BBQ Knives & Cutlery Buying Guide | How to Buy BBQ Knives & Cutlery
To say grilling cutlery isn’t necessary for barbecue is to miss the point. An investment in your knives is an investment in keeping an edge in the kitchen. Haven’t you seen countless times the abuse that sawing and hacking on a great cut of meat will do? It’s frankly barbaric. Wouldn't you rather bring perfect, restaurant-precision to your dishes? With the best knives for grilling, you'll have the ability to do just that.
With high-quality kitchen knives, you'll make much smoother cuts and glide through those meats with much less effort. You'll even have the right tools to turn out superior dishes with greater regard to presentation and impeccable taste. These aren’t a block of knives from your chain wholesaler that no amount of honing can rescue — they’re impeccable blades that, with proper care, will last many years. Here’s how you keep yourself sharp on which knives will best serve you.
BBQ Cutlery Features to Consider
Once you’ve sorted out those basic answers, you should familiarize yourself with the different factors of what makes a knife’s quality fair, good, or outstanding. In general, these are fairly common sense — but if you don’t know how to explain a BBQ knife’s “tang,” or why it’s so important to any blade, here’s where you learn those details. Knowing what you want to use the knife for is great; knowing what to look for in a knife is awesome. Here’s why the individual parts of a knife’s construction are so important to its overall value.
The materials of your knife affect its endurance and the grip. Harder materials like wood and rubber are easier to grasp, but can become slippery when wet. When looking for a grilling knife with an ergonomic handle, you'll want to make sure that there is some sort of grooved texture on the handle for a more confident grip. Meanwhile, you'll need to consider knives that can withstand being dropped, and that are resistant against the heat from your grill.
Whichever blade length you'll need is dependent upon your own personal skill, so this one’s a matter of personal preference. A longer blade can make larger cuts (surprise!) but will also be more difficult to manage. If you're using your BBQ knife for slicing large pieces of meat, it's best to have a long blade to add precious leverage to your movements. Larger blades are also great for cutting smaller pieces of food if you need to work in close quarters.
Compare the length of a BBQ knife handle to the tread on your tires — a longer handle will give you more control of the knife while using it, but it can also be cumbersome for small hands. As a general rule, the longer the handle, the larger the blade. The knife grip should be comfortable for you to hold, and it should stay cool when you're grilling. You'll want a knife that fits securely in your hands without being too small or too large.
The “tang” is the part of the blade that extends into the handle. The tang is most important with regards to how sturdy and well-made a knife is, but it also affects the weight, balance, and handling qualities of a knife. Full tang knives are sturdier than partial (or “half”) tang knives because the blade and tang are one solid piece of metal. Partial tang knives are often lighter, sure. They’re also more prone to breaking if they drop, or you accidentally strike them against a hard surface.
Forged or Stamped?
Forged knives are thicker, heavier, and often handcrafted: this ensures a more rigorous process to guarantee quality and precision. Thanks to that heft, they can be used for heavy-duty slicing and chopping. Forged knives have less give than stamped knives, but that makes them easier to sharpen. But that’s a double-edged sword: the heft that helps their honed edges last makes them tiring faster over time. If you have larger hands or can handle the weight, their quality is hard to ignore.
- Produces a thicker and heavier blade
- Excellent balance thanks to blade bolster
- Easier to sharpen, hold edge longer
Stamped knives are made out of a single sheet of steel that’s cut to size, hammered into shape, then ground and polished. Judging on blade thinness and overall flexibility, forged blades simply can’t compare. This flexibility may make sharpening them harder, but they also lose their edge faster. With that said, their lightness makes them far easier to use for lengthier periods of cutting. For those who like the lighter feel of a blade — and, therefore, a lighter knife — stamped blades are the best option.
- Features lighter weight and higher flex
- Easier to handle with less fatigue
- Usually more budget friendly
Choosing the Right Grilling Knives
There are many different kinds of knives to select from in the market. They're all developed for various purposes, and you'll need to be able to take into account your own needs when picking the appropriate cutlery for your culinary needs. Many of them overlap in some duties — take, for instance, the chef’s knife and the santoku knife. One’s heftier in the hand with a mesmerizing rocking motion, whereas the other’s lighter, nimbler, and brings serious finesse to that general design. What knives does your outdoor kitchen need? Well, here’s where you’ll find out.
This well-rounded blade is a must-have for any kitchen environment. It slices! It dices! It chops, minces, and more! While it has a fraternal twin in the Japanese Santoku knife, the well-rounded chef’s knife trades finesse for heft and cuts with more of a “rocking” motion. For more complex or versatile cutting, slicing and disjointing meat, and many other uses, you really can’t go wrong by relying on this blade.
- One of the most versatile knives around
- Excellent Partner to the santoku knife
- Blade length varies 4 1/2 - 14 inches
Brisket Slicing Knife
An essential for any barbecue connoisseur! Compared to other meats, brisket joints tend to make large, tough, and fibrous meats. A brisket slicer is a knife designed specifically for slicing through that hurdle. Straight-edged brisket slicing knives make cleaner cuts and are less likely to tear the meat; serrated-edged brisket blades cut through tougher meat and brisket cooked at higher temperatures.
