Choosing a quality chef’s knife can be a daunting task. There are seemingly infinite options, in a variety of styles, sizes, shapes, and materials. And if you aren’t confident in your knife-wielding skills, the thought of graduating to a razor-sharp blade can seem properly terrifying.
Adding to the weight of the decision is the fact that a chef’s knife is, by definition, the most important tool in any cook’s kitchen. It’s what you’ll use to chop herbs, dice onions, make paper-thin slices of meat, and operate on hulking squashes. So it’s a common misconception that you need to spend big in order to get a long-lasting, high-performing knife.
If you ask pro chefs what makes for a good chef’s knife, the majority of them won’t evangelize about one particular make or style, or convince you to splurge. They’ll tell you that the best knife is, quite simply, the one that feels and moves best in your hand.
“A great chef’s knife is very subjective and depends on what the user likes,” says Mari Sugai of Korin, a New York City shop that specializes in Japanese knives. “It also depends on how the user holds their knife. Culinary school will teach you the way to cut, but most people do what they want.”
Of course, so much of what makes a knife feel good comes down to a handful of more technical variables, like its length and weight, the composition of the steel, the grip and size of the handle, and the style of knife.
Japanese knives are generally thin, lightweight, and easy to maneuver. The trademark of this style is a single bevel (or angle) on one side of the blade. Because of this, a left-handed chef will use a different Japanese knife than his right-handed colleague. Another hallmark is its flat blade, which makes it ideal for straight, clean chops.
Whereas Western-style knives—which marry elements of traditional Japanese knives with aspects of European knives, particularly those made in Germany—have a symmetrical V-shaped blade that is beveled on both sides. Its rounded belly allows for a rocking motion, where the rounded tip of the knife remains in contact with the cutting board as the blade moves up and down. It’s also a bit heavier.
Without getting too in-the-weeds about metallurgy, most chef’s knives can be broken down into two broad categories: carbon steel and stain-resistant steel. A carbon steel knife rusts when exposed to acid and moisture, so you’ll need to keep it dry when you’re using it (which is why any sushi chef worth his salt will wipe down his blade after each use). The benefit is that carbon steel is sharper and way easier to sharpen than stain-resistant steel. “It’s seen as the ‘purer’ knife in a sense,” says Sugai.
Stain-resistant steel, on the other hand, is infused with chromium and carbon, giving it protection against corrosion and rust. A knife made from more stain-resistant alloys retains its sharpness for longer and requires less maintenance—which is why it’s the go-to of most home chefs.
As for the picks of professional chefs, read on to find out which chef’s knives our favorite food people stock in their kitchens.
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Chef and owner of J Chong Eats
“My first kitchen job was a cute little Italian restaurant in Louisiana. One of the people I worked with had a 6-inch Miyabi chef’s knife, and the first time I held it in my hand I loved it. Eight years later and I own six of their knives. I’m so loyal I even travel with them.”
Chef and owner of Che Fico
“I own a couple different chef’s knives today, but when I was first starting out, I used Misono’s UX10 Suisin Inox Western-Style knife. It can withstand a busy night of service and offers incredible precision. It also gets insanely sharp. At home, I like the chef’s knives made by brands like J.A. Henckels and Forschner. They can take a beating and don’t require sharpening after each use, which is essential for a working dad like me.”
CEO, chef, and co-founder of Katie Button Restaurant Group
“My go-to is a Western-style Japanese knife is a Misono UX10. I like it because it’s relatively lightweight and balanced, which means that when you hold it where the handle meets the blade, it balances easily. The other thing I like is that the blade sharpens easily, but also does a good job of holding its edge. I’ve had mine for years and it has never chipped. It’s a reliable workhorse!”
James Beard award winner and chef at Pasjoli
“During my first cooking job, I fell in love with a brand called Nenox, which makes Western-style Japanese knives. Their Desert Iron Wood Gyuoto chef’s knife is 9.5 inches and features a beautiful wooden handle that feels and looks great. It’s a worthwhile investment, at $660, if you’re like me and spend 90% of your day with a knife in hand. The chef’s knife I recommend to my friends is the MAC Professional 8” Hollow Edge chef’s knife. If you have $150 to spend, this is the one to get. It won’t stain, and it’s soft enough that it won’t bend and hard enough that it won’t chip.”
Chef-owner at The Brothers Sushi
“I like a 30-centimer sushi knife from Masamoto. It’s shaped in such a way that fish doesn’t stick to the knife. It’s also balanced and allows for a seamless stroke. If you’re going to be a true sushi chef, you want to go with something that’s not stainless so you get used to repetitively wiping your blade.”
