The 8 Best Chef’s Knives of 2023

We like the MAC Knife Professional Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife for its ergonomic design and added dimples that prevent food from sticking to it.

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Best Chef’s Knives

Real Simple / David Hattan

Whether you’re a professional chef, an avid home cook, or a beginner, having the right set of knives can make all the difference. Investing in a quality chef’s knife is particularly important, because this multifunctional tool can be used to complete about 90 percent of kitchen tasks. 

To determine which chef’s knives are the best, we spent hours researching top options, considering factors such as size, blade, steel type, and style. We also consulted with experts including Brad Wise, owner and chef at Trust Restaurant Group, as well as Sarah Blair, a professionally trained chef and the creator of Pure Palate.  

"Owning and using a chef's knife is necessary for anyone serious in the kitchen,” says Blair. “They allow you to have control and precision, ultimately contributing to your safety. A quality chef's knife that holds a sharp edge is probably the best investment you will ever make to level up your cooking skills.”

Our top pick is the MAC Knife Professional Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife for its lightweight feel and added dimples that prevent food from sticking to it. It’s also constructed from premium Japanese stainless steel, ensuring that it will give you years of use.

Best Overall Chef’s Knife

Mac Knife MTH-80 Professional Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife

4.9
Mac Knife Professional Series 8-Inch Chef's Knife with Dimples

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want to invest in a quality chef’s knife that’s both comfortable and effective for daily use.

Who it isn’t for: People who are not prepared to spend over $100 on a single knife.

This 8-inch chef’s knife is our best overall choice because of its solid build and ergonomic design, making it a well rounded knife that you can use for pretty much everything. We love that this knife is both lightweight and balanced to give you more control, which is important when handling a sharp blade. 

The blade itself is made from a rust-resistant mixture of molybdenum (a type of stainless steel) and carbon, so it won’t oxidize easily. It also features hollow dimples along its edge to easily cut through stick foods, such as potatoes or apples.

Additionally, it comes with a Pakka wood handle, which is a nonporous and moisture-resistant material with antibacterial properties. We believe that it is one of the best kitchen knives around, however, it comes with a steep price tag. It is in the same price range as other high-end knives, so while it may be a good investment, the cost may be prohibitive for beginner cooks.

Price at time of publish: $142

Product Details:

  • Steel Type: Molybdenum high-carbon stainless steel
  • Blade Length: 8 inches 
  • Weight: 6.5 ounces

Best Budget Chef's Knife

Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

4.8
Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chefs Knife

Amazon

Who it’s for: Beginner cooks or anyone who wants an affordable and dishwasher-safe knife for everyday use.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a chef’s knife with more unique design details.

When you’re ready to invest in your first set of real knives, you may want to refrain from purchasing an expensive option right off the bat. That’s why the Victorinox Fibrox Chef’s Knife is an ideal choice for first-time buyers or anyone looking to stick to a budget.

Made from high-carbon stainless steel, this knife is dishwasher safe for easy cleanup (although keep in mind that washing knives in the dishwasher can cause the blades to dull quicker). Because it’s a stamped knife, it doesn’t have a bolster. This means that it requires less wrist strength and has the flexibility to do fine tasks like debone or filet meat or fish. On top of that, it comes with a plastic sheath for safe storage. In short, the Victorinox has a basic and industrial look, but it is still a versatile option for your kitchen workspace. But it wouldn’t be surprising if you actually came to favor it over knives that are more costly.

Price at time of publish: $53

Product Details:

  • Steel Type: High-carbon stainless steel
  • Blade Length: 8 inches
  • Weight: 8 ounces

Best Splurge Chef’s Knife

Zwilling Bob Kramer Cumulus 8-Inch Chef Knife

Zwilling Bob Kramer Cumulus 8-Inch Chef Knife

Sur La Table

Who it’s for: People who want a durable knife that’s almost as beautiful as it is effective. 

Who it isn’t for: People who are not in a position to spend a lot on a chef’s knife and people who are hard on their knives. 

This stunning chef’s knife should be at the top of your list if you’re looking to buy yourself a housewarming gift. Designed by famed master bladesmith Bob Kramer, this knife is coveted for its ultra-sharp blade that makes cutting a steak feel as smooth as slicing up a piece of birthday cake. 

