We Tested 18 Sets of Steak Knives—Here Are Our Favorites

Our favorite steak knife set is from Messermeister Avanta.

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Overhead shot of four of our favorite steak knives.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

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Straight to the Point

Our favorite steak knife set is the Messermeister Avanta, which performed incredibly well and comes with a very reasonable price tag. We have a few other top picks, which you can read about below, but we don't think you'd be disappointed by the quality of the Avanta.

Like having a collection of houseplants, or a large reusable tote bag stuffed to the brim with more reusable tote bags, owning a set of steak knives is a tangible, material proclamation of adulthood. Steak knives appear on seemingly every wedding registry for a reason: They fall into that category of aspirational but non-essential household items you always wanted to have, but maybe never felt the need to drop a serious chunk of change on for yourself. Steak knives are about form and function; they need to be sharp enough to easily slice through a butter-basted ribeye (or a thick slab of broccoli), and they should look good while doing it. We put a dozen steak knives to the test to find a curated selection of well-crafted, attractive knives that offer exceptional performance and value commensurate with their price tag.

Editor's Note

We recently tested some more sets of steak knives—from Misen, Material, Shun, Global, and more— at our Lab. They either weren't available when we originally wrote this review or didn't make our initial testing lineup. Our top picks have not changed, and you can find our thoughts on each of these additions towards the bottom of this page.

The Winners, at a Glance

The Best Steak-Knife Set: Messermeister Avanta

Messermeister Avanta 4-Piece Steak Knife Set

The Messermeister Avanta steak knives deliver premium performance at an unbeatable price. They are well-constructed, remarkably sharp, and very handsome. One tester from the Serious Eats team described them as "sexy," and went on to say that the "guy in his forties who cooks you steak dinner owns these." Fortunately, these blades are so affordable that you don't need a steak zaddy in your life to enjoy them; the Avanta knives are priced in that sweet spot where you wouldn't get cold feet purchasing a set for yourself, but they also look and feel special enough to be purchased as a gift for someone you care about.

The Best Modern Steak-Knife Set: Perceval 9.47

If you've got a little extra coin burning a hole in your pocket, or are due to receive or dole out some fancy gifts in the near future and want to go with a Parisian bistronomy vibe when entertaining, then these Perceval 9.47 knives might be right up your alley. The 9.47 knife was designed by a former Michelin-starred chef, and, unsurprisingly, it's a dream to cut with. While its modern, minimalist look isn't for everyone, there's no arguing with its performance. It's worth noting that unlike other steak-knife sets, the 9.47 is not available in a set of four knives, just sets of two and six.

The Best Laguiole-Style Steak-Knife Set: Laguiole en Aubrac

Laguiole En Aubrac 4-Piece Steak Knives Set

If you're into more of a classic luxe look, then you'd be hard-pressed to find a more iconic design than a Laguiole-style steak knife. Unfortunately, the term "Laguiole" is not protected or regulated by a trademark, which means that there are a lot of shoddily made knockoff "Laguiole" knives on the market. However, there are a small number of real-deal producers, like Laguiole en Aubrac, that make beautiful knives of exceptional quality with a timeless aesthetic.

Another Great Steak-Knife Set: Victorinox Grand Maître

A victorinox steak knife

The Victorinox Grand Maître was another one of the favorites among testers, who praised its comfortable feel in their hands. The weight of the knife is well-balanced, and it boasts a very sharp, smooth-cutting blade. While the Grand Maître did receive high marks from testers, it was also one of the most expensive steak knives that we tested—priced at $75 per knife. An entire set of Messermeister Avanta knives, which have a similar look and perform comparably well, costs $15 less than just one of these Victorinox knives.

The Tests

Overhead shot of the set-up for the steak knife equipment test, with different knives laid out with different cuts of cooked steak.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  • Inspect Packaging: Check each knife sets' packaging for construction and flaws and note if it could have damaged the knifes in any way.
  • Paper Cutting Test: Cut a piece of paper with each knife and note if it cuts cleanly with little resistance or if it catches and leaves jagged edges.
  • Steak Slicing Test: I cooked a whole bunch of steak, and then had people (myself included) cut the steak and grade each of the knives based on how they cut the steak and how comfortable they were to use.

