Shopping
Advertiser Disclosure

The Best Chef’s Knives for Every Home Cook

iStock

Our evaluations and opinions are not influenced by our advertising relationships, but we may earn a commission from our partners’ links. This content is created independently from TIME’s editorial staff. Learn more about it.

Updated December 20, 2023

If you’re only going to purchase a few knives for your home kitchen, make sure one of them is chef’s knife. This large, versatile knife is typically between 8 and 10 inches long, has a sharp, pointed tip and slightly curved blade and can be used to slice and chop everything from herbs and vegetables to meat and fish. Since you’ll likely be using it quite a bit, you want a chef’s knife that’s sharp, durable, and easy to use. We spoke with experienced and successful chefs and cookbook authors about what they look for in a chef’s knife so we could offer our picks on the best chef’s knives on the market. Read on to find the best one for you.

What to consider when buying chef’s knives

According to the chefs we spoke to, there are a few factors to consider when buying chef knives.

Material

Cottrell thinks about how he’s going to use the knife and what material best fits that task. If you’ll be slicing a lot of tougher foods, such as butternut squash or fatty meats, you’ll want a more durable material like VG-10 or stainless steel. But if you’re primarily chopping herbs, vegetables, or fish, you can go for a sharper and more delicate blade.

Weight and balance

The way the knife feels in your hand is going to affect how often you want to use it. “I like the knife to be well-balanced right around my pointer finger when gripping the knife,” says Madosky. “So there should be a good amount of weight in the handle and the blade should feel light and agile.”

Handle size

If the size of your knife’s handle is too big or too small for your hand, it’s going to get uncomfortable if you’re chopping for a while. “I have large hands and look for a knife with a slightly larger handle to make it more comfortable,” Madosky says. “The inverse is often true if you have small hands, you may want a smaller-handled knife.” 

Aesthetics

Just like when you’re considering the best dinnerware set or best coffee maker for you, think about if the look of your knives matters. “I look for aesthetics that appeal to me, because it might as well look super cool if I’m spending a pretty penny,” says Cottrell. If a snazzier knife is going to make you happier and more willing to prepare meals at home, it’s worth it.

Our top chef’s knives picks

Best chef’s knife for beginners: Dalstrong Gladiator Series Elite Chef’s Knife

“Dalstrong is one of my favorites right now,” says chef Shereen Pavlides, author of Cooking with Shereen—Rockstar Dinners! “I like the weight, hand-feel and they are gorgeous with a fair price point.” As if that weren’t enough, this impressive chef’s knife comes in 13 handle colors to match your kitchen.

Specifications

  • Weight: 8 ounces
  • Material: high carbon steel
  • Blade length: 8 inches
  • Price on publish: $75

What we like:

  • It’s made from durable, ultra-sharp carbon steel
  • This knife won’t break the bank, plus you won’t need to replace it any time soon

What we don’t like:

  • The blade shape primarily supports slicing and rock-chopping
  • The hardness measurement is slightly lower than some of the other knives on this list
DALSTRONG Chef Knife - 8 inch Blade - Gladiator Series ELITE - Forged HC German Steel Chef's Knife - Razor Sharp Kitchen Knife - Professional Full Tang Knife - Black G10 Handle - Sheath -NSF Certified

DALSTRONG Chef Knife - 8 inch Blade - Gladiator Series ELITE - Forged HC German Steel Chef's Knife - Razor Sharp Kitchen Knife - Professional Full Tang Knife - Black G10 Handle - Sheath -NSF Certified

Best multi-purpose chef’s knife: Material 8-inch Knife

This subtle yet stylish knife from Material combines the best attributes of Japanese knives—the materials, the shape—with some Western touches—the composite handle, the wider base—to make a chef’s knife that’s able to handle any challenge.

