November 30

8 Best Brisket Knives – From a BBQ Chef & Knife Collector

Written by: Savannah

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As a Kansas City native (home of the brisket burnt-ends), and a chef, I know a thing or two about what makes for a good brisket.

While the topic of brisket and chef’s knives is by no means foreign to me, for this article, I wanted to interview an expert.

Tony Brown owns a food truck in my city (hey, that’s how Aaron Franklin started), and he cooks all his meat on a 20-foot wood-burning smoker using carefully sourced post oak.

His brisket is so good my mouth waters just thinking about it. I kid you not, it could compete with the legendary KC Joes.

He also happens to be a knife collector and has an impressive set of whetstones that he uses to keep his knives in tip-top shape.

I’ll cover Tony’s thoughts on which knives are the best choice, and then provide an additional breakdown of the knives below.

I’ll also provide some alternative options for those of us on a budget.

Let's dive in.

What is the Best Knife for Slicing Brisket?

sliced-meat-and-knife

“A lot of people use a scalloped bread knife. Anything that has a long blade, 10 inches or more is ideal so that you can get across the entire width of the brisket while you’re sawing back and forth. Shallow or rounded scallops are better than pointed scallops so you don’t tear the tender meat.

The Victorinox is really popular and will do a really good job if all you want out of that knife is to slice the finished brisket, but having a long, sharp blade is the most important thing.” - Tony B


Top Knife for Slicing Brisket:

1. Victorinox-Swiss-Army- 47645 Cutlery Fibrox Pro Slicing Knife, Granton Blade

victorinox-knife

What is the Best Knife for Trimming Raw Brisket?

“For trimming a big cut like a brisket, I want a knife with a long blade - at least 10 inches. When I went to trim my very first brisket, I grabbed a six-inch boning knife and quickly realized that was not the right tool for the job. 

I only smoke briskets as a special these days, so I’m not breaking down very many of them.

Because of this, I use my 10-inch Sujihiki, which we’ll get into more in a minute. You could definitely use any sharp chef’s knife with a long blade if this is an occasional project, but you want the knife to be very light-weight.

Cleaning a large cut of meat is hard work and you’ll put a lot of unnecessary strain on your hands and wear yourself out a lot faster if your knife is too heavy. If I were breaking down a bunch of briskets per week or fabricating them myself, I would 100% want a good breaking knife.” - Tony B



Top Knives for Trimming Raw Brisket:

2. Shogun Series Elite Butcher's Breaking Cimitar Knife 10"

dalstrong-butcher-knife
dalstrong-knife

The Dalstrong has a slightly cheaper breaking knife in their Gladiator series that will still do a great job. It’s also NSF certified so this might be a better option if you’re cooking professionally.

They also offer an 8” option in the Gladiator series which is a great choice if you have smaller hands. Above all else, the knife should fit comfortably in your hand.


Best Knife for Trimming Raw Brisket and Slicing Cooked Brisket

“If you keep it sharp, a long chef’s knife with a thin blade will do just as good of a job slicing a brisket as a serrated blade, and it can be used for many other projects in the kitchen as well. 

I use my 10-inch Sujihiki for trimming raw brisket and slicing the finished product, and it does a great job.

However, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that specific knife because it’s blade is carbon steel. Carbon steel rusts incredibly easily. The blade can patina, and can actually leave a bit of residue behind on your raw meat if you spend a long time trimming that brisket.

I already had this knife when I started cooking briskets and I don’t cook enough of them right now to justify purchasing another knife just for this job, so it works for me.

However, if I were to purchase a knife to do both the trimming and the slicing of a brisket, this is the one I’d buy.” - Tony B


Top Knife for Trimming & Slicing Brisket:

4. Nigara R2/SG2 Kurouchi Tsuchime 255mm Kiritsuke Sujihiki

This knife has a carbon-steel base but is coated in stainless steel, which makes it much easier to clean, and you don’t have to worry about that patina. It’s got a 10-inch blade, double-edged, hammered finish, and is a stunning piece that you can get a lot of heavy, everyday use out of.


Qualities to Look For in a Knife to Slice Your Brisket

Brisket Slicing Knife Qualities

Blade Edge

Soft serrations (rounded scallops or a Granton edge), or a very sharp, straight blade.

Blade Dimensions

Long, thin blade, 10 inches or more

Blade Material

Stainless Steel, high-carbon stainless steel, or coated in stainless steel

Handle

Non-slip material. Should fit comfortably in your hand above all else.


cutting-brisket

Qualities to Look For in a Knife to Butcher & Trim Your Brisket

Knife Qualities for Butchering & Trimming Brisket

Blade Edge

Very sharp blade, ideally rounded up as in a breaking knife

Blade Dimensions

Long, thin blade, 10 inches or more

Blade Material

Stainless Steel, high-carbon stainless steel, or coated in stainless steel

Handle

Non-slip material. Should fit comfortably in your hand above all else.


Any knife with a blade that is 10 inches or longer will automatically be more expensive than its shorter counterparts.