If you're wondering why this blade is priced so high, just take a glance at its quality blade construction. It features a Damascus blade packed with 101 layers, making it a true work of art. It also has a bird-beak handle to make holding it comfortable, even if you’re tackling greasy meats straight out of the oven. 

Crafted in Japan from high-carbon stainless steel, the blade has an 11-degree edge, which makes it ruthlessly precise when it comes to julienning, slicing, and dicing meats and vegetables. Overall, the Cumulus is as hard as knives can get, registering a 63 on the Rockwell scale. This means that it will stay razor-sharp for a considerable amount of time. However, it will require more effort to sharpen it when it dulls. 

Price at time of publish: $540

Product Details:

  • Steel Type: Japanese high-carbon stainless steel 
  • Blade Length: 8 inches
  • Weight: Not listed

Best Japanese-Style Chef’s Knife

Shun Classic Chef's Knife

Shun Cutlery Classic Chef's Knife

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a Japanese-style knife for precision cutting. 

Who it isn’t for: People who prefer thicker blades. 

If you've been searching for a Japanese-style knife with some Western details, consider the Shun Classic Chef Knife. It has an incredibly thin blade that makes precise cuts and is the perfect choice if you’re a chef or want to make sushi at home. It’s also curved so you get a rocking motion, which increases pressure and yields a finer chop.

This knife is made with VG-Max Steel which has a higher carbon content than other steel grades. In addition, it’s crafted from 68 layers of Damascus steel, so it will be long lasting and give it the signature pattern this style is known for. The handle is made from Pakkawood, which is a synthetic material that is known to be heat and water resistant and have antibacterial properties. Still, it’s a premium knife, so we don’t advise you to chuck it in the dishwasher.   

Overall, the price of the Shun may be more than you’re willing to pay for a single knife, but then again, you may never have to buy another one after it. Just keep an eye on the blade tip, as it's low-angle and is susceptible to bending. 

Price at time of publish: $170

Product Details:

  • Steel Type: Japanese high-carbon stainless steel
  • Blade Length: 8 inches
  • Weight: 6.6 ounces

Best European-Style Chef’s Knife

Wüsthof Classic Ikon 8-Inch Chef's Knife

4.2
Wusthof Classic IKON 8-inch Knife

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want an all-purpose knife that can handle tough jobs. 

Who it isn’t for: People who prefer the precision of Japanese-style knives.

Because it features harder steel, a European-style chef’s knife like the Wusthof Classic Ikon makes a great all-purpose knife for handling even the toughest jobs. Crafted in Solingen, Germany, this knife is made to last. It features a triple-riveted polypropylene handle which makes it resistant to fading and discoloration. Moreover, it comes with a double bolster that makes it easy to firmly grip it as you chop and cut items. And, as would be expected of a knife at this price point, it is made out of high-carbon stainless steel that offers additional sharpness and precision. 

Although it's crafted with German steel, this knife comes with thin blades and a 14-degree angle, so it actually feels closer in features to a Japanese knife than a Western knife. Nonetheless, it gives you the control you need to make clean and precise cuts.

If you are a serious cook who wants a knife that’s versatile and long lasting, this knife is a worthy investment. Otherwise, there are less expensive choices that work just as well for your needs.

Price at time of publish: $200

Product Details:

  • Steel Type: German high-carbon stainless steel
  • Blade Length: 8 inches
  • Weight: 9 ounces

Best Chef’s Knife for Beginners

Misen 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

4.5
Misen 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

Who it’s for: People who want an entry-level chef’s knife that is easy to control.

Who it isn’t for: People who want to invest in a premium chef’s knife for maximum precision.

If you're new to chef's knives and can’t make up your mind between Japanese or European style, then the Misen Professional Chef Knife is the ideal choice. This hybrid knife has a 15-degree angle that is low and narrow, a trait generally seen in Japanese knives. The low angle makes it sharper and more precise than a regular knife. Additionally, the Misen has a Western double-bevel blade, which means that the angle is equal on both sides, allowing both right-handed and left-hand users to feel comfortable using it.

