The 5 Best Kitchen Knives Made From Eco-Friendly Materials
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A good knife can be a make-or-break in the kitchen; it’s the difference between easily chopping through tough meats and vegetables and accidentally cutting yourself when a handle or blade breaks. (Ouch, no thanks!)
So what should you look for in a good—or better yet, great—knife? The best pieces come with carbon or stainless steel for the blade and sustainable, sturdy wood for the handle (think oak, ash, or walnut). Many of the highest-rated knives are fully forged, meaning it’s made from a single bar of steel and heated and hammered into shape by a trained craftsperson; the alternative is usually a stamped knife that’s cut from a sheet of steel. (Read more about forged versus stamped knives to see what’s best for you.)
Ultimately, you only really need three knives to navigate any meal prep: a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a serrated knife. A chef’s knife (sometimes seen as a Santoku knife) is the largest of the three, and the best for chopping. A paring knife is a mini version of the chef’s knife, which is usually used for peeling, coring, or trimming. Finally, a serrated knife comes with alternating edges to help slice through bread, meat, and veggies with tougher textures.
Here we’ve rounded up the best brands focused on sustainability and safety—many offer a la carte pieces as well as three-piece sets. Hint: Don’t just compare the prices or materials for these knives, but also check out the handles, blades, and weights to see what will work best in your own hands.
Upgrade your kitchen wares while you’re at it, with our favorite sustainable silverware and eco-friendly cookware.
Made In | US, Europe, Asia (South Korea & China)
Eco-Friendly Materials | Japanese stainless steel
Price | Starting at $50+ for one, $155 for set of three
Some knives have form, while others excel in function. Luckily, Material’s knives combine both. This kitchenware brand focuses on quality materials, outstanding performance, thoughtful design, and ethical production. Each piece is hand-polished, heat-treated, then cryogenically tempered for three layers of high carbon stainless steel. Our team has personally tested this set and we’re big fans of the Trio of Knives—the last three knives you’ll ever need at prices that won’t break the bank. They are sharp and sleek, and the magnetic stand keeps them readily accessible when whipping up multi-dish dinners. Material offers a lifetime guarantee, 60-day trial, and free shipping over $35. You could say they’re a cut above the rest.
2. Made In
Made In | France
Eco-Friendly Materials | German stainless steel (X50CrMoV15)
Price | Starting at $49+ for one, $346+ for set of four
Crafted in the land of patisseries and bourguignon, Made In looks to the French for its full tang and fully forged knives. Each one is made in a fifth-generation family-owned factory, using premium stainless steel and treated with nitrogen for extra durability and strength. Plus, the brand goes to great lengths to be super sustainable: The factories are focused on eco-friendly packaging, low waste production, and recycling pieces whenever possible. See why 75,000+ reviewers love slicing, prepping, and chopping with Made In cookware.
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Made In | China
Eco-Friendly Materials | Japanese steel
Price | Starts at $39+ for one, $125 for set of three
Food52’s own line of kitchen tools are of the same quality as the other top-notch brands in stock like ZWILLING J.A. Henckels, Miyabi, and Berti—but for a fraction of the price. The Five Two Essential Knives are made with Japanese steel and soft-touch handles; easy to grip, use, and store. Plus, they’re available in four gorgeous colors (we love our set in smoked salt). Not only are they affordable and aesthetically pleasing, but they’re also dishwasher-safe (though we’ve found hand-washing is best for longevity). Created with input from nearly 5,000 Food52 community members, it’s no surprise these knives tick allll our boxes. We find ourselves reaching for them daily!
Made In | Germany
Eco-Friendly Materials | German stainless steel
Price | Starting at €11.95+ for one, €69.95+ for set of three
First launched as a family business in 1888, RÖSLE is dedicated to cookware you can use and reuse for generations to come. Developed and designed in Marktoberdorf, Germany, these knives are made with sustainable stainless steel. There’s a variety of sizes and styles available, from individual Santoku knives to knife blocks of six pieces at once—most of which are under €50. Pair with a cutting board, slicer, or mat, and get everything you need at this one-stop shop.
5. Master Shin’s Anvil
Made In | South Korea
Eco-Friendly Materials | Repurposed carbon steel, shade-dried wood
Price | Starting at $120+ for one
Master Shin’s Anvil is often named one of the best knifeware brands in the world. The Shin Blacksmith was established in Korea in the mid-1800s, and today is a fifth-gen family-owned business—the oldest blacksmith in the country. Using repurposed steel from railroad tracks and shade-dried wood (chestnut or oak), these uniquely designed knives are a sight to behold. Though they boast a “raw” look and feel, they’re made to withstand high heat and can go two to three years before they need sharpening. These are investment pieces you’ll love keeping in the family for decades to come.
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Featured image by Food52