6 Best Carving Knives, According to Food Network Kitchen
We wouldn’t dream of slicing a roast turkey, or for that matter, a glazed ham, or a tenderloin of beef, without a sharp carving knife.
Our Top Carving Knife Picks
- Best Overall: Wüsthof Classic 9" Hollow Edge Carving Knife
- Best Value: Mercer Genesis Carving Knife 10"
- Pro Choice: Schmidt Bros. Heritage 8.5-Inch Carving Knife
- Best Electric Carving Knife: Cuisinart Electric Knife Set with Cutting Board
- Best Premium Knife: Bob Kramer 9-Inch Carbon Steel Slicer Knife
- Best for Boneless Meats: Messermeister Elite 10 Inch Round Tip Kullenschliff Slicer
By Sharon Franke for Food Network Kitchen
When the holidays roll around, your thoughts go to turkey and inevitably to how to carve it up. Social media is filled with images of big beautiful slices, neatly arrayed on a platter that seem impossible to replicate. However, equip yourself with a sharp carving knife and you’ll easily cut like a pro, working around bones, making smooth even picture-perfect slices, and getting every last delectable bit off the carcass. Whether you’re looking for a high-priced model to use on a regular basis for roast chicken and Sunday roast or an inexpensive one to pull out once or twice a year for company meals, there’s a carving knife that can help you significantly upgrade your carving game.
This article has been updated since its original publish date. Two of our original picks were discontinued. We have chosen a new "best overall" and "best value" knife in this update.
What Is a Carving Knife?
A carving knife has a long, narrow blade to cleanly cut through meat and a pointed tip to maneuver around bones. To make it easy for you to follow the curves of a turkey carcass or a crown roast, the blade has some flexibility. A carving knife can often be confused with a slicing knife, which has a similar blade but has a rounded tip. Some carvers, and most slicers, have a "hollow" or Granton edge, which features indentations all along the blade; it creates small air pockets that reduce friction when you’re slicing and help food fall off the knife.
What To Look For in a Carving Knife
- Carving knives range in size from 8 to 12 inches. For a large turkey, we recommend one that’s 9 inches or longer.
- As with any knife, it’s important for the carver to feel comfortable in your hand.
- Because the blade is long and thin, it’s critical that the handle give you control over the blade so it’s not wobbly. You’ll find a forged knife with a bolster preferable to a stamped blade that’s cut out of a sheet of metal and inserted into the handle.
How to Keep Your Carving Knife Sharp
A carving knife must have a sharp blade so it will glide smoothly through meats, giving a clean cut. Even if your knife is brand new, we suggest testing the blade’s sharpness by trying to cut a single sheet of paper vertically. A sharp blade will slash right through, leaving a clean edge on either side. If your knife doesn’t make the cut, have it sharpened professionally or hone it yourself. Don’t try to sharpen your blade on one of those sharpening rods or steels that often come with knife sets. You need a tool with slots that keep the blade at a precise angle. Run it through the slots as many times as it takes to get the blade sharp enough to slash paper.
How We Picked
We’ve roasted and carved more than our fair share of turkeys both in developing recipes and hosting our families for the holidays and have definite ideas about what makes a good carving knife. In order to get feedback from other sources, we read reviews and comments on other sites form both professional testers and home cooks.
In making our picks, we looked for knives that feel comfortable to work with and give you good control as you cut. We selected a variety of knives at different pricepoints so that you can find one that’s perfect for you.
Like all great knives, the Wüsthof feels like an extension of your hand. It has a fully forged blade that’s razor sharp out of the box and long enough to carve gorgeous slices of white meat trimmed with crispy golden skin, even when you’re working with a twenty-pound turkey. With its pointed tip and slightly flexible blade, it’s nimble enough to maneuver around bones to help you cut off the wings, drumsticks, and thighs or detach the entire breast from the carcass. The handle is made of a smooth black resin that gives a good grip. Along the edge, small indentations create air pockets between the blade and the food so that slices of ham or roast beef fall off the blade. While this is an expensive pick, it’s worth the investment if you regularly roast all kinds of meats and poultry. If hosting Thanksgiving is a one-shot deal, you may not want to pay top dollar for this carver.
Whether it’s your first time roasting a turkey and don’t want to spend a bundle on a knife you may never use again or you’re an experienced cook, the Mercer is a great buy. It’s made of the same steel as the Wüsthof but has a thicker and heavier blade, which makes it more durable but also a little less flexible. The blade is 10 inches long and equal in thickness from front to back, which is ideal when you’re slicing through an extra-large bird or a prime rib roast. What really distinguishes this knife is its textured Santoprene handle which gives a comfy but secure grasp even if your hand is wet or greasy.
Chefs like to use a knife by grasping the back of the blade between the thumb and index finger rather than by holding the handle. This so-called pinch grip, gives them better control as they work. On this carver, the forged blade blends into the handle smoothly and there’s no bulky bolster, so it practically invites you to pinch grip. However, if you prefer to hold the handle, you’ll find it gives a good grip and the knife feels balanced in your hand. With its sculpted handle, this knife will make a beautiful impression if you’re carving at the table.
Electric knives get a bad rap that they don’t deserve. In fact, we prefer them to a dull carving knife, regardless of how expensive it is. The Cuisinart is easily our top pick in the category. We think this knife is very reasonably priced, especially considering it comes with a carving fork, a small bamboo cutting board, and a tray for storing all the pieces together neatly. While the manufacturer says the blade can be cleaned in the dishwasher, we recommend washing it by hand to prevent it from nicking crystal or fine dinnerware, or even worse, a finger when you’re unloading the dishes. When you use it, it doesn’t vibrate in your hand. Like a forged knife, it glides through turkey meat without producing little ripples on the slices and is flexible enough to work around the bones. Don’t think of this as a turkey-only tool. Use it to slice a roast beef, ripe tomatoes, or a loaf of extra-crusty sourdough bread.
Whether you’re the kind of person who likes to have the very best or are looking for a gift for someone very special, this premium knife is worth the big bucks. Created with input from a master bladesmith, Bob Kramer, and made of carbon steel, it’s not only exceptionally sharp but will stay that way a lot longer than other knives, which means you’ll have to sharpen it less often. It has a polished wood handle that fits comfortably in the hand and has brass accents for a touch of luxury. Don’t even think of putting the Kramer in the dishwasher. It should be hand washed immediately and dried carefully to prevent staining and rusting. Over time, the blade will develop a blue gray patina that’s a hallmark of carbon steel.
For slicing a boneless leg of lamb, brisket, or a side of salmon on an angle into long thing slices, this is the knife you want. Its long blade is evenly wide and thin all along its length and effortlessly cuts off uniform slices without any need to saw. Hollows along the edge of the blade help the slices fall right off onto the cutting board. This is also a great tool for slicing delicate items like a cake layer that you want to fill with frosting or whipped cream or a pate or a terrine. Although it’s not inexpensive, this is a high-quality tool that’s forged and hand finished in Germany. It’s designed for serious cooks who cure their own gravalax and roast or braise boneless cuts of meat regularly, and want perfect slices that make a beautiful presentation at the dinner table. It’s a good idea to hand wash the San Moritz to preserve the finish and prevent accidental cuts.