An electric knife likely isn’t the first piece of equipment you think for equipping your kitchen, but if you do a lot of meat carving, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have one. Sure, some of us do genuinely like to display their knifework and carving skills with a traditional carving knife, but when it comes to slicing large amounts of meat (or almost any other food) at once, a sharp and fast electric knife can save quite a bit of effort (and maybe a bit of wrist pain.
That’s why we’ve rounded up the Best Electric Knives for 2019 to see how they stack up. Keep reading to see our picks and find the one that works best for you.
Why Get an Electric Knife, and What Can You Use One For?
Traditionalists often see electric knives as superfluous items – a tool with limited uses you might once a year to carve a turkey or ham for a party – but not for serious meals. Getting good, thin slices from a cheap electric knife used to be difficult, and the terrible carving jobs that resulted likely scare off quite a few people away from using them ever again.
Today’s electric knives, however, are serious business, and can make quick and efficient work of virtually any food in need of slicing. If you have trouble getting thin slices of meat with a regular knife, an electric knife can make it easier. They’re good for a lot more than just carving turkeys, too; use them to filet fish.
Another popular use is slicing bread, specifically baguettes; the fast, sawing action makes it easier to get through the hard crust without crushing the soft insides. They can also be used for slicing fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes, cakes – virtually any hard food that might call for using a knife.
For this reason, most electric knives come with multiple blades – a carving one usually designed for meat, as well as one designed for cutting bread.
As a bonus, they’re useful for more than just food, too: hobbyists frequently use them for cutting Styrofoam, upholstery foam, PVC and other materials for building crafts and other projects. Some people even use them to cut memory foam mattresses to fit.
Finally, if you have wrist or hand problems and find using regular knives difficult, an electric can make cooking and carving easier, reducing your effort and helping relieve some wrist pain.
The Best Electric Knives of 2019 Lineup: Our Picks
Top Pick: Cuisinart CEK-40 Electric Knife
Runner Up: American Angler PRO Filet Knife
Budget Buy: Black and Decker EK500B 9-Inch Electric Carving Knife
Best Electric Knives Reviews
Cuisinart CEK-40 Electric Knife
This is an all-around excellent electric knife from Cuisinart, even if it does have some issues with durability and quality control. The sharp blades, ergonomic handle and powerful motor all combine for a good carving experience. It’s not the most durable or most powerful electric knife in our roundup but for the price, it’s easily our Top Pick.
The stainless-steel blades are high-quality and sharp, as well as BPA-free. A bread blade and carving blade both come included. Carving meat and slicing bread are easy, and the motor is plenty powerful. The ergonomic handle is also BPA-free, with a pressure-activated on/off trigger that can be used ambidextrously, and there’s a helpful safety button that is easy to activate or disactivate with a single touch. Other pros include the 4-foot cord, which is long enough to be flexible without getting in the way, and the wooden blade block. Let’s also not forget Cuisinart’s 3-year warranty.
Our main complaints with the CEK-40 revolve around quality. The handle casing is not very durable and can split or fall apart at the seams after just a few uses; there’s a design flaw that causes the motor to press up against the outside of the casing and knock it loose. The blades can also be a bit difficult to replace for some people.
American Angler PRO Filet Knife
The American Angler PRO is designed mainly for fileting fish, but performs well for carving turkeys, hams and other meats; there’s no reason you can’t use it for that, too. It has a powerful motor, razor-sharp filet blade, and quality build that combine to create an all-around dependable knife that outperforms cheaper electric knives. It’s a bit pricier than some other models – which is why it isn’t our Top Pick- but packs a punch for the price.
This thing is powerful. The motor packs 110 volts of power and a ton of torque for smooth, easy slicing; American Angler says 2x more torque than any other electric knife. They also claim it has 4x the lifespan of other models. The ergonomic handle is comfortable, sturdy and inspires confidence in your hands, unlike so many other cheap knives that just feel flimsy. It even has a fan and vent designed to maximize airflow and keep the motor from overheating during heavy use. The blades are made of stainless steel with a hollow grind.
Despite the increased torque, the PRO is not always powerful enough to cut through certain large fish or cuts of meat. It also sometimes has problems with bones. We’ve also seen problems with the trigger sticking, which can be dangerous. Finally, the motor tends overheat during heavy use, even despite the vents and integrated cooling fan.
Black and Decker EK500B 9-Inch Electric Carving Knife
A great option if you’re on a budget, Black and Decker’s electric carving knife has 9” stainless steel blades that make quick work of meat, bread and other foods. It’s got some issues with quality and durability, but those might be expected considering the price. We still pick it as our Budget Buy option.
The 9” stainless steel blades are serrated and oh-so sharp, cutting through meats and breads like butter. It’s also good for cutting foam and other tasks. Black and Decker says they “never” need to be sharpened (though we can’t verify that) and you can chuck them in the dishwasher. Setup is easy, as the blades pop right into place easily, and there’s an easy-activate safety switch to prevent accidental activation.
