Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Breaking down and serving large portions of meat can seem like quite the daunting task for a home cook. Worry not, it’s actually quite straightforward to slice and serve your centerpiece protein. With the right tools, you’ll be carving and slicing up your turkeys, pot roasts, and tenderloins in no time at all. You don’t need to be a professional in order to properly carve out your cuts like a butcher or chef.
Whether you need something for the end-of-year holidays (looking at you, Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas prime rib roast) or you need the right knife to step up your weekly roast chickens or grilled steaks, equipping your kitchen with a proper carving knife is the way to go. Before purchasing, you should consider blade sharpness, grip comfort, safety, maneuverability, and durability.
Here are our top picks for the best carving knives.
Best Overall: Messermeister Avanta 2-Piece Pakkawood Kullenschliff Carving Set
Includes a matching carving fork
Forged bolster with even weight distribution
Blade is durable, sharp
Blade on shorter side
The Messermeister Avanta two-piece carving knife and fork set earns our top spot for its quality and price. This carving and slicing knife was developed for one of the leading culinary schools in North America, Le Cordon Bleu, and it holds up well to daily wear and tear.
The knife's 8-inch blade is made from one piece of German stainless steel. Not only is it incredibly sharp with superior blade/edge retention, but it's also rust-resistant and easy to maintain. Its curved blade makes cutting meat on the bone easier, and because it's designed to decrease friction, you won't have to deal with food sticking to the blade when cutting large pieces of meat.
It also boasts a forged bolster, which gives it balance. The knife comes with a 7-inch, heavy-weight bolstered fork, and both have water-resistant handles made from pakkawood, an engineered wood that's particularly durable.
Blade Length: 8 inches
Best Budget: Mercer Culinary M23011 Millennia 11-Inch Granton Edge Slicer
Great for beginners
Granton edge helps food pull away
Not ideal for detail-oriented cuts
If you want an option that will go easy on your wallet yet still get the job done, you really can’t beat the price for this Mercer Culinary knife. If you aren’t carving and slicing a ton of protein, there’s no need to shell out a ton of money for a knife that you will rarely use. The 11-inch, high carbon steel blade boasts a Granton edge so that food will easily pull away from the blade as you’re slicing.
The polypropylene handle is ergonomic and comfortable, making this knife a great option for beginner cooks as it’s super easy to hold and use. Reviewers are extremely impressed by how sharp the blade is. Users enjoy carving everything from brisket to tenderloin to poultry with this durable, quality carving knife.
Blade Length: 11 inches
Best Splurge: Shun DM-0720 Classic 9-Inch Hollow-Ground Knife
Granton edge helps food release
9-inch blade is super sharp and pointed
Pakkawood blade is stylish, comfortable, and durable
For the best of the best, you can’t go wrong with Shun, a classic, top-of-the-line Japanese knife brand. This hollowed, 9-inch blade is an absolute pro when it comes to navigating all different types of proteins and cuts. Its sleek look, unrivaled durability, and incredibly sharp blade make it a tool that you’re going to be excited to pull out for your next roasted bird or tenderloin.
The small dimples along the blade make it easy for food such as smoked salmon or brisket to pull away when slicing. The stylish pakkawood handle is designed for consistent and heavy use. It’s made from hardwood with resin to protect against unwanted water or moisture damage.
Blade Length: 9 inches
“When using a carving knife, always allow the carving knife blade shape to work for you. There is typically a slight recurve to the cutting edge, and this is to help carving on contoured surfaces, like a turkey breast, as well as around round joints and bones. The blade tip is also usually very upswept, which allows for detailed slicing in tight areas with the tip of the blade, without digging into the meat. The most important step in selecting any piece of cutlery is to make sure it feels right to you in your hand.” - Matt Matsushima, Director of Operations, Shun Cutlery
Best for Turkey: Wüsthof Classic Two-Piece Hollow Edge Carving Set
Includes a fork
Hollowed edges for easy slicing
Blade is sharp and durable
If you’re simply in the market for a carving knife for the big day (ahem, Thanksgiving), this two-piece set that includes both a knife and a fork is going to make carving a breeze. The high carbon stainless steel blade is super-sharp, making it ideal for carving the toughest, hardest-to-reach meat off the bones of your Thanksgiving turkey. The 8-inch knife comes with a triple-riveted, synthetic handle for absolute firm support, balance, and comfort when carving deeply into a turkey. While it may not be as comfortable or aesthetically pleasing as pakkawood, it certainly does the job.
The included 6-inch, two-pronged fork helps guide the carving knife away from your hands and efficiently slice large birds, and when serving, it's perfect for holding each piece in place.
Blade Length: 8 inches
Best Set: Hammer Stahl Carving Knife and Fork Set
Good for beginners
High-quality German carbon steel
Attractive pakkawood handle
No Granton edge on the blade
If you want to make a purchase that includes both a knife and fork, this set is a great option. Opting for a knife and fork set is a great choice for beginners if you’re worried about your protein slipping or moving around while you’re trying to slice through it. Made with high-quality German carbon steel, this is a durable set of tools that will last you a long time.
The pakkawood handles are designed for comfort and longevity so that every time you pick up the knife, it’s comfortable and feels natural. Because of the way that the blade is forged, this knife is extremely durable and is sure to last you through many, many years of heavy usage.
