Shopping for a Knife? Never Do This, Says Alton Brown

Need new knives? Wait! Before you head to Williams Sonoma, read this shopping advice from Food Network star Alton Brown.

Every home chef knows the importance of good knives for chopping, slicing, dicing and everything in between. Unfortunately, some knives don’t quite measure up, and can make food prep a pain. So which kind should you shop for? How do you keep the blades sharp? How do the chefs on your favorite cooking show chop onions so fast? And once you have the right knife, how do you hold it correctly?

Food Network star Alton Brown may not be able to help with that last question, but he can certainly advise you on the others—after all, he’s written an entire post on his website with what he considers the 10 most important knife-buying tips. Some are obvious (such as no running with said knives) but others, well, they’re game-changers.

Purchase Like a Pro

The one thing Alton Brown says you should never do? Buy a set. “No exceptions. Ever,” writes the Good Eats host.

It can be tempting to get an entire set for the same price of just one blade, but your cash may be better spent on a nicer knife or two that you can use for almost anything. Brown’s top three must-haves: an 8- to 10-inch chef’s knife, a serrated bread knife and a 4- to 6-inch utility blade.

Of course, you can add to your cutlery collection, piece by piece. Just don’t forget the kitchen shears. Brown says, “I never cut with a knife what I can cut with scissors.”

Care for Your Cutlery

But buying is only half the battle. You also have to store and use your knives properly. Never put them in the dishwasher (“once is all it takes”), have them sharpened by a professional once or twice a year and only use them on the right kind of cutting board. The cookbook author recommends a heavy maple board and says, “I’ve seen people buy $300 blades and then run them on a cheap board and curse the knife.”

You’ll want to protect your investment—keep them somewhere safe and out of the way. While Brown suggests magnetic strips, I’d recommend a cute cutlery holder for your kitchen.

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Amanda Tarlton
Amanda has more than a decade of media experience, specifically in product testing in the cooking and lifestyle space. As a freelancer for Taste of Home, Amanda writes mostly about foodie finds, home and lifestyle goods and cooking and baking utensils that make life easier (and more fun!). Outside of freelancing, Amanda is the executive editor of commerce at Field & Stream.
When she's not working, Amanda is on the lookout for the best pizzas in town or testing out secret menu items at restaurants and coffee shops.