It comes in blue, black, red, and gray colors to coordinate with your kitchen’s decor theme. The handle is made from alloy steel and is designed with a bolster to give you a better grip and improved control when using it. 

Price at time of publish: $75

Product Details:

  • Steel Type: Japanese high-carbon stainless steel 
  • Blade Length: 8 inches
  • Weight: 8 ounces

Best Small Chef’s Knife

Henckels Classic 6-Inch Chef's Knife

Henckels Classic 6-Inch Chef's Knife

Amazon

Who it’s for: People with smaller hands and people who want a chef’s knife primarily for dicing and fine chopping. 

Who it isn’t for: People who need a knife for cutting large ingredients, such as watermelon or whole poultry.

For certain kitchen tasks, such as chopping herbs or slicing tomatoes for a salad, a small knife is all that is needed. And this Henckels 6-inch knife is perfect for just that. While it may not have the same range that an 8-inch chef’s knife has, it’s much lighter and easier to handle. 

This knife has a robust stainless steel blade that can easily cut through proteins without any difficulty.  Cleaning it is also simple, so you don’t have to worry about leaving it damp if you’re in a rush. Of course, keeping it dry is recommended as a matter of practice. It is a forged knife that comes with a bolster and a triple-rivet handle which helps to keep the knife firmly ensconced inside of it and stay balanced.

Though it might seem a lot to pay for this small knife, it could be a worthwhile investment in the long run. Its sharpness will save you both time and money in the kitchen. Moreover, you’ll only need to hone it every once in a while to make sure it keeps its edge.

Price at time of publish: $84

Product Details:

  • Steel Type: German stainless Steel
  • Blade Length: 6 inches
  • Weight: 5.6 ounces

Best Chef’s Knife Set

Material The Knives + Stand Set

Material Knife Trio + Stand

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want to outfit their kitchen with all new knives.

Who it isn’t for: People who already have a robust knife collection.

The Material Knife Trio Set + Stand features all the knives any home cook needs in their kitchen: an 8-inch chef’s knife, a 6-inch serrated knife that you can use to slice bread or tomatoes more efficiently, and a small 4-inch paring knife for peeling and detail work. 

Made from Japanese high-carbon stainless steel, each knife is heat treated at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it harder and sharper. Plus they all have a full-sized tang that runs right down the handle of the knife to make it sturdy and prevents it from falling apart. 

What we like the most about this option is it uses a sleek magnetic wooden stand and not a traditional knife block for storage. With this, you don’t have to deal with mold accumulating inside deep slots and hard-to-clean slots. The Material Knife Trio is available in four neutral shades for you to choose from.

Price at time of publish: $245

Product Details:

  • Steel Type: Japanese high-carbon stainless steel
  • Blade Length: 8 inches, 6 inches, 4 inches
  • Weight: 8 pounds (total weight)

Final Verdict

The MAC Knife Professional Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife is our top pick for its versatility and unique hollow dimples along the length of the blade which makes cutting through sticky foods like apples and potatoes a breeze. For a cheaper option, we recommend the Victorinox Pro Fibrox Chef’s Knife, which can handle everything that a higher-end knife can do without busting your budget.

How to Shop for Chef’s Knives Like a Pro 

European vs. Japanese

While shopping for knives, you might notice the labels “European” and “Japanese.” Apart from their technical differences, these knives are distinct because they’re crafted to meet the specific demands of the region they originated from. 

Japanese knives are rated 58 to 68 HRC (Hardness Rockwell C) on the Rockwell scale, which is a hardness scale that measures the level of hardness that a knife blade has. This means that they are typically harder than European knives, which have a slightly lower rating range between 54 and 58. That being said, there are exceptions in all cases. 

Japanese-style knives also have slim and delicate blades and incredibly sharp edges that can effortlessly slice through delicate ingredients like fish and vegetables. This is why they are excellent when slicing fish for sashimi or sushi. “These knives have straight blades that are better for more precision cuts,” says Blair.

European knives, or German knives as they are sometimes called, typically have thicker blades than Japanese knives. They can also handle cutting tasks like chopping root vegetables and tough game meats. “European knives also have a curved edge making them ideal for a quintessential rocking motion while you cut,” says Blair.

