The holiday season is filled with hosting and shopping, and unnecessary luxuries can start to sound more reasonable. Along with expensive candles and cashmere sweaters, a set of cheese knives might creep into your shopping cart, but are they worth it?
Unless you’re a cheese expert, it might be hard to imagine you’d get much use out of a set of cheese knives for the rest of the year. For holiday entertaining, however, a set of cheese knives might sound like the perfect thing to elevate the experience.
However, are they worth the cost, or will your new cheese knives end up gathering dust after New Year’s? While having a separate set of knives just for cheese might seem extravagant, they can be more useful than you’d think.
What Are Cheese Knives?
A cheese knife is pretty self-explanatory. However, they serve a purpose beyond simply cutting a block of cheese.
Basically, cheese knives are designed to cut and serve cheese according to how hard or soft the cheese is. With the right cheese knife, you can slice off a piece of cheese more easily than you can with a regular knife. Hard cheeses fare best with one kind of knife, while soft cheeses require a different approach.
In addition to making it easier to slice, cheese knives also give you more aesthetically-pleasing slices. If you want to prepare a nice-looking holiday cheese board, for example, a cheese knife set will help you.
In short, you can cut any kind of cheese with any knife, and it will taste just as good. But if you want to make the process faster and easier and get better-looking results, you need some cheese knives.
Types of Cheese Knives
If you do a Google search, you’ll find an impressive list of different kinds of cheese knives. However, most people don’t need to own every single one of these.
You might want to start with each of these essentials first:
- Skeleton knife: In addition to its cool name, this knife solves the common woe of soft cheese sticking to your knife, which makes it almost impossible to cut nicely. The cutouts in this blade mean there’s less surface area for the cheese to stick to. This knife is best for cutting soft, sticky cheeses, like Brie (as opposed to soft, crumbly ones, like bleu). You can use a skeleton knife on harder cheeses, like cheddar, so it’s fairly versatile. However, the holes make the knife a bit weak, so it might break if you use it on super-hard cheeses.
- Slicer or planer: These versatile, flat knives are shaped like a trapezoid, which makes it easy to cut semisoft-to-hard cheeses into elegant, thin slices. They’re more durable than skeleton knives, so they also work on harder cheeses.
- Chisel: Super-hard cheeses can be difficult to work with, even with a cheese slicer. For those cheeses, you’ll need a chisel, also known as a flat cheese knife. These have a flat edge that allows you to chip off small pieces of hard cheese. However, they can also neatly handle soft, crumbly cheese. While super-soft and super-hard cheeses usually can’t be cut into regular shapes, a chisel makes them easier to manage.
Prodyne Stainless Steel Cheese Knives, Set of 4
This handy four-knife set includes a chisel knife and other useful cheese knives.
- Spreader: If you want to serve cheese and crackers, or anything else involving spreadable cheese, a spreader knife is essential. These long knives have a flat surface and rounded edge, so you can easily apply soft cheese to any surface. They’re ideal for creating cheese-topped appetizers or helping your guests navigate a cheese plate.
- Small spade: Another good choice for super-hard cheeses, this knife’s small size makes it easy to handle. The pointed tip easily cuts through and serves up wedges of hard cheese. Small spades are sometimes marketed as “parmesan” knives because they also work well for serving parmesan without a cheese grater.
- Wire cutter (cheese wire): The perfect way to round out any cheese knife collection. With a wire, you can cut super-soft cheeses into neat shapes. For example, you can slice a log-shaped, soft cheese into pretty, coin-shaped pieces for serving. Like the skeleton knife, the wire cutter also avoids sticking with less surface area.
Why a Set of Cheese Knives Is Worth It
Countless cheese knife sets include the basics we just covered and more. You’ll find sets that also include rind cutters, cheese forks, pronged and Gorgonzola knives—you name it. However, is it worthwhile to add a set to your kitchen? For most cheese lovers, the answer is yes.
Many holiday-season luxuries quickly become wastes of space. However, cheese knives are a small holiday splurge that will pay for themselves over time.
Here are a few reasons why we suggest you gift yourself some cheese knives this year:
- They’re inexpensive: You might think a set of cheese knives would cost a lot, but they’re actually an inexpensive kitchen upgrade. You can find nice sets for around $10 or $20. If you love having the perfect cheese knives, you can always get a fancier set later.
ICOSA Living Lunar 6-Piece Cheese Knife Set - Premium Stainless Steel Cheese Knives Collection - Charcuterie Board Accessories Gift Ready w/ 15 Festive Recipes
This six-piece set has everything you need (except a wire cutter). It's an affordable one-stop-shop.
- They’re small: Unlike a bright-colored KitchenAid or a new bullet blender, cheese knives don’t require much kitchen space. You can tuck them away in a drawer when you’re not using them.
- They’re fun: Slicing up cheese with a proper knife can make the process a lot more enjoyable. Plus, you can set up a really good-looking cheese board, which any cheese lover can appreciate.
Of course, there are many ways you can upgrade your kitchen for the holidays. However, if you like cheese—even as a simple snack at home—we recommend you pick up a few basic cheese knives. They make serving cheese easier and much more stylish. Plus, they make great gifts for those hard-to-shop-for foodies in your life.
If you’re looking for more cheesy inspiration, check out some of our modern mac-and-cheese recipes!