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Expert Shopper Kitchen

Best chef's knives

Which chef's knife is best?

Chefs use lots of different knives to achieve many unique tasks. The knife they all use most often is the classic 8-inch chef’s knife. There are various manufacturers, makes and models, so choosing is challenging. Materials, craftsmanship and design are the three pillars that determine the quality of a chef’s knife.

If you are looking for high carbon, drop forged, German steel knife, take a look at the J.A. Henckels Zwilling Classic 8 Inch Professional Chef Knife.

What to know before you buy chef's knives

Chef’s knife

This is a large knife with a smooth blade edge. It is a general-purpose knife used for slicing, chopping, dicing and mincing. The most common length of the blade is eight inches.

Paring knife

This is a smaller version of the chef’s knife, usually about half the length. Paring knives are for chopping and slicing smaller food items and are at their best when used to peel and fillet.

Bread knife

This is a long knife with a serrated blade made for slicing. They were originally invented to slice all kinds of bread neatly and cleanly and are very good at slicing tomatoes and other soft fruits and vegetables.

Utility knife

Utility knives are a hybrid of serrated slicing knives and straight-edged paring knives. This is the knife chefs reach for when a paring knife is too small and a standard size chef’s knife is too big. Their scalloped blades are great for slicing vegetables and fruits.

What to look for in a quality chef's knife

Start any kitchen knife collection by finding a great chef’s knife. When you find the chef knife that feels the most balanced and comfortable in your hand, stick with that brand for your other knife choices as you add to your collection. 

Forged or stamped blade?

The more well-balanced a blade is, the easier it is to handle and the more comfortable it is to use. The process used to make a forged knife is usually more involved, making it a better choice and a higher-priced choice. 

A forged knife is made from a single bar of steel that is superheated and then formed into the desired shape. Forged knives have metal shafts called tangs that extend into the handle to hold the blade firmly in place. Full tangs add greater stability and feel more balanced in hand. 

A stamped knife is cut from a steel sheet of a defined thickness. It usually weighs less than a forged knife and is probably less well-made, lacking a forged knife’s balance and feel. It is the cheaper alternative and shows up a lot in budget knives.

The edge

When you buy a chef's knife, you want a knife with a sharp blade and stays sharp for a long time. Forged knives are usually made of harder steel that holds a sharp edge longer than a stamped knife.

The handle 

Wood is the classic chef’s knife material. Wood handles look and feel good but need to be correctly cared for so bacteria do not build up.

Plastic is lighter and more durable than wood but can crack, fade and look cheap.

Laminates are composites made from wood and plastic. They look like wood but are as easy to take care of as plastic.

How much you can expect to spend on chef's knives

Inexpensive chef's knives cost around $20, and the best ones cost $100 or more. Home chefs and cooks can find a well-made chef's knife with comfortable handles and a balanced feel for $40-$60.

Chef's knives FAQ

Is it best to buy just a chef's knife or a set of knives?

A. It is best to always start by buying a single chef's knife. If the handle feels comfortable after many uses, the knife feels well-balanced and it cuts nicely, buy the other knives you need from the same manufacturer.

How should I store my chef's knife?

A. The general rule of thumb is to store it, so the blade is fully protected. This might be in a slot in a wooden block, on a magnetic wall rack or in a sleeve in a separate compartment of a kitchen drawer dedicated to your best kitchen tools.

What are the best chef's knives to buy?

Top chef's knives

J.A. Henckels Zwilling Classic 8 Inch Professional Chef Knife

What you need to know: High carbon, drop forged, German steel makes this an outstanding chef's knife.

What you’ll love: This 9-ounce knife has a polypropylene handle triple-riveted to an entire tang blade. The handle is hypoallergenic and durable. The finely honed blade and satin finish create precision cutting and long-lasting sharpness. The full bolster adds weight to the middle and ensures safe handling.

What you should consider: Some say this chef's knife loses its edge too quickly.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top chef's knives for the money

Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8 Inch Chef’s Knife

What you need to know: This is a comfortable knife with a durable blade for those who want a quality knife with a budget price.

What you’ll love: This 7.5-ounce chef's knife has a carbon steel blade with a slip-resistant thermoplastic elastomer handle that is dishwasher safe. It comes with a lifetime warranty and is made by a brand known for its excellent customer service.

What you should consider: Some say the blade requires frequent sharpening.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Wüsthof Classic Ikon 8 Inch Chef’s Knife

What you need to know: This is a top-quality, well-balanced chef’s knife with a razor-sharp blade.

What you’ll love: This high carbon forged stainless steel chef’s knife has a full tang. 

The articulated laminate handle makes for a secure and comfortable grip that sits nicely in hand. The distinctive double bolster design gives this knife a professional heft and feel.  

What you should consider: Fans of Wüsthof knives say this model lacks the weight and balance they’ve come to expect from previous designs.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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