getting premium quality at a great price.
Henckels Four Star Hollow-Edge Ham Slicer, 10-Inch
If you know you’re going to be doing some serious slicing (if you’re serving something like a ham or roast), this Henckels Four Star slicer can’t be beat (with a 10-inch blade like the Messermeister). It’s designed to cut across a large expanse of meat, yet keep the thickness of each slice consistently thin. Wusthof carries a similar version in their Classic line, but with a much narrower blade: Wusthof Classic Hollow-Edge Carving Knife, 10-Inch. @ Amazon: $137
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Japanese Carving Knives
If you don’t mind paying a bit more, you might want to go Japanese. You’ll get a lighter knife with a thinner blade, ground to a sharper angle that will slice meat like butter. But please be aware that Japanese knives are made of a harder, brittler, steel than German, and cannot take as much abuse. If you try hacking at bones, you will risk chipping the blade. Seriously.
Shun DM0720 Classic Hollow-Ground Slicing Knife, 9-Inch
Miyabi Kaizen Slicer, 9 1/2-Inch
And finally, to top things off, let me recommend two knives you can break your piggie bank for—both manufactured in Japan, both with a unique styling and attention to detail you would expect from a custom knifemaker. (Please note the Bob Kramer is made of carbon steel that can stay super-sharp, but is susceptible to rust. Over time though, it will develop a protective patina.)