If there’s one kitchen equipment question I get more than any other, it’s this one: What is the best chef’s knife?
The honest answer? There is no such thing as a “best chef’s knife.” It’d be like asking a violinist to name the “best violin” or an architect to identify the “best material.” There are many factors that come into play, and depending on what type of cook you are and how your hands, body, and wallet are shaped, you might opt for one over another. Here are some things to consider:
- Style: There are a few styles to choose from and it is very much about finding a knife that matches your style. So do you prefer something precise and delicate like a Japanese style santoku, or perhaps something which is easily manoeuvrable and slim like a modern gyutou hybrid knife, or a Western style knife which is more functional?
- Design: A good knife should be as fine-tuned as a race car with every aspect, from the curvature of the blade to the weight of the bolster to the shape of the handle, taken into consideration for optimal balance and performance.
- Craftsmanship: Do the pieces all fit together tightly and firmly? Are the rivets going to fall out or is the blade going to separate from the handle? Is the finish on the handle smooth and pleasant to hold, and is the blade properly honed straight out of the box?
- Materials: Is the blade steel hard or soft? Blades made from a harder grade of steel like those found in Japanese knives keep their sharp edges for much longer but the downside is that that hard steel is obviously more difficult to sharpen. Conversely, a knife blade made from softer steels do not stay as sharp for as long but are easier to sharpen. Lastly, the handle is incredibly important as this needs to feel comfortable in your hand and be well balanced so does the composite or wood in the knifes handle well made, balanced and comfortable to use?
But the most important by far is personal preference: Once a certain base level of quality and design considerations are taken into account, the rest is all about your own reaction. That knife is going to be an extension of your hand, the most important tool in the kitchen. Does it feel natural? Are you comfortable holding it? Does it look nice? When you first put it in your hand, did you think to yourself, “this is the one for me”? Cooking should be a pleasure, and there’s no more surefire way to get yourself to enjoy cooking than taking the chore out of knife work.
Here are our top picks.
Best Chefs Knives 2019
If you have the money, there are some absolutely incredible chefs knives available, however, you can still get some superb chefs knives for a little bit less if you take the time to look around. To help, we have reviewed the best options on the market to make life a little easier and give you a good head start. Clicking on the ‘Best Price’ button will give you the latest UK price on Amazon where you can compare more reviews as you make your decision.
You can take a look at all our Best Chef Knives Reviews in more detail but if you want a sneak peak, the top 3 chefs knives of 2019 are below to get you started.
This chef knife tops our list for its combination of high-quality materials and beautiful design. If you’re looking for a knife that performs well and will impress your guests with its craftsmanship, this may be the best chef knife for you. The blade is forged with 67-layer high carbon stainless steel and a visually impressive Damascus pattern.
- Liquid nitrogen tempered steel for long lasting sharpness
- Ergonomically designed round handle for comfortable grip
- Handle is triple riveted to full tang for increased durability
- Unique, attractive Damascus pattern
- 12 to 15-degree edge for razor sharpness edge
- May require some sharpening before first use
- Due to the very fine edge, this knife may need sharpening more often than other best chef knives
PriceZelite Infinity Best Quality Japanese – This chefs knife represents a middle ground in price compared to the other knives on this list. The high-quality materials and attractive design make this knife an excellent choice for the price. This Zelite is one of the best chef knives for any experience level.
This knife boasts a Hammered Tsuchime finish which compliments it’s black, triple riveted handle. This is a great, ready for work chef knife. The blade is described as ‘ruthlessly sharp,’ made with Premium Japanese VG-10 Super Steel, which is why it made our best chef knives list.
- High carbon stainless steel blade features a razor sharp edge
- Balanced bolster to minimize wrist fatigue
- Durable design includes a full three rivet full tang inside an ergonomic grip
- Deep blade for knuckle clearance
- Stain and rust resistant
- Beginners will need time to adjust to the 57mm deep blade
- Heavier than most Japanese knives
- Deep blade may not fit in some knife blocks
PriceZelite Infinity Chef Knife 8 – Executive Chef Edition – This model is more expensive than the top ranked best chef knife on our list, although they are relatively similar in features. They both use the same high-quality Japanese steel with a wonderful, durable handle. The Executive Chef Edition stands out because of it’s deep knuckle clearing, which is ideal for heavy duty food prep.
