It’s impossible to even bring up electric knives without making a reference to their origins. Indeed, electric knives are a retro throwback and bring to mind Mad Men-era dinner parties and a post-war fixation on gadgets and chemicals to fix all of life’s smallest woes. While many a parent and grandparent likely have an electric knife rusting in a garage somewhere, there’s reason to revisit this kitchen device.
Electric knives are typically two serrated blades that move back and forth to slice. The faster movements of the knife should, in theory, make carving things like roasts and turkeys easier. They also make the cutting neater, as well. The knives create minimal drag, leaving you with picture-perfect slices of turkey with the crispy skin well preserved. They can even be used to slice through bread without smooshing it, kind of like an at-home version of the slicer used at the bakery. And while you may be unlikely to fire up an electric knife to slice a piece of toast for breakfast, it can come in handy on Thanksgiving or other holidays — or just for people who regularly serve roasts. (Invite us over?)
The mid-century kitchen tool has also found another life outside of the kitchen: crafters love it for cutting down foam, though it can tackle other small tasks like cutting small wooden dowels and PVC pipes, too. Whatever your needs, it’s also a fairly affordable tool. Here are five we like for their functionality and ease of use.
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1. Cuisinart Electric Knife
Cuisinart’s electric knife has the unique distinction of looking the most like an actual knife. The handle is ergonomically designed to make it easy to hold as you quickly slice through roasts, bread and more. Once plugged in, the on/off button can be used with one finger as you work. An included butcher block also makes storage a breeze.
2. Hamilton Beach Electric Knife
A great option for crafter and cooks, Hamilton Beach’s electric knife is a great mid-range option that can handle roasts and DIY projects. An on/off switch at the base of the handle makes operation easy, and an included storage box allows you to store everything in one place — especially good if you only plan on using it occasionally. An included carving fork makes it even more of a deal.
3. BLACK+DECKER Electric Carving Knife
With an intuitive trigger design for the on/off button, this electric knife is exceptionally easy to operate. It also has the added benefit of having machine-washable blades (not all electric knives offer that convenience). While it doesn’t come with a storage component, an included blade cover protects hands from the sharp edges while in storage.
4. Rapala Heavy Duty Electric Fillet Knife
Another common use for electric knives is cleaning fish. The rapid back-and-forth motion not only makes it faster, it reduces drag, allowing the resulting cuts of fish to be cleaner. Designed for serious fishermen, this knife can cut through fish bones and has an 8-foot power cord for tons of maneuverability.
5. Proctor Silex Easy Slice Electric Knife
The larger handle on this electric knife is designed to be comfortable to hold even for longer periods of time, whether slicing lunch meat or cutting foam cushions. The ease of use and lightweight design makes it a particularly popular model for crafters. However, while it is comfy to use for longer periods, the engine can get hot after extended use. If that happens, simply let it rest for a while and resume your project once it’s cooled.