If you’re looking for a cutting tool that can do practically everything, then the ulu knife is a great option. It’s traditionally used by Alaskan people to do anything from preparing meals to skinning wild game.
But with all the options available, buying an all-purpose blade for the first time can leave you confused. In this guide, we’ll help you find the best ulu knife on the market.
- Best Overall: Ulu Factory With Bowl Set and Birch Handle
- Best Value: Alaska Ulu Knife With Chopping Board and Bowl Set
- Premium Collection: Gil Hibben Legacy Ulu Knife
- Most Durable: Lamson Ulu Knife With Walnut Handle
- Customer’s Choice: Alaskan Ulu – Legendary Knife of the Arctic
What is an Alaska ULU?
An Ulu is a multi-purpose knife commonly used by women from the Inuit, Iñupiat, Yupik, and Aleut tribes. Modern Ulu knives feature a caribou antler handle and a fixed stainless steel blade with a single bevel and 6 inches of length.
Applications for this type of knife include skinning animals, field dressing, cutting kid’s hair, prepping food, and even trimming small ice and snow blocks to build igloos. The Ulu knife comes from Alaska, where it’s been a reliable tool for the native Arctic people for many decades. The shape of an Ulu knife is similar to a mezzaluna, but there are some significant differences between the two. More on that later in the article.
Top 8 Best Ulu Knives to Buy in 2023
1. Alaskan Ulu, Knife of The Arctic
The first product on our list is the Legendary Knife of the Arctic, an elegant blade that’s proudly made in Alaska. It’s the best-selling item from The ULU Factory, a company that’s been making similar goods for more than 25 years.
What makes this cutting tool special? Being a rocker knife, you can just tip it back and forth to dice anything within seconds – meaning there’s no need to move the product up and down, as you would with flat blades.
It also comes with a large handle, so you’ll have no trouble using it for any kitchen chore. Chopping and slicing become easy as pie, whether you’re a professional chef or a casual foodie. Even people who can only use one hand are able to cut with precision using this rocker knife!
Another standout quality of this product is its longevity. With regular use, expect it to hold up for about a decade. The blade is also easy to clean, so maintenance is kept at a minimum. Keep in mind, though, that the ulu knife’s wooden handle may not hold up as long, so be careful when gripping it.
Not only is this product effective and easy to use, the product’s design makes it very safe since the blade stays far away from the user’s fingers. If you like preparing large batches of food ahead of time, consider this as your best friend.
- This product has a sharp, stainless steel blade that can cut even through leather.
- It comes with a walnut stand, making the knife an attractive countertop decoration.
- The knife measures 8.27 x 5.98 x 0.94 inches, so it might be too small if you have large hands.
2. Alaska Ulu Knife Set
Just when we thought that food prep can’t get any easier, then comes this ulu knife set with a chopping board. It includes a cutting block that lets you mince ingredients without worrying about any pieces falling off the floor.
The wooden cutting bowl is also good for preventing meat juices from making a mess. If you prefer a flat surface, just flip it over and it becomes a versatile cutting board.
One of this ulu knife’s strongest qualities is its stainless steel blade. It’s sharp enough to cut through anything from onions to walnuts. Even if you have no food processor, you won’t have trouble chopping a huge amount of ingredients.
The stainless steel blade is also quite easy to hone using a diamond stone. Make sure to sharpen only the side with bevel.
Like the Knife of the Arctic, this set also comes with a wooden knife stand. Instead of storing the ulu in the drawers, you can simply place it where you can grab it for everyday use. Note that this product comes with a small handle and blade. If you have large hands, expect to have a tricky time handling it.
- This mezzaluna knife has a fine blade that measures 6 inches.
- The beautiful cutting board is made from two types of wood: birch and walnut. This creates a unique two-tone design with contrasting shades.
- This knife set comes in a gorgeous gift box.
3. ULU Factory Ulu Bowl Set Birch Handle AK Cutlery
If you’re more interested in heavy-duty cutting, then this Ulu Knife and Cutting Bowl Set should be one of your first options. It has a wooden handle that’s noticeably larger than other products from the same manufacturer. It’s the better choice if you find that similar products are too small for you to grip comfortably.
Just like the Alaskan Ulu Knife set we mentioned earlier, this product comes with a two-tone birch and walnut cutting bowl. Simply place any ingredient on the bowl and you can dice it up without worrying about a piece flying out of place.
One thing to note, though: you have to be careful when using the cutting board. The chopping block can split if not handled with care.
The same goes for the pine handle. Be careful while handling it as it can crack if you grip too tightly. On the plus side, the blade holds up great and stays sharp for years.
- This sharp knife measures 7.99 x 7.91 x 1.5 inches.
- The half-moon stainless steel blade stays sharp even after more than a year of constant use
- The wooden handle is engraved with the Alaska Cutlery logo.
