The Easiest Way To Test If Your Knives Are Sharp

If you do a lot of cooking, you know how important it is to own quality, sharp knives. Chef knives, carving knives, fileting knives, Santoku knives, paring knives — the list goes on and on. ChefSteps lists some of the benefits of having a sharp knife in the kitchen.

According to the site, a sharp knife is actually safer than a dull knife when in use because the blade is more predictable. It also cuts better, which minimizes the likelihood that you'll damage the food you're cutting. Some foods, like tomatoes, need a nice, clean cut that only a sharp knife can achieve.

Knives naturally dull with continued use and will need to be sharpened eventually, either at stores like Ace Hardware or with an at-home knife sharpener. But how do you know when your kitchen knives need to be sharpened? There are a few ways to test the sharpness, one of which is pretty easy.

Use the paper test

The easiest way to test if your knives are sharp is "the paper test," as Cook's Illustrated explains. Grab a sheet of standard matte printer paper and hold it up, vertically, with one hand. Then take the knife with your other hand and place the heel of the knife at the top of the paper. Slowly slice through the center of the paper while slowly moving the knife horizontally to the tip.

Tisha Cherry, Ninja partner, told Southern Living, "If the knife does not glide through the paper, it's a good indicator that it's dull." Cook's Illustrated adds another important detail in the testing process. If the knife catches the paper, instead of slicing through it, make a note of the area of the blade that got caught. That way, you can focus on that area during sharpening, instead of sharpening the entire blade unnecessarily.

Interested in seeing someone else perform the knife sharpness paper test before you do it yourself? You can find several paper test demonstrations on YouTube.