3 Best Knife Sharpeners, Tested by Food Network Kitchen
We sliced, sharpened and honed to find the best models.
Our Top Knife Sharpener Picks:
Once you’ve invested in a chef’s knife, it’s important to maintain that investment through sharpening and honing. The three sharpeners we selected are only to be used with steel knives (not ceramic); some can accommodate both serrated and non-serrated knives, as indicated below.
What To Know About Knife Sharpeners
If you’re guilty of prepping produce or cutting through your dinner protein with a dull knife, it’s important to know how much regularly sharpening and honing your knives can make a difference. Not only are you going to get more precise cuts and help preserve the life of your knives, but you’ll also reduce your risk of injury. (Yes, dull knives are more dangerous to cut with than sharp ones.)
When it comes to maintenance, there is a difference between sharpening and honing. Average home cooks don’t need to sharpen their knives more than twice a year, but regularly honing your knife as often as before each time you cook can help maintain your knife’s sharpness. When you cut with your knife, you create a microscopic curve on the blade, so honing scrapes it off and helps maintain the edge’s sharpness.
If your knives are dull to start with, though, you’ll need to sharpen them with either a handheld or electric sharpener, sharpening stone or plate or by a professional. If you’d rather leave it to a professional, some retailers including Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table offer this service for any knife set, even ones that are not offered at their store.
How to Keep Your Knives Sharp
Once you’ve sharpened your knives, there are a few more steps (aside from regular honing) that must be taken to maintain your blades’ sharpness. First, it’s important to always hand-wash your knives. Dishwasher detergent will dull your blade over time, and the hot water and heat from the drying cycle can take a toll on the handles as well.
The way you store your knives can also affect how sharp your knives remain. Knives should be stored in a knife block or on a magnetic strip. If they’re stored in a drawer without separators, they will bang against one another and eventually dull down the blade.
Lastly, using your knives on the right cutting board can extend their sharpness. Wooden cutting boards are less hard on your knives compared to plastic and should be your go-to option (except for when handling raw meats and herbs).
How We Tested
We purchased seven top-rated knife sharpeners according to various online sites, reviews and bestseller rankings. We tested electric and manual knife sharpeners as well as honing rods, at a range of price points. We noted the kind of sharpener, material and size. Regarding size: We recorded the length of honing rods; we noted the product’s dimensions and whether it fit in a kitchen drawer for electric sharpeners. We noted if the sharpener came with a user manual, how easy it was to read through and whether use and care instructions were provided. We also made a note of any special claims, such as speed.
We selected knives from our concurrent chef’s knives product testing and used a different knife for each sharpener that we tested.
- We sliced through one Roma tomato with the knife right out of the box and noted how easily the knife sliced through the tomato skin.
- We then sliced one Roma tomato with the knife after performing the entire chef’s knife testing process and noted how easily the knife sliced through the tomato skin.
- We then sharpened the knife using the sharpener. We noted how user-friendly it was for the average home cook and whether it felt ergonomic and safe. We observed how long the sharpening took. And we noted whether the directions for use were clear.
- We sliced through one more Roma tomato using the sharpened knife and noted how easily the knife sliced through the tomato skin.
Finally, we noted how easy the sharpener was to clean and whether specific cleaning instructions were included with the sharpener. None of the sharpeners or honing rods we tested were dishwasher safe.
This electric sharpener won us over because it came with clear instructions, was intuitive to use and felt safe. We also felt that it offered good value for the price point. We tested a couple electric sharpeners and this one was our favorite electric one, too. This electric sharpener has a two-stage sharpening system; the first stage is precision grind and the second is fine honing. Each slot in the two-stage sharpening system has guides to help the user hold the knife at the ideal sharpening angle, and it was easy to draw the knife through the slots as directed. To hone it and perform regular touch-ups, you can opt to just use the second stage slot. After completing the testing process, we noted that the sharpener quickly brought the knife back to its original, out-of-the-box sharpness. The sharpener felt very stable on the countertop and we liked that it had suction feet on the bottom for added stability. It was easy to wipe the exterior clean and the removable trays were easy to pull out to discard the collected filings.
Note: This sharpener is only designed for non-serrated blades.
We liked that this ceramic honing rod is a two-in-one: It has two different textures, a ribbed side for sharpening and a smooth one for honing. The instructions include two photos with captions detailing easy-to-follow directions to ensure that the user holds the knife facing the correct direction and at the appropriate angle (20 to 25 degrees for sharpening, 15 to 20 degrees for honing), which is particularly helpful for beginners. The rod was lightweight and easy to grip and it took just a couple minutes to both sharpen and hone the knife. After completing testing, we noted that the knife was noticeably sharper and easily pierced and sliced a tomato. It was easy to hand-wash with warm, soapy water though some of the dish came apart when used on the ribbed edge.
This manual sharpener performed well and offers good value at a wallet-friendly price, particularly since it works on both serrated and non-serrated knives. It came with directions that were easy to follow. There is one sharpening slot to insert and pull the blade through; within the slot, there’s a coarse carbide edge to quickly set the edge, and a fine ceramic edge to finish the edge and also sharpen serrated knives. After completing the test, the knife was noticeably sharper. It felt ergonomic and had a comfortable grip to hold the sharpener in place on the countertop. Though it was intuitive to use, we were unsure if we were holding the knife at exactly the right angle, so it might not be the best option for beginners or for knives that need to be honed to a very specific degree.