A surgeon is nothing without a reliable scalpel and a lumberjack is nothing without a strong, sturdy axe. Just the same, a chef is nothing without the right chef’s knife. A chef knows that the right knife can make the difference between being a good chef and being a great chef. Finding the best chef knife for you can be a challenge though.
Just like any tool, it can take years of trial and error to find that knife that is just the right fit for you and your cooking needs. Rather than waste time and money sifting through the thousands of chef knife options available to you, you can use resources such as this article, where we’ve used our own combined years of experience with knives to narrow down the best products available. This article could save you years of buying new knives only to have them fall short of your expectations for whatever reason.
We’re going to lay out what you should be prioritizing in your chef’s knife and then review the best chef’s knives we’ve been able to find so you can make an educated purchase and get the best product for your money.
While the right knife for you is ultimately a personal choice, based on what feels comfortable to you and what helps you be the best chef you can be. That being said, there are some characteristics to look for if you want to be sure you’re buying the right knife. Firstly, the most typical size for a chef’s knife is about 8 inches; this size provides the most range of cutting without being overwhelmingly large. Smaller knives may offer more agility when cutting, but also limit the size and scope of what you can cut.
The ideal weight can be a bit more about your personal preference than other knife characteristics because a heavier knife might be more comfortable for some chef’s than others. Some believe that a heavier knife is ideal because it will use more gravitational force to cut. Others believe that a more lightweight knife allows the chef more agility and dexterity when cutting. That’s why ultimately, this characteristic is a vital but personal consideration when choosing the right chef’s knife.
The ideal knife is both the right size and weight so that ultimately it is balanced well. It can be neither too heavy in the blade nor the handle, so that your work can be efficient while also remaining ergonomical. If there is imbalance between the blade and handle, or even horizontally with the knife favoring one side of the blade over, you’ll have to work harder and risk straining your hand and wrist. Additionally, an imbalanced knife can make uniform slicing and dicing significantly more difficult to achieve.
Chef Knife Reviews
Table of Contents
ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Pro Chef’s Knife
We’ve found that both models offer a strong, well-balanced knife with a sharp blade. The balance in this particular knife is one of the main reasons it is our top choice for chef’s knives. Slicing and dicing with this tool is so comfortable and easy it can’t even be considered work anymore.
The corrosion-resistant blade lives up to its advertisement, meaning you can put this tool through the literal ringer and it will still offer you a top-of-the line cutting experience. The handle is comfortable to hold, especially for extended periods of time, meaning you can do bulk prep-work without having to worry about painful hand cramps slowing you down.
Wusthof Classic Santoku
This is the best chef’s knife we’ve found for the best value. 7 inches is a comfortable knife size, the average of the two choices most chef’s go for. The handle is ergonomic, offering a smooth grip along with a traditional chef’s knife appearance. The knife is well-balanced and the hollow edge makes cutting easier.
This knife handled even the most intense cutting jobs with ease, taking much of the strain out of the work. We found that it retained its sharpness for less time than the ZWILLING but overall this is an excellent knife for the price! Aside from the sharpening need, it’s a long-lasting knife that you’ll be able to rely on.
Shun Classic Chef’s Knife
This product offers a wide range of sizes, as well, so you can choose just the right one for you. You can have the two traditional sizes we’ve seen before or a larger, 10 inch option, great for larger-hand or stronger chef’s, or chef’s who like as much gravitational help in their cutting as possible. The blade arrives sharp and ready to slice; we found it didn’t need frequent sharpenings, either.
We also found this knife to be on the lighter side compared with other brands, which is a great thing to consider especially if you might want to invest in the larger design. Lightweight knives offer flexibility and agility in the kitchen in a way that heavier knives simply cannot. This is a great tool and would serve you well in the kitchen, especially for such an affordable price!
Mac Knife MTH-80
Once you’ve adjusted to the slightly different grip, it is a well-weighted and well-balanced tool that slices and chops well. It may not be the right option for those chef’s with larger hands. The blade is extremely sharp giving you a clean, satisfying slice each time. We also found that this sharpness lasts, living up to repeated wear and tear over an extended period of time (with proper knife care, of course).
This is another lighter weight knife, as well, meaning it will allow you the greatest agility in your prep work. Though it is not our favorite and the design could use some improvements, this is a reliable tool at an affordable price!
Victorinox Fibrox Pro
This product is for those of you in the extreme budget situation when it comes to your chef’s tools. For the extremely affordable price, this product still offers you a reliable cutting experience. It is a good 8 inches with a fairly ergonomic handle. It slices and dices well straight out of the box. The handle design offers some sticking points on occasion; with a slight upward curve at the end, which makes it a little less comfortable to hold. It also has a smaller handle like the Mac which could also prove awkward for some chef’s, particularly those with larger hands.
Overall, for such an affordable price, we were pleased with this tool.
We found this tool to be less sharp than others upon arrival, but having a sharpening tool on hand is fundamental for proper knife care so this isn’t a dealbreaker on the product as a whole. The design of the handle is less ergonomic than the other options we’ve offered, with a stiff, straight line that almost inevitably causes cramping over extended use.
Those chef’s with smaller hands or who prefer straight-handled knives won’t find this design a problem! It’s a lightweight knife that allowed for a lot of dexterity while dicing and made precision work a breeze. While we did find it slightly less balanced than other designs, overall this was a good chef’s knife option!
When it comes to the knife you need, you know best what you’re looking for. You know what you find most comfortable and efficient, what provides you with the most agility or precision or whatever your priority. We’re always on the lookout for the best products on the market while also considering cost. You don’t always have to pay the highest price to get the best product, or to get a product that may not be the best, but that will get the job done well.
The ZWILLING Pro Chef’s Knife is a beautifully balanced kitchen tool is a breeze to use. It’s long lasting meaning that paying a little bit more money is ultimately an investment in quality. This knife is also top-of-the line when it comes to ergonomics; it doesn’t matter how well a knife cuts if your hand is in too much pain to pick it up again. This is our top pick for a chef’s knife but that doesn’t mean it has to be yours.
The Wusthof Santoku offers an average-sized, decently-balanced knife with a hollow edge which many believe makes cutting easier. It has the aesthetic of a traditional chef’s knife, meaning you’ll look and feel the part. Marketed as a combination of knife and vegetable cleaver, this design may appeal to those of you with high vegetable chopping needs. We found that it handled a heavy vegetable load with ease. The choice between the ZWILLING and the Wusthof could come down to mere aesthetics or size preferences for you; but, finding the right fit for you should be your main priority. It doesn’t matter how famous a knife is if you cannot comfortably and efficiently use it for your work.
For those chef’s on more of a budget, the Shun Classic Chef’s Knife is an affordable tool that still has all the trappings of a top-quality tool. The handle shape is less ergonomic than the previous two designs, but the blade shape offsets this discomfort, offering a fairly balanced and easy cutting experience. An added benefit for this design is the variety of sizes that are offered. This means that you can really make the best choice for you: a smaller, more agile knife or a heavier knife that gets gravity to make the chopping work easier. Don’t let the price make you think this is a subpar knife. It is not the best that we’ve found, that’s true; but, it is a sturdy, beautiful tool that does a great job in the kitchen especially considering the affordability of the price point.
At the end of the day, figuring out the right knife for you is only something you can do; but, we hope we’ve helped minimize the trial and error you’ll have to put in. These are the best chef knife options we’ve been able to find. They all have different pros and cons but any one of them would be an excellent investment in your cooking future.