Best Chinese Chef Knives

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

29 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
361 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best Chinese chef knives

Last Updated December 2019

Having the right tools in the kitchen is essential if you want to prepare your favorite dishes quickly and easily. Knives are some of the most basic kitchen tools, but if you’re tired of needing a different knife for each task, it might be time to invest in a Chinese chef knife.

A Chinese chef knife, also known as a Chinese cleaver, is a multi-purpose knife, which is why it’s often the only one that traditional Chinese chefs use. The rectangular blade has an extremely sharp edge that’s usually ground at a slight angle. It can be used for a wide range of kitchen tasks, including slicing and chopping vegetables, peeling fruit, crushing garlic cloves, and deboning and pounding meat. It’s an ideal tool for anyone who wants a single knife to help with many food-prep tasks.

Choosing a Chinese chef knife isn’t easy, though, because there are many factors to consider. If you’re unsure how to find the best one for you, take a look at our buying guide for all the tips you need. We also have some specific recommendations to make shopping as simple as possible.

A good Chinese chef knife should feel solid in your hand without being too heavy. If you feel any strain in your wrist or forearm, it’s best to try another model.

Key considerations

Construction

As with any kitchen knife, choosing a high-quality Chinese chef knife can help ensure that it is durable and well balanced.

  • Tang: The tang is the prong or shank that connects the blade to the handle. A “partial tang” Chinese chef knife means that the blade and the handle aren’t a single continuous piece. That means the knife may be more prone to breakage where the blade and handle meet.

    A “full tang” Chinese chef knife means that the blade and handle are one continuous piece of metal. This type of knife is more durable because the blade isn’t as likely to break off. A full tang Chinese chef knife also feels more balanced in the hand, which can make it easier to use. These Chinese chef knives are usually more expensive, so if you don’t have the budget for one, opt for a model with a tang that extends at least three-quarters of the way into the handle.
     

  • Blade: Historically, Chinese chef knife blades were made of highly durable carbon steel. Some models are still made of carbon steel, but it is prone to rust and can add a metallic taste to the foods that you cut with it. These days, many Chinese chef knives have blades made of stainless steel because it doesn’t impart any taste to food and it resists rust, too. You can also find some Chinese chef knives with a blade made of a combination of carbon steel and stainless steel to give you the best of both worlds.
DID YOU KNOW?

Chinese chef knives are usually sharpened at an 11° to 16° angle, which gives them a very sharp blade.

Chinese chef knife features

Thickness

The blades of Chinese chef knives can range from two to more than eight millimeters thick. The thickness determines what foods the blade works best with or what tasks it’s best suited for. Thinner blades typically work best for softer foods like fruits and vegetables, while thicker blades work best for meat and bones. Here’s a guide to choosing the appropriate blade thickness:

  • Two millimeters: Fruits, vegetables, skinning fish, julienning

  • Three to seven millimeters: Wide range of tasks, including cutting chicken bones

  • Eight millimeters and more: Cutting through dense bone; not ideal for slicing and finer cuts

Length

Chinese chef knife blades are available in a variety of lengths. Seven inches is the most common and the most versatile, but avoid shorter knives because they aren’t as useful. You can find knives with blades that are as long as 11 inches.

Handle

Chinese chef knives are available with handles made of wood, stainless steel, and molded plastic. All three materials can work well, though wood has the most attractive appearance. As long as you choose a knife with a nonslip grip, any material that suits your personal preference is fine.

Design

The marketing of many Chinese chef knives lets you know what tasks the knives are designed for. Not all models are meant for cutting through bone, for example, so the knife may be described as good for cutting vegetables and meat. Chinese chef knives with a thicker blade are usually designed to cut through bone, so the manufacturer will indicate that in the product description.

Chinese chef knife prices

Chinese chef knives range in price based on their thickness, material, and construction. Most cost between $13 and $250.

Inexpensive: The most affordable Chinese chef knives have thinner blades that are usually made of carbon steel or stainless steel. They typically have a partial tang and cost between $13 and $28.

Mid-range: These Chinese chef knives typically have thicker blades made of carbon steel or stainless steel. They may have a partial or full tang. These knives cost between $28 and $112.

Expensive: The most expensive Chinese chef knives have thick blades made of carbon steel, stainless steel, or a combination. They typically have a full tang and cost between $112 and $250.

EXPERT TIP

While any handle material can work well on a Chinese chef knife, many users prefer the look of a wooden handle over plastic or stainless steel.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

To prevent rust, avoid storing your Chinese chef knife in a damp or humid area.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Wash your knife by hand. A Chinese chef knife should always be washed by hand to maintain the blade. Use warm, soapy water, and dry the knife thoroughly after rinsing.

  • Take care with acidic foods. If you use your Chinese chef knife to cut acidic ingredients like tomatoes or citrus fruit, wash it immediately to prevent discoloration or other damage.

  • Keep the knife sharp. You should sharpen your Chinese chef knife regularly to avoid accidents like cut fingers. Honing steel or a sharpening stone is often the easiest, most effective way to sharpen a Chinese chef knife. Hold the steel or stone upright and slide the knife along it away from you five to ten times.

  • Store your knife properly. To keep a Chinese chef knife sharp and protected, store it in a knife block.

Other products we considered

There are plenty of Chinese chef knives to choose from, so there’s bound to be a model that’s a perfect fit for your kitchen. The Aroma House Chef’s Knife is an ideal option if you prefer a stainless steel seven-inch-long blade. It offers a full tang and an ergonomically designed handle, so it feels comfortable and balanced in your hand. The 2.5 millimeter blade can mince, slice, dice, chop, and cut through the toughest meats with ease. We also love the SHAN ZU Chinese Cleaver if you prefer a slightly thicker blade. The 3.2 millimeter blade can not only get through fruits, vegetables, and meat but chicken bones as well. It also offers the stability of a full tang, and the nonslip handle helps reduce tension on your wrist.

Not all Chinese chef knives can chop through dense bone, so check the manufacturer's guidelines to see what foods your knife can safely saw through.

FAQ

Q. What are the main benefits of a Chinese chef knife?

A. For most home cooks, the main benefit is versatility. Instead of needing a separate knife to mince garlic, chop peppers, pound meat, and cut through chicken bones, you can use a Chinese chef knife to handle all of those tasks. It’s also an extremely cost-effective kitchen tool because it can take the place of two or three knives.

Q. How can I store a Chinese chef knife if it won’t fit in my knife block?

A. If your knife block doesn’t have a slot that can fit a Chinese chef knife, a magnetic wall strip is an ideal alternative. As its name suggests, it’s a magnetic strip that mounts to the wall to hold knives. It doesn’t have slots for the knives to fit in; instead, they lie flat against the strip so knives of nearly any size will fit. A magnetic strip is ideal for holding a Chinese chef knife or other cleavers. Just be sure to install the strip so it’s out of reach of kids!

Q. Can I clean a Chinese chef knife in a dishwasher?

A. It’s always best to check the manufacturer’s guidelines when it comes to the proper care and cleaning of a Chinese chef knife. Some models are dishwasher safe, but it’s generally advised that you wash a Chinese chef knife or cleaver by hand. If you wash it in the dishwasher regularly, the blade can dull and become damaged.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Jacob
    Jacob
    Editorial Manager
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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