There's more to safe storage of your kitchen knives than a bulky countertop storage block, and the best storage option may be something you haven't thought of yet. Each method has pros and cons, and the right choice for you will depend on your knives, your space, your budget, your decor, and more.
We look at all the storage possibilities and discuss each method to help you find the right storage option for your kitchen knives.
Why Is Knife Storage Important?
Knife storage is important for at least four reasons (and probably more):
To find the best knife storage solution for your kitchen, we look at all the storage options, who they're best for, and the pros and cons of each, plus examples (and links) of our favorites from each category.
Standard Knife Block
Description: A block that sits on your counter and holds your knives in slots. It usually comes with a set of knives, but is available separately, too (like the block pictured here). Probably the most common knife storage solution.
Best for: People with a matching set of knives, people with a lot of counter space.
Pros: Easy to use, can be attractive, can be purchased with or without knives, different sizes and shapes available, some have just a few knives with room for expansion, many have slots for honing steel and/or kitchen shears.
Cons: Slots can collect grit and bacteria, incorrect pulling can dull blades, takes up precious counter space.
Universal Knife Block
Description: A universal knife block has several parallel slots, flexible rods, or other materials that can hold multiple sizes and shapes of knives. They come in many shapes and sizes, including the shape of a regular knife block, but many are smaller and narrower than a standard knife block, so they take up less counter space. They're called universal because there are no slots for specific knives so you can put any knife in any spot.
There are many different sizes and shapes to choose from, so whether you want a small one or a large one, a wooden one or an acrylic one or a stainless one, you should be able to find something that suits your needs.
Best for: People without enough counter space for a standard block, people who don't have a matching knife set, people who have multiple versions of the same knife (several chef's knives or santokus, for example).
Pros: Can hold several knives (up to 16 for some), knives don't need to fit in a certain slot, most have drain holes to keep blades dry, most take up less counter space than a standard knife block, come in several shapes, sizes, and materials (some are dishwasher safe, or. have dishwasher safe removable inserts).
Cons: Requires counter space, may not be large enough to hold all your knives, most can't hold extra long knives (like a slicer).
Examples: Kitchendao XL Universal Knife Block (pictured, about $40), Joyhill Small Universal Knife Block (in 6 colors, square, about $20), Toosbuc Universal Knife Stand (round, under $20), Mantello Stainless Steel Universal Knife Block (about $32), Kitchendao Acrylic Knife Block (about $37). There are many other styles to see on Amazon.
Hanging Magnetic Knife Rack
Description: A magnetic bar that you attach to the wall. Standard length is 15-16 inches, which can hold about 7-8 knives or other tools; you can also find them in 24-inch length. The bar can be stainless steel or wood (with magnets on the inside). Some also have hooks for hanging other tools, making them an all-purpose utensil/knife rack (pictured below). Some can be drilled or come with an adhesive backing to hang on granite, glass, ceramic tile, etc. without drilling.
The most important feature is a strong magnet: this is not guaranteed by spending more, so pick one of our choices or read the reviews before buying.
Best for: People with limited counter and/or drawer space, people who want easy access to their knives and other tools, people who like the looks of having tools out in the open.
Pros: Saves counter and drawer space, easy access to knives and kitchen tools, looks good, no way to harm or dull knives when you place or remove them from the strip, sanitary, and most are affordable.
Cons: You need wall space to hang it, requires drilling holes in your wall, must be careful not to cut yourself when removing knives (or other utensils) from strip.
Examples: Modern Innovations Magnetic Knife Bar (about $20), YIIYIIN Magnetic Knife Holder with Hooks (18- or 24-inch length, drill or no drill options, about $16-$37)), Linoroso wooden magnetic knife holder (acacia or beech, about $20).
Double Magnetic Knife Rack (for Refrigerator)
Description: This is a magnetic knife rack with a double-sided magnet you can attach to a refrigerator or other magnetic surface, no other installation required.
Best for: People who don't have a wall spot for a knife rack, people who don't want to drill holes in their wall to install a knife rack.
Pros: Easy installation, great for renters (you can take it with you and no holes in the wall).
Cons: Not be as sturdy as screw-mounted racks, with a limit to how much weight it can hold (usually about 6-8 pounds).
Magnetic Knife Block
Description: A rack, usually wooden, with magnets to attach knives and other utensils rather than slots. It sits on your counter like a standard block, so no installation required. Available in many different shapes, sizes, and designs. Usually less bulky than a standard knife block, and takes up less room on the counter. The most important feature to look for is a strong magnet; not all of them have a good magnet, so choose one of our picks or read the reviews before you buy.
Best for: People with enough counter space, people who don't have matching knife sets, people who want a magnetic rack but don't want to install one on a wall.
Pros: Easy to use, can see all your knives, takes up less space on the counter than a standard knife block, more versatile than a standard knife block, won't dull blades by pulling from a slot.
Cons: Can cost more than other types of knife blocks, some can have weak magnets (read reviews before buying!).
Examples: Home Kitchen Magnetic Knife Block (about $32, will hold up to 10 knives), DMore Rotatable Magnetic Knife Block (about $50, holds 12-14 knives), Enoking Magnetic Knife Block with Acrylic Shield (about $35, removable acrylic shield for added safety). There are many others to see on Amazon.