Blade Length: 9 inches
Best Granton Edge: Kessaku 12-Inch Slicing Carving Knife
Blade is durable and sharp
Food pulls away easily
Easy to clean
Not ideal for beginner cooks
The advantage of a Granton edge is that the small dimples along the side of the blade are proficient in releasing food from the blade so that nothing sticks to the knife and everything pulls away clean and intact. The sleek pakkawood handles are comfortable and effortlessly stylish. The knife also comes with a blade guard for added protection when your knife is not in use. The high carbon stainless steel blade is unrivaled for its sharpness and durability.
While the blade is certainly on the longer side, it’s great for large cuts, like brisket or smoked fish. For smaller, more precise cuts, like a roast chicken, this might be too much blade. The knife comes with a lifetime warranty, and the way that it’s constructed is intended for a lifetime of heavy use. Users are extremely impressed by the quality and presentation of this pristine knife, noting that it also makes for a great gift for any food-loving friend.
Blade Length: 12 inches
Best for Beef: Dalstrong Shadow Black Series 9-Inch Carving Knife & Fork Set
Nonstick, durable, corrosion-resistant blade
Includes a fork
Great for long cuts
No Granton edge
There is nothing worse than having your brisket fall apart on you the second that you go to carve it. Avoid this heartache and opt for the 9-inch Dalstrong carving knife and fork set. The blade is made of high-carbon German steel, and it’s finished with a non-reflective titanium nitride coating, which makes for the sleek, black color. In addition, the blade is corrosion-resistant, nonstick, and extra durable. The 16- to 18-degree angle can carve clean, precise cuts in meats, yet at the same time, it’s forceful enough to get through a wide variety of other useful cuts.
The blade is weighted for optimal balance to minimize hand fatigue or discomfort. Carving a brisket is not the time for hand discomfort. The temperature-resistant handle is designed to fit naturally and confidently into your palm, allowing you to have a firm grasp on the handle that’s not going to slip out of your hands during usage.
Blade length: 9 inches
Best for Chicken: Farberware 5-Inch EdgeKeeper Santoku Knife
Great for smaller carving needs
Not ideal for larger proteins
The shorter blade on this Santoku knife is what sets it apart and makes it a great option for smaller carving projects, like a whole chicken. The firm blade is flexible enough to slice through chicken and other smaller cuts of meat easily and without tearing it apart. The firm bolster in this Santoku knife puts extra pressure on whatever you’re cutting so that it’s easier to get the blade through the food. The indentations on the blade (Granton edge) make it easy for whatever you’re cutting to pull away from the blade, and the shorter blade allows you to maneuver around bones and cartilage with ease.
Blade Length: 5 inches
The Messermeister Avanta 2-Piece Pakkawood Kullenschliff Carving Set (view at Amazon) is durable and affordable and will tackle most cuts of meat with ease. If your main mission is carving the Thanksgiving turkey and you're willing to spend a little more, we recommend the Wüsthof Classic Two-Piece Carving Set (view at Amazon).
What to Look for in Carving Knives
Handle and Grip
When it comes to grip comfort, this is mostly up to personal preference. It’s always helpful to hold the knife in your hand to get a better idea of how it feels, if the grip feels natural, and if the size and weight works well with your hand size. You want something that is easy and comfortable to hold onto so that it doesn’t slip out of your (likely greasy) hands while you’re carving a large piece of meat.
Carving knives typically range from 8 to 14 inches in length, and the ideal length largely depends on personal preference. The smaller and shorter the blade, the more control you’ll have, but a longer blade is oftentimes more adept at making longer cuts and getting into harder-to-reach places. A longer blade also helps avoid any sawing-like motions, which can damage the meat.
You may notice that some carving knives have santoku blades, which means that there are Grantons along the blade. These small dimples are helpful when slicing meat because they help the meat to pull away from the blade as you’re slicing. The dimples cut down on any resistance and make it much easier to slice through the protein.
According to Matt Matsushima, Director of Operations at Shun Cutlery, what makes a carving knife blade different from that of a chef’s knife is that “the narrow blade width on a carving knife...causes less drag when slicing thick portions. The pronounced tip sweep makes the blade shape very different from a chef's knife."
Matsushima says, “If you carve a lot of turkey, blade length and tip sweep may be more important than if you are frequently carving whole chickens. Besides the recurve and upsweep of the tip, blade thickness and blade rigidity are important if you are going to be using it on other proteins.” Always consider the types of protein that you’ll be carving before purchasing a new knife.
Are carving knives serrated?
Generally speaking, carving knives are not serrated because the jagged edges can be rough on tender cuts of meat. Serrated blades make for ideal bread knives, not carving knives. Carving knife blades are toothless and typically straight or slightly curved. The long, pointed blade makes it easier to cut even slices and maneuver around bones or cartilage.
What is the difference between a slicing knife and a carving knife?
Slicing knives and carving knives are the same and the names can be used interchangeably. Both are ideal for carving large portions of meat or poultry.
How do you sharpen a carving knife?
Carving knives are sharpened like you would sharpen any chef’s knife. They should be regularly honed to keep the blade straight, and when the blade begins to dull, it should be sharpened on a whetstone until the blade is fresh and pointy.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Sara Tane has written nearly a dozen buying guides for The Spruce Eats, understanding what consumers and cooks need to consider before making a new purchase for their culinary adventures. She is a professionally trained chef and has worked in restaurants and test kitchens. After researching different carving knives and their designs, she can help you find the best carving knife for all of your poultry and meat slicing needs. She also interviewed Matt Matsushima, Director of Operations for Shun Cutlery, for additional research and insight into carving knives.