The Best Chef's Knives Of 2023

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Chef's knives are the go-to knife for almost any cooking task, from cutting up vegetables and chopping herbs to butchering and carving meat, a chef's knife can do it all. Most professionals recommend outfitting your kitchen with a chef's knife first and foremost. Sure it's nice to have lots of options, from paring knives to special pieces just for deboning meat but, at the end of the day, a chef's knife is the only truly indispensable choice.

Made up of different parts, like the blade itself, the handle, and the bolster, chef's knives can be surprisingly different from each other thanks to the different materials used for these pieces as well as how much attention manufacturers pay to the engineering and ergonomics. The blade on this type of knife averages 6-10 inches, but many examples exist outside of this range as well. Typically, these days at least, the cutting edge is made of stainless steel, but in the past, harder carbon steel was the metal of choice.

Cooks today are lucky to have many options at their disposal. However, having this many choices can sometimes feel overwhelming. It can help to know what you're looking for in a knife (i.e. value, longevity, aesthetics, etc...) and seek out a highly recommended option within that category.

How we selected the products

The knives in this article were selected based on numerous criteria. Everything from customer reviews on Amazon, to professional reviews from reputable sources, to favorable press, to a manufacturer's reputation has been taken into account to make a list that reflects the best possible choice for each category.

Many of these knives went through exhaustive testing in order to give consumers more confidence in the choices they make, and customer-generated reviews provide insight into exactly how satisfied customers are with the knives they bought.

The best chef's knives are those that fit a person's needs. Those needs could be anything from the price of the knife to the way it looks. You can see below some of the most common categories of knives and the best options in each. The prices range from reasonable to very expensive and everywhere in between, so there should be something for everyone.

Best budget chef's knife

Mercer knives, made in Taiwan, have become something of an internet sensation. Known for reliably producing high-quality knives at prices well below those of most other premium producers, Mercer blades are seen in commercial kitchens across the world.

Blade Advisor calls them "the Best Cheap Knives" and they regularly top lists of economical knife choices. Many culinary schools outfit their students with a knife roll full of Mercer knives and tools, a testament to their budget appeal. Although Mercer makes a vast line of knives, most of the differences between them are superficial and are related to handle design and composition. Mercer makes both lighter stamped blades and heftier forged ones. The Culinary Genesis, 8-inch chef's knife is a forged knife and feels substantial in the hand. Its textured, grippy handle keeps it secure, even in wet or greasy hands.

The bolster -– the part of the knife that bulges out between the handle and the blade –- provides balance and heft to this knife and the hard German steel makes for an excellent, very sharp knife at a very reasonable price. However, the bolster on this knife doesn't extend all the way down the blade which makes it easier to sharpen as it ages. On Amazon, the Mercer Culinary Genesis has over 1,200 reviews and its rating sits at an impressive 4.8 out of 5 stars. 

Purchase the Mercer Culinary Genesis, 6-inch chef's knife from Amazon starting at $37.21 as of April 14th, 2023.

Best mid-ranged chef's knife

Misen, a clever name derived from the French phrase mise en place, is a relative latecomer to the knife-making scene. The company raised funding on Kickstarter with the stated goal of producing high-quality kitchen tools -– they also make cookware -– at an approachable price point.

This approachability has endeared Misen knives to legions of fans online. Well-known food personality and cookbook author, Kenji Lopez-Alt wrote so enthusiastically about this knife that he called it "the Holy Grail of Chef's Knives." High praise indeed.

The edge of the Misen 8-inch chef's knife is honed to a very fine 15-degree angle (per A Taste of Home), which makes for a nimble and very sharp blade. The Kitchn explains that you can get used to this edge since Misen offers free sharpening for the life of the blade, not too shabby for a knife that costs under $100. As Nothing But Knives explains, the Misen knife is made of AUS-10 steel, a particularly durable and tough metal that means the knife itself will last a long time. It may not have the bells and whistles of the more expensive knives but the quality to price ratio is spot on.

Purchase the Misen 8-inch chef's knife from Amazon starting at $85.

Best splurge chef's knife

A price tag north of $400 certainly earns New West KnifeWorks' Teton Edge Santoku Ironwood entrance into the splurge category, but you'll find that price is justified when learning about the craftsmanship that goes into making this chef's knife. The Japanese-style knife is constructed from S35VN "powder metal." This high-carbon steel gives the Teton Edge Santoku every quality you look for in a chef's knife: Superior sharpness, toughness, stain resistance, and sharpenability. The desert ironwood handle material is eye-catching while simultaneously durable and water-resistant.

