A good kitchen knife is built to last, and to cut through dense foods like winter squash and hard cheese with ease. Yet while an all-purpose knife can slice almost anything, it’s not always the best tool for the task. In much the same way that Japanese kitchen knives are precision cutting tools, ceramic knives slice through softer foods cleanly and with minimal effort. In this light, they’re meant to complement, not replace, hard-wearing steel.
Ceramic blades are crafted from zirconium oxide, a material twice as hard as steel and second only to diamond on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. They hold a sharper edge but are also more delicate, prone to chipping if not properly cared for. For some cooks, however, the payoff is clear. Zirconium oxide is ultra lightweight. Not only does this help reduce hand and wrist fatigue, but it also makes ceramic knives ideal for precision cutting — a task otherwise reserved for a paring knife.
Kyocera Advanced Ceramics 3-Piece Ceramic Knife Set
Best Overall Set:Kyocera’s secret weapon is its proprietary Zirconia Z206 blade material. Denser than competing blades, the Japanese-made ceramic compound holds an edge for longer and cuts with minimal resistance. With a six-inch Santoku-style chef’s knife, five-inch serrated blade and three-inch paring knife, this set covers the three most essential knife styles.
Cook N Home 9-Piece Ceramic Knife Set
Best Budget Set: With four knives — a six-inch Santoku, five-inch utility knife, four-inch fruit knife and three-inch paring knife — plus protective sheaths for each and a Y-shaped vegetable peeler, California-based kitchenware company Cook N Home’s ceramic knife set is ideal for those interested in toying with ceramic knives, but who are wary of financial commitment.
Kyocera Advanced Ceramics 3-Inch Paring Knife
Best Individual Knife: A workhorse knife backed by Kyocera’s ultra-sharp proprietary blades, made more appealing by the fact that ceramic blades rarely need sharpening. It’s ideal for just about any delicate, precision knife work (think peeling apples, slicing tomatoes, dicing onions, chopping peppers).