4. Alaska Ulu Knife Natural Exotic Wood Stand Etched Blade
This little cutting tool from Arctic Circle is an excellent option for those who want their tool to be both useful and aesthetically pleasing. Its wooden handle and knife stand come in eye-catching natural earth tone and red colors, turning the entire set into a stunning decoration when not in use.
But, the attractive color combination isn’t the only thing this knife has got going for it; the razor-sharp stainless steel blade will impress you, too! It does its job very well, whether you’re chopping meat or mincing veggies.
For its exceptional quality and appearance, you’ll be surprised that this item is among the least expensive ulu knives available on the market. It’s an affordable option for those who want to experience the difference this type of cutting tool offers. You may also want to note that while the product is advertised as native Alaskan, it is actually imported from China.
- Rust-proof and stain-resistant, this ulu knife is perfect for long-term use.
- The 440-grade steel blade is easy to clean and sharpen.
- The matching exotic designs of the handle and knife stand add color to any kitchen.
5. Gil Hibben Legacy Ulu Knife and Leather Sheath
If you are a Gil Hibben knife enthusiast, then you might want to add this one to your collection. The famed master custom blade maker re-imagined the traditional Alaskan ulu to enhance its functionality and appearance.
There’s more to this modern ulu knife than being a display piece. Built for high performance and durability, this cutting tool has a wide and hefty blade that is finely sharpened for any slicing or chopping task.
This product also has a unique and functional handle designed for ease and efficiency. It’s a great ulu knife with a sheath that you can use whether in your kitchen or in the great outdoors.
- The mirror-polished finish of its 6.5-inch 5Cr15 stainless steel blade gives this ulu knife a sleek and elegant quality.
- The innovative design of the black pakkawood handle and finger hole allows for a secure grip, regardless of the size of your hand.
- The black leather belt sheath stands out with its embossed Hibben logo. It’s made with a snap closure to keep the knife secured while you’re hunting outdoors.
6. LAMSON 34270 Ulu Knife
One of the oldest manufacturers of cutlery in the United States, Lamson has been producing the finest kitchen tools with the highest standard of craftsmanship. They design and craft products that are known for their performance and quality. With its well-crafted handle and keenly sharpened blade, this ulu knife is no exception.
This Alaskan ulu is an efficient tool for cutting and dicing meat, vegetables, fish, and seafood. It’s also really handy for slicing cheese and pizza. But, the best thing about this tool is how perfectly it fits in your hand – it really feels like an extension of your body.
- The blade is made from easy-to-sharpen, hardened, and tempered high-carbon 420HC grade stainless steel.
- The hard and durable walnut knife handle is secured with brass rivets for balance and weight.
- For a comfortable grip, the handle has a mineral oil finish and an opening that is about 5 ½ – 5 ¾ inches.
7. Alaska Ulu Knife and Chopping Bowl Set
This is the best gift set for those who love to slice, dice, and mince in the kitchen. Made by Arctic Circle, it includes an ulu and an 8″ x 8.25″ cutting block that doubles as a knife stand.
The 6-inches inset bowl makes chopping herbs and veggies more convenient. It is concave enough to fit the edge of the blade along with the chopped food. If you love preparing small meals or late-night snacks, you can also use this cutting block as a serving tray.
As with most ulu knives, its stainless steel blade doesn’t stain easily. But be sure to wipe it dry after use to avoid rusting. You can use this cutting tool for years. All you need to do is hone the blade once it gets blunt.
The price point might be a bit high for some people, but the complete knife set is worth every penny. It is the best gift you can give to friends or relatives who love spending time preparing food in the kitchen.
- The whole ulu knife set is compact and not as heavy as it looks.
- The light wood color and distinctive red lines add to the board’s pleasing aesthetics.
- The large wooden ulu knife handle allows for an easy, no-slip grip.
8. Inupiat Alaskan Cutlery Ulu Knife Exotic Colored Wood w/Etched Map
Crafted in the knife-making style of the Inupiat tribe of northern Alaska, this cutting tool is designed and honed for enhanced efficiency. The high-quality sturdy, razor-sharp blade and easy-to-grip wooden handle will help you cut and dice anything fast and easy.
This ulu knife is also reasonably priced, considering its quality and finish. One important thing of note, though. The blade may get dull after several uses; although you can easily sharpen it again with a trusty honer.
Also, the knife handle isn’t varnished. It’s a good idea to apply a butcher conditioner on the wooden surface to maintain the coating and prevent it from drying or cracking.
- This knife has a large handle and opening that make cutting and slicing chores easy for users with bigger hands.
- The ulu knife box features the ulu’s short history, in addition to usage and care instructions.
- The exotic colors of the handle and knife stand add to the tribal feel of the ulu.
What Are ULU Knives Used for?