What We Learned

Bad Packaging Can Dull a Good, Sharp Knife

The knives were first inspected for construction and packaging flaws, which can damage the knives en route. One of the most expensive steak-knife sets (Wusthof Ikon) arrived in a fancy wooden box, but the notches that held the knives didn't secure them tightly in place, so during transport the tips of the blades had been rubbing against the inside edge of the box, cutting grooves into the wood. That's good for neither the box nor the knives.

The Paper Test Gave Us an Idea of Factory Sharpness But Didn't Tell The Whole Story

Cutting through a sheet of paper with a steak knife.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

As Daniel did with chef's knives, the first and last tests for this review were performed to check the sharpness of each knife. I ran the blade of each knife, from heel to tip, through sheets of printer paper that had been folded in half. This test isn't a precise measure of sharpness, but it allowed me to see which knives had a factory edge sharp enough to effortlessly slice through paper, and note which ones got snagged and tore at the sheets.

The knife that performed the worst was the one micro-serrated knife that we tested, which tore and got caught on the paper. The knives that performed best were generally the premium (price-wise) straight-edged knives, while the cheaper knives had more trouble. The Messermeister Avanta was the notable exception to this trend; it was one of the most budget-friendly knives of the dozen that were tested, and it sliced through paper just as well, if not better, than ones that cost five times more. It is also worth noting that the serrated steak knife that we tested aced the paper test, cutting through the sheet smoothly even with its saw-toothed edge.

There is one question worth asking here: How much does the paper-cutting test actually matter for a steak knife? On one hand, you want the knives to be sharp. But you don't need, or probably want, a steak knife to be as razor sharp as a kitchen slicing knife. The finer the edge on a knife, the more delicate and prone to damage it becomes, meaning you will need to sharpen it more often. As already noted, cutting with steak knives happens on hard plates, which grinds down the edge of a knife more quickly than a cutting board. You don't want to be worried about needing to constantly re-sharpening your steak knives.

Smooth Knives Beat Out Serrated Ones

Slicing into a rare hanger steak with a steak knife.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

For the main test, I had a group of six people from the Serious Eats team evaluate the knives under real-world, steak-cutting conditions. In the test kitchen, I cooked three different cuts of steak—hanger, skirt, and 2-inch-thick New York strips—to evaluate how well the knives performed on tougher cuts of beef as well as thick-cut steaks. I did my best to choose testers of different ages, height, gender, cooking experience, and dominant hand orientation. Before having them cut into steaks on porcelain plates, testers were asked to evaluate knives based on their appearance, and feel—how ergonomically comfortable they were to hold, along with whether they liked the weight distribution, balance, and blade-to-handle dimensions.

Performance was the next criterion; testers were asked to slice the different cuts of steak with each knife. After recording observations on performance, participants were tasked with giving each knife an overall grade from 1 to 10, while also writing down how much they would personally be willing to spend on a set of steak knives for themselves, as well as how much they would be willing to spend on a set to give as a nice gift to someone they really cared about.

Clear favorites and losers were quick to emerge. People unanimously rejected the serrated and micro-serrated knives in the grouping, while also knocking knives that were too small and light in their hands. None of the testers were fans of two out of the three most affordable knives on offer. These two knives felt cheap due to partial-tang construction—meaning that the blade doesn't run all the way through the handle as one piece of metal—and neither scored well in the looks department. The outlier in this group was the Messermeister Avanta, which impressed testers with the sharpness of both its edge and streamlined aesthetic.

The knives that were priced in the middle of the pack didn't fair well at all, either, with testers knocking them for both their looks and performance. That left the premium grouping of expensive steak knives. Not all of these high-priced knives (which generally fall in the $300 price range for a set of four knives) received rave reviews. Aesthetics became the sticking point for this group. People didn't like ones that looked too similar to Western-style kitchen boning knives, and were split on the classic looks of the French Laguiole-style knife and the modern minimalism of the Perceval 9.47.

