Ever wonder what that big kitchen knife with a curved blade is called — and if anyone actually needs one? It’s a butcher’s knife, mostly used by, well, butchers, hunters, and professional chefs, but it's also the best kitchen knife home chefs can use to cut meat. While a chef's knife can be used, butcher's knives are designed for butchering and breaking down large pieces of meat with their long and curved blade.
blade length allows for long, smooth slices while the curve is good for
getting under the skin and around bones. Plus, butcher knife blades
tend to be super sharp, thick, and made of heavy duty steel. This
durability helps prevent chipping and really allows you to get between
the meat and bone to break it apart.
In the Just Cooking Tools Kitchen Appliances Lab, we tested long butcher's knives with curved blades on bone-in pork butt and practiced removing the hard skin, fat, and bone. Our favorite butcher knives felt smooth and comfortable in our hand, had textured handles with a slip resistant grip, and were easy to clean (cutting raw meat can get messy!). We also liked the ones that were super sharp, making easy work of tough cuts of meat. Below are our favorite butcher's knives:
- Best Overall Butcher's Knife: Wüsthof Classic Artisan Butcher Knife
- Best Value Butcher's Knife: Jero Butcher Series 7" Carving Knife
- Sharpest Butcher's Knife: Dalstrong Butcher's Breaking Cimitar Knife
- Best Butcher's Knife for Beginners: Mercer Culinary Granton Edge Cimeter
- Most Ergonomic Butcher's Knife: Global Heavyweight Butcher's Knife
- Sturdiest Butcher's Knife: Victorinox Butcher/Fish Knife
- Most Durable Butcher's Knife: Dexter Russell Sani-Safe 8" Butcher Knife
How to pick the best butcher's knife
Before you get shopping, here is everything you need to know about butcher's knife:
- Balance: When shopping for butcher's knives (and all knives), be sure to hold them before buying. All knives feel different from their handle to their heft. Some knives feature a full tang, which means the blade runs all the way through the handle. Full tang knives are believed to be better balanced, and is key for users who like the feel of a heavier knife. A well balanced knife provides more control over the knife, allowing you to fully carry out all your butchering tasks.
- Size: Most butcher knives range in length from six inches to 14 inches. The smaller sizes are good for smaller pieces of meat, like poultry or chops, while the larger are good for bigger hunks, like venison. The smaller knives are also good for getting around bone, while the bigger knives are best for skinning in one long swipe. In addition to their different uses, smaller butcher knives are more portable, making them good options for outdoor uses such as hunting or camping. Eight to 10-inch butcher knives are popular for home chefs, while the larger sizes are more commonly used by professional chefs.
- Blade: Butcher knives typically have thicker blades than other knives. They're made of sturdy steel, which allow you to get through tough pieces of meat without the fear of breaking or chipping. Some have a little bend to them, like a boning knife or a filleting knife, good for getting around bone. The less flexible butcher are good for chopping, and even breaking through the occasional bone. A super sharp blade is important for butchering, as is edge retention, so be sure to opt for high carbon stainless steel, which is known for holding its sharpness for a long time.
- Handle: There are many types of
knife handles to choose from. Some are wooden, others are plastic or
steel. Some textured handles feel very slip resistant, which is the
style we prefer because butchering can get slippery. Wooden handles have
more of a traditional feel to them, but require more maintenance
because they can get rough over time. After washing and drying
completely, rub wooden handles with a mineral oil to help preserve them.
We love how strong and sturdy
Wüsthof knives feel in our hand. The Classic Artisan Butcher Knife is
forged from a single piece of high carbon stainless steel, a design
created to stand the test of edge retention time. It also has
a full tang (the blade runs through the full length of the handle),
which helps it feel very balanced in our hands. The 8-inch blade length is perfect for cutting through chops and steaks, and trimming medium pieces of meat. Plus, the contoured finger guard helps us feel much better about really getting in there.
During our tests, we kept reaching for a similar narrow butcher's knife from Jero. Its German high-carbon stainless steel blade was super sharp and able to get through the bone and meat well. We also really liked Jero's 7-inch butcher knife that had a thick blade and less flex than all the butcher knives we tested, similar to a boning knife. It cut meat with zero effort, and we weren't afraid to get between the bone and the meat.
This samurai sword-like butcher's knife was the sharpest of the bunch. It sliced through meat effortlessly and removed fat in one long slice without tearing. It's
forged from a single piece of Japanese super steel with 66 layers of
folded steel, making it very durable and stain resistant. It comes
with a plastic safety guard, cleaning cloth and a quick care and
maintenance guide. It also has a lifetime warranty against defect.
Mercer's textured handles make them comfortable to hold and maneuver around bones. The granton edge helps prevent shredding and tearing, and the high carbon stainless steel is easy to clean and maintain. While the 12-inch blade length seemed very long, the butcher's knife was still light enough to use. It was able to remove hard pork butt skin in one easy slice.
Global's knives are forged from a single piece of stainless steel with a textured handle for a slip resistant grip. This heavyweight butcher's knife felt durable, sturdy, and balanced in our hands, thanks to Global's unique sand-filled handles. The blade measures in at seven inches, the perfect blade length for cutting up a rib roast. It's also ice tempered and hardened to retain a super sharp edge with long lasting edge retention.
This heavy-duty knife from Victorinox Cutlery is good for skinning large pieces of meat. Its wider tip also allows for easily getting between the meat and the bone, and then slicing through everything else. It's made of high carbon steel and can be easily sharpened. The handle is slip resistant and a offers a comfortable grip. It's a solid knife, especially for its pricepoint.
The slip resistant handle on this Dexter-Russell butcher knife is "Sani-Safe," meaning it's easy to clean and can handle high and low temperatures. It also features an "impervious" blade to handle seal, backed by the National Sanitation foundation. Its designed to withstand commercial kitchens and will certainly last for a long time in your home kitchen — and it's dishwasher-safe, which is our favorite part.
While the recommended way to hold a knife is using the "pinch grip" (pinching the base of the blade with your pointer finger and thumb), we found the best way to hold a butcher's knife was by firmly holding the handle and curling your pointer finger all the way around to protect it. Some butcher knives even feature a finger protector for this reason.
The very tip of the blade is good for getting between the skin and meat, and the curved part is helpful for separating it more. The full length of the blade can then be used to make long, clean slices. Slices can be made horizontally to skin or trim the meat, or vertically to cut or chop it.
The curved part of the blade is also designed to get around the bone well. When touching the bone, it can be rotated to push it away and separate it from the meat.