What separates this chef's knife from a traditional Santoku blade, however, is the namesake — Teton Edge. This etching of the Teton mountain range on the knife's blade replaces the dimples you find on many other chef's knives. "A traditional Santoku has dimples that keep food from sticking to the edge," Michael Milligan, New West's director of marketing, told Forbes. "This [edge] does that job even better by creating even more negative surface area to keep food from sticking. Beyond that, dimples can sometimes weaken the precision of steel during the heat treatment stage. We're able to etch the design in without compromising on stability."

All this makes the Teton Edge Santoku's price tag a bit more reasonable. "There are definitely cheaper options out there, but if you're feeling indulgent, these multi-hundred dollar knives are totally worth the investment," said a reviewer for SPY.

You can order your very own seven-inch Teton Edge Santoku Ironwood from New West KnifeWorks for $439.

Best German chef's knife

It would be difficult to talk seriously about quality kitchen knives without at least mentioning Wusthof. This German stalwart is a huge name in cutlery and its well-made knives have developed a reputation as "the go-to" high-end knife. Decorated with the company's red trident logo, a Wusthof chef's knife practically defines the category.

Among its many designs, the Classic line is the most recognizable for Wusthof, not to mention its best selling. Its black handle with triple rivets is endlessly imitated and its rounded blade is favored by those that prefer a "rocking" motion as they cut. Prudent Reviews explains how the company combines steel, carbon, chromium, molybdenum, and vanadium to create blades with just the right combination of hardness and stain resistance. Although you will never get this blade as sharp as some of the more boutique knives made of harder –- and more brittle –- steel, it manages to thread the needle of maintaining an edge and not being too delicate.

With an almost perfect 4.9 out 5 stars on Amazon, the Wusthof Classic, 8-inch chef's knife long list of recommenders who are happy to gush about how much they use and love it. It's an investment, but will last a lifetime. 

Purchase the Wusthof Classic, 8-inch chef's knife from Amazon starting at $162.40.

Best Japanese chef's knife

The Japanese have a long history of blade-making, extending back to the traditions of samurai warriors. They have also developed their own distinct style and shapes of blades, including specifically designated shapes for vegetables, fish, and meat.

Modern Japanese firms have taken traditional techniques and used them to make Western-style knives that are typically lighter and sharper than those most cooks are used to. This is usually due to the type of steel used, which tends to be harder and more brittle. This makes it harder to put a fine edge on the blade, but means that it stays sharper longer than the softer steels used by most European knife makers.

The Shun Classic chef's knife is a beautiful, striking tool. The handle is D-shaped so it fits comfortably and naturally into your hand and is made of a shiny PakkaWood, a material made by impregnating wood with resin to create something that can stand up to moisture and bacterial growth.

Most Japanese knives are sharpened to a finer angle than Western knives, which makes them feel sharper. The Shun is no exception and its fine cutting edge is remarked upon by nearly every review. In fact, Gadget Review suggests only using this knife on a wooden cutting board since it could easily cut chunks out of a flimsier plastic board.

Purchase the Shun Classic chef's knife from Amazon starting at $169.95.

Best American chef's knife

Although most knife enthusiasts lavish praise on German and Japanese engineering -– and there is no doubt this is something that both nations do well –- other countries are perfectly capable of producing high-quality blades.

Lamson blades have been produced in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts since 1837, making the company one of the oldest cutlery makers in the country. Lamson made a particular name for themselves when they gifted Ulysses S. Grant with a lavish set of dinner utensils. The overall quality has not diminished and today Lamson still makes quality blades.

The Lamson Forged, 8-inch chef's knife is as beautiful as it is functional and most reviews lavish praise on how comfortable it is to use and hold. The Lamson chef's knife has all the hallmarks of a high-end blade. It is made from top-notch German steel and is constructed with a full tang –- industry speak to indicate that metal extends all the way through the handle, thus lending greater balance and weight to the knife (per Smoke Kitchen.) This knife has a sterling 5-star online review rating when it comes to craftsmanship — something not even most perfectionist Japanese makers can boast.

Purchase the Lamson Forged, 8-inch chef's knife from Amazon starting at $159.99.

Best old-school French chef's knife

The shape of this knife is straight from Julia Child's classic two-part cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and anyone looking for a mid-century gourmet aesthetic could certainly do worse. Confusingly, the name Sabatier predates legal trademarks, so any unscrupulous manufacturer can throw this name on any mass-produced piece of junk. One sign of quality is if the knife is actually made in France, which this blade is.

The Sabatier, 8-inch chef's knife's shape differs from most German knives -– which have become the gold standard of Western blades –- by having a flatter blade and an overall narrower profile. Instead of the traditional rocking motion associated with high-end German knives, this shape is designed for more of a straight up and down cutting action.