For those of us that can only drool over these gorgeous but expensive knives, I will provide some cheaper alternative options (following our top 5 choices) that can also get the job done.


Top 5 Knives for Brisket


1. Nigara R2/SG2 Kurouchi Tsuchime 255mm Kiritsuke Sujihiki

Why? This knife can be used for trimming raw brisket and can also be used to slice your finished brisket. With a Hardness of 62-63 HRC, this knife will hold its edge (stay sharp) for a long time, especially with regular honing. Wrapped in stainless steel, this knife is not only gorgeous and effective, but also easy to clean, making it a great tool for anyone’s personal or professional kitchen.

Who It’s For? Anyone who wants a knife that can handle almost any job in the kitchen while investing in a gorgeous collectors piece. Anyone willing to keep up on their knife sharpening and maintenance. 

Who It’s Not For? Someone on a budget, someone with small hands, or someone that does not want to deal with having their knives professionally sharpened.


2. Shun Classic 10” Chef’s Knife

shun-chef-knife

Why? Similar to the Nigara, this knife is more affordable and can take a beating in the kitchen. This knife can be used for both butchering and slicing. Its light-weight and upward curve at the point makes it a great option for butchering. While its length, sharpness, and thin blade will allow you to slice cleanly through a finished brisket.

Who It’s For? Anyone who wants a knife that can handle almost any job in the kitchen while investing in a gorgeous collectors piece. Anyone willing to keep up on their knife sharpening and maintenance.

Who It’s Not For? Someone on a budget, someone with small hands, or someone that does not want to deal with having their knives professionally sharpened.


3. Victorinox-Swiss-Army- 47645 Cutlery Fibrox Pro Slicing Knife, Granton Blade

victorinox-knife

Why? Coming at a very affordable price, the Victorinox slicing knife is well-known and loved by many BBQ experts for its clean slicing abilities, thanks to its Granton edge. This knife is great for use in any personal or professional kitchen. It will require minimal sharpening maintenance and is easy to clean.

Who It’s For? Anyone who wants a knife designed for slicing tender meat or soft baked goods.

Who It’s Not For? Someone who wants a multi-purpose knife, someone who wants to be able to slice things like crusty sourdough with their knife, someone who wants to be able to butcher and slice meat with the same knife.


4. Shogun Series Elite Butcher's Breaking Cimitar Knife 10"

dalstrong-butcher-knife

Why? The Shogun series breaking knife is a bad-ass in the kitchen. A serious knife that can tackle just about any butchering project, it's light-weight and has a beautiful blade. Though it’s designed for butchery, this knife could technically slice through a finished brisket if you keep the blade sharp, but its blade is not an ideal shape for the project.

Who It’s For? Anyone who wants a knife designed to easily butcher large cuts of meat. Anyone who wants a gorgeous collectors peice that can be put to heavy use.

Who It’s Not For? Someone who wants a multi-purpose knife, someone who wants to be able to slice things like crusty sourdough with their knife, someone who wants to be able to butcher and slice meat with the same knife.


5. Gladiator Series Butcher's Breaking Cimiter Knife 10"

dalstrong-knife

Why? While boasting nearly all the same qualities as the Shogun Elite, the Gladiator series is more affordable, and can take a beating in the kitchen while getting any butchering job done. A gorgeous knife and blade, this knife is easy to clean and will stay sharp with proper maintenance.

Who It’s For? Anyone who wants a knife designed to easily butcher large cuts of meat. Anyone who wants a gorgeous, collectors piece that can be put to heavy use. Someone who wants a good knife for a low price.

Who It’s Not For? Someone who wants a multi-purpose knife, someone who wants to be able to slice things like crusty sourdough with their knife, someone who wants to be able to butcher and slice meat with the same knife.


3 Alternative Knives That Will Get the Job Done

You may have noticed that almost all the knives listed are of Japanese make. Tony and myself are both hardcore fans of the Japanese knives for one simple reason - They are almost always the best-made knives on the market.

There are plenty of great knives out there that aren’t of Japanese make, but the Japanese have a very long history of knife and sword making, and the respect and care they put into their knives make them a top contender when purchasing any knife. However, they often come with a fairly hefty price tag.

Just because you don’t want to invest a couple hundred bucks into a knife, doesn’t mean you can’t get a good one that will do the job for you. Here are three good alternative options to the top 5.

6. J.A. Henckels International Classic 10-Inch Chef's Knife

chef-knife

Why? At less than $60 for a well-made, 10” blade, this knife is a bargain. J.A Henckels has been around for almost 100 years and they make great knives. I was given their 8” inch chef's knife when I got my first job as a line cook and it stood up to heavy-duty work, eight hours a day. It would have lasted me at least ten years if I hadn’t lost it during a move. You do have to keep up on the sharpening as it won’t stay as sharp as some better-quality steel. The trade-off being that a softer steel will come back easier with a honing wand if you’re consistent about doing it.

Who It’s For? Anyone who wants a knife that can butcher meat and handle almost all of the every-day tasks in the kitchen. Anyone who wants a good knife for an affordable price.

