Can you recommend a decent, fairly cheap, paring knife?
June 9, 2016 9:27 AM   Subscribe

My paring knives keep disappearing. I need a couple, either new or vintage. I'm looking for something that feels decent, not a chintzy little one. Not Made in China would be preferable. I really don't want serrated ones. I like nice solid black handles but it's not mandatory. Budget is $25-50 for 3-5 of them ideally. I'm fine with buying used ones on eBay if you have suggestions.
posted by Slinga to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The Victorinox won best paring knife from both America's Test Kitchen and Sweethome.
posted by General Malaise at 9:42 AM on June 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'm sure the Victorinix is wonderful. I like the handle so much on the OXO type that I have them sharpened and keep them for years, despite the fact that they are made of crap steel blade. I love them. I know they are inferior. Sharpened, they work well enough, and the handle feels AMAZING.

I also tend to use it over a chef's knife. It's just easier and more enjoyable. Just as cheap, you could try both and see which you prefer.
posted by jbenben at 10:00 AM on June 9, 2016

i have 2 of the victorinox at slightly different lengths and love them both (i also have the chef's knife, bread knife, and a set of steak knives - they're just a good company for cheaper workhorse knives). at first i thought they felt chintzy but they have held up amazing well through a fair amount of abuse. i'll replace them with the same when the time comes.
posted by nadawi at 10:09 AM on June 9, 2016

Check out the Chicago Cutlery Centurion. I got one of these as a gift years and years ago and, despite not being anywhere near the most expensive one out there, it has been excellent. Really high quality blade, and a very durable handle. It's been sharpened a ton of times, even accidentally been through the dishwasher (hey, I never say no when guests want to help clean up after dinner) a few times. Other than the logo wearing off, it's still a precise and deft paring knife.
posted by littlerobothead at 10:10 AM on June 9, 2016

I really love my little Tramontina knife. I got it at a local hardware store for super cheap about five years ago, and it's still the one I reach for first. They have some similar ones on their website, but they're all listed as stainless steel, while mine has "stain free high carbon" printed on the blade.
posted by pepper bird at 10:30 AM on June 9, 2016

Super cheap but super solid (and I love the feel of the handle) Cuisinart (although the one I have is visibly full tang and has a metal end-cap). I believe they are drop forged then ground. The steel is nothing special but it takes an edge easily enough and holds well.
posted by porpoise at 10:32 AM on June 9, 2016

Oh, and also, mine has the "polywood" handle, which, as jbenben notes, is a big part of [my] knife love.
posted by pepper bird at 10:34 AM on June 9, 2016

I use the Chicago Cutlery 100S. Walnut handle. The CC "special steel" is not as hard as most stainless steel, which makes these knives easier to sharpen. They'll take an edge that will dry shave the hair off the back of my hand. I think I have six of them. $11.07 at Amazon.
posted by Bruce H. at 10:51 AM on June 9, 2016

The cheap ceramic paring knives are super sharp and stay sharp; they're great for stuff where you're not going to hit bones or cut something frozen.

I have a few of the ceramic ones plus one stainless steel paring knife.
posted by gregr at 10:56 AM on June 9, 2016

Nthing Victorinox for this.

I like Oxo knives OK but in my opinion the steel isn't good quality. Also the little knobbles in the grip tend to get food gunk stuck in them over time, which is gross. I have an Oxo paring knife which I use mostly as a utility knife (opening boxes, cutting flower stems, etc) for this reason.

Weirdly... I actually don't hate my Ikea paring knife. A lot of their knives are garbage, but the upper range ones that cost a little more and come in traditional kitchen knife shapes/styles are perfectly acceptable in my opinion. They are not cheaper or easier to come by than the Victorinox, though, which I believe are Amazon Prime eligible.
posted by Sara C. at 10:59 AM on June 9, 2016

Also ceramic paring knives can't be sharpened, which means they have a short shelf life. OK if you want to constantly be replacing knives, but otherwise meh. Also I broke the only one I ever had, and all my friends who have them eventually break them. I'd get ceramic if you're moving into a dorm for a year or only need something to use for a few months before you cash in the sweet sweet wedding registry. Otherwise no.
posted by Sara C. at 11:01 AM on June 9, 2016

I love the Victorinox paring knives and they're inexpensive. The handle might not be as hefty as you want, but I've gotten used them and don't mind it at all.
posted by thejanna at 11:16 AM on June 9, 2016

I know a bunch of people who work in produce, and this is the paring knife that they use at work, so I copied them. Made in the US, less than $7 each, a bit ugly I guess*, but they work really well.