Specifications

  • Weight: 7.5 ounces
  • Material: high carbon and stainless steel
  • Blade length: 8 inches
  • Price on publish: $80

What we like:

  • The grippy, stain-resistant handle comes in three trendy colors
  • It’s versatile and very light

What we don’t like:

  • While thoughtfully designed, the handle is on the long side
  • This company is not as time-tested as others on our list
Material 8-inch Knife

Best Japanese chef’s knife: Tojiro DP Gyutou

Japanese knives are designed for the push-pull cutting style, in which you rock the knife back and forth across your food and use the whole blade, as opposed to the more Western style of chopping while keeping the tip of the knife on the cutting board. If you’re well-versed in this cutting style, this Tojiro knife is one of the best you can buy.

Specifications

  • Weight: 6.3 ounces
  • Material: VG-10 and stainless steel
  • Blade length: 8.2 inches
  • Price on publish: $86

What we like:

  • The price is reasonable for the material
  •  It’s not too heavy

What we don’t like:

  • The knife’s edge is not quite as durable
  • Cooks with larger hands may find the handle too small
Tojiro DP Gyutou - 8.2

Best German chef’s knife: Henckels Classic Precision Chef’s Knife

I upgraded my department store knives to a set of Henckels knives earlier this year and have not been disappointed. Crafted from German materials and made in Spain, this is a quality chef’s knife for the home cook who won’t wear it out too quickly.

Specifications

  • Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Material: stainless steel
  • Blade length: 7.9 inches
  •  Price on publish: $75

What we like:

  • The ergonomic handle is very comfortable to use
  • It is dishwasher safe, though we wouldn’t run it every time

What we don’t like:

  • Made of stainless steel, the blade may need more frequent sharpening
  • It’s on the heavier side
Henckels International CLASSIC 8 Chefs Knife

Henckels International CLASSIC 8 Chefs Knife

Best professional chef’s knife: Shun Cutlery Classic Chef’s Knife 

This is another knife that combines Japanese craftsmanship and materials with the style and approachability of Western knives. The result is a truly classic chef’s knife that’s attractive and will be at home in any kitchen.

Specifications

  • Weight: 6.75 ounces
  • Material: Damascus steel
  • Blade length: 8 inches
  • Price on publish: $170

What we like:

  • The wood handle is durable, comfortable and ergonomically-shaped
  • It’s corrosion- and stain-resistant

What we don’t like:

  •  It’s a little pricey for the home cook
  •  It must be fully dried after each use to maintain quality
Shun Cutlery Classic Chef's Knife 8”

Shun Cutlery Classic Chef's Knife 8”

Best budget chef’s knife: Dexter-Russell Basics Cooks Knife

“Dexter-Russell makes a great line of knives for entry-level or budget-friendly cooks that will never do you wrong,” says George Madosky, chef at Fork in Philadelphia, PA. “Though they won't feel as nice in the hand or look as nice, if that's something that matters to you.” Despite the plastic handle and slightly higher weight, this knife will do the job for a fraction of the price of most others.

Specifications

  • Weight: 14 ounces
  • Material: high-carbon and stainless steel
  • Blade length: 8 inches
  • Price on publish: $24

What we like:

  • The blade is made from solid materials for the cost
  • It also comes in a 10-inch length; for the price, you could even buy both

What we don’t like:

  • It’s much heavier than our other favorites
  • You’ll probably want to keep it in a drawer
Dexter-Russell Basics P94801B 8

Dexter-Russell Basics P94801B 8

Best high-end chef’s knife: Yoshihiro Kurouchi Blue Steel Chef’s Knife

Chef Kevin Cottrell, the executive chef and co-founder of Machete in Greensboro, NC, favors these unique blue steel no. 2 Japanese knives for “sharpness and precision.” The resulting blade is made from carbon steel, chromium, and tungsten, a combination that is known for its toughness and longer-term edge retention (i.e., you won’t have to sharpen it as often).

