cookware and utensils

15 of the Very Best Chef’s Knives

Finding one you feel comfortable using for all your meals is vital to your efficiency and success as a cook.

The best chef's knife is the Global G-2 Chef’s Knife.
Photo: Marcus McDonald
The best chef's knife is the Global G-2 Chef’s Knife.
Photo: Marcus McDonald

In this article

My chef’s-knife collection is substantial. I’ve owned some since I moved out of my parents’ house a decade ago, I’ve received others as gifts, and I’ve tested quite a few for this story. And after so much time with so many blades that I’ve used to slice, chop, cut, and carve my way through many meals, I know that finding one you feel comfortable holding and using is vital to your efficiency and success as a cook. Beyond considering price, of course, chef’s knives are made of different materials, are different sizes, have different-feeling handles, and are different weights — and in none of those categories is there an absolute correct way to go. Also, it’s worth saying, more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better. It’s like a white T-shirt: What’s the ultimate one to somebody else may not be the ultimate one to you. Here, I drew on my own expertise and spoke to 20 experts to determine some outstanding options — and then did my best to categorize and describe them to help you find yours. And if you’re in the market for more than just a chef’s knife, I’ve dug deep into the best knife sets, too.

What we’re looking for

Blade length

Chef’s knives have blades that are most commonly eight inches long, sometimes seven, sometimes six. Though you don’t see it very often, they can go up to ten or 12 and down to five. What length you want comes down to personal preference. How large are your hands? How practiced are you in knife control? I’d also argue that it’s helpful to have different sizes for different tasks. I use my eight-inch blades for specific heavier-duty and larger-volume tasks like cutting through a squash or chopping up a huge amount of herbs, but I use my six-and-a-half-inch blade (which feels like a Goldilocks size for my hands) for most everything else. To keep things consistent, I’ve listed the eight-inch blade when available, and also when an expert didn’t specifically mention a different size. But if you know you have smaller or larger hands, or want to add some variety to your collection, certain blades are available in various sizes (which you can see when you click into the links to buy).

European- or Japanese-style

Not every chef’s knife falls distinctly into one of these categories (some don’t fall into either). But the terms are commonly used and the distinctions are notable enough that it’s good to have a sense of the main characteristics of each. European-style knives (which include German style, French style, and western style) tend to be heavier with a thicker, more curved blade — the shape of which assists in rocking back and forth with the tip down on your cutting board. Japanese-style knives are usually lighter with a thinner blade and straighter edge, ideal when you’re after extreme precision. To make the landscape more complicated, some Japanese companies make European-style knives, and some European and American companies make Japanese-style knives. Here I’ve denoted the style of each to the best of my ability, then gone into more detail in the descriptions.


I just mentioned that, in general, European-style knives tend to be heavier and Japanese-style knives lighter, but that’s not always the case. That’s why knowing the exact weight can be a helpful determiner of which you’ll personally find most comfortable.

Best chef’s knife overall


Blade length: 8 inches | Style: Combination | Weight: 5.5 ounces

I first became interested in Global’s chef’s knife when I read Strategist contributor Nick Marino call it “the only knife you really need” in a heavily researched and vetted guide he wrote back in 2018. So I called it in to test it out for myself.

Now, more than a year later, I instinctively reach for this knife more than any other (and like I said up top, I have many to choose from). I find its weight — on the lighter side for an eight-inch — to be perfect. I can perform more delicate tasks, like making florets out of a head of broccoli or slicing through a tomato, without it becoming unwieldy. Still, it’s hefty. I use the blade to carve chickens, pushing through small bones, as well as to cut hard-as-can-be squash into pieces for roasting. The handle is on the shorter side, which adds to that feeling of control: My relatively small hands can get a very good grip and maneuver with ease. The curve is subtle, but helpful, allowing me to perform repetitive tasks (like dicing onions) quickly and efficiently.

Though it’s due for a professional sharpening soon, the blade has stayed exceedingly (even shockingly) sharp in the time I’ve been using it regularly with little maintenance. Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perelman told Marino how well it holds an edge, too, and confirmed the same to me all these years later.

And Strategist editor Maxine Builder has also been a fan of Global for a long time. “I’ve had my Global chef’s knife since … 2013? Maybe even before then,” she says. “A decade and several new knives later, it’s still my most-used tool in the kitchen. Comfortable to hold, enough arc to the blade that you can really get into a rhythm with chopping, but the tip is sharp enough for some scoring and more delicate knifework.” Jeff Strauss, owner and chef of Jeff’s Table in Los Angeles, is another fan. “It has a blade that is Japanese in design,” he explains, “but influenced by the French-style knives. It has a bit more curve to the blade, a little more lift to the tip, and it can kind of work in both ways.”