The Criteria: What To Look for in a Steak-Knife Set

Slicing seared skirt steak with the Perceval steak knife.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Like a kitchen knife, a good steak knife needs to be sharp, comfortable in your hand, well-balanced, and sturdy. You don't want to be sawing and tearing away at an expensive, perfectly cooked steak with a flimsy knife. But steak knives need to be pretty, as well. Like a set of power-player, giant red wine glasses, most of us aren't busting out our steak knives every night at the dinner table; steak dinners are special occasions, and the knives should fit the bill on an aesthetic level. This means that selecting a steak-knife set is even more subjective of a process than picking out a great chef's knife.

Unlike chef's knives, steak knives are used primarily on hard plates rather than on the forgiving surface of a cutting board. The blade of a good steak knife needs to be able to take some punishment without dulling too quickly. For this reason, some people prefer a steak knife with a serrated edge, which can take more abuse than a straight-edged blade. There are, however, drawbacks to serrated knives: They are almost impossible to sharpen, and they tear at meat rather than smoothly slicing through it (how much that bothers you is a matter of opinion). Straight-edged knives, on the other hand, can be sharpened, and, if properly cared for, will last a lifetime. With all that in mind, we set out to find a few great steak knife options that could work for people with different aesthetic tastes and budgets.We chose our winners by evaluating knives based on the scores they were given for overall performance and looks while taking into account their cost. We wanted to choose sets of steak knives that could work for people who aren't looking to spend a lot of money, as well as those who are in the market for something special. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for. If you're looking for a hand-crafted steak knife, you're going to need to spend some money.

The Best Steak-Knife Set: Messermeister Avanta

Messermeister Avanta 4-Piece Steak Knife Set

What we liked: When price is taken into account, the Messermeister Avanta is the clear winner of the great steak knife battle. These knives are crazy sharp right out of the box, and perform on the level of steak knives five times their price, while blowing away all the other knives in their price range. They are very pretty to look at, and their full-tang construction makes them feel well-balanced and nicely weighted in your hand. The handle is made out of resin-enforced natural wood, called pakkawood, that is durable and more water-resistant than regular wood. You can't beat these knives from a value-to-performance perspective. Truly impressive.

What we didn't like: Pretty much nothing! These impressive knives blew us away with their performance and price point.

Price at time of publish: $50.

Key Specs

  • Handle material: Pakkawood
  • Blade material: Stainless steel
  • Number of knives included in set: 4
  • Care instructions: Hand wash-only
Side and overhead view of the Messermeister Avanta

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

The Best Modern Steak-Knife Set: Perceval 9.47

What we liked: I fell in love with the Perceval 9.47 knife while eating my way through Paris last winter. This knife, designed by a former chef in the style of a French folding pocket knife, is a favorite at a lot of the hip neo-bistros in the City of Lights. It's beautifully weighted, with the blade and polyacetal (plastic) handle almost identical in length, and it cuts like a dream. The straighter contours of the blade also make it easier to sharpen than other steak knives with more dramatically curved tips. While its look is polarizing (more on that below), there's no arguing with its construction and performance. The 9.47 is a quality knife, and if I were putting together a wedding registry, this would be the knife to make the cut.

What we didn't like: The look of this knife is divisive; I personally love its minimalist, utilitarian vibe, and the absence of a garish brand label. While a couple of testers agreed with me that this knife oozes cool, others hated its look, with one tester going so far as to compare it to a "shiv."

Price at time of publish: $280.

