Best Chef Knife – We Chose The Top 7 Of 2018
There’s no better way to elevate your cooking game and increase your culinary prowess than to get a great chef knife.
When it comes to chopping, slicing, dicing, mincing, and peeling - a chef’s knife is the most versatile option, made with the intent to be an all-purpose knife that can flexibly serve a talented cook in most situations. But which of the many, many knives out there actually fulfill that promise?
We pinned down 7 different chef knives that we felt especially stood out from the pack in the hopes of answering that very question.
How We Choose Our Ratings
We took a look at a variety of knife tests, consumer reviews, and expert opinions to decide our rankings for the best chef knife.
Chefs’ preferences for certain knives can often be fairly subjective - but finding the right knife for you might mean seeing what feels right in your hand. That said, we did strive to make our list as objective as possible, by looking at a variety of sources and comparing data across tests, so you know which knives are worth checking out in the store.
There are a lot of different ways to test and judge the quality of a knife, and some of them are a bit relative. Some chefs prefer their knives heavier than others might, but weight can also depend a lot on what you’re usually cooking up. There are benefits to having a light knife, such as versatility, but a heavy knife will do a better job slicing through thicker foods.
There’s also the matter of the balance of a chef knife, which can be judged by the way it feels in your hand, and whether it leans too much to the blade side or handle side when you rest it flat on your palm. However, balance could really affect how stable the knife is in action, and a well-balanced knife could make a huge difference with any chef.
Then there is, of course, the matter of sharpness and also the type of blade, as there is some variation between the European and Japanese styles of chef knives. These styles can mean slightly different things when cooking, but when it comes down to judgments in this category overall, a level of personal preference does also come into play.
All of these factors, and more, play a role in determining which chef knife is the best out there right now. We worked to balance them against each other in a way that felt fair.
Top 7 Best Chef Knives of 2018
Below, is our list of the top 7 knives for whipping up your favorite dishes and desserts. We’ve also included links if you’d like to look into them more or if you’d like to make a purchase.
The Wüsthof Classic 8″ Chef Knife is a heavy German knife, made from one piece of chromium-molybdenum-vanadium steel, that will make chopping and cleaving a breeze.
Wüsthof is a well-known name in knife making, and while they have been critiqued at times for not changing the styles of their blades enough from evolution to evolution, they are renowned for their classic style for a reason. Those with large hands might favor the Wüsthof in particular, given its considerable weight, but it is by no means only for the heavy-handed.
The Wüsthof Classic 8” Chef Knife popped up as a top contender in five of the different tests we reviewed, making it both the most mentioned and the most approved of blade in the list. If you are able to afford it, it might also be worth stepping up to the Wüsthof Ikon, which is a slight improvement on the Classic.
- Precision forged from a single piece of High Carbon Stainless Steel. Tempered to 58⁰ Rockwell
- Full tang that is triple riveted to the handle for precise control. No kitchen should be without this manual food...
- Slicing, mincing, dicing of all kind of food. Perfectly balanced, an extension of your hand.
The Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef’s Knife was a top budget pick across several tests. While most of the knives in this list are in and around the hundred to one fifty dollar range, the Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef’s Knife sits just slightly below at a comfortable forty five dollars.
This fairly large blade will surprise you with its lightness (it is nearly 3 ounces lighter than the Wüsthof) and ability to slice through hefty meats and other dense foods. It’s a surprisingly tough blade that one reviewer mentioned he spotted in all kinds of restaurants in his line cook and sous chef days, from “a hole-in-the-wall trattoria or a Michelin-rated fine dining establishment.” For its price, the Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef’s Knife can’t be beat.
Like the Wüsthof Classic 8” Chef Knife, the Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef’s Knife was a popular and positively reviewed knife across different tests and reviews. The recommendations for it range from everything from the “best starter knife” to the “best chef knife for the money.”
- For home chefs & professionals. This Fibro Pro chef's knife has been the top choice of both home chefs and professionals...
- Fit for all tasks. Designed to handle kitchen tasks both big and small, This durable knife's razor sharp and...
- Easy handling. Each knife features an ergonomic handle made from thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) for a non-slip grip --...
If you’re an expert cook with good chopping technique, the Shun Classic 8″ Chef Knife might be the right blade for you. Besides being gorgeous, the Shun Classic 8″ Chef Knife has also been lauded for its balance and the quality of its metal (it is encased in a covering of Damascus steel).
Some less experienced cooks in one of the tests we reviewed had trouble holding the knife, but experienced chefs were quick to complement its shape, as it was in fact made with a professional’s grip in mind. Plus, if the correct chopping method is employed, the blades can stay sharp for an impressively long time. If used incorrectly, however, it is known to chip.
The Shun Classic Chef Knife was ranked highly on several of the tests we reviewed, including Gadget Review, where it was ranked number one. As far as style points go, it’s often a clear winner on any list, but it’s more than just its looks. It’s noted for its precision, and can slice vegetables paper thin, but isn’t as good as the Wüsthof Classic 8” Chef Knife at handling general or less exact chopping.
- VG-MAX steel is a formula exclusive to Shun with extra tungsten for a sharper edge, more chromium for corrosion...