K Sabatier has been making knives in Thiers, France -– a town with a longstanding tradition of knife making –- for over 200 years, and it shows. Blade Advisor calls this knife "the best Sabatier chef's knife available on Amazon." They cite its solid, well-crafted construction with a hefty bolster that adds weight and balance to the knife as particularly laudable. Its impressive, 4.7-star average agrees.

Purchase the Sabatier, 8-inch French forged stainless chef's knife from Amazon starting at $208.99.

Best innovative chef's knife

Zwilling is one of the oldest trademarks in the world, having been founded in 1731 in Solingen, Germany. Solingen is often called "the City of Blades", with a fascinating history stretching back all through the Middle Ages and beyond. Though the bladesmiths of Solingen cut their teeth -– so to speak -– by making swords rather than domestic kitchen knives, that expertise has carried over into modern times as the two biggest names in German knives, Zwilling and Wusthof both have origins here.

The Zwilling Pro Chef's Knife boasts a very different profile than most other large knives, the exaggerated roundness of the edge and especially the upturned tip are designed to provide a more user-friendly experience. As Prudent Reviews elaborates, the half bolster on the Pro-line makes it much easier to sharpen this knife since, for the best outcome, you need to drag the entire length of the blade along a whetstone and a full bolster can often get in the way.

The Zwilling Henckels, Pro chef's knife is a late addition to the German knife giant's line of various products, but it has been extremely well-received. BBC Good Food finds it "robustly engineered" and loved how the entire shape has been rethought to be more comfortable and simply a better knife.

Purchase the Zwilling Henckels, Pro 8-inch chef's knife from Amazon starting at $159.95.

Best workhorse chef's knife

This knife is a stalwart. Renowned across the internet, it is a longtime example of good value. Made by the same company that makes Swiss Army Knives, it comes from a legacy of reliability. Originating in Switzerland in the late 1800s, this brand takes its name from its founder's mother's name Victoria and the word "inox" another name for stainless steel.

Numerous well-respected cooking publications have long championed this knife and this has led to it being held as essentially the benchmark of bargain-priced cutlery. As time has gone on and the price has continuously risen, other quality knives that sit at a lower price point have premiered, but this blade is still an excellent kitchen companion.

The blade is stamped rather than forged, unlike most high-end knives. This means the blade is noticeably lighter than the more deluxe forged blades of competitors like Wusthof. This translates into deftness and maneuverability.

The textured, grippy handle keeps the whole thing secure, even when cooks' hands are slippery with moisture or grease and doesn't fatigue them with sharp, angular edges. Although the look won't win any design competitions (the Spruce Eats called it "utilitarian" in an otherwise glowing review) it's comfortable, sharp, and tough. This knife provides an incredible return on investment and, as long as it's cared for properly, it will serve you well for years.

Purchase the Victorinox, Fibrox 8-inch chef's knife from Amazon starting at $46.36.

Best santoku knife

A Santoku is a Japanese innovation. It is designed to be an all-purpose knife for home cooks and professionals alike. The name means "three virtues" and those are variously said to be slicing, dicing, and chopping of meat, fish, and vegetables. The upshot is that this is a user-friendly and versatile shape.

Unlike a "normal" chef's knife, a santoku has a point that is turned down into what knife makers call a "sheep's foot" tip –- distinguishable from the sword-like point of most Western blades. The relatively flat blade is usually lighter but wider than a regular chef's knife. Santoku knives started to become popular in the early aughts, and a glowing article at the time from the NY Post lays this trend at the feet of Rachael Ray, who happily sang the praises of her German-made Santoku knife to anyone who would listen.

The MAC Superior, 5-inch Santoku is highly regarded by many professionals, it netted Cook's Illustrated's coveted "best buy" rating when they reviewed these types of knives, and review after review mentions the sheer value of this blade. MAC claims to produce "the world's sharpest knives" and while that may be debatable, it's clear that a lot of care and expertise went into crafting this knife.

Purchase the MAC Superior, 5-inch santoku from Amazon starting at $74.

Best children's chef's knife

Most tools are not designed for the smaller and less dextrous hands of kids. But then there are the Opinel Le Petit chef's knife's features that provide a safer experience for tots in the kitchen.

Opinel, is more well-regarded pocket knives than kitchen knives, but it's also a familiar name in paring knives -– the eye-catching colored wooden handles stand out in a world of riveted black. The company has been making knives since 1890, even winning recognition in 1985 as one of the best-designed objects, next to the like of Porsche luxury cars and Rolex watches (per Opinel.)

Opinel's Le Petit chef knife set has been recognized by America's Test Kitchen as a standout product for teaching young cooks to comfortably and confidently use a knife. It uses a comfortable wooden handle and a plastic ring to protect little fingers and provide a secure grip. Although it is sharp, it comes with a protective plastic guard that is worn on the opposite hand to protect from the blade.

