No cheese board is complete without the right knives. The best are traditionally made of stainless steel, as the metal keeps the cheese from sticking to the blade. Such has been the way since the 1940s, when engineer Harold Joseph Fairchild created one of the earliest examples of a cheese knife. He was reportedly having trouble cutting through Velveeta and needed a solution for the task.
You’ll likely be slicing a higher-end fromage than Fairchild, so it’s better to have a few more utensils on deck, starting with a thin knife with holes for soft cheeses such as Brie or Camembert and a large, chunkier one for hard varieties like Parmesan or Pecorino. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though—a spreader, a plane and a chisel knife are also worthy investments.
But it’s not all about function. A great looking set will impress guests much more than a hodge-podge dug up from the drawer. Here, four sets of cheese knives that are a cut above.
1. Jean Dubost Cheese Knife Set
French cutler Jean Dubost’s three-knife set consists of a cleaver for bigger cuts, a standard cheese knife with a pronged tip for picking up your portion once it’s sliced and a spreader. The stainless-steel blades will chop without much trouble, but it’s the olive wood handles that make this collection a real standout. Pair with a cheese board of a similar grain for a standout presentation.
Pros: Olivewood handles make these knives great showpieces.
Cons: Cutting soft cheeses may be a challenge.
2. La Cote Cheese Knife Set
This multicolored range from La Cote comes with six knives—two each of three varieties, all with differently-colored handles. Each stainless-steel cleaver, long knife and soft cheese knife is equipped with a Pakkawood handle, an incredibly durable engineered material. Some of the wood finishes are very bright, while others are more muted in tone, adding interest to your cheese plate’s overall palette.
Pros: A wider selection of knives and handles make this set incredibly versatile.
Cons: Wooden handles mean that these should ideally be hand washed.
3. Laguiole en Aubrac Cheese Knife Set
Entirely handmade, these three knives from Laguiole en Aubrac get the job done and look great while doing it. The blades are made of incredibly sturdy Sandvik steel and the handles are buffalo horn, with Laguiole’s signature bee emblazoned on the bolster. If you need further proof of their superior craftsmanship, each also has a decorative chasing on the spine, which serves as the signature of the artisan who made it. Bonus: The cleaver, spreader and cheese knife come packaged in a gorgeous wooden box.
Pros: Entirely handcrafted and made with superior materials.
Cons: The extra detailing may be too fussy for some.
4. Wüsthof Cheese Knife Set
If you’re on the hunt for your first cheese knife set, then Wüsthof’s blades are a great place to start. Made with high carbon stainless steel that’s both very sharp and easy to maintain, this no-nonsense collection consists of a standard cheese knife, a plane knife and a soft cheese knife (plus a bamboo board). In other words, it will do the trick for most wine and cheese nights.
Pros: Three essential blades plus a board make for a great starting lineup.
Cons: Its more utilitarian design may not be for everyone.