The Best Chef Knives of 2023

If you're the designated chef at home, a high-quality knife can make all the difference in your meal prep. Rid your kitchen of dull blades, and invest in one of the most effective tools for your kitchen.

By Emily Blackwood | Updated Oct 27, 2022 2:10 PM

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The Best Chef Knife Option

Photo: amazon.com

There are thousands of innovative kitchen tools and cooking contraptions on the market, but the one that really makes an impact is the chef knife. Having a professional-grade blade handy makes slicing veggies a breeze, and this versatile tool can also help cooks with more complex tasks such as carving a turkey or chopping walnuts.

Choosing the best chef knife comes down to such specifications as good materials and blade edge type. Read on for some top considerations to keep in mind when selecting a knife and some of our top picks.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Wusthof Classic Ikon 8-Inch Cook’s Knife
  2. RUNNER-UP: Shun Sora 8-Inch Japanese Chef’s Knife
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Henckels International Classic Chef’s Knife
  4. BEST FOR BEGINNERS: Mercer Culinary M22608 Millennia 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
  5. BEST FOR PROFESSIONALS: Zelite Infinity Santoku Knife 7 Inch
  6. BEST JAPANESE: Zelite Infinity Damascus Chef Knife 8 Inch
  7. BEST HOLLOW-EDGE: Mac Knife Professional 8 Inch
  8. BEST SHORT CHEF KNIFE: Dalstrong Mini Santoku Knife 5 Inch
  9. BEST FOR PRECISION: Misen Chef Knife – 8 Inch
  10. BEST LIGHTWEIGHT: Vos Ceramic Chef Knife 8 Inch
The Best Chef Knife Option

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Chef Knife 

Choosing a new kitchen knife requires some knowledge of the various specifications and features that make one a professional. Weight, type of handle, and how well you can control the knife all can affect the type of knife that will give you the best cut. Read on to learn what else you need to consider before investing in a new chef knife.

Blade Material

No surprise here—the blade has a major impact on how effective the knife is and its best uses in the kitchen. The most common blade materials are carbon steel, high-carbon stainless steel, ceramic, and titanium.

Carbon steel is the opposite of stainless and will rust easily if not properly cared for. Because it’s an extremely sharp blade that requires a lot of maintenance, it’s usually reserved for professional, experienced chefs. The carbon gives steel an added strength and hardness, which is why high-carbon stainless steel is a better option than regular stainless steel, which can be a weaker metal to use.

Ceramic blades are becoming increasingly popular because they never need sharpening and are both rust-proof and stain-proof. Titanium also does not rust, and knives made from this metal hold an edge better than stainless steel blades. They’re also lighter to hold, which can make them a good option for beginners.

Blade Features

In addition to the blade material, its features matter. Professional chef knives come with various finishes and coatings, such as mirror, polish, satin, stonewash, and bead blast, to prevent corrosion. A good rule of thumb to remember is that the smoother the blade, the greater it can resist corrosion.

If you’re using a knife for slicing and dicing vegetables, choose a blade with grooves. The air in the grooves prevents food from sticking to the blade. Most chef knives have the same shape and tip, but the size varies from about 6 to 14 inches. The longer the knife, the harder it is to control, which is why 8-inch chef knives are the most common size.

Curved blades allow for more precise cutting, like you can get from a paring knife, which can be good for using a check knife mincing or cutting in julienne.

Edge

The edge of a chef knife is another important factor to consider. Good chef knives usually come grounded in a few common ways: hollow grind, single grind (also known as chisel edge), convex edge, and double grind (also known as V-shape). The edge affects the sharpness of a knife and how that sharpness endures over time.

Hollow-edge blades are some of the sharpest kitchen knife options around, but they’re also the most susceptible to damage. Convex edges have a curved design that makes the blades stronger than typical blades but more complex to use. They’re also hard to sharpen with at-home sharpeners.

Single edges are ground on one side while the other side remains straight and flat. They’re typically seen in Japanese sushi knives because they’re great for cutting delicate foods such as fish. On the other hand, the double edge is a popular choice because its double layer makes it strong and durable.

Weight, Balance, and Control

When it comes to high-quality knives, weight refers to how evenly the weight is distributed throughout the knife, which knife makers also refer to as its balance. The kind of balance a knife has affects how precisely you can control it.

In knives that are 10 inches long, the weight between the blade and the handle should be even. The shorter the blade, the heavier the handle. The heavier the handle, the more control you have over intricate movements.

Blades with bolsters—a thick junction between the blade and handle—often give the user more control and balance. You also can look for a knife with a distal taper when the blade reduces in thickness from guard to tip. This is a popular style because it’s lightweight and easier to handle.

