Ask any professional chef if they were stranded on a desert island and could only bring one kitchen tool, and they’d probably pick a chef’s knife. While other kitchen knives, like serrated knives and butcher knives, have more individualized uses, a good chef’s knife can do it all, from slicing and dicing to more complicated tasks, like carving a chicken and cutting a pineapple.
In the Kitchen Appliances and Technology Lab, we tested more than 30 knives to find the best kitchen knives on the market. We tested with home cooks in mind and evaluated how well each knife cut and retained an edge after slicing and chopping through onions, whole chickens, cooked steak, carrots, and cheddar cheese. We sliced basil into fine ribbons, minced garlic and parsley, and sliced tomatoes. The most impressive knives were super sharp and made paper thin slices of tomato with no effort at all.
We also checked the comfort of the handle and grip and the overall experience using the knife, looking for knives that rocked back and forth easily and required little pressure to cut through meat. We took note of how each handle felt and the weight of the knife: While heavier ones felt sturdier, they can tire hands when slicing hard ingredients like carrots. Larger handled, lighter knives give more control, while the smaller handles knives allowed us to slice quickly and thinly.
Below we rounded up the top-tested knives that we think are universally appealing for everyone’s needs — here are the ones that made the cut!
- Best Overall Chef’s Knife: Wusthof Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
- Best Value Chef’s Knife: J.A. Henckels Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
- Best Chef’s Knife for Beginners: Pampered Chef 8-inch Chef’s Knife
- Sharpest Chef’s Knife: Global Santoku 7-Inch Chef’s Knife
- Best Multi-Purpose Chef’s Knife: Misen 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
- Best Chef’s Knife for Small Hands: Shun Classic 6-Inch Chef’s Knife
- Longest-Lasting Chef’s Knife: Kramer by Zwilling 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
- Best Ergonomic Chef’s Knife: Victorinox Rosewood Forged 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
- Best Lightweight Knife: MAC Professional 8-Inch Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife
- Sturdiest Chef’s Knife: Mercer Culinary Renaissance 8-Inch Forged Chef’s Knife
- Most User-Friendly Chef’s Knife: Made In 8-inch Chef’s Knife
- Most Versatile Chef’s Knife: Wusthof Classic Craftsman Knife
How to choose the best kitchen knife for you
When it comes to chef’s knives, there are two main categories to choose from: German knives and Japanese knives. They’re not as dissimilar as one may think (and many knives actually combine aspects of both styles!), but here are the key points of differentiation worth noting:
- German knives: Heavy and thick, especially at the bolster (where the blade meets the handle), German knives can be used for everything from mincing garlic to cutting through chicken bones. They have thicker blades that tend to be curved to facilitate rocking and are made from softer steel, so you’ll need to sharpen frequently.
- Japanese knives: Lightweight and razor sharp, western-style Japanese knives tend to have a thinner blade and straighter edge than their German counterparts, making them ideal for precise tasks like cleanly slicing cucumbers or tuna. And because they’re crafted from harder steel, they can typically go longer between sharpening but may be prone to chipping or cracking.
Classic 8-Inch Kitchen Knife
This Wüsthof 8-inch chef’s knife is razor sharp and super versatile. It was one of the only knives in our test that could cleanly slice tomatoes, chop onions, cut up carrots, bone a chicken, and create thin ribbons of basil. The German classic is fully forged and has a full tang, which helps it feel perfectly balanced and ergonomic in your hand. It’s dishwasher safe (a rarity for cutlery), but we recommend hand-washing to extend its lifespan.
- Razor-sharp and extremely versatile
- Balanced and ergonomic
Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
This excellent J.A. Henckels Classic Chef’s Knife has the heft, shape, and performance of a splurge-worthy chef’s knife but comes at a much nicer price point. It’s a quintessential, all-purpose tool that does an ace job of blitzing parsley into dust, dicing onions, or deboning a chicken.
- Versatile; excels across tasks
8-inch Chef’s Knife
Pampered Chef’s unique bolster makes it very easy and comfortable to hold. It practically guides you to hold the knife exactly how you should (by pinching the bottom of the blade.) The handle sits in the center of your palm, making this knife a true extension of your hand. This fully forged, high-carbon German steel knife cut through almost every task very easily. It also comes with a protective plastic covering, making it extra safe to store.
- Easy to use
- Comfortable to hold
- Safe storage
Santoku 7-Inch Chef’s Knife
One of the sharpest knives we’ve tested, Global’s Santoku is all stainless steel, so there aren’t crevices along the handle that trap food. The blade also has hollow notches along the edge, so veggies don’t stick as they’re cut. This Japanese knife excelled at all tasks but wowed us with its ability to power through chicken bones.