Wall-Mounted Hanging Knife Block
Description: A wall-mounted rack that uses slots rather than magnets to secure knives; you can think of it as a hanging universal knife block. Edlund is an American company that makes high-quality products for restaurant kitchens. The prices are high, but their products are excellent. There are some cheaper brands available but Edlund is the way to go if you can afford it.
Best for: People with limited counter space, people with a lot of knives (especially more than one chef's knife), people who want an American made product, people who want NSF certification in their knife storage (which is really only important in restaurants).
Pros: Holds a lot of knives (up to 8 chef's knives plus a honing steel, shears, and two smaller knives), easy to see the blade you want, has NSF certification, made in USA.
Cons: Expensive, may not be safe with blades exposed (may not want to buy if you have young children).
Examples: Edlund Open Stainless Steel Hanging Knife Rack (holds 10 knives plus a honing steel and shears, NSF certified, about $70).
You can also buy fully enclosed Edlund knife racks if you don't want exposed blades, but the downside is that you can't see the blade you want without pulling it out.
Knife Drawer Knife Tray
Description: This is a tray that fits in a drawer and holds several knives. Some have two tiers and will fit in a drawer that's 3 inches deep. This is an affordable storage solution that keeps your knives safe and organized. They come in wood and plastic versions and in many different sizes; we like the plastic trays because you can throw them in the dishwasher when they need to be cleaned.
Best for: People who don't have counter space or wall space for knife storage, people who want to keep their knives in a drawer.
Pros: No installation, no counter space required, most are very affordable, no worries about a weak magnet.
Cons: Don't hold a lot of knives, uses drawer space.
Description: Knife guards are protective covers you slip over your knife blades so you can store them safely loose in a drawer. Knife guards come in many different materials and sizes; a "universal" set will have several lengths that fit all the standard blade sizes, from paring to chef's knife. You can also buy the exact sizes you want rather than a set of different sizes.
We like the plastic guards because they're easy to use, and are lined with felt for extra protection, but you can also find wooden sheaths and other materials you may prefer. You may even be able to find a sheath for your exact knife, especially if you have Mercer, Victorinox, or Dalstrong knives.
Best for: People who want to store their knives loose in a drawer, people who don't want to install a rack or have a block (of any type) sitting on their counter.
Pros: Easy to use, affordable, fits for every shape and size of knife imaginable.
Cons: Sets might not work for the knives you have, so you'll have to buy individual covers (more expensive, but still quite affordable).
Description: A knife roll is a piece of fabric with slots in it for individual knives and other tools, that rolls up into a convenient carrying case. Knife rolls are mainly for people who travel with their knives, as it is a safe way to transport them, but if no other types of knife storage work for you, then a knife roll is a legitimate way to keep your knives safe and in good shape.
We like the Asaya knife roll pictured above because it is made of heavy duty waxed canvas and has leather straps and brass buckles. You can find other knife rolls for significantly less, but they aren't as durable, and because of this they're not as safe, either. So if you go the knife roll route, spend a little extra and get a well made roll that will last and protect your knives.
Best for: Traveling chefs, temporary storage, or people who have no other way to store their knives.
Pros: A good quality knife roll will protect your knives from damage and also protect you from your knives. Great for traveling.
Cons: A good quality roll is expensive, can hold a limited amount of knives and utensils, can't see or access the knives without unrolling the knife roll.
So Which Knife Storage Is Best?
Which knife storage is best depends on many things. It's really an individual choice which type of storage you prefer or which works in your kitchen.
Having said that, we like magnetic racks, either on the counter or on the wall. It's one of the easiest ways to access your knives, it never harms the blade, it's sanitary, and you can always see the knife you want to grab without guessing if it's the right one.
Knife Storage FAQs
Are Knife Blocks Sanitary?
Standard knife blocks are not the most sanitary way to store your knives. The slots can collect dust, debris, and even bacteria, all of which can cause your knives to be not so clean when you pull them out for use.
A magnetic knife rack or block is a better choice if you're concerned about your knives staying clean.
What Is the Safest Way to Store Knives?
There are many safe ways to store your knives, including all of the ways we've given in this article. Which one is safest depends on you and your situation. If you have small children in the house, you may want your knives stowed in a drawer or some other method that keeps the blades out of sight. If you don't have young children, then just about any storage method that keeps the blades from chipping should be safe enough.
Are Knife Blocks with Sharpeners a Good Idea?
There is a fair amount of debate about this. Blocks with sharpeners do allow you to hone a blade every time you use it, which keeps a knife in workable condition. And it will certainly save you time, especially if you don't enjoy sharpening your knives. However, most built-in sharpeners don't have the best reputations, and they can't restore a blade to like-new sharpness. If you're okay with "sharp enough" knives, you'll probably appreciate a block with a built-in sharpener. But if you want your knives tip-top shape, then you'll need a more hands-on way to keep them sharp.
Are Knife Magnets Safe?
Yes, all types of knife magnets are safe. For the strongest hold, look for a rack with a neodymium magnet.
What Is the Best Way to Transport Knives?
A knife roll (discussed above) is probably the easiest and safest way to transport kitchen knives.
If you're just carrying one or two knives, then blade protectors or sheaths (also discussed above) will work just as well.
Final Thoughts on Knife Storage and the Best Way to Store Your Kitchen Knives
There are many different ways to store your kitchen knives, and which one is best depends on your situation. We like magnetic racks because they're sanitary and easy to use, and most are affordable. But if that doesn't work in your kitchen, there are a lot of other options.
Thanks for reading!
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