Executive chef at Nakaji
“I use a custom-made sushi knife that was given to me from a chef friend as a birthday present, so it’s not available to purchase in stores. In general, I think the most important quality to look for is the sharpness of the knife and expensive knives aren’t necessarily better. If you live in New York, you can get a great knife for $50-$150 at MTC Kitchen or Korin.”
Partner and chef at Henrietta Red and The Party Line
“Tojiharu makes an all-purpose chef’s knife that’s great for cutting vegetables and doing standard knife cuts. I also like the slightly larger chef’s knife from Miyabi.”
Chef at Red Rooster Overtown
“I use a Misono Swedish carbon steel Sujihiki most of the time. It’s made of softer metal and is easy to sharpen. The long, thin, flexible blade makes easy work of slicing fish and meat. I also love Middleton Made Knives from Quintin Middleton. I’m a big fan of supporting domestic craft bladesmiths, and Quintin happens to be one of the best African American knife makers in the country. His designs are elegant, well made, and the handle is super comfortable for someone who has a knife in his hand all day.”
Chef at Knife & Spoon
“My favorite knife is a slicer. They’re easy to sharpen and to keep sharp and are typically lightweight. My first one, which is also my favorite one, is the Misono Swedish steel. It is light as a feather and made from a durable soft metal. I purchased this knife on a payment plan 20 years ago. It took me three payments to earn it.”
Knife expert at Korin
“There isn’t a knife that we carry at Korin that I wouldn’t recommend, but the brands that have the widest variety of knife styles and steel types are Togiharu and Korin, both of which offer a fair price point for anyone starting out.”
Director of recipe and development at Oxomoco and Xilonen
“Bloodroot Blades in Athens, Georgia produces my favorite knives, hands down. Everything about their knives, from the blade to the handle and everything in between, is tailored to your liking. They use reclaimed steel and their knives stay sharp for a very long time. The important thing to know is how to sharpen your knife—the type of knife doesn’t matter in the end. They’re currently sold out but if you want another good knife, the Sakai Takayuki 33 Layer Damascus Gyutou is a good everyday knife that I would buy.”
“I started using my Middleton Made 8” Echo Chef Knife a few years ago and it has become my go-to. It’s sturdy, forms perfectly to my hand, and can easily withstands hours of daily prep. The brand’s bladesmith, Quintin Middleton, is based in the South and he crafts his knives with chefs in mind. As an added plus, it’s also just really nice to look at.”
- Best Overall: Made In 8 Inch Chef Knife and Misen Chef's Knife.
- Best Budget Knife: Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef's Knife.
- Best Value: Hedley & Bennett Chef's Knife.
- Best for Butchering: Wusthof Classic 8-Inch Chef's Knife.
Praised for its ability to slice through both tough vegetables and proteins, the lightweight, stainless steel G-2 is a Japanese knife made similarly to a Samurai sword. It also has a fine-tuned blade that's as sharp as Anthony Bourdain's wit. And if it's good enough for Bourdain, it's good enough for us.What is the most popular knife used in the professional kitchen? ›
The chef and documentary maker has said the best knife for beginners and professionals is this Global G-2 8" Chef's Knife. Global knives are made using a patented steel mixture made to be hard enough so that the knives retain their sharpness, yet soft enough to sharpen with a whetstone.What brand of knives do famous chefs use? ›
Knives from the Wüsthof Classic line, namely the 8-Inch Classic Chef's Knife. “They're what I use. They're pretty expensive, but they last a lifetime. That's why I say, ask for one as a gift or buy one at a time,” Ina told us, admitting that they're a bit of an investment — but totally worth it.What knife does Gordon Ramsay recommend? ›
Step one is purchasing a high-quality Wusthof knife block set that fits your budget and the size and shape of your hand. Gordon Ramsay uses Wüsthof and Henckels branded knives; the brands are known for quality products and are two of the best knife manufacturers worldwide.What knife does Guy Fieri use? ›
Ergo Chef Knives – Guy Fieri.Which knife is best for everything? ›
There is no knife more essential than a chef's knife. The ultimate multipurpose blade, it can do just about anything that needs to be done, whether you're chopping an onion or carving a roast. If, for some reason, you have space for only one knife in your kitchen, this is the one to get.What chef knife does Jamie Oliver use? ›
A favourite among the Jamie Oliver food team, the santoku knife is great for slicing, dicing and chopping. Japanese in origin, the flat edge and sheepsfoot blade not only looks beautiful, but is super efficient, too.What knives do Michelin star restaurants use? ›
A knife series designed by Michelin star chef Thomas Keller, the Cangshan knives are without a doubt some of the best in the world. Keller worked directly with Cangshan, a specialist cutlery brand, to create the collection, which is made from Swedish powdered steel.What brand kitchen knives does Gordon Ramsay use? ›
Designed with world-renowned chef Gordon Ramsay, Royal Doulton's professional range of Gordon Ramsay Knives, knife sets and cutlery have been designed for everyday use. Made from high quality stainless steel, our knives give complete precision and strength with every chop, slice, mince and dice.
