The 7 Best Chef’s Knives of 2019

March 5th, 2019

Every cook needs their very own kitchen BFF.

A chef’s knife should be a cook’s #1 companion. The ultimate prep tool that molds into the hand and feels like an extension of your own arm. Something as simple the size, shape, and weight of a knife can completely change your knife skills and cooking, and a proper chef’s knife is the first place to start. If you have yet to know the feeling of meeting your knife soulmate, read on—this post is for you.

Yes, all knives cut stuff, but chef’s knives generally have a wider range of use compared to their paring or serrated cousins. Chef’s knives vary in size, are the most efficient for dicing vegetables, mincing garlic and herbs, slicing meats, and more types of cooking prep. A well-cared for chef’s knife will cut through tendon and sometimes even through thinner bones (although we wouldn’t recommend doing this too often).

A chef’s knife will range anywhere from as small as 6 inches, all the way up to 12 and even 14 inches. Some prefer the feel of a smaller size chef’s knife, because it allows them a little more dexterity for smaller tasks, like finely dicing a shallot, for example. Others prefer the blade size of a longer chef’s knife, finding that they make quicker and more efficient work out of an onion ciseler. For this review, we’ll be focusing on knives between 8-10 inches because we’ve found they’re the most common in the marketplace, and offer the widest range of use.


Best Chef’s Knives: Scoresheet

Best Chef’s Knife Amazon Score Blueprint Score Overall Score
Wüsthof Classic 8” Chef’s Knife 4.7 4.8 4.7
Miyabi 8″ Birchwood Damascus Chef’s Knife 4.3 4.8 4.5
Mercer Genesis Forged 10” Chef’s Knife 4.7 4.6 4.7
Mac Knife Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife, 8-Inch 4.7 4.7 4.7
Tojiro DP Gyutou 8.2” Chef’s Knife 4.6 4.5 4.6
Henckel Zwilling Pro 8” Chef’s Knife 4.6 4.6 4.6
Shun Classic 10” Chef’s Knife 4.6 4.8 4.7

What makes a good chef’s knife?

Even if you have a knife set on your registry, we highly recommend adding a chef’s knife that fits your needs and comfort exactly. This, of course, takes a bit of testing and research ahead of time, but it’s worth it if it means excelling in the kitchen.

Chef’s knives can be made from a variety of steel types, but the first thing to remember is: the harder the steel, the tougher your knife will be and the less you’ll have to sharpen it. A basic steel will be less expensive and get a job done in a pinch, but you may discover it bends, dulls, and chips easily. You’ll be tossing that knife out in no time. No good.

Other metals and materials, like tungsten, nickel, carbon, and even silicone, are injected into the steel to create different hardnesses, stainless properties, and even help slow down wear and tear. In general, most knives will fall under, stainless, plain carbon, tool, and German and Japanese steels.

German v. Japanese steel knives

 

German steels, like the classic Wüsthof, are considered one of the hardest, and the build of the knife is generally carried throughout each knife. All Western knives have the same parts (point, spine, edge, heel, tang, etc.), but the anatomy of a German knife is unique. German knives, apart from the metals, always have a full tang and a bolster. A full tang simply means that after the bolster, the metal extends the entire length of the handle. The knife’s blade, bolster, and tang are all the same piece of metal. Wood or plastic scales are then attached with bolsters by rivets.

All steel is made from made from iron and carbon, but the amount of carbon in the steel is what determines its hardness. German steel is softer, but thicker, allowing it to stay sharper for longer. The edge of the blade is honed to a higher angle than Japanese knives, about 20-22 degrees which also aids its durability.

Japanese knives have unique craftsmanship—generally handcrafted—and alter slightly from a German steel knife. The steel itself contains more carbon than German knives, but the blades are thinner and the edges are honed to a tighter angle, about 16 degrees. The hardness of the steel make it more prone to breakage, and can dent, bend, or even crack if not cared for properly. Because the angle of the edge is so delicate, they will also require more sharpening with a whetstone, versus an oil stone for German knives.