Specifications

  • Weight: N/A
  • Material: blue steel #2
  • Blade length: 8.25 inches
  • Price on publish: $250

What we like:

  • Ideal for cutting food into tiny, precise pieces
  • The stunning two-tone blade

What we don’t like:

  •  It’s on the high end price-wise
  • The extreme sharpness means the blade is a little more delicate
Yoshihiro Kurouchi Black-Forged Blue Steel Stainless Clad Gyuto Chefs Knife Ebony Handle (8.25'' (210mm) & No Saya)

Yoshihiro Kurouchi Black-Forged Blue Steel Stainless Clad Gyuto Chefs Knife Ebony Handle (8.25'' (210mm) & No Saya)

Most durable chef’s knife: Sumikama Kasumi VG-10 Pro Kengata Knife

“I always consider the type of steel depending on the knife I’m looking for,” says Cottrell. “VG-10 is something more durable that can be beat up.” VG-10 is a special Japanese steel made from a combination of stainless steel and carbon steel to maximize both sharpness and durability. It’s a little pricey, but it will last.

Specifications

  • Weight: 7.4 ounces
  • Material: VG-10 cobalt high carbon stainless steel
  •  Blade length: 9.5 inches
  • Price on publish: $289

What we like:

  • The blade shape makes this a very versatile knife
  • The marble handle has a great heft and hand feel

What we don’t like:

  • It’s going to cost you
  • One of the longer knives on our list, some may find it too big
Sumikama Kasumi VG-10 Pro Kengata Gyuto Knife 240mm 58024

Sumikama Kasumi VG-10 Pro Kengata Gyuto Knife 240mm 58024

How we selected the best chef’s knives

To make our selections, we consulted with chefs and cookbook authors on the companies and knives they love and trust the most. From there, we combed the market to ensure that we were offering a variety of products suited to any and all home cooks.

How do you sharpen a chef’s knife?

The chefs we spoke to agree the best way to sharpen a chef’s knife to maximize its lifespan and integrity is with a whetstone. These slabs of stone generally have two sides, a coarser and a finer side, and are used to sharpen knives by drawing the blade back and forth across the stone. “There is a bit of a learning curve, but there are lots of great videos online to help you learn and once you get it, it's a great life skill,” Madosky says. “King Stone makes a great 1000/6000 stone that is great (basically all you need). I would also invest in a honing rod to keep your knife edge in line between sharpenings, but avoid the diamond-coated ones, as they will ruin your knife.”

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What knives do professional chefs use?

From the variety of recommendations we received from the chefs we spoke to, we learned that knife selection has a lot to do with personal preferences. The other consideration professional chefs take into account is how they’re going to be using the knives, as some materials are more durable than others and certain knife makes and shapes are designed for certain ingredients and cutting styles.

Can you travel with chef’s knives? 

Sure, if you need to. “I always recommend buying Sayas protective wooden covers, for your knives. With Sayas in place, there is little to worry about with your knives damaging each other in your bag,” Madosky says. “If you don't have a Saya, wrap each knife individually in a side towel and then wrap all your knives together in plastic wrap nice and tight.” And this probably goes without saying, but don’t try to bring them in your carry-on. “Since I travel abroad frequently for business, I often carry knives with me, and I always check them in during my travels,” shares chef Andy Matsuda, owner of the Sushi Chef Institute. “When going on international trips, I prefer to bring only the knives I regularly use and find easy to handle, rather than expensive ones. This precaution is taken with the possibility of losing them in mind.”

Are expensive chef’s knives worth it?

If you’re going to splurge on one knife in your kitchen arsenal, let it be your chef’s knife. This workhorse is so versatile, you can use it for virtually any task and if you’re a prolific cook then a higher-quality knife is well worth it. At the same time, just as with choosing any kitchen tool or appliance, such as the best air fryer, if you’ve used and are content with the performance of more budget-friendly knives, there’s no reason to upgrade just because. Choose the knife that will make your cooking experience the most enjoyable.

Can you put chef knives in the dishwasher?

We wouldn’t recommend it. While the materials knives are made of are technically dishwasher safe, putting your chef knives in the dishwasher is going to dull the blades much faster than if you are gently hand washing them after each use.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

1.1242.245+1.66.4