The Kitchn writes enthusiastically about the reception of this knife with a budding chef. Not only was it love at first sight, thanks to the colorful plastic additions to the structure, but the smaller size was approachable and confidence-boosting for children age six and up. Its affordable price is not a huge investment, but it could be the catalyst for your child to have a lifetime appreciation for cooking.

Purchase the Opinel Le Petit chef knife set from Amazon starting at $36.

Best Chinese cleaver: Dexter Russell, Chinese cleaver

Although a very different shape than what most people think of as a "chef's knife" a Chinese cleaver fulfills the same sort of multipurpose, general use role in many Eastern kitchens. The wide, flat blade helps not only chop vegetables and thinly slice meat, but can also act as an impromptu bench scraper to ferry food from the cutting board to the wok.

Although you need a slightly different technique to use one of these efficiently, the razor edge and sheer heft of it can make cutting through a mountain of produce effortless with enough practice. Many publications implore their readers to give this knife a try and see just how useful it is. The Economist even makes the bold claim that it is the only knife you will need in your kitchen. If that seems hyperbolic, it is at least true that the Dexter Russell, Chinese cleaver can hold a valuable spot in any well-equipped knife collection.

The Dexter Russell is a favorite of professionals because it is widely available, can be sharpened to a very fine edge, and is made of stainless steel, which is proof against any kind of discoloration or corrosion.

Purchase the Dexter Russell, Chinese cleaver from Amazon starting at $50.59.

Best ceramic chef's knife

At first glance, ceramic seems to be a strange choice for a blade. However, when you consider just how hard zirconium dioxide –- the specific type of ceramic used in this type of knife –- is and, because of that, just how sharp you can make a knife made from it, it all starts to make sense.

Kyocera is a versatile company that makes everything from fine ceramics to solar panels for hybrid cars. The name has been adapted from the original Kyoto Ceramic Co., Ltd. into the shortened version we know today.

Although there are downsides to this material –- namely a more delicate construction that could lead to breakage much more easily than a metal blade would -– it can get so sharp and is so lightweight that many consumers don't seem to mind.

The Kyocera, Ceramic, 7-inch chef's knife has gotten endorsements from both amateur reviewers and professional test kitchens such as Good Housekeeping. With its mid-level price, you can get a unique knife for your collection that really works –- just don't drop it.

Purchase the Kyocera, Advanced Ceramic, 7-inch chef's knife from Amazon starting at $79.99.

Best carbon steel chef's knife

Most knives sold to home cooks these days are made from stainless steel, a blend -– or alloy -– of different metals with an emphasis on chromium, which not only makes for a shiny surface, but also prevents any discoloration or chemical reactions with food. A higher degree of carbon in the steel makes for a harder, more brittle metal. This means a carbon steel knife is capable of being ground to a very fine cutting edge and it retains its sharpness longer than stainless.

The downside is that, where stainless steel is inert and does not react with any food, carbon steel can have chemical reactions with certain food. This includes acidic things like tomatoes and also more specific things like artichokes. This chemical reaction has a discoloring effect on food and can produce a metallic, off-flavor. This, combined with the difficulty of re-sharpening them, explains why carbon steel fell out of favor among most cooks.

However, for those nostalgic for an old-fashioned tool that can get sharper than any stainless blade, options still exist. Many Japanese knife makers make traditional carbon steel blades.

Misono is one of those companies and is the oldest Japanese company that manufactures Western-style tools (per Japanese Knife Guide) and their Carbon Steel Gyuto take on a chef's knife gets great reviews all over the internet, including a nod from the rigorous methodology of America's Test Kitchen.

Purchase the Misono, Carbon Steel Gyuto from Amazon starting at $170.

Best lightweight chef's knife

MAC is a name that comes up again and again when researching well-made knives. They consistently garner rave reviews from places like Wirecutter or America's Test Kitchen –- and with good reason; the quality of these Japanese blades is overall excellent.

Although there are many different lines of knives produced by MAC that range in price and in how elaborate the blades are, the Chef Series manages to hit a sweet spot between affordability and substance. Particularly popular among line cooks, who expect reliability but don't want to pay a lot for it, these knives are stamped, meaning they are punched out of a single sheet of metal. This makes them particularly light and nimble.

The name of this blade –- specifically the "French" part -– is a reference to its more angular shape than most chef's knives. It is consistently called "light" in its reviews, usually linked with the phrase "razor sharp." This knife is particularly well suited for a marathon cooking session since a heavier blade will fatigue a cook's hands and arms faster than this featherweight option.

One of the best parts about the MAC chef's knife is the affordability –- you could easily spend a lot more and not get a knife as sharp.

Purchase the MAC Chef Series, 8.5-inch French chef's knife from Amazon starting at $78.95.