Steel Type

When it comes to steel, there are three types: stainless steel, high-carbon stainless steel, and carbon steel (sometimes called high-carbon steel). You’ll find that most manufacturers today label their blades “high-carbon stainless steel,” but it’s important to keep in mind that all steel contains carbon. A knife labeled “high-carbon stainless steel,” just means it has a slightly higher carbon level to increase hardness and strength, but there’s often little variation in the amount of carbon in stainless steel knives and those that are labeled “high-carbon stainless steel.”

Plain carbon stainless steel, on the other hand, is a different material altogether. It holds a sharper edge, but it rusts very easily due to the lack of chromium. If you want a knife that requires minimal care and is less prone to corrosion, then stainless steel is the way to go. These knives can stand up to wet and damp conditions and make a great choice for camping and other outdoor activities

Blade 

Knives fall into two categories: forged and stamped. A forged knife is one that goes through a labor-intensive process usually done by a craftsman or machine rollers. It involves heating a single block of steel which is then hammered until it forms a blade shape. This process is quite extensive, and as a result, forged knives tend to be stronger and heavier. They have a tendency to run thick at the top and come with a bolster that adds weight and balance to it. These knives are mainly used in high-end brands and tend to have custom features.

Most forged knives come with a full or partial tang. Tang refers to the bottom part of the blade that is embedded in the handle. It gives the knife strength by distributing the weight throughout the knife, which makes it more balanced and also less likely to break if a large amount of pressure is applied. You can tell if your knife has a full tang extending through the handle if metal rivets are visible and if the tang runs the entire length of the handle.

These knives also include a bolster, which is the thick metal connector between the handle and blade. They are beneficial because they add weight to the knife making it strong and more stable. A good bolster on a knife gives a better grip and can protect your fingers so you don’t get blisters. 

Stamped knives are typically cheaper. They start with a large sheet of metal that is stamped or cut out in the shape of a blade by a machine. It then undergoes heat treatment and is sharpened before they are ready for use.

Generally, stamped knives are lighter and more flexible and make it easier to cut and slice cooking ingredients. And while they don’t have a full tang in most cases, they often come with a partial tang which helps provide stability and balance.

Size

Chef’s knives typically come in three sizes: 6 inches, 8 inches, and 10 inches. The size that’s best for you depends on what feels comfortable for you and also the specific tasks you plan on using it for. Smaller chef’s knives lack the cutting range of a long knife, but they have the advantage of being lighter and easier to control.  

According to Wise, if you are only able to get one chef’s knife, the best knife to go with is an 8-inch knife. “It is more manageable, but it is also still big enough for 90 percent of kitchen jobs.”

Questions You Might Ask 

What are chef’s knives used for? 

“You can use a chef’s knife for absolutely everything,” says Wise.  Because these knives are versatile, you can use them for everything from chopping herbs to dicing vegetables and breaking down meats. You can also use them for finer tasks like deboning poultry, or in the case of slimmer Japanese knives, for slicing fine cuts of sashimi or sushi.

How many chef’s knives should you have?

Chefs differ as to how many chef’s knives they use in their kitchen, which isn’t a surprise as the number of knives you need depends on what you need them for and how often you cook. However, most chefs agree that the ultimate kitchen trifecta for both home and professional chefs is a good chef’s knife, a serrated knife for bread, and a small paring knife for trimming vegetables and fruit.

How often do chef’s knives need to be sharpened?

Chef’s knives should be sharpened regularly using a whetstone (also known as a sharpening stone) or honing steel. However, the exact timing depends on how often you use them and how arduous your cutting task is. For instance, if you are cooking at home, and mostly use it for vegetables, once or twice a month should be enough. However, if you frequently use your knife to cut meat or fish, you may want to sharpen it up to once a week or even after each use.

“Make it a habit,” says Wise. “You’ll cut better and they’ll last longer.”

Take Our Word for It 

This article was written by Nor’adila Hepburn, a contributing writer for Real Simple, with two years of experience writing product reviews and home and lifestyle content. To put together this list, she spent hours researching chef’s knives, considering factors such as size, blade, steel type, and style. She also received tips from Brad Wise, owner and chef at Trust Restaurant Group, as well as Sarah Blair, a professionally trained chef and the creator of Pure Palate.

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