No con foisted on the general public is so atrocious, so wrong-headed or so widely believed as the one that tells you you need a full set of specialized cutlery in various sizes.
– Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential
Forget those expensive knife blocks with tons of knives you’ll never use. For $100 you can get three good knives you’ll actually use and a good tool to keep them sharp.
I know that these knives aren’t the high-end Japanese knives that you’ll pass on to your children, but these will serve you well until you save up enough to buy the ones you really want.
They are sharp, durable, balanced, and inexpensive. Everything you need.
Note: These are Amazon Affiliate links. I really do use and believe in these knives. If you buy them from these links, you are supporting my Amazon addiction and this blog. Thanks!
$14.95 at time of writing
I use this knife for cutting up apples and small fruit in general, charcuterie, and small vegetables.
$21.76 at time of writing
This knife handles all types of bread like a champ. It is also perfect for tomatos and other soft vegetables. I learned about this knife from Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. You can use it for just about everything.
$44.95 at time of writing
This knife has topped the budget knife charts for years. It is super sharp, balanced, durable, and inexpensive. 4.8/5 stars on Amazon with 4,200 reviews. I use this knife for almost every kitchen task.
$19.95 at time of writing
You need something to keep your knives sharp. Sharpen them regularly! This is a great little tool that will work for both straight and serrated knives. I know it isn’t as cool as one of those precision sharpening systems from Lansky, but this is so easy to use that you’ll actually use it regularly. Take the pressure off and it will actually get done.
EDIT: Check out Robert Ramsey’s comment below. The Chinese cleaver is a steal and definitely worth picking up! I just bought one on his recommendation.
Also, here are some cutting-related items you might want have around the kitchen:
$19.95 at time of writing
The kitchen shears that usually come with knife block sets are garbage. They are difficult to clean and usually arent strong enough to spatchcock a chicken, let alone a turkey. This is a good, sturdy set that is easy to take apart for cleaning.
$9.95 at time of writing.
Bench scrapers are great for working with any kind of dough, so they are a must-have if you bake. I use one for scraping things off of my cutting board instead of dulling the edge of my knives. Since this scraper also has a bit of an edge, I use it for rough-chopping carrots and parsnips.
$54.50 at time of writing
Don’t talk yourself into a run-of-the-mill knife block with tons of knives you won’t use just because it has steak knives. Buy the knives I recommended above and then pick up a decent set of Laguiole steak knives that will make you happy every time you use them.