Look, cooking doesn’t always result in the best life decisions. But while I may feel guilty about eating that entire chicken that Julia and Jacques all but forced me to make, I can at least find some solace in the knife I used to carve it. Or rather, the shortcut I use to wash it.
Between a full belly and the gentle call of the TV, I tend to throw everything into the dishwasher and call it a night. But those high-quality chef’s knives we’ve been conditioned to buy? They don’t do so well amidst the pans and coffee cups.
That’s why it’s vital to keep a cheap set of workaday kitchen blades at the ready. Whether it’s a weeknight supper or a quick prep for lunch, sometimes it’s nice to leave the $100 artisan knife in the block and use something you can toss in with the rest of the dirty dishes. Below are a few of the best budget-friendly options I’ve found, each of which should be able to withstand the occasional high-temp cycle in the dishwasher.
Victorinox Classic 3.25-inch Paring Knife ($8)
This is the knife that inspired this list. While I primarily use a full-size chef’s knife, there are some tasks that require a bit more dexterity. In those cases, I reach for something like this Victorinox. With a comfortable handle and a thin, nimble blade, pairing knives are perfect for slicing small or delicate foods.
It’s also the only paring knife you’ll see on the list. Why? Because it’s the only one you’ll need. Seriously, I doubt you’ll do better for less than the cost of two lattes. Tuck it into one of those little dishwasher areas used to hold forks and spoons, and you’ll be all set.
Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8-inch Chef’s Knife ($40)
Chalk up another one for the Swiss. With my beloved WÜSTHOF Pro Chef’s Knife no longer available, Victorinox’s 8-inch Fibrox Pro is the undisputed leader in the budget space. For around $40, you’re netting good ergonomics, a decent steel, and a best-in-class rating from just about every food website you can shake a burrito at.
But while you certainly can dishwash this one, $40 is tiptoeing into soap-and-sink territory for me. Sure, its rubber handle will hold up far better than stabilized wood or other materials. But when I picture running two twenty-dollar bills through the old Maytag, I start to wonder if maybe there isn’t an even better option.
Henckles Statement 8-inch Chef’s Knife ($24)
Yeah, this is more like it. Henckles is a fairly well-known brand, and their Statement line has a strong following among thrifty cooks. The shape here is classic “chef’s knife,” maybe even more so than the Victorinox. That rounded palm swell and steel end cap make for a balanced, hand-filling experience. The company also offers a seven-inch Santoku for the same price, if that’s more your speed.
Best of all, Henckles actually lists this knife as being dishwasher safe. And that, if you’ll excuse the pun, is quite a statement.
Still not cheap enough to throw in with the silverware? Well, what about…
Trudeau Santoku Knife ($10)
Okay, hear me out. While I’m not generally in favor of coated knives, this monochrome offering from Trudeau has some compelling features. The handle and blade are well-shaped, with good cutting geometry thanks to the angles of its edge and spine. The sheath is a nice touch, allowing you to toss it into the utensil drawer worry-free. And if you’ve got smaller hands, the shorter 5-inch cutting edge might be a better fit.
And most compelling of all is the price. For just $10, you’ll have a weeknight companion that’s just as ready to prep the feast as it is for the mandatory hot shower afterward.