- Wüsthof. Amazon.
- Enso. Amazon. ...
- Miyabi Cutlery. Miyabi Cutlery. ...
- Yoshihiro Cutlery. Amazon. ...
- Chicago Cutlery. Chicago Cutlery. ...
- Zwilling. Zwilling. ...
- Shun Cutlery. Shun. ...
- Five Two. Five Two. ...
Carbon steel knives are known to keep their sharp edges longer than most and make chopping, slicing and shaving safer and easier.What knife is used most by chefs and cooks? ›
- Wüsthof Gourmet Chef's Knife.
- Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef's Knife.
- Mac MTH-80 Chef's Knife.
- Shun Classic Hollow-Ground Santoku Knife.
- Victorinox Fibrox Pro Santoku Knife.
- Henckels Classic Hollow-Edge Santoku Knife.
- Wüsthof Gourmet Bread Knife.
- Henckels Classic Bread Knife.
Rib-eye: The chef's favourite. Allow 200-250g per head to allow for trimming. This cut used to be quite cheap, but is now creeping up in price. It has an open-fibre texture and a marbling of creamy fat.Are Zwilling and Henckels the same? ›
A: Despite this shared ownership, Zwilling and Henckels are two separate brands with distinct kitchen knife collections. Within Zwilling J.A. Henckels' portfolio, Zwilling is the premium knife brand, whereas Henckels, also referred to as J.A. Henckels or Henckels International, is the company's entry-level brand.What knife do Navy Seals have? ›
Ontario MK 3 Navy Knife
The U.S. Navy Seals commonly deploy this knife. It features a stainless steel blade which is approximately 6 inches in length. The knife blade is about 7 inches long and resembles its predecessor, Buck 184.
Road House Crescent Bowie marked "Road X- House" with Crain Logo, with Crain Sheath, For sale $2,300, actually used in movie and part of Jack Crain' s personal set.What knife does Julia Collin Davison use? ›
8” K-Tip went to Julia Collin Davison of America's Test Kitchen it is 440C Stainless with Hybrid Red Mallee from Australia. It arrived just in time for the filming of the upcoming season.What are the 3 most important knives in a kitchen? ›
There are three primary knives that every home cook should have in their kitchen: a chef's knife, a serrated knife (also called a bread knife), and a paring knife.What is the most versatile chef knife? ›
For most of us, the basic 6- to 8-inch chef's knife is the place to start. It's the most versatile knife, capable of dicing veggies, slicing meat, smashing garlic, and chopping herbs and nuts.
Knives with an Obsidian blade are considered the sharpest in the world, but this material is not fit for making kitchen knives as they're extremely coarse and brittle.What are the 4 main knives? ›
Chef's Knife (8” or 10”) Paring Knife (3”) Long Serrated Bread Knife. Slicing/Carving Knife (10”)Which knife is best for cutting through bones? ›
The boning knife and the cleaver are different in both appearance and usage. Boning knives are small and are used to cut raw meat away from the bone. Cleavers chop through raw meat and bone with a large, rectangular blade.Which kind of knife that cuts better and easier? ›
A sharp knife can cut objects more easily compared to a blunt knife because a sharp knife applies more pressure on the object.What kitchen knives does Ina Garten use? ›
According to Garten's website, Wüsthof knives are her tools of choice. The fact that you don't really notice them on her show is actually a good thing — it's because the knives are so sharp and cut things so easily, you never see her struggling to chop, dice, and slice her food.What knives do Chinese chefs use? ›
Also known as a Chinese chef's knife, the cleaver is a staple of the cuisine, rivaled in utility only by the wok and chopsticks. We reach for it for every task from crushing aromatics to filleting fish—it's the ultimate do-it-all tool.What knives do they use on beat Bobby Flay? ›
Bobby and Shun Knives
“In his top gear picks for Williams Sonoma, the celebrity chef [Bobby Flay] recommended the Shun Classic Western, which is hand-crafted in Japan. 'I pretty much use a chef's knife for everything and Shun is one of my very favorite brands.