- Handle is ebony PakkaWood; PakkaWood is a hardwood infused with resin for a durable, water resistant finish, perfect for...
- For proper slicing, push the knife forward and down while cutting through food and then pull it up and back, repeating...
If you prefer your knives light, the Global G-2 8-Inch Chef’s Knife should be on your radar. Its handle is hollow, meaning the entire knife only weighs about 7.8 ounces, and it’s praised for its sleek design and razor-sharp edge.
It’s a little like a counterpart to the Wüsthof Classic 8” Chef Knife in that, in one of the tests we reviewed, it was the people with small hands who loved it most. Other testers, however, felt it was too light, and some still were uneasy about the fact that it’s entirely metal (even the handle) – although what that really just means is that it’ll be easier to clean. Plus, the blade is made from high quality steel and is known for staying sharp for a long time.
So, while the Global G-2 8-Inch Chef’s Knife might not be for everyone, for those with small hands or those who will mostly be cooking for themselves (versus cooking for a large family or entire restaurant), there is a lot to love about this lightweight, high quality Japanese blade.
The Global G-2 8-Inch Chef’s Knife was a big winner in NY Mag’s knife test, taking the number one spot. It also ranked fairly well in a few other tests we reviewed, and has an impressive 5 stars on Amazon with an impressive 517 reviews.
- Lightweight, precisely balanced 8-inch or 20cm chef's knife
- Blade made of high-tech molybdenum/vanadium stainless steel
- Edge retains razor sharpness exceptionally well
The Mac Knife Professional Hollow Edge Chef's Knife, 8-Inch, is another stunning Japanese knife. The dimples in the blade are meant to make cutting through sticky foods easy, and the thin carbon steel makes it both sharp and powerful when chopping through tough or oddly shaped foods.
Plus, the Mac Knife Professional Hollow Edge Chef's Knife is a hybrid-style knife, made from Japanese steel but shaped and sharpened like a European chef knife. This knife is a great option for those who aren’t sure which style they prefer, but want an all-around stellar knife that combines a bit of both worlds.
The Mac Knife Professional Hollow Edge Chef's Knife was the big winner in one of the tests we reviewed, appealing both to those with big hands and those with small ones, given the well-balanced weight.
Overall, it’s a safe crowd-pleaser, although one of the tests we reviewed did suggest that it would be better for a more experienced chef than a beginner. In fact, Mac knives are quite popular with professional cooks. Eric Ripert, chef and co-owner of Michelin 3-star restaurant Le Bernadin, says Mac knives are his preferred go-to chef knives – and they could be yours, too!
- 2mm Blade, rust-resistant, exceptionally sharp, made out of high carbon and keeps the edge for a long time
- Original Molybdenum steel has better edge-retention
- Pakka wood handle
The Zwilling brand was a big winner in several of the tests we reviewed, and the Zwilling J.A. Henckels 8” Chef's Knife should not be ignored. It’s on the heavier end of the spectrum, made from high-carbon steel, and originates in Germany, like the Wüsthof Classic 8” Chef Knife.
The Zwilling J.A. Henckels 8” Chef's Knife is designed to tackle both denser foods, given its weight, and foods that require a precise edge, and is purported to be good for both beginners and professionals alike. If you’re willing to upgrade to their Pro version of this knife (about fifty five dollars more expensive), the reviews only get better and better.
One Amazon reviewer did note that the current Zwilling J.A. Henckels 8” Chef's Knife wasn’t as good as the older version of the same knife that he had before, but for the most part, reviewers fawn all over this blade and its Pro counterpart.
- Curved bolster encourages cutting with improved precision, safety and Comfort
- POM handle is durable and resilient
- SIGMAFORGE knife is forged from a single piece of Special Formula High-Carbon NO STAIN stainless steel
You might be thinking, “Santoku? I thought this was a list of chef knives.” For those who are sticklers on the subject, you’ll know that there is a distinctly different shape and typically a different length to santoku versus chef knives, but the main difference is about origin.
The “chef knife” finds its roots in Europe usually (German or French, for example), while the gyotu and santoku are made in Japan, but do essentially the same work as a chef knife. The name “santoku” is actually derived from the fact that the blade is meant to do three primary tasks: slicing, dicing, and mincing.
Another notable difference about a santoku blade is the way in which you chop with it. Chef’s knives allow for smoother, more fluid movements, while santoku knives favor the repetitive chop.
What makes the Kai for Williams-Sonoma Santoku Knife especially appealing and remarkable, however, is its price. For only thirteen dollars, you can grab a blade that performs at a much higher level than its price might suggest. The handle is plastic, which adds to its lightness, and comes recommended by Chef Justin Devillier of the award-winning La Petite Grocery in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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Best Chef Knife - Buyer’s Guide
Picking the best chef knife for you ultimately comes down to what feels good in your hand.
Our 5-star picks to try out are the Wüsthof Classic (or Ikon) 8″ Chef Knife, Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef’s Knife, Shun Classic 8″ Chef Knife, and Global G-2 8-Inch Chef’s Knife, but any of the knives in the list could be right for you, depending on your budget, the things you cook, and even the size of your hands.
From this point on, it’s up to you to decide which is the best chef knife for you.