If you just have one knife in your kitchen, it should be a knife for the cook. Of course, you’ll actually have more than one knife — that’s just the kind of thing people say to highlight the importance of a good chef’s knife.
What is this knife for? It is truly all-purpose, with its big broad blade, pointed tip, and heavy rear. You can use it for things that are simple, such as slicing, chopping and mincing. And for smaller jobs (such as dicing a shallot) you can use the tip and the back of the knife like a cleaver to cut through bones. You can smash garlic with the wide side of the blade, scoop up diced veggies to pass to a bowl, or whack chicken breasts to flatten them into cutlets.
You get the idea, do you? A smart, sharp, powerful chef’s knife is an absolute must-have, whether you are a new cook or an experienced one. Ideally this is the knife of a good chef. So here’s the best chef knife we’ve mentioned here.
- Wüsthof 4582/20 Classic 8-inch chef’s knife
The knife of this 8-inch Wüsthof chef is sharp razor and extremely durable. It was one of the only knives in our study that could slice tomatoes cleanly, chop onions, cut up carrots, bone a chicken and make thin basil ribbons. The German classic is completely forged and has a full tang in your palm, which makes it feel perfectly balanced and ergonomic. It is a healthy dishwasher (a rarity for cutlery), but to prolong its lifetime we suggest hand-washing.
- Mac MTH-80
While it has a lot to do with personal preference to pick a chef’s knife, we are sure that the Mac MTH-80 is one of the most widely appealing knives out there. Its razor-sharp edge, easy handle and versatile blade make chopping tasks a lot easier, which in effect cuts down on meal-prep time. And its excellent retention edge ensures the Mac can remain bright with proper care for a long time.
- Zyliss Control Chef’s Knife
This knife is a complete steal, at just $26. But it handles any cutting job easily given its bargain-basement price— including slicing basil into thin ribbons or even quartering a chicke. It’s designed to offer a good grip, no matter how you’re holding a knife. If you’re a traditionalist, and you just want to manipulate a knife with the handle, you’ll find that the grip won’t slip of your palm. however, if you choose to pinch grip as the chefs do, by keeping the very back of the blade between your thumb and index finger, you can find the blade rounded and relaxed just at the spot where your fingers are positioned.
And the Zyliss Control will go into the dishwasher as opposed to many. Only place it in the basket or shelf with the blade pointing down, and be careful when unloading the tool.
- J.A. Henckels Classic Chef’s Knife
This excellent J.A. Henckels Classic Chef’s Knife has the knife of a splurge-worthy chef’s heft, shape, and performance but comes at a far nicer price point. It’s a quintessential, all-purpose tool that blitzes parsley into dust, dices onions, or debonates a chicken.
- Tojiro DP F-808
The DP F-808 Tojiro is an excellent choice. This model is one of the best values in Japanese-made knives, thanks to Tojiro’s extremely sharp blade, super-hard steel, high quality construction and affordable price. If you use a push-pull cutting motion, the flat belly curve makes this chef’s knife perfect, and it’s great for fine cuts and paper-thin slices of vegetables and meat. The Tojiro DP F-808 is thinner and brittler than our top pick, so when you use it on dense vegetables like butternut squash, its edge is more vulnerable to microscopic chips. While we think the Tojiro DPF-808 is a great knife, it needs somewhat more TLC than the Mac MTH-80.
- Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife
This knife will bring you closer to the professional chefs who actually use the knives. It’s not imagination. The blade is cut rather than made from a single piece of steel (which takes more time and labor and raises the price of a knife) and the plastic handle is fairly utilitarian. But this knife is easy to sharpen and keeps its point— and if you do a lot of cutting and slicing, that’s what’s most important. Plus the handle is textured to prevent it from falling into your palm.
- Global’s GN-006 Santoku Chef’s Knife
Santoku by Global is all stainless steel, so there are no cravings that trap food. Also, the blade has hollow notches along the tip, so veggies do not stay when cut. This Japanese knife excelled in all tasks but with its ability to power through chicken bones, it wowed us. It’s also worth remembering it was one of the sharpest knives that we’ve tested.
- Wüsthof Classic Ikon 4596/20
If you’re used to the feeling of a heavier German knife, the 8-inch Wüsthof Classic Ikon 4596/20 is sharp and robust, and meets our expectations for a decent knife. The thinner blade of the Classic Ikon sliced more easily through butternut squash and carrots, relative to the other forged German knives we tested. When cutting butternut squash skin and citrus rinds out, we liked how easily it maneuvered around curves. The blade of the Classic Ikon 4596/20 is made of softer steel than the one of our top pick, the MacMTH-80, meaning it will rust faster. This Wüsthof, like all the German knives we tested, is also heavier than our top pick, weighing 9 ounces—2.5 ounces more than the Mac.
- Kramer by Zwilling Euroline Essential Collection 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
Crafted by Bob Kramer, America’s leading knife craftsman, and manufactured by Japanese artisans, the sharpness of this knife is truly impressive. And I can vouch for the fact that between honings, it stays that way a long time. You can find that you can slice tomatoes or onions so thin that you can see them through.
Because it has a broader blade than most, when you are slicing you have plenty of knuckle clearance over the cutting board. The rounded handle is especially convenient, and the back of the blade is rounded to make pinching grip easier. All these features make this the perfect knife, if you’re a professional cook doing heavy-duty kitchen preparation. You’ll want to hand-wash the Kramer to protect the edge and the handle.
- Shun Classic 6” Chef’s Knife
Shun’s stunning chef’s knife with its sharp edge practically glides through ripe tomatoes. Especially for small hands to get around, the rounded black pakkawood handle is comfortable and if an 8-inch size (the most common length of a chef’s knife) feels bulky and heavy, we think the 6-inch blade on this one would be a good fit.
(source: goodhousekeeping.com, thewirecutter.com, and thekitchn.com)