The John Wick movies have made OTF knives more popular recently after showcasing a few different Microtech OTF knives in the series. The Tekto Skar is an OTF knife that closely resembles the Microtech Combat Troodon used in John Wick 2, albeit at less than half the price.What do professional chefs use to sharpen knives? ›
“A sharpening stone or whetstone is used primarily by professional chefs to sharpen knives, razors, scrapers and more. They can be designed to require either water or oil for lubrication, which also helps to clear or wash away the metal that comes off the edge of the implements during sharpening,” he explains.Are Jamie Oliver knives any good? ›
Very impressed by the Jamie Oliver knife set. I have had previous sets of dubious quality but this was literally like slicing through butter. The knives are excellent and made short work of some onions. The block itself is beautiful - really lovely wood, very eye catching and just looks gorgeous on the worktop.
Global Knives have graced the illustrious MasterChef counter tops every year since the program began in 2009. Global knives are used extensively by all the contestants in high pressure situations, and therefore they need the best.What country makes Best Chef knives? ›
In particular, the cities of Solingen, Germany, and Thiers, France almost always come up when discussing the 'best' knives for home cooks and professional chefs alike. The culinary daggers coming out of this region boast heavy, high-quality steel, which grants the user ultimate control over their cutting tasks.Why are Wusthof knives good? ›
Wusthof Knives—How They're Made. Wusthof knives all use the same X50CrMoV15 stainless steel—with molybdenum and vanadium added to enhance their hardness, durability, and resistance to corrosion. There is nothing out of the ordinary about this steel, but it's tough and definitely won't rust.What knives does Alton Brown use? ›
Brown's top three must-haves: an 8- to 10-inch chef's knife, a serrated bread knife and a 4- to 6-inch utility blade. Of course, you can add to your cutlery collection, piece by piece. Just don't forget the kitchen shears. Brown says, “I never cut with a knife what I can cut with scissors.”What is the number 1 knife brand? ›
|Rank||Brand Name||% Able to Recall|
- Boker Knives.
- Zero Tolerance Knives.
- Protech Knives.
- WE Knife Company.
- Gerber Knives.
- Kizer Knives.
- Buck Knives.
- CRKT Knives.
German knives can handle tough jobs with ease; you can use them on joints and bones. On the flip side, Japanese knives are more suitable for precise cutting or chopping jobs. They are designed with thinner blades and demand more attention during usage.What knives hold the sharpest edge? ›
In general, carbon steel knives are sharper, harder, hold an edge for longer and are easier to re-sharpen.What knives do Michelin star chefs use? ›
A knife series designed by Michelin star chef Thomas Keller, the Cangshan knives are without a doubt some of the best in the world. Keller worked directly with Cangshan, a specialist cutlery brand, to create the collection, which is made from Swedish powdered steel.What is the sharpest knife in the World 2021? ›
Obsidian knives are currently the sharpest possible knives known to man. Their staggeringly thin blades are the reason for this. The way that obsidian breaks are known as a conchoidal fracture. This kind of fracture looks very different from the edge of a traditional chef's knife.
Ergo Chef Knives – Guy Fieri.What is the best name brand kitchen knives? ›
- Five Two. Five Two.
- Global. Global. ...
- JA Henckels. JA Henckels. ...
- Calphalon. Calphalon. ...
- Schmidt Brothers. Schmidt Brothers. ...
- Cuisinart. Cuisinart. ...
- Farberware. Amazon. ...
- Cutco Cutlery. Cutco. ...
- Wüsthof Gourmet Chef's Knife. Rockwell Hardness rating: 55 to 60. ...
- Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef's Knife. ...
- Mac MTH-80 Chef's Knife. ...
- Shun Classic Hollow-Ground Santoku Knife. ...
- Victorinox Fibrox Pro Santoku Knife. ...
- Henckels Classic Hollow-Edge Santoku Knife. ...
- Wüsthof Gourmet Bread Knife. ...
- Henckels Classic Bread Knife.
According to Garten's website, Wüsthof knives are her tools of choice. The fact that you don't really notice them on her show is actually a good thing — it's because the knives are so sharp and cut things so easily, you never see her struggling to chop, dice, and slice her food.What is the sharpest knife that stays sharp? ›
Obsidian knife blades: overkill for slicing your sandwich. The thinnest blades are three nanometres wide at the edge – 10 times sharper than a razor blade. These are made by flaking a long, thin sliver from a core of obsidian (volcanic glass).What knives stay the sharpest? ›
Carbon steel knives are known to keep their sharp edges longer than most and make chopping, slicing and shaving safer and easier.What knife has the sharpest edge? ›
Knives with an Obsidian blade are considered the sharpest in the world, but this material is not fit for making kitchen knives as they're extremely coarse and brittle.What knife does Gordon Ramsay use in MasterClass? ›
1. Boning knife (You'll see Gordon use Henckles brand knives in his MasterClass, but feel free to research brands and purchase what feels best for you. Remember, Gordon says a small collection of high quality sharp knives is better than drawers full of dull, second-rate ones.)