The Best Chef Knives of 2019

A good chef’s knife is one of the most valuable tools a cook can have in the kitchen. If you’re shopping for one, and you haven’t had a “good” knife before, you’ll likely be amazed by how long you made it without.

We reviewed some of the best knives out there in order to compile this list. However, it’s important to note that “best” can be pretty subjective — the knife that will serve your needs most effectively will depend entirely on you. From your preference of design to how it feels in your hand, your ideal match will let you slice ‘n dice in comfort and style.

As such, this list of our top picks should give you a jumping off point so you can narrow your scope and find your new go-to kitchen tool. We’ve included a few overall winners as well as some excellent options based on price.

Note: We stuck to 8-inch chef knives for this list. 8 inches is the most common size for home cooks, and should work fine for the average kitchen. However, there are other size options available from these top brands if you’re looking for something different.

The Critical Darling: Mac Knife Professional Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife (MTH-80)

 

There’s not often overlap in lists of the best chef knives, but Mac Knife’s MTH-80 is one that you’ll find regularly. At a list price of $175 (though often available online for under $150), it’s definitely on the high end of pricing, but fans say it’s worth every penny. With its thin blade and sturdy construction, the MTH-80 offers a professional feel for non-professional cooks. It also features dimples, more commonly found on santoku knives, which some cooks like but others debate the effectiveness. Overall, this is one worth considering if it’s in budget.

Made in Japan

Total Length: 12.63″

Total Weight: 6.5 oz

Rockwell Score: 59-61


More Great Knives

Here are more knives to check out, sectioned by price.

Under $200

Wüsthof Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

A standard in cutlery, Wüsthof has been in the knife-making biz for centuries, so it’s definitely a brand worth your consideration. The Classic Chef’s Knife is a solid — but expensive — option for a beginner. It includes a lifetime warranty and offers up excellent construction and durability. It has a little bit more length and weight than others, which some prefer.

Made in Germany

Total Length: 14.75″

Total Weight: 9.1 oz

Rockwell Score: 58


We offered up under-$200 options on our top two picks (above) as well, but here are a few others you might investigate if those or the Wüsthof Classic aren’t working for you:


Under $100

Shun Sora Chef’s Knife

This lightweight is a beauty — and it’s affordable to boot. For an essential knife that has a slightly different design than Western styles (which you may prefer), the Shun Sora is a great place to start.

Made in Japan

Total Length: 14″

Total Weight: 6.6 oz

Rockwell Score: 60-61


 

Global G-2 Chef’s Knife

Like the Shun just discussed, the Global G-2 is a blend of Western and Japanese styles. It features a lightweight construction and unique, ergonomic dimpled handle. It is perfect for small hands, but might not be ideal larger hands or those who need a bit more heft. The dimpled handle could also irritate during a long cooking session. However, it’s priced well at just under $100 and Global has many fans (including the late Anthony Bourdain) who sing their praises.

Made in Japan

Total Length: 13″

Total Weight: 6 oz

Rockwell Score: 56-58


Under $50

Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife

This best-selling knife can be found on plenty of “best” lists, thanks to its under-$50 price tag and well-known name (Victorinox has been around for over 130 years and makes the Swiss Army Knife). The Fibrox Pro is recommended by experts from Cook’s Illustrated and elsewhere, so it’s definitely a great knife to have on your radar if you don’t want to spend more than $50.

Made in Switzerland

Total Length: 13.5″

Total Weight: 7.5 oz

Rockwell Score: 55-56


 

Mercer Culinary Renaissance Chef’s Knife

This Mercer chef’s knife is the lowest-priced knife we recommend. Currently around $40, the German steel knife is a fantastic option for beginners or seasoned cooks alike. Mercer is a go-to brand for culinary students, and all of their knives are NSF certified. While this might not be the best out there, it’s arguably the best value.

German Steel, Manufactured in Taiwan

Total Length: 13″

Total Weight: 9.1 oz

Rockwell Score: 58


Our Favorite: Made In Chef Knife

Choosing our favorite knife is easy: it’s the one we use almost exclusively in the kitchen now — the 8-Inch Chef Knife from Made In Cookware (check out our full review here). It features all the must-haves for a professional grade knife, including a fully-forged design, high quality metal, and an ideal weight. We love the feel of it and its ease of use. We also love the price — at just $89, it’s much more affordable than many comparable knives.

Made in France

Total Length: 13″

Total Weight: 8 oz

Rockwell Score: 58-60

Before You Buy: Some Considerations

There is quite a lot to learn about chef’s knives if you’re interested in research. For some shoppers, simply finding the best value on the knife that fits their hand and typical usage most effectively is the main priority. But if you want to get a bit more in depth into learning about cutlery, here are a few key points to look into:

Size

As we mentioned, the 8-inch knife works well for most home cooks and typically proves to be the most versatile choice. However, some folks find that perhaps a 10-inch or a 6-inch serves them better, or makes a good addition to their 8-inch. We recommend holding some different sizes and researching a bit about size options and uses if you think the 8-inch won’t work for you.

Weight & Balance

The overall weight will matter to you, but it’s an individual preference whether lightweight knives or something heftier is better for your kitchen. Depending on what you most frequently chop and the size of your hand, even the most seemingly minute weight variations can make a difference. Balance refers to how it feels in your hand — you want a knife that feels perfectly balanced, and not one that feels like it tips too far forward, back, or to one side. You’ll know good balance when you feel it!

Rockwell Score

The Rockwell Score, or HRC, is the industry standard for determining hardness. The process itself is a bit complex, but in practical terms what you should know is that the higher the number, the harder the steel. This doesn’t always mean higher is better, at least when we’re discussing knives like the ones listed here, which will all be made of premium metal. Higher numbers do mean better edge retention, but they also can mean more brittleness.

European v. Japanese Style

You’ll see some discussion of Western or European styles in comparison to Japanese style blades. These distinctions can range from differences in steel type or where it’s made to angle, shape, or weight. Most of the top-rated chef’s knives won’t have enough of a difference to warrant a lot of research (you’d be looking into different knife types, like chef vs. santoku instead) but is worth noting if there is an aesthetic or angle you prefer.

Blade Material

Each manufacturer is going to have a thorough explanation of their blades, including the type of metal used, where it is sourced, and so forth. The Western vs. Japanese differences also often refer to steel. However, the key takeaway as you shop is to look for premium steel (which, again, all the knives we’ve listed here will have without question). Beyond that, you can look more in-depth into how the metal is treated and what kinds of guarantees the company offers. And, of course, you can definitely learn a ton about opinions and views on knife blades simply by searching around blogs and cooking forums.

Handle

Handles matter primarily in their construction and how they feel in your hand. Like the blades, top manufacturers are very forthcoming in their manufacturing process and handle materials.

How to Hold a Chef Knife

We won’t go too much into it here, but if you’re new to chef’s knives in general or you’re looking to improve your cooking, learning how to properly hold a chef knife is critical. We recommend learning a bit about this as you’re shopping for your new knife so that you know what to look for regarding balance and weight based on proper technique.

Here’s a video to get you started:

Caring for Your Knives

Our final point is an incredibly important one: make sure you learn how to properly care for your knife. If you’re going to spend the money on a knife, be sure you take good care of it so that you get your money’s worth. The manufacturer will give you guidelines and most (if not all) will recommend hand washing. Some warranties may even be void if you use the dishwasher. Our recommendation is the same: never put your knives in the dishwasher!

It’s also worthwhile to learn how to hone and sharpen your knives, or to find a local reputable knife sharpener. For longevity and the best performance, your knife will need some TLC.

 

 

 

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