Every cheese lover should have a great set of cheese knives. They work better than other utensils when cutting and portioning different styles of cheese, plus a beautiful set can elevate even the most casual cheese board into a meal that feels extra special.
Whether you’re looking to splurge on a set of high-end cheese knives, a budget-friendly starter pack, a colorful and chic French set, or a versatile knife that can do it all, we have a recommendation for that! Read on for the six best cheese knives you can buy right now.
Why Do I Need Special Knives for Cheese?
Let’s talk about why you’d need cheese-specific knives in the first place. What can specialized cheese knives do that the butter knives, chef’s knives, and utility knives already in your utensil drawer can’t?
First of all, you need table-appropriate cheese knives for you and your guests to use when you dig into that cheese board. A big, unwieldy kitchen knife will look ridiculous next to your beautiful styling (not to mention that it’ll pose a safety hazard with that unnecessarily large blade). The kinds of cheese knives used in home kitchens, on the other hand, are very table-friendly—the perfect size for chunking into a wedge of aged Gouda or slicing a delicate wedge of Brie.
Cheese knives also come in different shapes that best suit certain styles of cheese. These categories are mostly based on texture—soft, semi-soft, semi-firm, and firm—though some are named for the specific types of cheese with which they’re most commonly used. It’s also a good idea to have a solid cheese grater on hand for cooking and garnishing (we’ve rounded up types of cheese graters here).
Which Cheese Knife Should I Use?
There’s a reason most cheese knife sets come with multiple kinds of knives: each one is meant for a certain kind of cheese.
We’ve broken down the different knives used for hard cheeses and the knives used for soft cheeses before. But in general, you want a spreader or thin-bladed knife for soft cheeses; a narrow plane knife, spade knife, or cleaver for semi-firm and firm cheeses; and a sharp, pointy Parmesan knife for very hard cheeses, which tend to chunk or crumble rather than slicing smoothly.
Some styles of cheese knife can be pretty versatile: a fork-tipped knife can cut textures from soft to hard (just don’t use it on very firm cheeses), and a cleaver or plane knife can cut wedges of Brie or rounds of chevre in a pinch. Other cheese knives are designed to be used for any type of cheese (more on these in a bit).
Can I Use the Same Knife for Each Cheese?
Yes, some cheese knives can do double-duty with different styles, and nobody likes washing dishes. But it’s best to serve each cheese with a dedicated knife for a couple of different reasons: avoiding cross-contamination between cheeses (both in terms of flavor and microflora) and because certain knives just work better with certain cheeses. More on this here.
What’s the Best Way to Cut Each Type of Cheese?
Once you’ve got the right knives, how do you use them? Cheese shapes vary widely, from classic rounds and wedges to logs, pyramids, and blocks, so it’s helpful to think through how to cut each piece to give you and your guests the most delicious eating experience possible.
The goal is to maximize surface area (which means more flavor hitting your tongue!) while preserving the structural integrity and unique texture of each cheese. You also want to cut so that there’s a good rind-to-paste ratio with each piece. We’ve broken down how to cut different cheese styles and shapes here.
Can I Cut and Store Cheese in Advance?
While cheese board prep tends to be pretty minimal—cutting, portioning, arranging—there are times when it’s helpful to break down some cheeses the day before your board will be served. It’s best to do this with firm cheese styles only, as they’re more durable, more structurally sound, and less perishable than soft cheeses. Here’s how to pre-cut and store cheese properly.
1. The Best Cheese Knives for Hard and Soft Types
Yes, there are a ton of specialized cheese knives out there, and each shines with a different style of cheese. But sometimes, you don’t have the drawer space or budget to keep every single knife on hand in your kitchen. That’s where our very own versatile, attractive cheese knives come in.