Who It’s Not For? Someone who wants an extremely high-quality knife or a collectors piece. Someone who wants to slice through delicate meat like cooked brisket. You’ll have a hard time keeping it sharp enough to do a good job with such a delicate task.


7. Mercer Culinary M23011 Millennia® 11" Granton Edge Slicer Knife

mercer-knife

Why? While it’s pretty hard to beat the Victorinox price and quality, Mercer is a brand I trust. The Culinary Millennia line carries a bread knife with pointed scallops has consistently been named the #1 serrated knife in multiple list reviews, including America's Test Kitchen.

While you don’t want pointed serrations for slicing a delicate brisket, the Granton edge is just the thing. This knife will likely stay sharper for less time than the Victorinox, but if you’re just using it for the occasional brisket, it will likely stay sharp enough to cut 10-20 years worth of briskets with no issues if you take care of the blade. An absolute bargain in my opinion.

Who It’s For? Anyone who wants a knife dedicated to delicate slicing tasks like a tender brisket, at an affordable price. Anyone who wants a knife that’s easy to clean and doesn’t have to be babied.

Who It’s Not For? Someone who wants an extremely high-quality knife or a collectors piece. Someone who wants to do more than slice delicate cuts with their knife.


8. Mercer Culinary BPX, 12-Inch, Granton Edge

mercer-bpx-knife

Why? At under $50, this knife is highly-rated for butchering and staying sharp. It also has the granton edge that would make slicing a finished brisket feasible.

With this knife you could tackle large butchering projects and get through your finished brisket as well. The steel is softer which means you’ll want to really keep up on your honing, ideally before and after each use. But once you do lose that edge, it will be pretty easy to sharpen. You could likely sharpen this knife yourself even if you’re not an expert.

Who It’s For? Anyone who wants an affordable knife that can butcher and slice delicate, cooked meat. Anyone looking for a bargain on a knife.

Who It’s Not For? Someone who wants an extremely high-quality knife or a collectors piece. Someone with small hands.


Frequently Asked Questions

knife-rack

How Do I Keep My Knives Sharp?

Serrated knives only need to be sharpened once every couple of years if they’re seeing heavy use. Sharpening them requires a special tool, and the process is quite tedious, so usually you’ll want to take these to a professional.

For any knife with a straight-edge, the absolute best practice is to hone your knife before and after every use. This usually doesn’t get done, but do try to keep up on it whenever you can. This will keep your blade “sharp” for much longer, and you won’t have to put the knife to the whetstones nearly as often.


How Often Do I Need to Sharpen my Knives?

This very much depends on the blade material, how often the knife gets used, and how well it's cared for overall.

Whenever your knife becomes so dull you’re having trouble using it, and a few strokes on a honing wand doesn’t bring the edge back, it's time to get the knife sharpened.


What is the Best Cutting Board to Keep Your Knives Sharp?

Wood or Plastic. Stone will dull the edge on your knife faster than almost anything and can chip the blade.


Basic Care of Your Knife

Do not send your knives through the dishwasher, as it can ding up the blade's edge. 

Similarly, do not store your knives loose in a drawer or utensil bin unless they have a blade cover over them. This is a sure-fire way to ding up and dull the blade's edge.

Don’t leave your knives wet or laying around unattended. If you treat them with respect, and keep them clean and dry, they'll last you a very long time.

Choose the right knife for the job. Don’t try to force a knife to do something it’s not designed to do. Not only can you badly injure yourself, you can severely damage or even break the blade on your knife.

Don’t loan out your knife to people you don’t trust. Using someone’s knife without permission in a professional kitchen is grounds for the entire kitchen staff to rain fire down upon your head. A knife is a personal thing and should be treated as such.


A Sharp Knife is a Safe Knife

A dull knife is far more likely to bounce off a product and cut you than a sharp one is. If you cut yourself with a dull knife, you are far more likely to have scarring because the cut won’t be clean, and it can take longer to heal.


Conclusion

To cut cleanly through a finished brisket you need a long, sharp knife. A soft serration such as a Granton edge is ideal.

For butchering or trimming raw brisket, a long, lightweight knife with a sharp, straight blade is a great choice. If the blade curves up slightly, that’s even better. A breaking knife is a great choice if you’re going through a lot of briskets.

A knife with a long, sharp blade can cut cleanly through finished brisket, and handle butchering and trimming if you keep up with the knife’s maintenance. 

There are many great knives out there that will get the job done. It’s hard to go wrong with a knife of Japanese make, but you can also find a lot of great, alternative options.

Keep your knives clean, sharp, and store them properly and they will last you a very long time.

Happy cooking!

Savannah


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About the author

Savannah grew up in Kansas City, where she learned to cook brisket and ribs from her Mom and Grandmother. She's spent the last 10 years in the restaurant industry where she worked her way up from prep cook to Chef instructor. In 2017, Savannah and her partner sold everything that wouldn't fit in their suburban and traveled the US where she got a job cooking in each city they stayed in. Savannah has trained under more than 50 chefs and done everything from running a food truck to making chocolate. She currently runs her own cottage bakery and teaches cooking classes in Northern Colorado.

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