Key Specs

  • Handle material: Polyacetal or wood
  • Blade material: Stainless steel
  • Number of knives included in set: 2
  • Care instructions: Hand wash-only
Side and overhead view of the Perceval 9.47 steak knife.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

The Best Laguiole-Style Steak-Knife Set: Laguiole en Aubrac

Laguiole En Aubrac 4-Piece Steak Knives Set

What we liked: Laguiole-style knives are the iconic French steak knife, but unfortunately there are a lot of cheap knockoff versions on the market. This is due to the fact that the term "Laguiole" is not protected or regulated, and manufacturers can stamp that word on shoddily-made knives and sell them as if they are the real thing. Even a "France" or "Made in France" label doesn't necessarily mean that the knives you are buying are actually real-deal, French-crafted blades. Shady manufacturers can slap a "Made in France" label on a product so long as 45 percent of the "added value" from the making of that product comes from a French territory. This "added value" can include the packaging of the knives, which means that manufacturers can have a cheap wooden box made in France while producing knockoff knives in China, and then sell the set with a "Made in France" label. Very sneaky.

Overhead view of the handles for two types of Laguiole-style steak knives. Top: Laguiole en Aubrac Bottom: Jean Dubost

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Luckily, there are legitimate French knife-makers that produce Laguiole-style knives that are trademark-protected, and Laguiole en Aubrac is one of those companies. Their knives are of noticeably higher quality than other brands sold at even reputable kitchenware stores. Check out the difference in quality in construction between the two Laguiole-style knives in the photo above. The Laguiole en Aubrac is just a better all-around knife. It is heavier, sturdier, prettier, and sharper than the knife from Jean Dubost. If you are set on purchasing Laguiole-style knives, make sure you're getting the real thing, and don't settle for a cheap fugazi. If the price on a set of Laguiole knives seems too good to be true, then it is.

What we didn't like: Real Laguiole knives are quite expensive.

Price at time of publish: $320.

Key Specs

  • Handle material: Wood
  • Blade material: Stainless steel
  • Number of knives included in set: 4
  • Care instructions: Hand wash-only
Side and overhead view of the Laguiole en Aubrac steak knife

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Another Great Steak-Knife Set: Victorinox Grand Maître

A victorinox steak knife

What we liked: The Victorinox Grand Maître steak knives are very well-constructed, sharp knives with an understated look that come at a premium price point. We have included them here for people who are looking for a high-end set of steak knives, but don't love the looks of the Perceval or Laguiole en Aubrac options. The Grand Maître was the highest-rated premium steak knife with the Western boning-knife aesthetic.

What we didn't like: For those that want flashier-looking knives, this probably isn't the set for you.

Price at time of publish: $330.

Key Specs

  • Handle material: Wood
  • Blade material: Stainless steel
  • Number of knives included in set: 4
  • Care instructions: Hand wash-only
Side and overhead view of the Victorinox Grand Maître steak knife.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

The Competition

Here are notes on the other models we tested for this review:

