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The Pros and Cons of Ceramic Knives

I'm a mom of two who loves to share recipes and advice about kitchen equipment.

Ceramic knives are excellent for cutting bread, fruit, vegetables, and boneless meat.

Ceramic knives are excellent for cutting bread, fruit, vegetables, and boneless meat.

Why Consider a Ceramic Kitchen Knife?

Ceramic knives are a fantastic cutting option for those who do a lot of chopping and dicing in the kitchen and don’t want to fuss with the sharpening requirements of metal blades. There are many ceramic brands available to chefs, and a high-quality ceramic knife will cost less than a similar knife made from fully forged stainless steel.

As ceramic knives are not useful for cutting bones or frozen items (due to the brittleness of the blade), they are not a replacement for metal kitchen knives in most homes. They serve as a great complement to high carbon steel knives, however, as they are fantastic for dicing fruits and vegetables and require little maintenance.

How Are Ceramic Knives Made?

The ceramic used in these blades is not the same as the material used in your “ceramic” coffee mug. This material is called “advanced ceramic” and is harder than high carbon steel, carbide, and titanium. In fact, only diamonds are harder. The reason ceramic knives are difficult to sharpen at home is because diamonds are required to sharpen the blades!

The ceramic is made from zirconium oxide, and yttrium oxide is added during the cooling process to create a stable zirconia—this material is known as Transformation Toughened Zirconia, or TTZ. The blades are sharpened on a grinding wheel coated with diamond dust.

Major Brands

Brand NameLocation (Headquarters)Details

Kyocera

Multinational (Japan)

Company formed in Kyoto, Japan in 1959

Victorinox

Multinational (Switzerland)

Makers of the original Swiss Army Knife

Asahi

Kyoto, Japan

Started producing knives in 1984

My Recommendation

My favorite set of knives is a set of Kyocera knives. The ability to easily slice through tomatoes to make pico de gallo is a huge time-saver in my kitchen. My first set of knives did not have a storage block, and I accidentally chipped one blade when it was in the drawer. A storage block is highly recommended for protecting the blade edges and to prevent any chipping or breaking.

The Benefits of Ceramic Kitchen Knives

  • These knives are very lightweight, which makes them easy to handle.
  • The blades are also extremely thin, which allows for very thin slices of fruits and vegetables.
  • These knives stay sharp for a very long period of time. The sharpness of the edge will last ten times longer than a similar steel blade.
  • Ceramic knives will not transfer ions from the blade surface; steel knives leave ions (which can result in faster oxidation of some sliced fruits).
  • The blades are non-porous, preventing bacterial growth.
  • The knives will not stain.

Negatives of Ceramic Blades

  • Ceramic is a brittle material, and it may break if the knife is twisted or flexed. Likewise, the blade may break if the knife is dropped. The knife may get chipped in the dishwasher or when stored in a drawer.
  • These knives are more difficult to sharpen than a steel knife (even though the edge lasts much, much longer than metal knives).
  • Ceramic blades are also not “all-purpose” kitchen knives. They are not useful for cutting through meat with bones, so choose a stainless steel knife for cutting up whole chickens. Do not use this type of knife for cutting through frozen food, as the blade may chip or break.
Ceramic knives are the best knife to cut fruits, vegetables, fish, and boneless meats.

Ceramic knives are the best knife to cut fruits, vegetables, fish, and boneless meats.

Ceramic Knife Care and Maintenance

When using a ceramic knife, always cut straight up and down, as these knives cannot be twisted or flexed. Never use this type of knife to pry or to crush food items, as the knife is liable to break.

Store Carefully

These knives should be stored in their original protective case or in a specially designed knife block, to prevent nicks in the blade. (See more about knife blocks below.)

Hand-Wash Only

For the same reason, these knives should always be washed by hand and never placed in the dishwasher. The high water pressure in the dishwasher jets will cause the knives to clash against other dishes and utensils. The knife blade may chip, break, or even cause damage to the other dishes it comes in contact with.

Ceramic Knife Blocks

Due to the brittleness of the blade, ceramic knives should be stored in a knife block or other protective case. Some knives come with a protective sleeve, and this should always be placed on the knife when it is not in use. One option is to store the knives in a plastic, wooden, or bamboo block.

There are several options available, including versatile designs that sit on the counter, hang on the wall, or fit inside a kitchen drawer. Knife blocks are the easiest way to store the knives, allowing easy access and preventing damaging nicks or breaks.

Kitchen Knife Poll

Questions & Answers

Question: My ceramic knife got chipped and a fragment got cooked in the dish. Is the dish now toxic?

Answer: I would discard the knife now that it is chipped. Your dish will not be "toxic" due to the ceramic fragment being baked in the dish, though I would be certain to clean the dish thoroughly and ensure there are no remaining blade fragments.

Question: My blade has a chip out, is it still safe to use?

Answer: I would not use a chipped ceramic blade. This is definitely the biggest con of ceramic knives, as they are prone to breaking and chipping easily. I would discard the knife.

Question: Will ceramic knives scratch or damage aluminum pans?

Answer: Ceramic is a harder material than aluminum, so it is possible for the ceramic to scratch your pans. It would not be wise to use the ceramic knife on your pan surface. A good recommendation would be to cut the food items before placing them into the pan.

© 2012 Leah Lefler

Comments

LoloyD on August 18, 2020:

Can you use ceramic knives or ceramic coated knives safely on frozen or hardened chocolate?