- Super sharp to power through any task
- Entirely stainless steel
- Notched blade prevents food from sticking
8-Inch Chef’s Knife
This chef’s knife from direct-to-consumer company Misen is made of Japanese AUS-8 high carbon stainless steel, which means it’s tough, durable, and super sharp. Its blade is sharpened to 15º, which is sharper than traditional Western-style knives that are typically sharpened to 25º. It has an angled bolster that encourages a proper pinch grip during use. In our tests, it felt balanced, sturdy, and comfortable: The blade is slightly narrower than other chef’s knifes we tested, which proved to be good for slicing. It’s beautifully designed — knives of this quality typically cost upwards of twice as much!
- Balanced, sturdy, and comfortable
- Great value
- Tough and durable
Classic 6-Inch Chef’s Knife
Shun’s beautiful chef’s knife literally glides through ripe tomatoes with its sharp edge. The rounded black pakkawood handle is comfortable even for small hands to get around, and if an 8-inch size (the most common length of a chef’s knife) feels excessive and heavy, we think the 6-inch blade on this one will be a perfect fit.
The 8-inch is our Best Overall Japanese Knife and the Premiere is another favorite that has a wider handle that fits comfortably in the hand and a sturdy dimpled blade that glides through food without feeling brittle.
- Smaller blade and handle
- Super-sharp edge
8-Inch Chef’s Knife
KRAMER BY ZWILLING J.A. HENCKELSamazon.com
The Kramer by Zwilling J.A. Henckels Chef’s Knife is one of the top selling knives on Amazon. We’ve been using the same one for years and can vouch that it stays sharp a long time between honings. It does just as excellent a job at slicing through delicate ribbons of basil as it does plowing through a rough-and-tough butternut squash.
- Stays sharp between sharpenings
- Reviewer favorite
- Great across delicate and tough tasks
Rosewood Forged 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
The Victorinox Rosewood Forged Knife doesn’t just look beautiful. In our testing, it made quick work of chopping parsley, slicing tomatoes, dicing onions, and even boning a chicken. The knife’s gorgeous rosewood curved handle gives you a comfy, ergonomic grip.
- Curved handle is easy to hold
- Excels across kitchen tasks
Professional 8-Inch Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife
This 8-inch chef’s knife is lightweight and super sharp, which made it very easy to cut through all off the veggies in our test without tiring our hand or wrist. Its pakkawood handle is smooth, strong, and easy to grasp with a full tang that helps it feel balanced in your hand. The blade is thin, which allows for precise cuts, and its rivets help prevent sticking; the pointy tip allows for close cuts to the bone for the neatest cuts and most yield when it comes to serving meat.
- Thin blade allows for precise cuts
- Lightweight and sharp
Renaissance 8-Inch Forged Chef’s Knife
This Mercer Culinary chef’s knife felt good in our hand from the moment we picked it up. It felt sturdy and not too heavy. With its high-carbon, no-stain German steel blade, it effortlessly sliced through tomatoes and cut carrots — we barely had to use any pressure because the blade was so sharp! It sliced through onions very easily, too.
- Durable but not overly heavy
- Super sharp for effortless cutting
8-inch Chef’s Knife
When there’s a product everyone’s talking about on the internet, we know we have to get our hands on it. The Made In 8-inch Chef’s Knife did not disappoint: In addition to being very pretty to look at, it performed every cutting task well. We loved how easily it diced onions and how smoothly it sliced celery. The Chef’s Knife may be bought individually or as part of a 3- or 4-piece set. It comes in cute packaging that is not only safe and easy to open, but also instructs you how to hold the knife and how to use the entire blade like a pro.
- Smoothly sliced through veggies
- Available as part of a knife set
- Helpful instructions on knife usage
Classic Craftsman Knife
We almost feel like we’re cheating with this pick: This 7-inch Craftsman is a chef’s knife, boning knife, and carving knife in one. That means it can perform all your chef knife tasks, like chopping and slicing, as well as boning and filleting with the tip and clean slicing with its “hollow-edge design.” This knife was a top-performer in almost every test. It was extra sharp and cut through chicken best. It even cut through bone without even trying. We also especially enjoyed slicing tomatoes and cutting carrots with this knife — it was almost too easy!
- Works as a boning knife and carving knife
- Hollow edge design for slicing, boning, and filleting
- Super sharp edge for effortless cuts
When shopping for the best chef’s knife, it’s important to hold them and get a feel for them if you can. At the end of the day, finding your go-to chef’s knife is largely based upon personal preference. What might feel perfectly balanced to one cook may feel heavy to another. Here’s what to consider:
Handle: The first thing you’ll likely notice are the different handles and how they attach to the blade. Some are made of wood/wood composites, some of plastic, and some of metal. The type of material affects the weight of the knife, the feel of it, as well as the price.
Tang: Some knives also have a full tang, which means the blade runs through the handle and helps balance it.
Bolster: How the blade flows into the handle, aka the bolster, is another point of differentiation. Some are angled, while others are straight. We found that angled bolsters allow for a more protected grip, better for novices, while straight bolsters allow for a more controlled grip for chef’s who like to pinch the heel of the blade.
Our best words of advice: Look for a knife that feels like an extension of your hand and keep it sharp.