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The Best Chef’s Knives to Buy Right Now

The Best Chef’s Knives to Buy Right Now

“Having a good chef’s knife is crucial,” says Michael Binder, culinary director at Palmaz Vineyards in Napa. Though a good set can be handy, there are few tasks a good chef’s knife can’t accomplish.  

“You can adapt to cut just about anything with a good sharp chef’s knife,” says Sheana Davis, owner of The Epicurean Connection in Sonoma and author of Buttermonger. Though the average chef’s knife is generally eight inches long, the best option for you depends on your needs and preferences.  

“It is very hard to recommend knives on a broad basis,” says Binder. He prefers an eight-inch knife with a thicker blade, whereas his wife, also a chef, prefers a thinner blade that’s around 12 inches. Davis recommends trying a few different lengths to see which feels the most balanced in your hand. “When you find the balance, you will have found the perfect chef’s knife.” 

These kitchen tools can get pricey. But it’s worth remembering that a good chef’s knife can last a lifetime with proper care. “My one chef’s knife is over 30 years old,” says Davis, who purchased her beloved Wüsthof knife in a Macy’s Culinary Center in 1986.  

However, make sure you’re picking a sturdy option. “Some knives have a very short tang”—referring to the solid piece of metal that constitutes the blade—“inside the handle of the knife and they can break quite easily,” says Binder. Instead, look for a knife with a “full tang,” which features a blade that extends all the way through the length and width of the handle. 

Below, here are some of the best chef’s knives and brands according to experts and buyer reviews—plus tips on use, storage and care. 

1. Best Overall Chef’s Knife:

Shun Cutlery Classic Chef’s Knife 8 Inches

Japanese knives are a hot commodity right now, thanks to their slightly lighter build that allows for more finesse. “Shun is a very nice Japanese brand,” says Binder. If you want a long-lasting knife that also gets you nods of appreciation from kitchen nerds, he says, Shun is the way to go.


2. Best German Chef’s Knife:

3. Best 6-Inch German Chef’s Knife:

4. Best German-Meets-Japanese Chef’s Knife:

WÜSTHOF Classic 5-Inch Santoku Knife

Santoku is the Japanese word for “three virtues,” and refers to a knife’s ability to expertly cut meat, fish and vegetables. Both Brand and Binder recommend the Wüsthof brand; this five-inch Santoku is the smallest of our recommendations, making it easier to control.


5. Best Lightweight and Budget Chef’s Knife

Victorinox 6-Inch Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife

If you think a smaller knife might suit you, or if you’re just on a tight budget, try this Victorinox six-inch option. It’s lightweight (1/4 pound), under $25 and is trusted by professionals to be sharp and sturdy for the price.


6. Best Heavier Budget Chef’s Knife

7. Best Splurge Chef’s Knife

Shun Fuji Chef’s Knife

Seemingly every detail of this Shun knife was fine-tuned for strength and finesse. The blade, recommended by Binder, features 161 layers of different kinds of nickel and steel. The handle, complete with finger ridges on both sides for an ambidextrous grip, is made of dark tagyasan or iron sword wood, which is known for its extreme density and for its use in traditional samurai sword handles. 

Williams Sonoma


How Do I Sharpen My Chef’s Knife 

Usually, professional kitchens bring in a sharpening service once a week. If you use your chef’s knife a lot, you Binder recommends enlisting a professional knife service at home. 

You also can buy sharpening steels, though not everyone loves them. “I personally have never been very good at sharpening,” says Binder. Davis, on the other hand, prefers steels because of the extra control they offer. At the end of the day, it’s best to try different options to figure out what you like best.  

What Are the Best Ways to Clean Chef’s Knives? 

Always hand wash your knife, then immediately dry it with a clean towel. Dishwashers are too hot for knives. Also, washing them this way can cause water to get into the handle, which can cause the knife to break down over time.  

How Do You Hold a Chef’s Knife? 

“Holding knives is really about comfort,” says Binder. One option is to pinch the base of the blade in between your thumb and pointer finger and wrap your remaining three fingers around the handle. Or, you can simply wrap all five fingers around the handle.  

If your hands are on the smaller side, it can be helpful to grip the knife high on the handle, with the front of your fingers touching the back of the blade. 

How Do You Use a Chef’s Knife? 

Find a comfortable, but firm hold of the knife. Let the sharpness of the knife do the cutting work, as opposed to trying to push the blade down—this is why frequent sharpening is so important! It can be helpful to keep your thumb on top of the blade as a guide. Use your non-dominant hand to guide the food, but keep your fingers curled atop it (as if you’re typing or playing the piano) so if the knife comes close to them, the blade won’t slice into them.

How Do You Store a Chef’s Knife? 

If you already have a butcher block or magnetic knife strip that you like, keep using those! Binder recommends storing your knife with nothing on top of it, whether it’s on a magnetic strip or in a butcher block. He likes butcher blocks, aside from their tendency to get a bit dirty. Davis uses a magnetic strip above her sink, but when traveling, stores her knives in a leather case. 

Published on June 2, 2023

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