* I sometimes get that black plumbers' tape that adheres to itself and wrap it tightly around handles of things I use a lot to make them a little more comfortable and a little easier to grip. If you really hated the handles, I think that'd help, and it would make them black.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:43 AM on June 9, 2016

If vintage stuff trends to appeal, I might suggest a set of 4 Gerber stainless steel Mimings in a walnut box for $30.00; the handles are chrome plated aluminum, and the blades are (I've read in many sources) 440C stainless, which used to be the premium steel for stainless blades in terms of hardness, but has now been superseded by a number of Japanese and other steels.

Or if you really want to go exotic, you could buy a set of 8 Mimings for $32.00 which the seller seems to think are the stainless variety, but actually feature chrome plated blades with exposed high carbon steel edges which are quite a bit harder and more enduring than 440C (and will take a razor edge), but require more maintenance because the edges will rust a bit if you don't clean and dry them within an hour or two of use, depending on the acidity of the food you used them on.
posted by jamjam at 11:44 AM on June 9, 2016

Global paring knife, $29.99- but you may be able to find a few used ones for less!

I love my Global knives. They are lightweight, all one piece (harder to fall apart), a joy to use. It is apparently Bourdain's favorite knife brand, and I now understand why. These knives are workhorses and it shows.
posted by nightrecordings at 11:57 AM on June 9, 2016

Another vote for the Victorinox. If you want something a little bit bigger with a thicker handle, get the 5" Mini Chef's knife plus a bunch of the paring knives. I like the sheepsfoot paring knife for most tasks.
posted by ssg at 12:08 PM on June 9, 2016

I have the Global, and it's a really delightful knife. I keep mine sharp enough to shave with, which is part of the appeal, but what seals the deal is how long it keeps the edge.
posted by uberchet at 12:10 PM on June 9, 2016

Nthing Global knives for quality, I have five Globals ranging from a paring knife to a large chef's knife and they're all excellent.

However for your use case I suggest some brightly coloured Scanpan Spectrum knives -- I know you said black handles are preferred but in our household paring knives go missing because they get accidentally thrown out with scraps; the bright colours on the Spectrum knives make them much easier to spot. I keep one of these knives at work for preparing my lunch because it's super bright and instantly recognisable.
posted by snap, crackle and pop at 1:58 PM on June 9, 2016

I really like the L'Econome parers, though you don't have a black-handle option there. Light, feels good in the hand, takes a good edge and stays sharp.
posted by holgate at 4:14 PM on June 9, 2016

The Victorinox won best paring knife from both America's Test Kitchen and Sweethome.

I love the Victorinox. It's not sexy, I'll admit--but it's lovely to work with.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:44 PM on June 9, 2016

Opinel paring knives.
posted by scalespace at 7:40 PM on June 9, 2016

In my experience working in professional kitchens, the big difference between an expensive fancy knife and a decent-quality (probably Chinese) knife is that the expensive knife will last a full day of service before needing to be sharpened, where a cheaper knife will last half as long.

When I owned my own restaurant, I invested in a really nice automated knife sharpener, and bought lots of cheap, but ergonomically efficient knives. For a while, that meant Chinese made "Henckels" branded knives sold by Amazon. Great feel, sharpened up easily, and did a decent job of holding their edge. ...but it wasn't a tragedy if a prep cook tossed it into the sink and grabbed a fresh blade in the middle of service.

I do appreciate a well made knife - and they truly do hold their edge better than cheaper knives. ...but only if you baby them. I'd rather have 2 $20 paring knives and a $60 knife sharpener than a $100 folded steel knife. It means I'm more likely to have a sharp, clean knife whenever I need it.
posted by Anoplura at 3:03 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I am a chef. I have kind of big hands. I buy these knives by the dozen and give them to friends. I like the carbon steel version but they also have stainless The Organic Tool Co. - Food Processing Knife
posted by Infernarl at 3:31 AM on June 10, 2016

My favorite paring knife with heft, good grip and quality to price is Mercer. It was recommended to me years ago by the knife person at a kitchen equipment store. I like it better than my Henckels and Wustof versions. Here is the link
posted by jadepearl at 4:50 AM on June 10, 2016

I love my Victorinox paring knife.
posted by mishaps at 6:49 AM on June 10, 2016

I have several of the Kuhn-Rikon paring knives the Sweethome dismisses as "picnic knives" because I actually like them and they're easy to find for as little as $4 each at discount stores or on sale. The selling feature for me is the coating on the blade, which is useful when making fine cuts through sticky foods. They certainly don't stay sharp forever, though.
posted by fedward at 10:53 AM on June 10, 2016

I have a couple of IKEA knives, as well as a range of big brand, expensive knives. I tend to use the IKEA ones more often. They sharpen easily, and hold the edge well enough. Super easy to sharpen with a regular sharpener. No coddling needed.
posted by troytroy at 5:59 AM on June 14, 2016

I found a pair of the Victorinox knives at my local restaurant supply store for $5 each. Thank you folks! They are indeed very nice.
posted by Slinga at 10:35 PM on June 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

« Older Europe in Late September - Where to?   |   Construction for spectators? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.