There’s a lot of choices and even more information out there when it comes to kitchen knives. But one of the biggest choices you have to make, especially when you’re buying a quality set, is whether to go ceramic or steel.
There are defined pros and cons for both, and a definite reason why you should favor one or the other, depending on what you plan on using them for. So keep reading to find out what the differences in ceramic knives vs steel knives are, and the definitive answer over which one you should buy.
Ceramic Kitchen Knives
Ceramic kitchen knives are created with a completely different process than standard knives. Normal blades are created by forging metal into the required shape, usually by pouring molten metal into a mold, then grinding an edge onto it.
Instead, ceramic knives are made from dry pressed zirconia powder, which is then fired at extreme temperatures in excess of 1000 degrees to seal it together. This results in an incredibly stable, incredibly hard blade that holds an edge far longer than standard metal, but comes with its own downsides.
Ceramic Knife Pros
- Ceramic knives are sharper than steel, in every way that matters.
- Exceptionally sharp edge that lends itself well to cutting vegetables and boneless meat
- A ceramic knife is made of one of the toughest materials known to man, so holds an edge far longer, and needs much less sharpening
- The ceramic material itself is almost impossible to stain, and it’s basically invincible when it comes to things like acid wear and salt corrosion
- Clean, non-porous metal doesn’t hold bacteria, so less risk of illness
Ceramic Knife Cons
- Brittle edge is liable to chip or even shatter if mistreated
- Incredibly hard to sharpen at home
- Because of the vulnerability of the blade, care should be taken around boned meat
Ceramic vs Steel Knives
Compared to ceramic knives, there are several reasons why you might consider buying stainless steel kitchen knives or a knife set instead.
Stainless Steel Knife Pros
- Knives are robust and tough enough to be used to debone, cut through bone and press garlic with the flat
- Because they’re more resistant, stainless steel knives are fine to wash in the dishwasher.
- The versatility of use means that you don’t have to worry about breaking your expensive investment.
- Stain and corrosion resistant, if looked after correctly.
- Great for cutting sashimi.
Stainless Steel Knife Cons
- Need to be sharpened regularly to hold a decent edge
- Steel is porous, which means it can hold bacteria, as well as odors from food
- Blades just aren’t as sharp as ceramic, which means it’s not as good at preventing your eyes from watering when cutting onions.
When should I choose a ceramic knife over stainless steel?
From looking at the above list, it’s obvious that ceramic knives far outperform stainless steel but just aren’t suited for certain roles.
Because the blade is fragile and prone to chipping, a ceramic blade should never be used on meat that has bones of any thickness more significant than a hair. But for material that doesn’t threaten the blade’s edge, a ceramic knife is far superior to a standard steel blade – the same way ceramic cookware is superior to other types.
In normal kitchen situations, eg cutting vegetables and non-boned meat like chicken, a ceramic knife will always outperform a steel blade, cutting through quicker and cleaner, requiring much less effort on your part.
But a set of steel knives is far more versatile, able to be used in every situation a ceramic knife can be used in, plus more. And in terms of performance, you’re really not losing too much.
In general and for most people, a decent set of stainless steel knives will be enough. There’s no need to buy a ceramic knife unless you spend a significant amount of time in the kitchen. The same goes for steel cookware.
But if you’ve already got a decent set of steel knives and you feel like treating yourself, or you want a useful and interesting treat for Christmas this year, then a ceramic knife will be a fantastic addition to your kitchen set.
A decent ceramic knife won’t even cost too much. They’re generally not much more expensive than a top quality steel knife, and treated well, they will last for ages. If you’re someone who loves their cooking, you can think of it as an investment.
Whatever you decide between ceramic knives vs steel knives, just know that when it comes to knives, the main thing that matters is quality and comfort. If you’re comfortable using it, and it does the job you need it to do, that’s all that matters.