Modern ulu knives can cut meat or chicken, slice vegetables like onions, mince herbs, and dice cheese. This type of knife can also cut through tough items like bone. People use it to skin and clean animals or for outside tasks such as trimming snow or ice blocks. An ulu knife is a versatile tool that doesn’t serve a single purpose, but many.
Can Men Use ULU?
Traditionally, women used the ulu knife for domestic tasks like preparing food, but that doesn’t mean that men can’t use it. In fact, men also carried this type of knife for self-defense and hunting purposes.
Is an Ulu the Same as a Mezzaluna?
An ulu is significantly different from a mezzaluna. Primarily, the ulu knife features a handle in the middle of the crescent, whereas the mezzaluna comes with separate handles on each end of the crescent. Mezzaluna knives are also larger than ulu knives, and a mezzaluna often implements two or more blades, while the ulu only has one.
Best Places to Buy an ULU Knife?
Northern Knives is a great place to buy Ulu knives in Anchorage, Alaska. The Ulu Factory at Ship Creek is another facility where you could get a high-quality Ulu knife. These knife makers have websites too, which means you can order the knife online.
Alternatively, the Saturday Market on 3rd Avenue has booths that offer these knives too. If you’re looking for quality Ulus at affordable prices, the gift shop at the Alyeska Resort offers fine knives for less than $100. The Eagle River Knife Co. also makes Ulus for a higher price, but their quality is much better than what you would find in tourist shops.
Who Makes the Best Quality Ulu Knife?
The ULU Factory makes the best Ulu knives. An Ulu knife from this manufacturer features a unique design to improve dexterity and provide cutting leverage, allowing you to make fine cuts whether you’re slicing or chopping. These knives have comfortable wooden handles, durable stainless steel blades, and an ideal 6-inch blade length for more than one purpose.
An ulu knife is not like a traditional kitchen knife, which is why it’s important to know its essential features before buying one. Find out here how to pick a high-quality ulu knife based on elements like the blade material, sizes, and styles, among other things.
1. Intended Uses
One thing to consider before buying an Ulu knife is what you want to do with it. This type of knife comes in different styles, sizes, and a variety of blades, and each one is suitable for different tasks.
For example, smaller Ulu knives can make precision cuts to create patterns in animal skins or hide. The blade material also plays a role here because some steels are stronger and can slice much better than others. You also want to consider the style of the Ulu, as it can significantly influence how easy it’s to slice or pierce through stuff.
Ulu knives also have an intense cultural symbolism across the Arctic, which is why people give them away as a gift to celebrate accomplishments. For example, the Arctic Winter Games award athletes with ulus made of gold, silver, and bronze instead of medals.
There’s so much you can do with an Ulu knife. It can cut pizzas, meat, or chop nuts, but it can also do tougher tasks like skinning animals. For that purpose, it’s essential to have a sturdy handle with a robust blade. I will talk more in-depth about these features and which ones are better next.
2. Blade Materials
Historic Ulu blades featured stone variations as the main material, including slate, shale, and quartzite. Ulu makers opted for this type of material because there wasn’t any metal smelting technology available in the Arctic. However, modern Ulu knives now include blades made with stainless steel or high carbon steel. Here’s how they differentiate.
Stainless Steel. These blades are more suitable for Ulu knives due to their high resistance. You can use it for food preparation without any risk of rust or stain issues. This type of steel is also easier to maintain, requiring less time to sharpen and only a quick rinse to remove any food residue from the surface. It’s the most convenient blade material for you due to its effectiveness, ease of care, and durability.
High Carbon Steel. This material makes the blades surprisingly strong, allowing them to last longer and put up with a ton of pressure. It’s a blade material that you should consider if you want an Ulu knife for skinning, butchering, or survival purposes. The downside is that high carbon steel is more susceptible to rust and corrosion. As a result, it requires regular maintenance.
3. Handle Materials
Traditional Ulu knives featured different types of materials for the handle, like caribou antler, muskox horn, and walrus ivory. Other knife makers used bone and wood to carve out the handles when these materials were available. Nowadays, manufacturers use walnut materials to create handles with a classic look. Other options are hardwood, Caribou Antler, and plastic handles.
Wooden Handle. This type of handle is the most popular. It looks good, feels comfortable, and provides a solid grip to maneuver the knife. Wooden handles are ideal for home tasks indoors. With that said, handles made of wood are prone to cracking or splitting if you don’t maintain them properly. As a precaution, you should store them away from the sun and keep them out of damp areas.
Silicone Handle. A silicone handle is considerably more affordable than wooden handles, but it doesn’t look as good. Still, this material shines in other areas. For instance, it cannot absorb water, making it impervious to moisture and free of rust or corrosion issues. This material makes the Ulu knife ideal for outdoor activities like camping, hiking, or hunting because long exposure to water or other liquids won’t damage the scales.