As with other electric knives, this one is fragile and lacks quality control; it’s been known to crack and fall apart easily at the seams, to have blades fall out while cutting, and even to just quit working without warning. The safety placement is also suspect; it’s right on top of the trigger and can prevent you from turning it on with one hand. Finally, the blades are rather thin and often wobble and flex while cutting through harder foods.
Hamilton Beach Electric Knife
Straightforward, simple but effective, this electric knife from Hamilton Beach gets the job done for a decent price. They even throw in a carving fork and carrying case. It’s not the fanciest electric knife on our list, but still stacks up against the Cuisinart and Black and Decker models.
The two stainless-steel blades are easy to pop on and off and are easy to clean, and do a good job of slicing thin, uniform pieces of meat effectively; it works right through turkey, ham and other meats no problem. Perhaps the best parts, however, are the included carrying case and carving fork, which make storing the knife safely and carving meat much, much easier, respectively.
The handle is large and slick, which can make it difficult to get a good grip while slicing – especially when your hands are greasy. Likewise, the trigger can also be a problem for some people, hard to press with small or greasy hands. When using a cutting board or cutting small pieces of food, you might even find that the handle gets in the way. Finally, the knife overheats, getting hot to the touch after just a few minutes of cutting and slicing.
Nutrichef PKELKN16 Portable Electric Knife
Nutrichef’s electric knife is a relative newcomer to the scene but has already proven itself to be a good value, thanks to its decent cutting power. Nothing else really jumps out and distinguishes it from other models, but it still holds its own against some of the better electric knives.
While it’s not quite as powerful as the American Angler PRO, the Nutrichef’s motor is capable of a 110-watt power output, and makes quick work of meats, breads and pretty much everything else. The blades are 420 stainless steel – a hard-yet-ductile metal with excellent corrosion-resistance that can also cleans up quite easily. They easily disconnect for cleaning and storage. Nutrichef’s safety lock is effective and easy to engage, and – as always – we like having a stand for storing the device and blades safely.
There are a few things we don’t like about Nutrichef’s model. First, it’s quite loud. That might not bother most people but can be distracting for others. Quality control and longevity are also issues, with many models giving out quickly or coming packaged with damaged parts and blades. The handle just doesn’t feel all that sturdy in your handle. The cord is short, too, making it awkward and unwieldy.
Mister Twister Electric Fisherman
Like the American Angler PRO, the Mister Twister is designed for fileting fish, but excels at cutting other meats, too. It’s heavy duty, compared to many of its cheaper counterparts, and packs a punch in its small motor. For the price, it’s an excellent value for a versatile electric knife.
As mentioned, the motor is strong for an electric knife, capable of 2000-3000 RPM. You can feel the extra strength and power while slicing meat. The blades are 7” of stainless steel, and you can swap them out for optional 8” and 9” models if you don’t mind spending the extra money. It’s nimble enough that you can use it to remove fish bones effectively.
The body is tough and durable, with what Mister Twister calls a “high-impact” motor housing; we’d feel comfortable being rough with this knife, and still expect it to last a long time. And when you put it to use, this knife performs – it’s a quality and reliable tool for dependable fileting and carving. Mister Twister throws in a carrying case for ease, too.
There isn’t too much we don’t like about the Mister Twister, but we do have a few gripes. The cord is too short, for one; it’s only about 3 feet long, and coils, meaning you’re constantly fighting it and it’s easy to yank out of the wall. We also don’t like that the blades often come dull and need to be sharpened before use.
What Else To Look For When Choosing An Electric Knife
Cord Length: Cord length can have a huge impact on how easy your electric knife is to use, and how practical it is. A short cord makes the knife unwieldy. Longer cords are better, but if it’s too long, it can get in the way. Coiling cords can also be difficult to use. And, if you select a battery-powered knife instead, pay attention to how long the battery lasts and how frequently it needs to be charged.
A Comfortable Handle: A good electric knife has a comfortable, ergonomic handle that is sturdy, and feels good in your hand. If you’re doing a lot of slicing, you may be holding the knife for quite some time, and the constant vibrating and motion means it pays to have a good one. Choose a handle that fits nicely, and preferably has some grip for when your hands are wet and greasy.
A Safety: Virtually all electric knives come with a trigger safety, which is essential. Make sure the safety is easy to activate and disactivate, preferably with the same hand you’re holding the knife with; you don’t want to put your other hand near the blade. As with the handle, see if you can activate and disarm the safety while your hands are covered in grease.
Venting and Cooling: Electric knives have motors inside the handle, and motors create heat. If you’re slicing food and other materials for a while, the motor is going to get hot, and the handle might get quite hot to the touch. Higher-end electric knives will have vents for more efficient cooling; some even have built-in fans, which can make a huge difference.