The Kai Shun DM 0706 is a classic style chefs knife made from a traditional design. The blade is less ornate than the Zelite models, yet still very sharp. It uses a laminated Pakkawood handle that feels comfortable and solid in your hand. Shun is a respected cutlery manufacturer, and this is another candidate for the title of best chef knife for commercial or home use.
- High carbon Japanese steel
- Pakkawood handle that is NSF certified for use in commercial kitchens
- Rockwell hardness rating of 60-61 means that it maintains sharpness longer
- Handles available for right and left handed chefs
- Small design can feel awkward in large hands
- Prone to chipping
PriceKai Shun Damascus DM 0706 – All things considered this knife is a good buy. It’s one of the more expensive knives in our guide, but high-quality steel, a very sharp edge, and a comfortable handle make this one of the best chef knives the price.
Best Japanese Chefs Knives 2019
Japanese chef knives are known for their high-quality design and the skill that goes into crafting them. The best Japanese chef knives offer impeccable balance, and a razor sharp blade forged with the highest quality Japanese steel. Master Japanese blacksmiths, who spent years mastering the Samurai sword, passed down those same techniques that are now used to create a modern japanese chef knife. Clicking on the ‘Best Price’ button will give you the latest UK price on Amazon where you can compare more reviews as you make your decision.
You can take a look at all our Best Japanese Chef Knives Reviews in more detail but if you want a sneak peak, the top 3 Japanese chefs knives of 2019 are below to get you started.
This best chef knife knife earns our top spot because it epitomizes the classic Japanese technique of sword making. It’s very sharp, with high carbon stainless steel that’s repeatedly folded during forging to create the classic Damascus pattern. The black laminated handle looks sleek, and it balances evenly with the blade.
- Made with traditional Japanese swordmaking techniques
- Layered Damascus creates a harder blade that maintains sharpness longer
- Black laminated handle to handle a heavy workload
- Made in Seki, Japan, which is renowned for blacksmithing
- Forged with V-Gold No.10 high carbon stainless steel which is designed specifically for knives
- Expensive for a hobbyist chefs knife
- Unforgiving sharpness, use extra caution with this knife
PriceKasumi Japanese Chef’s Knife – While we ranked the Kasumi number one on our best japanese chef knives list, it’s not even the most expensive. Truth be told, the cost difference between this knife and others on the list is not very much. When you consider the high level of craftsmanship and the reliability of the Kasumi name, you can’t go wrong with this japanese chefs knife.
The Wusthof Classic is a top pick for at home chefs because of its above average performance and smaller price tag. Wusthof is a German company, and this Japanese styled blade does have a few European influences. It’s a santoku style blade, so it’s great for thin slicing, but it has the heft for heavy duty jobs as well. The handle provides enough weight to balance nicely with the German steel blade.
- Santoku style blade is ideal for very thin slicing
- Hefty German steel allows this blade to perform heavier duty work
- Triple riveted handle fits seamlessly and securely with the rest of the knife
- Hollow edge prevents slices from sticking to the blade
- Exceptional balance for easy control
- There is no finger guard between the handle and blade
- Must be sharpened more acutely than a traditional Wusthof blade
PriceWusthof Classic 17cm Oriental Cooks Knife – We counted this as one of the best chef japanese knives because it will fit in nearly anyone’s budget. It’s the least expensive on our list, but you wouldn’t know by looking at it. Many chefs will be impressed by its looks, and be even more happy with how well this knife cuts.
This japanese chef knife by well-renowned knife maker Mac is a premium example of a Santoku. The 6 ½ inch blade is razor sharp, and the handle is appropriately weighted. Plus, there’s a bolster for extra balance. Cook’s Illustrated Magazine recommends this blade, so it’s one of the more popular, best japanese chef knives.
- Sharp japanese stainless steel
- Bolster for increased balance and grip
- Dimpled blade for easy release of food
- Granton edge
- Very thin blade that’s susceptible to chipping
- Not designed for heavy duty work
PriceMac Santoku Knife W/Bolster – This is a world-class japanese chef knife and the price reflects that, as this is the most expensive in our guide. With that being said, these is a chefs knife that will maintain it’s sharpness very well with minimal sharpening required.
