It was love at first slice.

I’ve written before about my dedication to Made In, the direct-to-consumer kitchenware company that has produced some of my favorite tools, including their carbon steel pan that I use multiple times a day. So when Made In debuted their new line of knives, I knew they would be excellent, and possibly introduce me to a tool I didn’t even know I needed, as they did with their carbon steel pan. As it turned out, I was right.

The knives are very well-constructed, made from the same German steel as Wusthof, the legendary German knife company. Because they are direct-to-consumer (meaning they don’t have to pay to distribute their knives to retailers) they are significantly cheaper than traditional retail knives of the same quality. Each knife is full tang, a technical term that means the whole knife is made from a single piece of metal, which makes it more durable and better-balanced. Finally, the knives are treated with a hardener that helps them hold a blade longer in between sharpening.

All those stats are fine, but the real test is whether these are the knives that I’ve come to reach for time and time again.

I happen to own a German-made 8-inch chef’s knife that is quite similar to the 8-inch knife from Made In. The biggest physical difference is the strong curve on the Made In knife, which I noticed as soon as I compared the two. When I began chopping onions for a tomato sauce, the utility of the curve became obvious—it makes the rocking motion necessary for smooth dicing feel far more natural, which sped up the cutting and made it much more comfortable in my hand.

I also noticed that the Made In knife is a touch lighter than my other chef’s knife, which makes it feel more natural in my hand. I also like the design of the bolster (also known as the point where the blade and the handle meet). It is curved lightly to avoid digging into your finger as you hold the knife. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, make sure you’re holding your knife correctly. And for twenty dollars more, you can have your knife custom engraved—which turns this highly functional knife into the perfect personal gift for someone special.

Because of its utility for cutting bagels, English muffins, baguettes and banana bread, my boyfriend has started calling the small serrated knife in the small kit his “breakfast knife.” But I’ve found myself using it all day long. I’ve always known it was important to have a well-made bread knife, but this knife is the meeting point between a small paring knife and that bread knife, and I’m obsessed with it.

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If you’ve ever tried to cut a delicate item like a tomato or a croissant, you know the pain of smooshing instead of slicing. The smaller, serrated knife that comes as part of the knife set is perfect for avoiding that exact situation. It’s also excellent for tarts and cakes. When I opened my set of these knives, I figured I’d use the serrated knife occasionally, but would depend more on the paring and chef’s knives. If it were possible, I might also order a second of these serrated knives to leave on my bar cart for dedicated citrus slicing.

I love Made In’s products for their classic utility, and for their streamlined, functional good looks (just take one look at that Pomme Red handle and imagine them in your knife block) but I’ve now also come to expect them to introduce me to items that I never knew I needed—products that become instant necessities in my kitchen. Their knives are no exception.