And don’t forget the tang, or the part of the blade that extends into the handle. As a preference, many people believe that knives with a full tang blade are stronger than those with a partial tang.

Forged vs. Stamped

Chef knives are either forged or stamped, which refers to how the manufacturer crafts the blade. A hand-forged chef knife comes as a single bar of steel that’s heated and pounded into shape. A stamped knife is cut out of a sheet of steel and then treated with heat to increase its durability.

Forged knives are heavier and usually come with a larger bolster as well as a full tang. They are higher-quality blades, so they’re often more expensive than stamped knives. Stamped knives are lighter by design and easier for beginners to use. However, they often don’t retain their edge as long as a forged knife.

Handle

A chef knife’s handle (also known as a hilt) is usually made of wood, metal, or Micarta, a type of resin. Though they are comfortable to hold and look attractive, wood handles require more maintenance and are easier to damage. Micarta handles are lighter and more durable, but they can be expensive. Metal handles, like titanium and aluminum, are durable and inexpensive, but can get too hot for chefs who use them around ovens and flames. Carbon fiber handles are heat resistant and nonmetallic, which makes them rust-proof. However, they cost more than other types. Other handle types include Garolite, stainless steel, and fiberglass.

Our Top Picks

With a better understanding of the factors to consider when choosing the best chef knife, it’s time to start shopping for yourself or your favorite foodie. Browse these recommendations to find the right one for the user’s kitchen.

Best Overall

The Best Chef Knife Option: Wusthof Classic Ikon 8-Inch Cook's Knife
Photo: amazon.com

The Wüsthof Classic Ikon 8 Inch Chef’s Knife is a classic for good reason. This all-purpose chef knife is designed with an 8-inch double-edged blade forged from a single block of high-carbon stainless steel. The blade was built to be 20 percent sharper using precision edge technology.

Its sleek double-bolster handle is designed to provide balance and comfort. Effortless slicing and dicing is made possible by its slim and lightweight profile. This knife is razor-sharp and durable, so it is a versatile choice. The Wüsthof knife costs more than some chef knives but will cut plenty of different foods and last a long time.

The knife has a sturdy 4.5-inch-long stainless steel handle with a full tang and three rivets for maximum durability. The handle is also slightly curved to fit comfortably in the hand and is made from a strong synthetic material that’s smooth and exceptionally long lasting.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 9 ounces
  • Blade length: 8 inches
  • Handle material: Stainless steel

Pros

  • Full tang
  • Recessed, double-bolster handle
  • Ergonomic handle

Cons

  • Expensive

Get the Wüsthof Ikon chef knife on Amazon.

Runner-up

The Best Knives For Cutting Meat Option: Shun Sora 8-Inch Japanese Chef’s Knife
Photo: amazon.com

Japanese-style knives are said to be lighter and have thinner blades than other types of knives, which allow for greater maneuverability and the ability to slice foods finely. Handcrafted in Japan, the Shun Sora Chef’s Knife is handcrafted with proprietary steel.

This top pick is a traditional Japanese-style knife with a blade that’s nonserrated and hand sharpened, and the handle is made with textured TPE for durability and comfort. Shun knives are also heat treated, making their blades stronger and harder with greater durability. To prevent extensive damage, this 8-inch chef knife must be hand-washed; it cannot be placed in the dishwasher.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 6.5 ounces
  • Blade length: 8 inches
  • Handle material: Textured TPE

Pros

  • Traditional Japanese design
  • ]Heat-treated blade
  • Extra-light and thin construction

Cons

  • Shorter than comparable options
  • Not dishwasher-safe

Get the Shun Sora chef knife at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Target.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Chef Knife Option: J.A. Henckels International CLASSIC Chef’s Knife
Photo: amazon.com

You don’t have to break the bank to get a high-quality blade like the one on J.A. Henckels International 31161-201 CLASSIC Chef’s Knife. The knife is as affordable as it is razor-sharp. Constructed with a fine-edge blade from German stainless steel, this satin-finished blade can handle chopping, slicing, and mincing with ease. Plus, its ergonomically designed polymer handle makes it comfortable to hold and easy for beginners to use.

This chef knife comes in three lengths—6 inches, 8 inches, and 10 inches—and its triple-rivet black handle is dishwasher-safe. The knife is not as stain- or rust-resistant as some, but it carries an affordable price.

Despite its standard 8-inch blade, the knife will amaze chefs with its light weight. It’s well balanced and features a riveted full-tang handle for excellent leverage.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 4.3 ounces
  • Blade length: 8 inches
  • Handle material: Stainless steel

Pros

  • Comes in 3 lengths
  • Full bolster handle
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Handle may melt in high heat

Get the Henckels International Classic chef knife on Amazon or Overstock.