- Sliced or serrated edges for different thicknesses
- Extremely specific use case for slicing briskets
- Blade length varies from 8–14 inches
Carving knives are (surprise!) for carving. They’re thinner and longer than other knives with an extended “belly” — that provides you the right amount of pressure to keep your food from slipping around. This is crucial when you’re working with prime cuts of meat, like a Thanksgiving turkey or a big-game trophy. If you want to quickly shave a large roast without struggling with the knife (very much a bad idea), get yourself a proper carving knife.
- Designed for quickly slicing meats, vegetables, and fruit
- Longer, thinner shape helps with efficient pressure
- Blade length varies 8–15 inches
The fillet knife focuses on fish — specifically, separating the meat from the skin, or portioning and slicing fish into manageable sizes. Thin and narrow with a straight, flat edge and a pointed tip, it excels at the task (adding some flexibility to the blade helps). The fillet knife will usually be the smallest knife in your collection. of the knives on this list, and typically comes between 3–5 inches in length.
- Thin, flexible blade made for delicate work
- Designed for working specifically with fish
- Blade length varies 3–5 inches
Longer than a paring knife, but shorter than a chef’s knife, the utility knife is another solid all-rounder in the kitchen. Available in both a serrated and straight blade style, utility knives bring the chef’s knife touch to smaller tasks like dicing peppers, slicing bagels and buns, cutting sandwiches, and for shearing off thin slices of tomato.
- Quite versatile for tasks too small for a chef’s knife
- Perfectly sized for slicing fruits & vegetables
- Blade length varies 5–10 inches
Pick out a chef’s knife with a row of indented scallops. Congrats! That’s a santoku knife, similarly shaped with a taller, thinner blade (and similarly multi-purpose). It handles lighter while trading in that rocking motion for simpler up-down chopping. The end result? Refined precision, perfect for wafer-thin slices (and smaller hands). This knife excels masterfully at all things sliced, diced, or chopped — hence the name “Santoku,” or “Three Virtues.”
- Matches blade weight to the weight of the tang and handle
- Makes a superb complement to the chef’s knife
- Blade length varies 5–8 inches
This knife is one designed for detail work. When you reach for a paring knife, you’re generally trying to cut small, precisely cut items (like garnishes, fruits, and vegetables). The blade should be short, small, and thin — perfect for cutting, trimming, and peeling. They’re also a must-have for safely handling fresh produce and fruit.
- Short, stubby, lightweight and precise
- Fantastic for cutting small details
- Blade length varies 2–4 inches
When you need to saw through hard crusts like cake, pastry, and bread, turn to the aptly-named bread knife. Those fine, serrated teeth will also slice through tender skins, like those found on tomatoes or soft cheeses.Incidentally, this is the only knife that you should use to “saw” through food; use the back of the knife to push.
- Serrated blade made for cutting without squashing
- Works well when cutting bread with a hard crust
- Blade length varies 6 ½–10 inches
While the anatomy of a steak knife is really no different than a regular kitchen knife, the difference is in its unique design. A steak knife has a wide, serrated blade that works wonders on tender cuts of meat. The wide blade and deep serrations also make this knife great for cutting through the tougher cartilage and gristle found in meats.
- Specialty blade for dining on tender meat
- Often offered as a matched set
- Blade length varies 4–6 inches
Things to Consider
Time to wrap things up! We hope we’ve given you an edge on choosing the best knives to fit your needs. We haven’t even gotten into how to store those impeccable blades or how to keep on top of their general care and sharpness. No need to fear; we’ll get you a handle on these important factors before we let you go. In fact... well, why not do so right now?
Chopping Blocks and Cutting Boards
Getting your hands on BBQ cutlery brings serious quality to your food prep game. Why, then, would you risk blunting and damaging those beautiful knives against an improper cutting board or (gasp!) the counter? Don’t let your surfaces make sharpening and honing your knives much harder — or more often — than they need to be. Speaking generally, the cheaper the cutting board and the nicer the knife? The rougher that cutting board will be to that nice knife. Invest in a serious cutting board or chopping block early; keeping your precious knives at their best will come that much easier.
Okay, so you’ve got some great BBQknives: now you need somewhere to store them. There are a few basic options: a knife block, a magnetic strip, or a cutlery rack. The classic BBQ knife block is counter-friendly, but isn’t the cleanest solution. The best magnetic strips are clean, convenient, and feature extremely powerful magnets, but could damage the knives with improper use. BBQ knife drawers tuck the knives out of sight, but can be dangerous and probably won’t fit all blades. Consider how you’ll be using your knives, and what you want out of your knife storage.
Learning how to care for cooking knives and cutlery for general knife maintenance is the fastest way to extend any blade’s life. For instance, sharpening your knives regularly can avoid a lot of the wear and tear, staving off replacement and saving you more expense. Keeping a knife sharpener close at hand is ideal for daily maintenance of your knives, but won’t save you from a badly nicked blade. For that, you’ll need to use a sharpening kit — and Chef Tony can teach you both How to Sharpen Cooking Knives to bring your blades back to day-one sharpness.
Looks like we’re all out of juice! We hope you got the information you needed to help with your search, but we know inquisitive minds like yours are always brimming with questions. For further assistance, call one of our electric grill experts at 1-877-743-2269. They’ll be able to untangle any wires that are tripping you up!
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