  • Material The Table Knives: This tight-and-tidy set of knives has a simple, no-fuss design that can transition easily from Tuesday’s chicken thighs to Friday’s New York strip steak. The knives arrived sheathed in cardboard to protect them from jostling during shipping, and come with a dual-use miniature wooden block. Although these knives won’t turn heads with a dramatic profile, they sliced through steak incredibly well, and hadn’t lost their edge by the second paper test. If you’re the type to reach for steak knives as frequently as your butter knife, this set won’t let you down. 
  • Misen Steak Knives: If you're set on getting serrated steak knives, you might be happy with these. While their boxy, rectangular handles gave off attractive retro vibes, it took a considerable amount of “sawing” to slice through steak with one of these knives. Their magnetized cardboard storage box is a decent touch, but fussy to open.
  • Opinel No. 125 Bon Appetit Wooden Steak Knife Set: These are a popular budget-friendly steak knife option, but we were surprised by how cheap and light they felt to hold, with one tester going so far as to say that it "looks like a toy from Sweden." The knife's partial-tang construction felt particularly flimsy, and the knife struggled to slice through thick-cut strip steaks.
  • Messermeister Oliva Elité 4 Piece Fine Edge Steak Knife Set: This is one of the company's high-end steak knives, and testers actually preferred the performance and look of the much more affordable Avanta model.
  • Victorinox Swiss Modern Steak Knife Set: None of the testers liked the serrated edge of Swiss Army's Victorinox Swiss Modern knife.
  • Victorinox Wood Steak Knife Set: One tester said it best: "The Victorinox Wood steak knife looks and feels like the type of knife you would find impaling an overcooked burger at a chain restaurant in a suburban strip mall."
  • Chicago Cutlery Walnut Tradition Steak Knife Set: This is a top budget steak knife choice for both America's Test Kitchen and Wirecutter, but we found this knife to be very disappointing. These knives are incredibly small, making them uncomfortable to hold for people with larger hands, and the blades were not sharp enough to warrant a recommendation.
  • Wusthof Classic Ikon Precision Forged Steak Knife Set: Testers felt the Wusthof Ikon steak knives looked too much like kitchen boning knives, and some were disappointed by their out-of-the-box sharpness. These pricey knives come in a fancy wooden box, but the knives aren't securely fastened in the box, meaning that they get jostled around and cut deep grooves in the wood.
  • Wusthof Gourmet Six-Piece Kitchen Steak Knife Set: A more modestly priced model from the German knife giant, the Wusthof Gourmet was unanimously panned for its looks (people especially disliked the bright red logo on the handle), and testers were not convinced by its cutting performance.
  • Laguiole Jean Dubost Knife Set: These knives were knocked for their cheap-feeling construction with rivets that don't sit flush against the handle of the knife. Testers also hated the semi-serrated edge of these knives.
  • UMOGI Stainless Steel Steak Knives: These knives cut well but were sidelined for their handle, which was less attractive than the competition. 
  • Dalstrong Steak Knives: This set cost twice as much as our top pick with similar performance. 
  • Shun Classic Steak Knives: While they were extremely sharp out of the box and featured  a beautiful Damascus steel pattern, these knives were just too pricey to recommend when our top pick matched their performance. 
  • Global Classic Steak Knives - Set of 4: With a small handle, tiny-serrations, and a short blade, these steak knives from Global didn’t make the cut.

FAQs

Can you use steak knives for other things?

Steak knives are useful for so much more than just beef. These sharp-edged tools are efficient at slicing through any cooked protein, and even hearty roasted vegetables, like squash and broccoli.

Does the handle matter on steak knives?

To a certain degree, yes. Although the handle may not be as immediately important as the blade, it will make or break your experience using the knife. Ideally, steak knives should have well-balanced handles that are easy to grip, and feel comfortable in your hand. The material used is largely up to personal preference, although price will vary depending on material (polymer handles, for example, will be less expensive than Laguiole-style horn or antler handles).

Does the type of metal matter for steak knives?

You’ll often see steak knives (as well as other knives) advertised as being made with different types of steel, such as German or Japanese. This is partially a personal preference, but it really all comes down to the edge. An ultra-thin edge will (hopefully) come out of the box razor sharp, but it will require more frequent sharpening. Conversely, a slightly chunkier edge may not slice through your shoe, but it won’t need constant babysitting.

Do steak knives get dull?

Yes; like all kitchen knives, steak knives lose their edge with use and time.

Can you sharpen steak knives?

You sure can! Steak knives with smooth blades are easier to sharpen than serrated steak knives, but both can be whipped back into shape. You can use a whetstone, or follow the directions on an electric sharpener. Of course, you can always have your knives professionally sharpened. Do so when you notice more pressure or leverage is needed to achieve smooth cuts. 

Should you hand wash steak knives?

In the interest of keeping a sharp edge on your blades for as long as possible, we recommend hand-washing steak knives and drying them immediately.

How do you store steak knives?

Steak knives, like all other sharp knives, should be kept safe from being jostled around or and knocked into by other utensils. You can use a sheath or knife roll; if you’ve got room on your magnetic knife strip, that’s an excellent idea, too. Some of the knives we tested came with permanent storage solutions, while other will require an additional purchase. The important thing is to avoid tossing them loose in a utensil drawer.

Additional research by
Rochelle Bilow
Rochelle's headshot
Rochelle Bilow is a freelance food writer, as well as a novelist. Based in Vermont, Rochelle specializes in stories about home cooking, techniques, tools, and equipment. She has been writing about food professionally for over a decade.
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