Caribou Antler. This handle material is one of the strongest you can find. It provides sturdiness and resistance needed to perform the toughest tasks, like butchering animals. Caribou Antler is a natural material that feels warm and tactile, delivering an incredible amount of grip even if it’s wet. A Caribou Antler handle is for sure the one you need for an all-purpose Ulu knife.
Ulu knives come in different styles, including the Inupiat (Alaskan), Canadian, East Greenlandic and West Greenlandic.
These are some of the most popular Ulu styles available.
Original Ulu. This type of Ulu resembles the original design of the knife, with a slate blade and rounded corners. Due to this shape, the blade wasn’t good for piercing, but it worked for scraping hides, cutting hair, breaking stitches, trimming stuff, and sewing.
Inupiat Style. The Inupiat Ulu knife has a blade with a cut-out centerpiece and the two ends of the blade fitted into the handle. Go with this type of Ulu for culinary chores, like slicing cheese and meats or chopping nuts.
East Greenlandic. This Ulu knife has a rectangular blade with pointy tips and a curved handle. While this type of Ulu can pierce through ingredients like salmon, it’s more suitable for slicing vegetables or meat due to the curvature of the blade.
West Greenlandic. An Ulu knife with a West Greenlandic style is characterized for having a thin handle connecting the blade with the stem. This Ulu style has a less rounded blade and steeper ends on each side. You can use it for prepping fish, slicing meat, or skinning animals.
Canadian Style. Ulus with a Canadian style vary in shape depending on the region. The western regions often use Ulu knives with a triangular shape, ideal for slicing in a rocking motion. However, the eastern Arctic regions usually have Ulu knives with pointier blade ends that you can use for piercing through the skin as a self-defense weapon while hunting.
Classic Canadian Ulus have blades connected to the handle by a single stem located in the center.
The size of an ulu knife varies between 2 inches (5 cm), 6 inches (15 cm), and 12 inches (30 cm). Each size is suitable for different tasks. If you want a tool to cut sinew or carve patterns on animal skin, an ulu with a 2-inch blade is perfect. A 6-inch blade makes the ulu knife a multi-purpose tool for general applications, such as slicing, mincing, chopping or dicing vegetables. Lastly, the larger 12-inch ulu knives are better for skinning and butchering game, as well as for cutting sturdier materials like logs.
6. Bowl or Board Material
The cutting boards for Ulu knives are a bit different from traditional cutting boards. These boards have a bowl-like center and feature a walnut wood construction. A cutting bowl for ulu knives often measures 8 inches, delivering plenty of space for you to use ulu knives with a 6-inch blade.
These cutting boards are a blessing because they can make your kitchen experience so much easier. If you’re prepping food for family, friends, or guests, you can throw a variety of veggies like lettuce inside and chop them in just a couple of shakes. The ingredients come out chopped up evenly and bite-sized, ready for salads.
Some countries like the United States and Canada regulate the type of knife you can own or carry. Penalties vary from fines to jail time, so that’s something you want to avoid. Before purchasing an Alaska Ulu knife, take the time to learn whether your country or state has restrictions over it. These restrictions can be over the blade’s length, ownership, carry, or whether you must keep it concealed or not.
8. Blade Bevel
The vast majority of ulu knives are single bevel, meaning you won’t get lost choosing between these or double-bevel blades.
Single bevel blades have an angle formed only on one side of the edge, making it sharper and ideal for prepping food with more ease. Maintaining this type of bevel is also a breeze. Since it requires work on only one side, it’s easier to keep the cutting edge sharp. It’s a type of blade that comes in handy for everyone, whether professionals or beginners.
When is a double-bevel design more useful? Ideally, if you’re a left-handed person. Double-bevel knives have the angle form on both sides of the cutting edge, making them useful regardless of your dominant hand.
Alaskan Ulu knives are versatile tools, meaning that you can use them for tasks like cleaning fish in the morning and cutting pizza for dinner. Fish can leave an unpleasant smell on the blade, which you don’t want to pass on to a delicious slice of pizza. That’s why you need an ulu knife that is easy to clean. Keep in mind that this type of knife is not dishwasher-safe, so the cleaning is by hand.
Luckily, traditional ulu knives are easy to wash using warm water. Stainless steel blades are the easiest to clean, while wooden handles require special attention to keep residue from penetrating into the scales.
The ulu knife is the perfect kitchen tool for any cutting chores. But with all the available brands out there, it can be quite challenging to choose the best ulu that will suit your cutlery requirements.
For our money, the Alaskan Ulu, Knife Of The Arctic is the top option; it’s priced extremely affordably for a premium product. We also recommend the Alaska Ulu Knife Set; the highly efficient blade and cutting bowl are huge upsides, and we consider it our second-best pick.