Best Japanese-style chef’s knife

Blade length: 8 inches | Style: Japanese | Weight: 7.7 ounces

The Shun Hikari chef’s knife is the first nice knife I ever bought myself more than six years ago, and it’s still one of my most used because of the extremely sharp blade. It’s a couple of ounces heavier than my Global — though, I’ll note, still lighter than several of the European designs below) and the edge is a bit more curved (which both allows for an even steadier rocking motion across my cutting board and creates even more of a distinct tip). Overall it feels balanced. And I’d be remiss not to mention how much I love the design: The wood handle, which swoops in slightly at the center, is gorgeous and nice to hold.

Recipe developer and cookbook author Samah Dada owns one, too, and calls it “the best knife I’ve ever used.” She says she “can be very dexterous with it, but it doesn’t feel unwieldy,” and also points out the acute edge. In fact, she says the blades are designed at such an angle and with such high-quality steel that you’re not even supposed to get them sharpened more than a couple of times a year because it’s unnecessary. I have had mine professionally sharpened a handful of times (with my own maintenance between sessions), and it always comes back as perfect as the day I got it, with an edge that lasts for many months before I notice any dulling.

Best less-expensive Japanese-style chef’s knife

Blade length: 8 inches | Style: Japanese | Weight: 5 ounces

Matt Rodbard, food writer, editor, and author, loves his Seki Magoroku chef’s knife (and vegetable cleaver) that he found digging through Tokyu Hands in Shibuya. To start, it’s an affordable $32 — the cheapest on this list. Its blade is on the softer side, meaning it won’t hold its super acute edge for ages, but it’s also much easier to sharpen when it dulls down. That can be totally fine — even better — for the home cook, Rodbard explains, since they’re more likely to use a sharpening gadget than a stone that takes a lot of finesse and practice. The plastic handle, which makes it even lighter weight than the Global, should also not be feared. “A heavy handle helps balance, for sure,” Rodbard says, “but I really like the feel of this one. It feels like a high-quality knife for the price.”

Best European-style chef’s knife

Blade length: 8 inches | Style: European | Weight: 9 ounces

If you want a classic European-style knife (heavier than those I’ve detailed so far), try Wüsthof. We named their knife set the best overall, and with good reason — it’s the brand preferred by some celebrity chefs, including Ina Garten and Gordon Ramsay. Cook and Top Chef Canada host Eden Grinshpan was told to buy the “super-high quality” blades when she was in culinary school, and cookbook author Erin Gleeson registered for them when she got married a decade ago. Both still use them to this day because of how durable they are. Gleeson even notes that though she uses the chef’s knife for “everything,” including taking it with her when she travels somewhere with a rental kitchen, because it “rarely needs sharpening.” Joy Wilson, creator of Joy the Baker, is another fan. She likes the weight of it because “the metal runs all the way through the handle, which makes it feel even throughout the knife,” she explains. It’s heavier than both the Global and the Seki Magoroku, lending to a particularly controlled feel. “Also, the area where the handle meets the bottom base of the blade is so comfortable,” she says.

Best less-expensive European-style chef’s knife

Blade length: 8 inches | Style: European | Weight: 9.8 ounces

James Peisker, co-founder of Porter Road in Nashville, got this knife as a gift from his mom when he was 16 years old and still uses it to this day (he even has a tattoo of it on his wrist). Not only is it durable enough to last for decades, but Peisker says it doesn’t require very much upkeep, holding its edge for much longer than Japanese knives. He says he hones the blade after each use to realign the layers (as opposed to taking some of the steel off to create a new edge), so he only has to sharpen it about every seven months. As for its feel, Peisker says “it’s definitely heavy” but comfortable in the hand, thanks to the substantial heel or the wider steel part that sits against the end of the blade and the handle(a part most Japanese knives don’t have). He rests his index finger over it and “that positioning gives me such good control,” he says.

Most stylish European-style chef’s knife

Blade length: 8 inches | Style: European | Weight: 6.4 ounces

Chris Carter, Porter Road’s other founder, says people are generally drawn to the look of Japanese knives because they tend to be particularly beautiful — but that this European model (his preference because of the hardier blade construction) is gorgeous. It delivers great versatility, durability, balance, and precision, he says, thanks to the strong German steel tang (which means the blade runs all the way through the handle instead of being forged together where the two parts meet). Still, it has an “elegant, soft, rosewood handle which is just really nice to look at and hold onto,” he says. “You wouldn’t want to hold hard plastic for a long time, but this feels great.”