Part of what we love about the Cheese Grotto is that it’s made from natural materials like wood and clay. To go along with that warm, rustic look, we commissioned our Hand-Carved Wooden Cheese Knives. Made from fast-growing, sustainable bamboo, they’re designed to cut any type of cheese, from spreadable chevre to crumbly blue to hard, crystalline Italian styles. The other thing we love about them is that they won’t scratch the bamboo shelving in your Cheese Grotto the way metal would, so they’re great for building a board into your Grotto.
Pick up one of these knives in our online store—or a whole set, since we want to use a dedicated knife for each cheese, remember? To that end, our latest addition to the Cheese Grotto gear collection is our Writable Black Resin Cheese Knife. These durable, sharp knives are made from recycled paper and resin—and best of all, each comes with a piece of soapstone chalk so you can write the cheese they’re meant to cut right on the handle.
2. The Best Professional-Grade Cheese Knives
There are plenty of great knife brands out there, but the gear from Italian maker Bharbjt is top of the line. Hey, you need high-quality knives to cut through all that parm!
Whether you need a hooked cheese knife for scoring big, long-aged wheels or a skeleton knife for cleanly cutting a gooey bloomy rind, there’s a Bharbjt knife for the job. Their gear is also gorgeous and well-made, so while they’re not exactly a budget pick, your investment really pays off over time. Find them at resellers like New England Cheesemaking and Mad Cow Cutlery stateside.
3. The Best Cheese Knives for Everyday Use
If you’re ready to level up in your daily cheese practice, check out knives by Boska. The Dutch really know their cheese—these are the people who invented Gouda, after all—and this Netherlands-based maker offers all kinds of cheese gear.
Slicers for paring thin, even slices off of hard cheeses, fork-tipped knives for spearing cheese, olives, and other accompaniments on the board, ultra-thin knives for cutting soft cheese—they make them all. We’re especially partial to the knives and slicers in their Cheesy Collection, which feature handles in an iconic Swiss cheese yellow, complete with holes.
4. The Best Cheese Knives for Insta-Worthy Charcuterie Boards
Cheese knives need to be functional, but they should also be beautiful, and the elegant, curvaceous sets by French maker Laguiole. With handles ranging from color-coordinated plastic to hand-carved bone, there’s an option for every budget. In the US, look for them at kitchenware shops like Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table.
Get yourself a three-piece set—which includes a cheddar cleaver, a sharp-bladed spreader, and a long, thin, forked knife—and you’ll love using it to style every board you build. Or, if you like to entertain with cheese, look for their sets of small and large fork-tipped knives, which include a big one for cutting cheese on the board and a small one for each of your guests.
5. The Best Cheese Knife Starter Pack
Looking for a solid starter set of cheese knives? The three-piece and four-piece sets made by German knife company Zwilling make a great gift for the cheese lover in your life (whether that’s you or someone else).
Clean, contemporary, and stylish, the rounded ergonomic handles and sharp blades make them easy to use, and their small size means they’ll even fit comfortably on a petite cheese board for one. Each set comes with knives to suit soft, medium, and hard cheeses, so you’ll always be prepared to handle whatever wheels and wedges you bring home from the cheese shop.
6. The Best Cheese Knives for Breaking Down Blocks, Wheels, and Wedges
We love cheese-specific knives for use at the table. But some boards and cheese-centric dishes need a little more prep—and those little cheese knives just won’t cut it. If you’re slicing batons, planks, or triangles of cheese for a board or tasting, you’ll want a full-sized knife to break everything down comfortably, especially if you’re prepping for a crowd.
Hit up German cutlery company Wüsthof for a good-quality, full-sized chef’s knife—an eight-incher is ideal. Their thin-bladed paring knives are also a versatile option, since they can be used in a pinch to cut soft cheeses and handle a ton of other kitchen tasks, too. While they’re known more for their overall cutlery than their cheese-specific offerings, Wüsthof also makes well-designed knives for cutting soft cheeses and Parmesan as well as a three-piece set for serving.
Which knives do you reach for when you’re getting ready to dig into some cheese? Tag us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @cheesegrotto with your best cheese board pics featuring your favorite cheese cutlery and let us know!
Leave a comment