How to Choose the Best Kitchen Knife
To cook a superb dish, you need more than good cooking skills. A chef’s best companion would be a set of great quality knives and other workable kitchen utensils. In this blog post, I’d like to share about kitchen knives and give some tips on how you can choose the best kitchen knife.
Basically, kitchen knives are designed for specific uses and it’s important to own a basic set even if you don’t cook frequently or have a small kitchen (to find out more about kitchen knives and their uses, check out my post here). Here are 4 tips to help you make a good decision:
1. Choose Forged, Not Stamped
If you appreciate quality knives and price is not a major concern, always choose forged knives because they are stronger and more durable than stamped knives. However, you can go for stamped knives if you are not a heavy-duty user. Plus, it’s much cheaper. (For excellent stamped knife, I’d recommend Ginsu in Best Value for Money Knife Set).
Forged knives are handmade and built from a single block of steel. The blade and tang (explained below) are in one piece. On the other hand, stamped knives are machine cut in continuous strips from a block of steel. This is a more economical way to manufacture knives in bulk.
2. It Should Feel Good In Your Hand
Always pick up the knife and give it a good grasp before buying. If you plan to buy online, I’d advise you to go to your local knife store and give it a try first. A knife that feels comfortable in your hands will make cooking pleasurable and it also helps to reduce the stress on your wrist as you cut, chop, etc. Knives weigh differently due to the materials used to build it. Balance (the feel of the knife in your hands) depends on the design and weight. For example, a knife made of synthetic handle weighs and feels differently from one with wooden handle.
3. Pick One with Full Tang
Tang is the part of the knife that attaches blade to the handle and it runs through the handle. Naturally, I’d always choose a knife with full tang, meaning that the blade runs all the way through the handle. Full tang knives are usually used in combat and skilled weaponry but it’s also a quality infused in kitchen knives. It makes the knife stronger and sturdier.
If possible, avoid stub tangs. A knife with stub tang is easy to produce because the blade only has a short tab of metal at the end (maybe less than an inch) and it’s slotted into the grip or handle. Because of this, less metal is used (which makes it much cheaper) and not much workmanship skill is needed to make such knife. However, the knife wouldn’t last very long if you use it frequently.
4. Choose a Knife with Lifetime Warranty
Needless to say, lifetime warranty tells us that the knife is made of superb quality and that you’ve bought something of good value. Knives with lifetime warranty also tend to corrode less. Check out a few of my product recommendations with lifetime warranty: Best Stainless Steel Knife Block Set and Best Value for Money Knife Set.
Modern Hybrid Chef’s Knives
Compared to Western-style knives, these traditional Japanese knives are thicker, sharper, and, to be frank, more difficult to control without plenty of practice. Because of their flat cutting edges, it’s nearly impossible to employ the rocking chopping motions Western cooks are accustomed to using.
Santoku, a style born out of WWII
Since the end of World War II, a new knife has taken the place of the three traditional knives and the santoku has become the knife of choice in most Japanese kitchens. An early hybrid between Japanese and Western styles, it kept the blocky tip of a usuba and combined it with the thinner profile and lightly curved blade of a German chef’s knife. The result was a new style of knife that truly excels at mincing, chopping and slicing which is fitting as santoku literally translates as “three virtues”.
Gyutou, the future of chefs knives
In more recent years, the German and Japanese knife manufacturers have evolved further by creating a new style. Gyutou style knives were designed to be capable of delivering many of the standard Western tasks, but very importantly, being lighter and offer more control and precision. Gyutou style knives are not quite as precise as the Santokus but are more maneuverable, and their curved blades allow for a rocking motion when cutting or dicing.
Is a Gyutou knife for me?
Because of their sharp edge and lightness, they make great all rounder knives that are perfect for precision, vegetable work and mincing and are very comfortable to use. Obviously, being lightweight, this style of knife is not the best for heavy duty tasks. Thats why we say, use the right tool for the job, you will get far better results by doing so.
Well, to choose the best kitchen knives, you have to consider the few points mentioned above. Of course, price is an issue to consider as well but there are many knives in the market today with reasonable price. If you want to know what I recommend for Best Value for Money Knife Set, check out my product review here.
Choosing the right knife is an important first step in your culinary adventure. Have fun!