Whetstones and oil stones are available for anyone to purchase should they be comfortable sharpening their own knives. If you’re not comfortable sharpening your own knives (you’ll want to be sure to maintain the edge’s precise angle), then a local knife sharpener or even some butchers can get the job for a fee.

What to consider before choosing a chef’s knife

What are you using it for? Chef’s knives have a larger range of usability. You can use it for slicing and dicing vegetables, mincing, and even cutting meats. Chef’s knives should not be used for cutting bread, cutting through bone, or for small intricate cuts. If you’re looking for an all-star, versatile, everyday knife, then a chef’s knife is for you.

How big should the knife be? That depends on your preference! The proper way to hold a chef’s knife is with a tight grip in your dominant hand, with the blade in between  the inner side of your index finger (tucked along the length of the bolster, not on top of the spine) and your thumb.

The knife should be big enough so it’s comfortable in your dominant hand, but not so big that you lose control as you’re using it. And if the knife is too small, you risk your knife-wielding hand hitting the cutting board as you slice and dice. The most popular sizes are between 8 and 10 inches.

How much care are you willing to put in? The amount of care and upkeep a knife will need depends on the steel. You can expect to sharpen German steel knives less often than Japanese steel knives, but you’ll be able to cut through soft, delicate foods (tomatoes, peaches, etc.) far easier—and thinner—with a sharper angled Japanese knife.

Honing steels are great for knife upkeep, but you must remember they are not for sharpening knives. Honing steels only realign the edge where it gets bent from use. For proper sharpening, consider purchasing a whetstone or oilstone, or visit your local knife sharpener. Always remember that knives should not be cleaned in the dishwasher—just a little soap and warm water will do the trick.

How much are you willing to pay for a chef’s knife? The cost of a good chef’s knife can vary a great deal. It’s possible to find a decent chef’s knife without breaking the bank, but if you’re looking for a near-lifetime knife companion, you can expect to pay a decent chunk of change. Chef’s knives are a great addition to wedding registries—and you can even make it a group gift so guests can contribute to the full cost in smaller increments. The knives on our list, however, will range anywhere from $35 to several hundred dollars.

How will you be storing it? There are several ways to store your knives, and you should definitely be using at least one method. Knives require care and proper storage, so whether it’s a knife block, knife sleeve, or a magnetic wall strip (be gentle!), make sure your knife is safely stored when not in use.


Best Chef’s Knives of 2019

Wüsthof Classic 8

Wüsthof Classic 8

From Williams Sonoma

$149.95

BLUEPRINT SUMMARY

  • One of the biggest names in cutlery, Wüsthof is a well-loved household brand
  • Made in Germany and forged from high carbon steel
  • Full tang, meaning whole knife is forged from one piece of metal that extends from the point through the butt
  • Handle is made from a durable polymer and riveted to the handle
  • This 8 inch knife is great for slicing, dicing, chopping, and carving
  • Excellent balance and bolster make for exceptional control

CONSIDERATIONS

  • Of all the Western-made knives on our list, the Wüsthof Classic 8” chef’s knife is the most expensive
  • Blade is not as thin as Japanese knives, but will require less sharpening

BLUEPRINT SUMMARY

  • Beautiful 8” chef’s knife forged in Japan, with a lovely textured blade pattern
  • Made from G2 micro-carbide steel, and undergoes a 4-step hardening process
  • Exceptionally thin Japanese blade
  • Honed by hand to ensure an edge angle from 9.5-12 degrees
  • Handle is made from birchwood, resulting in a comfortable, steady grip in either hand
  • Full tang and incredibly balanced

CONSIDERATIONS

  • The knife does not have a defined bolster, so it may take more practice to adapt to proper knife-holding technique
  • The most expensive option on our list
  • Due to the smaller angle of the edge, we recommend having this knife sharpened professionally
  • Harder steels can be prone to bending and chipping. Proper storage is essential