Best chef’s knife for beginners

Blade length: 8 inches | Style: Combination | Weight: 8 ounces

Learning to wield a lighter knife with precision can take a bit of practice, so those newer to cooking might prefer to start with Made In’s slightly heavier eight-ounce model. In my own testing, I found it to be particularly sturdy when dicing vegetables, helping my hand stay firm and straight as I rocked the super-sharp blade through onions, carrots, and celery. It feels solid and strong in the hand, and the rounded handle is nice to grip, too.  Culinary producer Kiano Moju, who owns multiple (and Made In’s other knives, too), says this knife also feels solid because of the full-tang construction, just like the Messermeister above. “It’s never wobbly,” she says, “and it balances nicely.”

Best less-expensive chef’s knife for beginners

Blade length: 8 inches | Style: Combination | Weight: 8.3 ounces

Strauss is also a fan of Misen. He says their knife, which costs $80, is a great value for someone who wants to invest in their first good model. He laid out the main reason why when recommending the brand’s knife set: “One of the things knife nerds talk about is steel hardness,” he says. “This is on the hard end of bendy, which means it sharpens really well but isn’t so rigid that if you move it funky you can feel it, and even break it.” That level of firmness, in his mind, is a perfect sweet spot, and because of that he recommends this knife to pretty much anyone looking to take a step up from whatever big-box store-version they owned previously. Not only are they fit for beginners, but “I know a bunch of pro chefs who use them. You don’t have to be overly precious with them, but they’re still well made,” he says. “I own six.”

Best balanced chef’s knife

Blade length: 8 inches | Style: Combination | Weight: 6.5 ounces

Hedley & Bennett is known for their aprons, but they recently started making knives, their first foray into actual kitchen tools. The chef’s knife was designed with input and testing from professional chefs — and in my own testing, I can tell that level of thoughtfulness went into it. While the knife weighs an ounce more than my Global, that can be helpful when it comes to cutting firm ingredients like squash and potatoes. Plus, the weight is evenly distributed from handle to blade so it doesn’t feel cumbersome to hold. And as someone who has her knives out in the open, I also appreciate the aesthetic details, like the barely noticeable logo and brass rivets.

Both chef Melissa King and Zoya Roya, the founder of Fysh Foods, call it “well-balanced,” with Roya adding, “It’s not too heavy to handle, but heavy enough that it still glides through whatever you’re cutting with ease.”

Best less expensive balanced chef’s knife

Blade length: 8 inches | Style: Japanese | Weight: 9 ounces

Material, another DTC company, makes a chef’s knife beloved by writer and recipe developer Rebecca Firkser, who has been using hers practically every day for the past four years. “I love everything about it,” she says. “I got it in the neutral color, which is just plain pleasing to me in a sea of black-handled knives. I have small hands, but still prefer to do most of my chopping with a larger chef’s knife: I find that this one fits really nicely in my hand and feels balanced when I chop. It’s not heavy, but also not too light (which I don’t love).” In fact, it’s on the heavier side for a Japanese-style knife (and on the heavier side of ones on this list), but that balance Firkser feels was specifically and thoughtfully engineered. “Straight from the package (and when regularly maintained — I sharpen mine at home every couple months), the blade can easily handle thin tomato slices,” she says, “which is my benchmark for a ‘good’ chef’s knife.”

Best super-small chef’s knife

Blade length: 5 inches | Style: Japanese | Weight: 3.8 ounces

Even though Wüsthof is a German company that specializes in German knives, it makes a Japanese-style santoku knife that is the choice pick from Amanda Cohen, chef of New York City’s Dirt Candy. In general, it’s a much-beloved brand (I found it to be the best overall pick if you’re investing in a knife set) — and this small-but-mighty blade fits right in. “I’m a serial monogamist when it comes to knives, and right now, I’m in a long-term relationship with this one,” Cohen told me. “A shorter knife gives you more control, so I’m through with six-inch knives for the moment. This one holds its edge for a ridiculously long time. It’s really light — the lightest on this list, in fact — which Cohen says means she can use it for hours, “switching between really precise knife work and hacking away at tougher vegetables.”

