Kyocera Ceramic Knives Stay Sharper, Longer
May 23, 2023
By Zaynab Issa, as told to Alma Avalle
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When it comes to knives, I’m on team "less is more." Those 16-piece sets might seem essential when you’re shopping, but in the end you’re probably going to end up using only a few of them while the rest collect dust—or worse, rust. If I mostly cook vegetarian dishes, do I really need to waste space on an 8-inch cleaver? No way. I live in an apartment, meaning there is no room on my counters for nonsense.
For a long time I owned just a standard chef's knife and a serrated knife for bread. But a couple of years ago I picked up this set of three Kyocera ceramic knives to round out the pack. Unlike knives forged with metal, ceramic blades are made from a substance called zirconia, which can be made astoundingly sharp and don't lose their edge as quickly as steel blades. You may recognize the 5.5" chef's knife in this set from Emily Mariko's viral cooking videos on TikTok, where you’ll hear the knives producing some of the purest kitchen ASMR sounds I’ve ever heard. While I haven't thrown away my steel chef's knife, the Kyocera has definitely become my go-to tool for cutting just about everything. It feels comfortable and nimble in my hand; it's easy to clean thanks to the fuss-free soft plastic handle and the fact that ceramic literally cannot rust; and the razor-sharp blade makes easy work of turning mountains of veggies into tidy piles of finely chopped mise.
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Of course, it doesn't matter how sharp a knife is when you buy it if it doesn't stay that way. That's where a ceramic blade comes in handy. My first six months of cutting with this Kyocera set felt like the first few days with a freshly sharpened steel chef's knife. The Japanese zirconia Kyocera uses is nearly as hard as diamond, meaning it doesn't dull in the same way steel does. Treat the knives right and they’ll feel satisfying to chop with for a long, long time. The flip side of that is that they’re a bit delicate. I wouldn't recommend cutting bone-in meat or hard veggies like winter squash with a ceramic knife (here's where you need that cleaver) because you risk chipping the blade, but just about everything else is fair game—so long as you’re not using a glass cutting board. Ever!
The chef's knife is worth the trio's price tag on its own. But the set also includes a slightly smaller 4.5" utility knife, which I typically use for quicker jobs like chopping carrots or as a backup when the full-size knife is dirty, and a 3" paring knife that's perfect for tasks like cutting stems from strawberries, peeling veggies, and slicing hunks of hard cheese. Even though the 5.5" Kyocera ceramic knife remains my favorite, the minimalist in me has been surprised by how often I reach for the other two. Don't get me wrong, they’re playing support roles, but whenever a recipe calls for precision, I’m happy to have them nearby.
My only real quibble with this knife set is that they require a little extra pampering. Even though I haven't had to sharpen mine for the two years I’ve owned them (and they’re still cutting through fruits and veggies like softened butter), if they do eventually dull, a whetstone won't be able to help. Because of their diamond-hard strength, ceramic knives require special care. If you normally send your knives out for sharpening, be sure your service can handle ceramic materials. And if you prefer to do things yourself, Kyocera also sells a special diamond knife sharpener for keeping your tools as sharp as the day you opened the box.
These days I’m deploying my knives to prep hearty greens, autumnal veggies for soups, and flavorful aromatics for dense, comforting braises. My trio is up to the task, and with Thanksgiving around the corner, they’ll be my go-to tools for slicing up green beans and mushrooms, salad upon salad, sprouts, and sweet potatoes. Now, would you look at that, maybe I’m a maximalist after all.