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.
It doesn’t matter which knife you buy, they all need to be sharpened eventually. And it's a good idea to keep your knives sharp because a sharp knife is safer to cut with than a dull one. Dull knives can drag or skip while cutting and can increase your chance of injury. How often you need to sharpen depends on how often you use the knife, what you cut, and what surface you cut on. While many people feel that hand-sharpening is best, it takes some skill. Electric sharpeners are easier to use than traditional sharpening stones. Which sharpener is best for you depends not only on your skill but also on the types of knives you use. In the end, you might decide that you need more than one sharpener if you have a wide variety of knives.
A nearly foolproof manual sharpener that looks like modern art, the angle that the knife is inserted into the sharpener determines how aggressive the sharpening is (yes, there is a correct angle for sharpening your knives). You can start by sharpening the knife then hone it to a fine finish in the same slot. If the knife doesn’t need sharpening, you can use this for honing only. This sharpener self-adjusts, and sharpens the knife edge to its original angle, so you don’t need to know the edge angle to sharpen the knife correctly, and there’s nothing to adjust. The tungsten carbide sharpeners will last a long time but can be replaced when necessary.
This manual knife sharpener comes at a bargain price and will sharpen both straight and serrated knives. Not only does it sharpen knives for instant sharpness it does so in a way that they stay sharp for longer.
It has two wheels, a coarse diamond coated one that will shapen your knife to a double-edge finish while the second wheel hones the knife to improve any small imperfections. Users love this tool because it gets the job done and doesn't take up a lot of real estate in the kitchen.
This sharpener can be used on metal knives of any thickness, from thin filet knives to thicker chef’s knives and cleavers. The interchangeable blade guides hold the blades at your choice of three different sharpening angles, and a slider lets you choose thick, medium, or thin blades.
The sharpener creates a slight micro-serration on the edge of the blade that results in a super-sharp edge. It might take a short while to get the technique of pulling knives through the sharpener perfected, but then it’s simple to use. This cannot be used to sharpen ceramic knives.
This sharpener includes five different sharpening stones along with a knife clamp that holds the knife during sharpening and a guide that allows you to select the proper blade angle. Honing oil is also included. The stones have finger grips for a secure hold and are color-coded so you know which are coarser and which are finer. Unlike traditional whetstones, with this system the knife remains still while you move the stones along the blade. This manual system allows you to sharpen knives at four different angles but requires some practice to become comfortable with the technique.
Technically, a sharpening steel doesn’t sharpen a knife, it actually hones or straightens the fine edge that gets bent during use, which makes the knife seem dull. That bending isn’t visible to the naked eye, but it still affects the way the knife cuts.
This steel has an easy-to-hold handle and loop for hanging, or it might fit in your knife block. This steel is magnetic, so it collects any metal dust created during the process. Knives should be honed regularly, so a sharpening steel is an important tool to have in your kitchen. This steel is also available in shorter and longer lengths.
This sharpener is easy to use and robust enough to convert your 20-degree knives to a higher-performance 15-degree angle with two bevels. Spring guides automatically adjust the angle of the knife, making it simple for anyone to use. It has three different stages for perfect sharpening. Stages one and two use diamond abrasives to create the two bevels as well as micro-grooves, while the last stage polishes the knives, turning the micro-bevels into micro-flutes that “bite” into the food being cut for excellent performance.
This sharpener can be used for both straight and serrated knives. The first time this sharpener is used on a knife it will take a bit longer since it’s cutting a new edge angle. Subsequent sharpenings will take much less time.
When knives are made, it’s likely they’re sharpened on a belt similar to the one in this award-winning sharpener. A belt is less harsh, but still efficient, and can sharpen a dull knife in just about 90 seconds. This has three different settings to shape, sharpen, or hone the knives, depending on how dull they are. To make sure the knives aren’t overworked, the sharpener turns itself off at the end of the cycle.
This can also be used to sharpen serrated knives, scissors, and shears. To keep knife dust off the counters, it has an integrated vacuum that sucks in the dust during the sharpening process. As a bonus, this includes a ceramic honing rod to touch up knives between sharpening. Guides on the rod show the proper angle for honing, so it takes the guesswork out of using it.
This efficient little sharpener certainly won’t break the budget, but it will do the job, keeping knives in good shape. This is a two-stage manual sharpener that can handle both straight and serrated knives. While it’s manual, it’s still easy to use, since you simply pull the knives through the slots.
The bar handle is easy to hold, keeping the sharpener stable while keeping your hand far from the blades. Meanwhile, the nonslip bottom keeps the sharpener from moving on the counter. The coarse slot is for your dullest blades, while the ceramic slot finishes the sharpening process by honing and polishing, and can be used for blades that are just a little dull. When you’re done sharpening, this is small enough to fit in a drawer for neat storage.
Best for Ceramic Knives: Shenzhen Knives Electric Diamond Knife Sharpener Tool for Ceramic Knives and Stainless Steel Knives
Many sharpeners use ceramic as the abrasive, but that won’t work for ceramic knives—they need diamonds. This has two different grits of diamond grinding stones for coarse sharpening and fine honing, and it can even grind off small chips in ceramic blades. Of course, this can also be used for stainless steel blades since they’re even softer than ceramic, but it can’t handle serrated blades or scissors.
The slots are designed to keep the blades at the proper angle, while the raised design of the slots lets this accommodate most styles of knives, even when the blade is level with the handle. The diamond wheel cartridge is removable for cleaning, when necessary.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a food and recipe writer, cookbook author, and product tester for The Spruce Eats. She spends a great deal of time in the kitchen chopping, slicing, and dicing. Her kitchen is stocked with knives ranging from budget-friendly to high-end picks and she knows how to keep them sharp.
Hailey Eber, a former food editor, avid cook, and product tester for The Spruce Eats personally tested three of the picks on this list.
Manual vs. electric: Electric knife sharpeners are certainly easy to use, but if you don’t monitor what you're doing carefully, you may end up removing more metal than you need to. Manual sharpeners, on the other hand, can require some skill, but you’re less likely to thin out the blade too much.
Edge angle: Most of the knives in your block are sharpened to a 20-degree angle. However, if you own any Japanese knives, they may be sharpened to a 17-degree angle. If you want to keep that 17-degree angle — or if you have specialty knives with other custom angles — look for a sharpener that can maintain those.
Specialty sharpening: You’re likely buying a knife sharpener for your kitchen knives, but some models can also handle ceramic knives, scissors, cleavers, and other tools. Some sharpeners are only great for knives with long blades, while others are just as good at sharpening short ones. What’s in your kitchen drawer?