Best for Beginners

The Best Chef Knife Option: Mercer Culinary M22608 Millennia 8-Inch Chef's Knife
Photo: amazon.com

Designed with a combination of Santoprene and polypropylene, the Mercer Culinary M22608 Millennia 8-inch chef’s knife boasts both comfort and durability—two necessary attributes for a beginner’s knife. Plus, the Santoprene handle features textured finger points that aid in slip resistance, offer a better grip, and protect fingers from the blade.

The blade is forged from high-quality Japanese steel that doesn’t stain or rust and resists discoloration and corrosion. It also has a razor-sharp blade edge that’s easy to maintain. This Mercer knife may not hold up as long as higher-priced chef knives, but it offers many features beginner chefs need.

The standard 8-inch blade length is a great place to start, as it will help new cooks feel comfortable with more advanced chef knives when they’re ready to level up.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 6.7 ounces
  • Blade length: 8 inches
  • Handle material: Santoprene and polypropylene

Pros

  • High-quality Japanese steel blade
  • Stain- and rust-resistant
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Plastic handle may not hold up as well as stronger materials
  • No hollow edge

Get the Mercer Millennia chef knife on Amazon.

Best for Professionals

The Best Kitchen Knives Option: Zelite Infinity Santoku Knife 7 Inch - Alpha-Royal Series
Photo: amazon.com

The elegant design of the Zelite Infinity 10-ounce santoku knife includes visually stunning Damascus patterning layered atop a polished, high-carbon steel blade that’s naturally resistant to staining and rusting. Its 7-inch forged blade has a full tang that extends through to the back of the metal handle and ends in a curved solid rear bolster for a secure grip.

The blade of this santoku has hollows along the sides that reduce friction and keep food from sticking to it. Santoku knives have a flatter curvature along the edge of the blade, and the top of the blade curves abruptly to form a round tip. This slight difference makes a santoku knife better than other chef knives for fine cutting with the tip of the blade.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 10 ounces
  • Blade length: 7 inches
  • Handle material: Metal

Pros

  • Stain-, friction-, and rust-resistant
  • Full tang
  • Curved solid rear bolster

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Does not have a perfectly flat edge

Get the Zelite Infinity santoku chef knife on Amazon.

Best Japanese

The Best Chef Knife Option: Zelite Infinity Chef Knife 8 Inch
Photo: amazon.com

Designed with high-carbon stainless steel, the Zelite Infinity Chef Knife is our pick for the best Japanese chef knife. This 8-inch chef knife is forged with a full-tang double-edge blade that can help seasoned chefs and home cooks alike. The high-carbon stainless steel blade is 2.4 mm thick; resists stains, discoloration, and corrosion; and comes in a unique Damascus pattern. It also has a tapered bolster to help aid in its comfortability and control.

The military-grade G10 stainless steel handle is ergonomically designed to fit both large and small hands and minimize wrist tension for the user. The handle is also rounded to help cooks chop, mince, slice, and dice with minimal effort.

This knife is on the heavier side, at nearly 10 ounces, which makes it a good option for hard-to-cut items such as tough proteins and large vegetables. However, the thin sharp blade makes it precise enough to handle fine cuts and even sushi.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 9.92 ounces
  • Blade length: 8 inches
  • Handle material: Stainless steel and polypropylene

Pros

  • Sleek, durable design
  • Tapered, bolstered, ergonomic handle
  • Full tang

Cons

  • Heavy

Get the Zelite Infinity Damascus chef knife on Amazon

Best Hollow-Edge

best chef knight mac
Photo: amazon.com

When working with meats and cheeses, using a knife that prevents sticking is a huge help that can speed up the process and require less effort. For these tasks, rely on the Mac Knife. Long, hollow-edge, and thick, this 2.5-millimeter knife is 12.63 inches long, including the bolstered pakkawood handle.

Made in Japan, the Mac knife is produced with longevity and durability in mind with its alloy-steel construction. It is also lightweight at just 6.5 ounces, making it easy to maneuver while performing everyday cooking tasks or preparing meals in a professional kitchen. However, a downside of this option is that it is not dishwasher-safe.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 6.5 oz
  • Blade length: 12.63 inches
  • Handle material: Pakkawood

Pros

  • Prevents sticking while cutting
  • Long blade
  • Durable alloy-steel construction
  • Bolster handle

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Not dishwasher-safe

Get the Mac Professional chef knife on Amazon.

Best Short Chef Knife

best chef knight mini santoku
Photo: amazon.com

This Dalstrong blade is an excellent choice for delicate culinary tasks that require speed and precision. The lightweight construction and 2.5-millimeter steel blade make this knife easy to maneuver, regardless of the user’s skill level.

