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While some knife aficionados will caution against ever purchasing an electric knife, citing shoddy construction and poor reliability as negative factors, many shoppers view these tools as lifesaving beacons of convenience. Having one of these in reach when faced with a task like slicing loaves of crusty no-knead bread, spatchcocking a Cornish game hen for grilling, or carving a holiday roast will make the meal much more enjoyable.
But just any old electric knife won't do. Nowadays, these come in varying degrees of power, blade length, blade materials, and are sometimes cordless. The blades themselves can be designed for specific kitchen jobs, like slicing that bread or filleting a fish.
If you’re in the market for a power-charged knife, here are the best electric knives.
Best Overall: Hamilton Beach Electric Knife
What We Love: Inexpensive, ergonomic handle, comes with a storage case and a serving fork
What We Don't Love: Only includes one blade
Not only is the Hamilton Beach Electric Knife a highly effective and durable piece of kitchen equipment, but it also rings in at a beyond-reasonable price for its quality. These factors amply earn this knife the top spot on my list, along with the enthusiastic endorsement of food writer and recipe developer Marisel Salazar. She says Hamilton Beach Electric Knife works beautifully when carving meats and other protein. "[It's] fantastic for slicing thick, crusty bread or quickly removing cooked kernels on corn cobs," says Salazar.
Salazar adds that this knife is great for folks who aren’t comfortable using manual carving knives. Its ergonomic handle makes it easy on the wrist, and it is light enough for most folks to lift effortlessly. The 100 watts of power behind the 10-inch serrated double blade makes this great for precisely slicing meat. If you’re a low-maintenance person like me, then you’re in luck, as this will never need sharpening and is super easy to clean. Plus, it comes with its own storage case, so it fits neatly into your kitchen without a bunch of tangly cords.
Material: Stainless steel | Blade Length: 10 inches | Pieces Included: 3 (knife, fork, storage case)
Best Budget: Cuisinart CEK-30 Electric Knife
What We Love: Sharp blade, dishwasher-safe blade, nonslip grip
What We Don't Love: No storage case
Although the Cuisinart CEK-30 isn’t the cheapest option on this list, this electric knife represents an excellent bargain for Cuisinart’s quality and performance standards. "This carving knife features a lightweight nonslip grip, a dishwasher-safe blade, and a 5-foot charging cord, allowing you to use it from almost anywhere in the kitchen," says Lori Bogedin, the chef, restaurateur, and recipe developer behind TwigsCafe. "It's razor-sharp and slices through anything. With this knife, you can cut into ribs and fish without them falling apart."
In addition to all of those features, there are 130 watts of power that capably move the 8-inch blade and the handle was designed with righties and lefties in mind, so everyone can use it. It doesn't come with a storage case, but you can also buy it with a serving fork if you need one. A few reviewers do mention that the knife is on the noisier side.
Material: Stainless steel | Blade Length: 8 inches | Pieces Included: 1
Best for Bread: BLACK+DECKER 9-Inch Electric Carving Knife
What We Love: Long 9-inch blade, affordable, safety lock to protect fingers
What We Don't Love: The safety button automatically engages fairly quickly
The serrated 9-inch blade on the Black+Decker Electric Carving Knife makes it an ideal tool for creating even slices of bread. Whether you’re grappling with an especially crusty baguette or artisan boule, this 100-watt knife can glide right through, sparing you having to work for your Pan Bagnat.
The stainless-steel blade is stopped from slicing too soon by the safety lock in the ergonomic handle, protecting you and any little ones in the kitchen. Keep in mind that the safety lock re-engages as soon as you're done cutting, so you may have to press it a few times while slicing. This knife also features a dishwasher-safe blade so cleanup's a breeze. Simply press the blade release button when you're done, and a safety tab at the base of the blade assists with reattaching it.
Material: Stainless steel | Blade Length: 9 inches | Pieces Included: 1
Related: The Best Bread Machines
Best for Fish: Rapala Heavy Duty Electric Fillet Knife
What We Love: Specifically designed for filleting fish, long and thin blade that's easy to control
What We Don't Love: Pricey, only one blade
Cutting through fish requires a gentler touch than you’d apply to meat or poultry, and, since electric knives aren’t typically known for their subtlety, it can prove challenging to find one that expertly slices fish fillets without tearing the flesh. The Rapala Heavy Duty Electric Fillet Knife handles this task with aplomb.
