/ Food & Drink

Do you still use an electric carving knife?

Will you be carving up a turkey with an electric knife on Christmas Day? Or are electric carving knives a kitchen gadget best left in the past?

Similar to many households in the UK, I grew up enjoying a roast dinner and all the trimmings with my family every Sunday. Once the meat was cooked, whether it was lamb, pork or beef, out would come my mum’s trusty electric carving knife. We’d always use it to slice the hot joint of meat ready for serving alongside Yorkshire puddings, vegetables, roast potatoes and gravy.

Electric knives… out?

Electric carving knives are a product I’m pretty familiar with and I assumed most others would be too, but when testing electric carving knives recently I was surprised to discover that some of our researchers had never used one and didn’t see the point in them.

Although it’s not a kitchen gadget that’s needed daily, I still get a fair amount of use out of mine. In addition to Sunday roasts, they’re useful for slicing homemade or bakery bread – you can even slice frozen loaves without having to wait for them to defrost if your electric carving knife comes with freezer blades.

The blades automatically saw back and forth, which means that minimal effort is required to use it and all that is needed is a steady hand and a gentle downwards slicing motion.

Do you still use one?

Admittedly they can be a bit loud, but I’d much rather deal with a few minutes of noise for the sake of carving up a joint of meat quickly so that I can plate it while it’s still hot. 

How do you carve your roast?
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Do you have an electric carving knife or do you think they’re a kitchen gadget relic? And will you be using yours on Christmas Day?


An electric carving knife is the best way to make a joint of meat go further. Several thin slices look great on a plate and it looks like you are getting a lot. It is also fairer as with very little practice the slices can be cut much more uniformly than a normal knife, and people can see they are getting their fair share.

I have an electric carving knife that turned up when I was clearing my parents’ house years ago. I expect it was a gift and I don’t remember it being used at Christmas. I have never used it. Having established it does work I will attempt to carve the goose this Christmas, with the usual sharpened knife in reserve.

Alison mentions cutting homemade bread. When I bake bread I like to have some with butter, still hot from the breadmaker, but it is a struggle to cut hot bread. Having now experimented with the electric carving knife it looks promising but the loaf is now cold. I will bake another loaf and see how the carving knife performs on hot bread.

Hi Alison – I made another small wholemeal loaf and was able to cut thin slices of warm bread to eat with butter, thanks to an electric carving knife that has been in a cupboard for many years. Thanks for providing the inspiration. 🙂

This electric carving knife did a reasonable job on the goose and a perfect job on a ham but being able to produce thin slices of hot bread straight from the breadmaker is what really appeals to me. I wish I had known years ago. I hope you had a good Christmas, Alison.

Mine was useless, and I can’t blame anyone for that since I bought it. It had two reciprocating blades. It has long since disappeared, though I’m not sure where it went.

I have just dug it out of it’s retirement where it has been lying idle
For nigh on 30 years. It’s a Moulinex which was frequently used at weekends when Sunday roast was the norm, and when there were 6 of us to feed. I agree with Valerie, it was a good way to make a smaller joint go a lot further for larger families and special occasions.

It hasn’t occurred to me to use it for cutting bread, but if it works without it severing the bread board in half as well as the bread Wavechange, please let us know! I do struggle when slicing home baked bread, especially when still warm, so if it does work it would be great, and a reminder to hang on to those old gadgets – you never know when they may come in handy again.

I usually struggle to cut my 50% wholemeal bread thin enough for sandwiches until it is a day old. I have put my sliced bread in the freezer, with slices separated with squares of greaseproof paper, and will put some on for tomorrow morning. With luck an electric carving knife could be the best thing since…. sliced bread.

I suggest turning the loaf round before the knife gets to the board, Beryl. Don’t tell the H&S officers or they will be having us wearing full PPE.

Have you tried cutting the loaf horizontally, Wavechange [i.e. standing it on its end so there is no pressure deforming its shape]? I find this is easier for thin slices, although it might not be so easy with freshly-baked bread.

Thanks John. I sometimes do that, but trying to cut thin slices of freshly baked wholemeal bread is a bit of a challenge.

I wonder if many households still have a carving knife at all now pre-cooked and pre-sliced ready meals have become so prevalent.

I shall be using the bone-handled set I Inherited which has a steel sharpener and a proper carving fork with a safety guard. I notice many sets sold today come without these, something Which? ought to pick up on.

Is there an official list of “all the trimmings”? Places refer to them but have often left me disappointed.

Not being poultry lovers we have had a goose occasionally but I’m not sure it’s an improvement. Our bird of choice would be a pheasant but I would rather splash out on a superior cut of beef.

I agree with Phil in respect of the guard on a carving fork; this should be an essential feature. With the knife, I think the length of the blade is as important for a good cut as its sharpness. There seems to be a lot of snobbery around carving knives with some at ridiculous prices.

We have never had an electric carving knife but they used to be on everyone’s wedding present list and fifty years ago they cost not much less then they do now.

Just what you need to cut through a brazed joint, Em.

A suit of armour maybe needed when brandishing one of those!

Did you notice the photo of Heston using one whilst refining his palate?

I think it’s called ‘tenderising’ in his end of the trade.

Does anyone know what sort of frying isn’t done in a pan? I’m fed up with pretentious menu descriptions.

Mmmm, since you ask – “pan frying” indicates that the food is cooked in a frying pan, of course, but using the minimum of fat necessary to stop it sticking.

I agree the description is superfluous when taking about a steak, but fish could be pan-fried, shallow-fried or deep-fried in oil.

Mars Bars cannot be pan-fried.

Linda says:
11 December 2021

I usually find it difficult to carve beef and gammon joints particularly when they’re cold and my trusty electric carving knife makes it much easier and safer. If I can’t use it for some reason they both end up with slices thicker than I like or in chunks which look awful on the plate. Someone gave it to us as a gift years ago – it’s not something I would have thought of buying for myself but now I’d hate to be without it

David Carverhill says:
13 December 2021

My wife carves any meat manually, but I always cut my homemade bread with the electric knife. A bread knife would make a mess of soft, fluffy bread. Cannot do without one.

Alistair Jameson says:
19 December 2021

We have been married for 48 years and were given a Moulinex electric knife as a wedding present.
It is used virtually daily for bread, beef,chiicken,turkey etc. Still going strong and has never been sharpened !

I just wonder if the use of electric knives has increased because we no longer know how to sharpen a conventional blade.

I expect you are right about knives used to cut meat. With a little practice it’s not difficult to sharpen a knife even if a professional might not be impressed.

Bread knives can have scalloped or serrated edges and I have never attempted to sharpen one. The electric knife is a useful tool for cutting hot bread that has just been baked.