The blade is made from super-sharp Japanese AUS-10V steel sharpened to 14 to 16 degrees that maintains its edge well and makes quick work of hardy items such as carrots and other root vegetables. Plus, the pointed tip is well designed for initiating cuts when butchering. The knife has a flat edge that doesn’t require too much rocking, so chefs can move it efficiently in the kitchen.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Blade length: 5 inches
  • Handle material: Pakkawood

Pros

  • 62+ Rockwell rating
  • Hollow edges
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • May be too small for some cooks

Get the Dalstrong santoku chef knife on Amazon

Best For Precision

best chef knight misen
Photo: amazon.com

Slice, dice, and cut like a pro with this flashy and stylish chef knife. If a classic black or gray handle isn’t your style, try the blue or red to add some flair to your culinary collection.

This reasonably priced knife is well made with a full-tang design, razor-sharp blade, and nicely curved alloy-steel bolstered handle to protect fingers. At half a pound, this is a mid-weight knife with a standard 8-inch blade that works for every kind of cook. The blade is made from Japanese AUS10 steel that will last for years as long as it’s hand-washed and well dried after every use.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 8 ounces
  • Blade length: 8 inches
  • Handle material: Alloy steel

Pros

  • Sloped bolstered handle
  • 15-degree blade angle
  • Multiple color and length options

Cons

  • Blade may rust if not properly cared for

Get the Misen chef knife on Amazon.

Best Lightweight

best chef knight vos ceramic
Photo: amazon.com

This knife is superlight and easy to wield thanks to its porcelain construction. The ceramic blade is rustproof, and the knife comes with a protective sheath for storage without dulling. The bright green handle is made of hard ceramic and has a textured thumb rest for added comfort.

Not only do cooks not have to worry about rust, this 8-inch chef knife also comes with a lifetime guarantee, so buyers can rest assured that it will stick around for years of daily use. Although this knife may be too light for more involved cutting jobs, it’s a great size and weight for fruit and other soft ingredients.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 3.5 ounces
  • Blade length: 8 inches
  • Handle material: Ceramic

Pros

  • Includes blade sheath
  • Inexpensive
  • The ceramic blade won’t rust

Cons

  • May not provide enough leverage for some

Get the Vos Ceramic chef knife on Amazon.

Our Verdict

The Wüsthof Ikon chef knife is an all-around great choice for every kind of cook thanks to its perfect balance, mid-weight construction, and sturdy full-tang design. If you’re looking for something a little easier on the wallet, you can’t go wrong with the Henckels International Classic chef knife, a great starting place for new cooks looking to sharpen their culinary skills.

How We Chose the Best Chef Knives

This list of the best chef knives was developed based on extensive product research. We found the most-loved products from the top brands in the world of kitchen knives. We then used customer ratings and reviews, product descriptions, and personal testing to narrow the list further. In particular, we looked for knives in a range of price points, with various sizes, weights, and materials to meet the needs of every kind of cook.

For example, these knives range from 3.5 to 12 ounces in weight for easy maneuvering and precision, and they are made for durability and longevity with full tang and German or Japanese stainless steel. Plus, some of these top picks come with ergonomic handles, hollow edges, and tapered bolsters to perform well during simple or complex kitchen tasks.

The Advantages of Owning A Chef Knife

All cooks need a chef knife in their arsenal. It’s the perfect size, shape, and weight for nearly every job in the kitchen. Whether they’re doing the fine knife work of making perfect quarter-inch cubes of carrot, breaking down a whole chicken, or simply chopping an apple for a snack, a chef knife can get the job done quickly and with little effort.

Many chef knives on the market are also made to last a long time with proper care and sharpening, allowing cooks to reap the benefits for years to come.

  • Chef knives are highly versatile and come in varying lengths for different cooking tasks.
  • Most models are comfortable to work with, as they are aided by ergonomic handles and finger protectors.
  • Many are easy to keep sharp with correct maintenance and storage.

FAQs 

Now that you’ve seen what it takes to make a high-quality chef knife, it’s time to answer any remaining questions you might have about how to choose the best one for your kitchen. Below is more valuable information about chef knives and what you need to know before you purchase your own.

Q. What is a chef knife good for?

You can use a chef knife for mincing, slicing, and chopping veggies, as well as slicing meat.

Q. What’s the difference between a chef’s knife and a Santoku knife?

A Santoku knife is designed for precision and thin cutting, while a chef knife is multipurpose in use.

Q. How big should a chef’s knife be?

Chef knives are between 6 and 10 inches long.

Q. How do you properly clean a knife?

You can clean a knife with soap and water, and most are also dishwasher safe. Check the label before washing.