Best chef’s knife for utility

Blade length: 10 inches | Style: European | Weight: 5.6 ounces

Cara Nicoletti, founder of the sausage company Seemore Meats & Veggie, wrote a piece for the Strategist several years ago about all of her favorite knives. She’s a fourth-generation butcher and grew up around her grandpa and his father and brother using the most utilitarian knives around (like, ones that would break down countless carcasses before they would need to sharpen the blade again). Then she found herself in New York City kitchens where professional chefs revered their knives, treating them with a care and pride previously unfamiliar to Nicoletti. Now, she says, “the knives I use most at home land squarely in between those beloved by my butcher relatives and those worshiped by my chef colleagues” — and chief among them are her Vicorinox knives. (This is still the case since she originally wrote her article — I checked.) “For my beater knives — or the ones I use regularly and roughly — I really love Victorinox,” she says. “They tend to last the longest and keep a sharp edge, even when being used daily on heavy projects. The blades are stainless steel, which make them easy to maintain, and I love the rosewood handle for grip comfort. You may not be breaking down full beef carcasses in your home kitchen (or maybe you are? What do I know!), but you still want knives that don’t need to be sharpened every time you break a chicken.” Nicoletti’s size of choice is ten inches, but that’s definitely on the larger end for most people. Victorinox makes the same knife in eight inches, too. One more endorsement: In Strategist contributor Sarah Leon’s piece about the appliances and tools that made up her makeshift kitchen during a big renovation, she also turned to Victorinox knives, calling them “indestructible and not precocious.”

Best chef’s knife for vegetables

Blade length: 7 inches | Style: Japanese | Weight: 8.9 ounces

With a straight blade shaped a bit like a small cleaver, a nakiri knife is designed to be particularly good at breaking down large vegetables such as cauliflower and cabbage as well as slicing, dicing, and chopping onions, peppers, all manner of root vegetables, and more. But according to Emily Fiffer, a co-owner of Botanica in Los Angeles, it’s just as versatile as a chef’s knife and can be used for very similar tasks. It’s her own go-to blade even for delicate tasks like chopping herbs for salsa verde or cutting up a piece of fish. “The only thing I wouldn’t do with it is slice bread,” she says.

Best high-end chef’s knife

Blade length: 8 inches | Style: European | Weight: 9.5 ounces

This blade is expensive. Bob Kramer, a real artist and artisan, crafts handmade knives that he auctions off to eager fans and serious professionals. They regularly go for tens of thousands of dollars (or even, in the case of the one he made special for Anthony Bourdain, a quarter of a million dollars). This particular knife, however, is not a one-off, and comes from a collaboration with tried-and-true kitchen company Zwilling, which makes well-known knives of their own. It’s still very pricey, yes, but a much more accessible model of Kramer’s work, relatively speaking. I actually own one, (a prize I won at my old job at Bon Appétit for guessing closest to the correct number of pie weights in a jar — a silly but true story). It’s a real prize on my knife rack — always sharp with such a comfortable handle and Kramer’s signature damascus steel design on the flat surface of the blade (he combines two different types of steel to create the effect). It’s the heaviest one I own, so I tend to pull it out for big jobs, like slicing large hunks of meat and cutting through particularly firm squash.

Rodbard has one, too, gifted by a dear friend of his. “Would I ever buy myself a $400 knife?,” he says. “No. Was I afraid to use it for over three years? Yes. Have I now fallen so hard for it that a day doesn’t pass that I don’t pull it out just to feel the grip in my hand? Absolutely.”

Best chef’s knife for kids


Blade length: 4 inches | Style: European | Weight 5.3 ounces

Sara Kate Gillingham, co-founder of Kitchn and The Dynamite Shop, a cooking school for kids, endorses a Wüsthof for children, because she thinks they should learn with real tools and small blades make practice manageable. That said, for particularly young ones — ages 5 to 8 — she says the Opinel knife is the only kid-branded kitchen tool she’s into. “There’s no product that should replace a parent overseeing safety,” she says, “but the finger guard and grip hole work to teach proper positioning. It’s like training wheels.” While she warns that it’s not good for kids to become too dependent on said training wheels, she appreciates the fact that this isn’t a gimmicky product: “It’s a real knife but with some added protection.”

Some more knives (of all types) that we’ve written about

Our experts

• Maxine Builder, Strategist editor
• Chris Carter, co-founder of Porter Road
• Amanda Cohen, chef of Dirt Candy
• Samah Dada, recipe developer and cookbook author
• Emily Fiffer, co-owner of Botanica
• Rebecca Firkser, writer and recipe developer
• Sara Kate Gillingham, co-founder of Kitchn and The Dynamite Shop
• Erin Gleeson, cookbook author
• Eden Grinshpan, cook and Top Chef Canada host
• Melissa King, chef
• Sarah Leon, Strategist contributor
• Nick Marino, Strategist contributor
• Kiano Moju, culinary producer
• Cara Nicoletti, founder of Seemore Meats & Veggie
• James Peisker, co-founder of Porter Road
• Deb Perelman, founder and writer of Smitten Kitchen
• Matt Rodbard, food writer, editor, and author
• Zoya Roya, founder of Fysh Foods
• Jeff Strauss, owner and chef of Jeff’s Table
• Joy Wilson, creator of Joy the Baker

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15 of the Very Best Chef’s Knives