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on September 27, 2019:

This is very true, Ognjen. Ceramic blades do not bend and will not rust or corrode. Many steel knives are of poor quality and will wear down quickly. Some high-end steel knives are high-carbon and are stiff with a longer-lasting blade.

Ognjen on September 26, 2019:

(This is not a question, just addition to your description of a ceramic knife) I would like to say that ceramics cannot be bended. Its another benefit of those blades. Secondly, steel knifes are not purely high-carbon made blades. They contain less than 2% of carbon in their mass, causing their blade not lasting longer. The reason why steel blades are not high-carbon ones is economical and practical factor.

The more carbon the blade has, the more brittle it will be.

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on October 15, 2017:

Hi Edward - many ceramic knives do not have replaceable blades and must be thrown away completely. There are some brands with replaceable blades, but most of the ones on the market with replaceable blades are craft knives or box cutters. If you do buy a ceramic knife with a replaceable blade, be extremely careful when handling the blade as they are very sharp!

Edward Hooks on October 15, 2017:

Hello, all when ceramic knives break, should the blades be replaced or should it be thrown away completely???

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on June 27, 2013:

Let me know how you like the knife, Laura Scheider! It is a nice addition to the kitchen!

Laura Schneider from Minnesota, USA on June 09, 2013:

Wow! I'll do that--get a paring knife (I always seem to wish I had another anyway). Thanks for the advice, leahlefler (and everyone else). I admit I've always been curious but ignorant about ceramic knives, so now that I'm not so ignorant I feel it will be money well-spent. Cheers!

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on June 08, 2013:

We wash all of our knives by hand (never put them in the dishwasher), so the maintenance hasn't been an issue for us. We just make sure to store the ceramic knife in its protective sheath, and it has been sharp for over 2 years now! I'd definitely give a paring knife a try, Laura!

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on June 08, 2013:

I love mine, Writer Fox! They are different from steel knives, though - particularly in the storage! You don't want to chip the blade of a ceramic knife!

Laura Schneider from Minnesota, USA on June 02, 2013:

Maybe I'll get a ceramic paring knife and dip my feet into the water--it seems like a person always needs an extra paring knife anyway. Then again, they sound very high-maintenance compared with the good-quality steel blades I already use.

Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on June 02, 2013:

I know these are all the rage, but I haven't tried them yet.

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on August 15, 2012:

I saw some really cute ones in a cooking store today, Laura Schneider - I was so tempted to pick up a new one!

Laura Schneider from Minnesota, USA on August 07, 2012:

I don't cook much from scratch, but suddenly I want a ceramic knife after reading your article.

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on July 28, 2012:

I tend to be a bit rough on things, too, Hyphenbird. They're pretty durable but need to be stored safely and washed by hand. I am known to be a klutz and would be very sad if I dropped one (they can break), but fortunately that hasn't happened yet. About half my family is left handed, but I got the "right handed" gene!

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on July 28, 2012:

I have thought about buying a ceramic knife but now I doubt it would last long in my kitchen. I am rough on utensils maybe because I am left handed. Thanks for the great review.

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on July 28, 2012:

They're fantastic knives, Melovy! You can get the thinnest slices of cucumber, and they cut through tomatoes like butter.

Yvonne Spence from UK on July 28, 2012:

I've never heard of ceramic knives before, but will be looking out for them now as I cut up a lot of vegetables and fruit. Thanks for highlighting them!

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on July 28, 2012:

Ceramic knives are a good option for a low-maintenance knife, teaches12345 - but the blade can be brittle so you need a knife block or protective sheath for the blade when you store it.

Dianna Mendez on July 27, 2012:

I didn't know there was so much to a kitchen knife. I need to replace some of mine and will have to think about the options posted here.

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on July 27, 2012:

If you store them properly, lindacee, the edge will remain sharp 10x longer than steel knives - the big "negative" about ceramic knives used to be that you couldn't sharpen the edge at home if you needed to, but they make sharpening tools for the knives now. They're PERFECT for slicing veggies!

Linda Chechar from Arizona on July 27, 2012:

I have to say I didn't know much at all about ceramic knives. We don't eat a lot of meat, so having a couple of small ceramic knives around for slicing veggies would be great. I hate sharpening our steel knives. I usually send them out to be done, but it's still such a hassle. You've enlightened me and now I will look into researching the different brands. Thanks!

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on July 26, 2012:

They're great knives, Rose! They are very durable as long as you maintain them properly - you can clean them simply by running them under water, since they are non-porous and bacteria can't penetrate the blade.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 26, 2012:

Thanks for this great resource! I have never used ceramic knives and wouldn't even know where to start with shopping for them, let alone why you would want to purchase them. This is a great overview.

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on July 26, 2012:

They're great knives, dfelker - but they do take a little protective care! They're the best sushi knives, because they can cut the cucumbers and fish so very thin!

dfelker on July 26, 2012:

Very informative, I like watching Ming use his knives on his tv show but didn't know about the specific care of them. Great job!

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on July 25, 2012:

I have one ceramic knife, and it is enough for me - we use it to dice tomatoes and other veggies. I generally use our steel knives for most things, Simone - they're more versatile (though they have to be sharpened on a frequent basis)!

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on July 25, 2012:

What a good assessment! After reading about all their benefits, I really wish I had ceramic knives, though considering how roughly I treat all of my utensils, they're not for me. I'd chip the blades in a matter of seconds. Ah well!