BLUEPRINT SUMMARY

  • The Mercer Genesis forged chef’s knife is our most budget-friendly option
  • Forged from high carbon German steel that won’t rust, stain, or corrode
  • Robust bolster to add strength to the knife while adding comfort to the hold
  • Handle is made from non-slip santoprene for ultimate comfort, balance, and ergonomic support
  • Knife is 10”, making it great for long slices and carving
  • Full tang promotes durability and strength
  • Great starter knife for practicing your sharpening skills on a stone

CONSIDERATIONS

  • Not at heavy as some of the more expensive Western knives, but a great option for value

BLUEPRINT SUMMARY

  • A favorite of professional chefs, the Mac Hollow Edge knife is lightweight, but sturdy
  • Forged in Japan
  • Made from high carbon steel alloy
  • The blade’s dimples allows it to cut through foods that generally stick to the blade (tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, etc.)
  • Full tang, with wood handle triple riveted to add strength and durability
  • Thin 2.55mm blade edge

CONSIDERATIONS

  • Knife does not have a clear bolster, so it may take extra practice to hold properly
  • Needs to be dried thoroughly to avoid rusting
  • Due to the smaller angle of the edge, we recommend having this knife sharpened professionally
  • Harder steels can be prone to bending and chipping. Proper storage is essential

BLUEPRINT SUMMARY

  • Gorgeous Japanese-forged 8.2” chef’s knife
  • Made from stain resistant, carbon-infused steel
  • Blade is double-edged for incredibly precise cutting and extra-sharpness
  • Handle is made of composite wood, and triple riveted for added durability and strength
  • Includes a short bolster for a comfortable grip
  • Full tang provides strength and balance throughout the knife
  • Excellent value for a Japanese steel knife

CONSIDERATIONS

  • Due to the smaller angle of the edge, we recommend having this knife sharpened professionally
  • Harder steels can be prone to bending and chipping. Proper storage is essential

BLUEPRINT SUMMARY

  • Forged in Germany from high carbon stainless steel
  • A comfortable 8” knife that allows plenty of dexterity
  • Classic curved blade shape for rocking through minces, such as herbs or garlic
  • Specially curved bolster makes for a more natural hold
  • Full tang and triple rivets allow for exceptional balance, stability, and durability
  • Forged from one piece of steel
  • Sharp edge angle of 15 degrees

CONSIDERATIONS

  • One of the pricier knives on our list
  • If you’re used to a traditional bolster or none at all, the curved bolster could take some getting used to

BLUEPRINT SUMMARY

  • Forged in Japan and made from carbon-injected stainless steel
  • Long blade allows for long cutting strokes, dicing, and chopping
  • Edge is sharp throughout the length of the blade and is usable from the tip all the way to the bolster
  • Knife has a short bolster for resting your index finger
  • Handle is made from durable PakkaWood, great at keeping moisture out
  • Incredibly sharp and and thin cutting edge

CONSIDERATIONS

  • One of the more expensive knives on our list
  • Japanese steel knives require a little extra care and storage

What about accessories?

There are several accessories that will help extend the life of your chef’s knives. Everything from storage to regular care should be considered when buying a great chef’s knife.

 

Sharpening kit: For experienced home knife sharpeners who are able to maintain the precise angle of the knife’s edge.

Honing steel: In case the edge of the knife is bent, a honing steel with help realign it. May be especially useful for more delicate Japanese knives.

Knife guards: For those who store their knives in a drawer, a knife sleeve is essential.

Knife block: A slimmer and more visually appealing version of the traditional countertop knife block.

Magnetic rack: Maximize your counter and drawer storage by storing your knives on the wall. Just be careful when placing and removing them!

Slot knife organizer: For those with multiple knives stored in drawers, keeping things tidy is key.


Final Thoughts

If there is one single knife to have in your kitchen at all times, it’s the chef’s knife. No matter if you choose a Western or Japanese-forged knife, quality knives are easy to find across all price points. Our guide is here to help you research narrow down your chef’s knife preferences so you don’t have to. Now it’s time to get cooking!