The thin 7.5-inch blade will easily remove fins and scales, and allows for enough control when slipped underneath the skin to run along the backbone. Whether you're handling a whole fish bought at the store or cleaning up after a deep-sea fishing trip, the knife helps you get the job twice as fast and without any hand fatigue. An advanced design improves the airflow over the motor to keep it cool, plus the 8-foot cord gives you room to maneuver. All of this means you'll be eating fried catfish in no time.
Material: Alloy steel | Blade Length: 7.5 inches | Pieces Included: 1
Best Cordless: Waring WEK200 Cordless Rechargeable Electric Knife
What We Love: Two types of blades, slicing guard, long run time
What We Don't Love: Expensive
If you treasure the ability to be flexible while cooking, then a cordless electric knife will suit your needs far better than a version that needs to be plugged in during use. The Waring Cordless Electric Knife regularly receives accolades as the best cordless model available for purchase, and it’s a favorite of barbecue chef Eddie Valenzuela of Smokey & The Brisket in San Diego.
"While I’m not a huge fan of electric knives (call me old-fashioned), having been in the restaurant industry for decades, I’ve been in situations where I’ve used them, and this one was by far the best," says Valenzuela. "It was very comfortable to use, the battery lasted long and recharged fast, and even has a light. If you get the set, it comes with a bread blade, which is a great feature if you’re into artisan loaves of bread. Waring offers a really extensive warranty, and their customer service is super helpful if you do run into any problems.”
As Valenzuela says, this comes with the 7-inch carving blade and an 8-inch bread blade, plus a slicing guard to assist in making consistent cuts. When the lithium-ion battery is fully charged, it can run for up to 30 minutes, though charging does take up to 4 hours. There's also a safety lock to protect fingers and hands. The blade should be cleaned in hot, soapy water and dried thoroughly.
Material: Stainless steel | Blade Lengths: 7 inches, 8 inches | Pieces Included: 5 (base, charger, slicing guard, carving blade, bread blade)
Related: The Best Knife Sets
Since it comes with a serving fork and a storage case, plus it is well within many budgets, the Hamilton Beach Electric Knife (view at Amazon) is our top pick. If cords aren't your thing, the cordless Waring WEK200 Cordless Rechargeable Electric Knife (view at Amazon) is a surefire bet.
What to Look for When Buying an Electric Knife
The vast majority of electric knife blades are made from stainless steel, which offers plenty of advantages. It’s easier to maintain than other types of steel, as it’s relatively resistant to rust and keeps a sharp edge for a while. However, it’s a softer metal than carbon steel, so it may not feature the same durability as all other alloy steels.
The importance of cord length for an electric knife greatly depends on your planned usage. If you’re purchasing a knife that will mostly be utilized for bread-slicing and meat-carving within the confines of your kitchen, then a shorter cord won’t cause major issues. However, if you want an electric knife for carving your Thanksgiving turkey at the table or processing meat in your garage, then a cordless model may suit you better. Give some careful consideration to the way that you plan to use this tool, and that will tell you how much “free cord” you’ll require.
Like any other electric appliance, you’ll want to use caution when cleaning an electric knife. Most electric knives feature removable blades that can be washed in a dishwasher, although knife aficionados will warn that dishwashers can dull the blade’s sharpness. The electric part of the knife (whether it’s cordless or a plug-in model) should be wiped clean by hand.
There’s a common myth circulating about electric knives claiming that they don’t ever need to be sharpened, but although the serrated blades don’t need to be as regularly honed as straight knife blades, you’ll still want to sharpen them on occasion.
How do you sharpen an electric knife?
It’s certainly possible to sharpen electric knife blades, and many experts advise sharpening on a semi-regular basis (but not with the same frequency as your non-serrated knives). The easiest sharpening tool for a serrated electric knife blade will be a sharpening rod, which allows you to hone each serrated section. Start at the blade base and go divot-by-divot until you reach the tip.
Can electric knives go in the dishwasher?
Since most electric knife blades are made with stainless steel, they tend to be dishwasher-safe. With that said, it’s worth noting that many knife experts discourage dishwasher cleaning for any knife blades, as the machine-washing process can lead to duller knives. If you’d prefer to keep sharpening to a minimum, then you’re better off hand-washing your blades with gentle dish soap.
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Taylor Tobin is an Austin, TX-based freelance journalist who specializes in recipe testing and deep dives into popular dishes, drinks, ingredients, and pieces of kitchen equipment.
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