Electric Knives That Make The Cut

Ever wonder how competition BBQ teams get such perfectly even slices of brisket? Many use electric knives.

An electric knife makes quick work of slicing a big hunk of meat like turkeys, whole packer briskets, beef tenderloin, prime rib, crown roast of pork, and hams. We researched several models available in kitchen stores and purchased four high-quality, affordable models. Then we put them through several rigorous tests.

To test the knives, we started by slicing bread. We sliced a soft loaf of French bread, a rock hard stale loaf of heavy grain artisan bread, and a loaf of very dense cheese bread. We also tried slicing a large butternut squash and a quarter wheel of dense Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese into 1" slices.

To test meats, we disjointed fresh chickens, and then sliced 1/8" and 1/4" slices of breast meat off roast chickens and turkeys, aiming to keep some crispy skin on each slice. We also use the knives to cut through the breastbone and cut out the backbone and ribs of the cooked birds. To test whole hams, we sliced a large country ham both 1/8 inch and 1/4 inch thick. The ham bones were a challenge for the knives, but the meat was no problem. To their performance for competition BBQ, we also sliced smoked brisket. All the knives performed well, and we humbly gave ourselves a 10 for the quality of the smoked meat!

To see how the blades would wear with really heavy use, we attempted to cut into a 1 x 2" pinch piece of pine wood. Not recommended! The results were not pretty. Stick to real food.

Slicing is one thing, but a knife should also feel comfortable and be easy to use. We graded each knife on how comfortable it was to hold and use, the ease of triggering the start button, and how the knife felt after prolonged vibration and heat generated by friction in the blades. We also rated the noise level of each knife by measuring it with a decibel meter (below).

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Important note: only two of the four knives we tested had a safety lock. We think this is a critical safety factor.

Keep in mind that electric knives have serrated blades, which stay sharp for a very long time. When they do get dull, serrated blades are extremely difficult and time consuming to sharpen at home (you must sharpen each individual serration). You can pay a professional knife sharpener to hone the serrations, or you can simply buy new blades. You may save a few bucks with a pro knife sharpener, but new blades are not terribly expensive. For example, the Cuisinart knife rated below costs around $50, and replacement blades cost about $18. We asked a local knife sharpener what it would cost to sharpen the blades, and the quote was $13. Of course, knife prices vary greatly. The prices quoted below are those listed when we purchased the knives for testing. 

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The Hamilton Beach Classic was the loudest of the electric knives we tested. It cut bread and cheese well but had problems with tougher items like squash and turkey bones. It is also too large for most hands and produced heavy vibrations. Read more about our review. read more
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The Proctor Silex Easy Slice electric knife is fairly wide compared to others we reviewed yet it is still comfortable to hold. This electric knife is not recommended for small hands. read more
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The Cuisinart CEK-40 electric knife is comfortable to hold with a slightly squarish handle that is best for large hands. Read our comprehensive testing. read more
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The Black & Decker Comfortgrip is the most comfortable knife we tested and the least prone to slipping, partially due to the rubberized no-slip strip on top of the handle where your thumb goes. Read our full review. read more

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Rick Browne, Ph.B.

Rick Browne oversaw product testing, reviews, and ratings for AmazingRibs.com. A renowned TV cooking show host, photojournalist, and author of 16 barbecue books, he was the creator, host, and executive producer of public television's popular "Barbecue America" TV series that aired on more than 230 stations.

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