Food processors are great and stand mixers are a luxury, but there’s one tool a cook truly can’t do without: a knife. But with approximately a billion types out there (boning! utility! cleaver!), it can be confusing to know which ones are actually worth the investment. As a food editor, you can trust me when I tell you that, nope, that $400 knife block isn’t worth it, and neither is that $20 fifteen-piece set you saw in an Instagram ad. In my experience, these three kitchen knives are the only ones you’ll ever need.

RELATED: Here’s How to Make Your Good Knives Last Longer, According to a Professional Chef

Sur la Table

1. Chef’s Knife

Editor’s Pick: Wüsthof Classic Eight-Inch Chef’s Knife

If I could have only one single knife in my kitchen, it would be a chef’s knife. That’s because it can handle any task and is essential to pretty much any recipe (you’ll sometimes hear pro chefs refer to it as an extension of their hand). I use my chef’s knife for everything from dicing onions to mincing soft herbs. The knife you choose will come down to personal preference based on length, weight and feel, but an eight-inch blade will feel balanced in most hands. This German-made Wüsthof has a carbon steel blade (it stays sharp!) and a Western edge (it’s sharpened on both sides, whereas Japanese knives have only one sharp edge).

Buy it ($187; $150)

Amazon

2. Paring Knife

Editor’s Pick: Victorinox 3.25-Inch Straight-Edge Paring Knife

If a chef’s knife is an extension of your hand, a paring knife is like an extra set of super nimble (and very pointy) fingers. Paring knives are ideal for micro cooking prep, like hulling strawberries, peeling garlic cloves and coring tomatoes. It’s small enough to hold above the cutting board, and the point can be maneuvered easily for meticulous work. But here’s the thing: I don’t recommend breaking the bank on an expensive paring knife, because the minute you sharpen it, the blade will be halfway gone. Instead, follow the advice I learned while working in a restaurant and buy cheapo paring knives you can easily replace when they’re dull. These Victorinox ones come in sets of four, have fun colored handles and are surprisingly sharp for their price.

$18 at Amazon

Sur la Table

3. Serrated Knife

Editor’s Pick: Wüsthof Classic Double-Serrated Nine-Inch Bread Knife

You might know it as a bread knife, but this baby can do so much more than slice a loaf of sourdough. Thanks to that toothlike edge, it’s the best knife for sawing through foods with a hard exterior and soft interior. Use a serrated knife for carving large roasts (like brisket), slicing delicate tomatoes and cutting open ripe summer melons. Bonus: Because the blade is so efficient, it won’t get dull as quickly as your other knives. I love the Wüsthof double-serrated bread knife because it’s razor sharp and rigid, which makes slicing a breeze.

Buy it ($152; $80)

RELATED: Here’s How to Cut a Butternut Squash Without Hurting Yourself

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