Here at the Strategist, we know that finding the “best” product really depends on exactly who you ask — which is why we’ve devoted a new series to squeezing in as many informed, trustworthy opinions as possible. And we’ve come up with dozens of ways to do this, among them: surfacing reader reviews from across the internet, taking quick polls (among our most insane friends and fellow shopping-obsessed Strategist editors), and partaking in some advanced internet snooping.
With that, we’ve rounded up the best chef’s knives — generally defined as knives with a wide blade between eight and ten inches in length — according to everyday people, professional chefs, food writers, and even a Top Chef Junior finalist. These knives run the gamut, from a $10 knife that cuts like a dream to a price-upon-request knife hand-forged in the Appalachian Mountains. Whether you’re willing to spend a lot or a little, there’s a chef’s knife for you.
Photo: Jed Egan
The beauty of the chef’s knife is that it can do just about everything, from mincing garlic to filleting delicate fish. And while you may be tempted to go for a knife that’s either super cheap or incredibly expensive — both of which are included on this list — the $87 Global G-2 Chef’s Knife is the “just right” of chef’s knives. It’s also the nearly undisputed favorite of 25 experts, including a Top Chef judge, a knife seller, and several professional chefs. Those 87 bucks buy you an easy-to-grip knife that’s solidly built — it can easily cut through a rotisserie chicken — but lightweight enough that you don’t need to be able to bench 300 to lift it.
With more than 11,000 reviews and a five star rating, the Mercer Milennia is the undisputed champion of chef’s knives available on Amazon. Reviewers are particularly taken with the handle, which they describe as “comfortable” and “ergonomic,” as well as the incredibly sharp, 12-inch blade. Yes, one whole foot of knife. Plus, at less than $30, it’s a steal.
Photo: Courtesy of Phillips Forged
Two years ago, celebrity chef Sean Brock shared a photo of a truly stunning chef’s knife on his Instagram “entirely hand crafted from reclaimed materials found in the mountains of East Tennessee.” Its stainless steel blade was forged from a “100+ year old 1095 high carbon sawmill blade” while the dark wood handle was carved from “some old growth cocobolo.” The knife was custom-made by John Phillips, who sells the knives one by one to his newsletter subscribers. It’s damn near impossible to cop one of these beauties, but if you manage to, it’ll become an instant family heirloom.
Bring up chef’s knives among food professionals and the Shun is guaranteed to come up. At seven ounces and with a blade that’s just over half a foot long, it’s perfect for home cooks and chefs with deft hands (and the preferred knife style of professional sushi chefs). Michelin-starred chefs Elise Kornack and Anna Hieronomus recently told us Shun is “one of our favorite knife brands.” And with a lifetime guarantee and a blade that stays sharp longer than it has any right to, it’ll be one of yours, too.
Misen was one of the earliest entrants into the fast-growing contingent of direct-to-consumer cookware brands, starting out as a Kickstarter launched in 2014. A Misen landed on my desk some years ago, and ever since it’s been one of my go-to chef’s knives, with a nice reassuring weight, a decently sharp blade that still cuts well all these years later, and a comfortable grip. (Plus, 6,500-plus five-star ratings.) And with a 60-day home trial period, it’s perfect for anyone who wants to give their chef’s knife a try before committing.
In 2018, writer Farihia Róisín penned a convincing ode to the Hocho Kobo, or Long Chef’s Knife, a Japanese-made chef’s knife handcrafted in the seaside town of Sanjo and available at L.A.-based Japanese home goods store The Good Liver. Róisín writes that she was immediately taken with the wood handle, which is “meticulously worked through a charcoaling process that ensures it’s water resistant and antibacterial” as well as the blade made with two types of steel for added structural integrity. And if aesthetics are top of mind, the Hocho Kobo is hard to beat.
Should you find yourself raising the next Flynn McGarry, maybe don’t start them off with a 12-inch knife. Instead, Top Chef Junior season one finalist Rahanna Bisseret Martinez recommends the Le Petit Chef knife from French company Opinel. “There’s a red hole in the knife handle where you put your fingers in,” Martinez says. “It’s so you learn the technique of holding the knife.” It also comes with a finger guard, which is perfect for amateur chefs in first, second, or third grade.
Generally, knife snobs recommend against gifting since it should be up to the person who will use the knife to decide what feels best in their hand. But the exception to that rule may be surprising someone with a blade from celebrated knife-maker Bob Kramer, who famously crafted a one-of-a-kind blade for the late Anthony Bourdain that sold at auction last year for $231,250. Bob Kramer knives are usually only available via a membership-based auction, but for a cool $1,600 you can get a piece of America’s most famous knife maker as he’s currently taking pre-orders for an extremely limited run of chef’s knives that anyone can order online.
Lightweight Japanese-style knives may be the blades du jour, but if you want a knife with some serious heft, one that can take a beating, go for the 11.1 ounce Wüsthof. “I prefer the weight and thickness of the blade of this heavier knife,” says James Beard–nominated pastry chef Shannon Swindle. “I’ve used it for 20 years.”
For people with mobility issues or those who simply prefer a lightweight knife, there’s the Mercer Culinary Chef’s Knife, which weighs less than seven ounces and comes from the same people behind the best chef’s knife, according to Amazon reviewers. But don’t let the near weightlessness of this knife fool you, it can cut through just about anything with relative ease. “It will slice through watermelons, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, potatoes by the pounds without a hiccup,” says one reviewer.
Yes, a decent chef’s knife can be had for less than $15, and that knife is the Kai, sold exclusively through Williams-Sonoma for just ten bucks. It’s a Japanese-style santoku knife, meaning the blade is shorter than your average chef’s knife, but that allows for more deft cutting. As New Orleans–based chef Justin Devillier points out, this is also the knife you want to take on the road, saying, “For a home cook who’s very recreational and weekend warrior–ish, you don’t want to pull out some crazy-heavy thing that shatters if you drop it.”
Occasional Strategist contributor and resident outdoorsman Steven John calls the Coast Double Lock Folder Knife “one damn sharp knife,” and in many ways, the workhorse of any camping trip. “I’ve used mine to slice everything from tomatoes to steak to kindling, and it’s been like the proverbial hot knife through butter every time,” John writes. And with a dual-locking mechanism that prevents it from flipping open without warning, it’s also one of the safest knives you can take on the road.
Many professional chefs will say a great chef’s knife is all you really need in the kitchen, but if you want a knife for every possible occasion, the Home Hero, which has more than 9,000 four- and five-star reviews, is the way to go. In addition to a chef’s knife, this set includes a bread knife, a paring knife, a carving knife, and more, plus an external sharpener so you never have to worry about your knives becoming dull.
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