Best Chef Knives
Credit: Abby Hocking / Food & Wine

We Tested the Best Chef's Knife for Every Type of Task

Thanks to a super sharp blade, the Mac Mighty Professional Hollow Edge Knife stood out above the rest.
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

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Whether you're an advanced home cook or a novice, having a sharp, durable, and sturdy chef's knife is essential when preparing a meal. It's one of the only kitchen tools you use almost every time you prepare food, so selecting high-quality cutlery can have major benefits in the kitchen—both in terms of safety and efficiency. However, chef's knives aren't one-size-fits-all, and what works for some may not work for others. In search of the best chef's knife, we put some of the leading models to the test by chopping, slicing, and dicing a variety of foods.  

There is no such thing as a universal best chef's knife because finding the knife that works best for you involves considering many personal variables, like the size of your hands, the style of your cooking, and what feels natural and comfortable to you. However, a solid chef's knife should always be sharp, balanced, and comfortable to hold, no matter the size. Before shopping for one, it's important to assess what types of food you plan to use it for and how often, as well as how you plan to clean and care for it. 

After researching popular models and testing them in our test kitchen and at home, it's clear that the Mac Professional Mighty Hollow Edge Knife is the most reliable choice for home cooks hunting for the best chef's knife. This knife is sharp, durable, and easy to use, and it helped complete prep work quickly and efficiently. Read on for more of our favorite professional-quality knives to use at home. 

Our Top Picks

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mac chefs knife
Credit: Dera Burreson

Best Overall: Mac Mighty Professional Hollow Edge Knife

View at Amazon ($144)

Pros: A super-sharp blade and slip-free handle make this a standout choice for best overall knife.

Cons: This knife does not come with a sheath, so make sure to store it properly in order to safely preserve the super-sharp edge. 

Overall, our testers were thoroughly impressed by how easily this knife passed all of our tests. It's lightweight and sharp, which any serious home cook knows are the two most important factors in finding a reliable chef's knife. 

This Japanese-style knife features a thin blade and dimples that help prevent food from sticking. Throughout all of our tests we found this knife to be surprisingly sharp, lightweight, and durable. Our testers were able to slice through dense vegetables just as easily as soft vegetables, and the blade had no trouble gliding through a sheet of paper or slippery tomato skin. The Pakkawood handle was easy to grip and felt sturdy in our hands no matter what type of material our testers were cutting against. Overall, this knife has a super-sharp blade that is expertly balanced with the handle, so pressure and strain on our hands and wrists was minimal. 

  • Weight: 6.75 ounces
  • Metal: Alloy steel
wusthof classic ikon chefs knife
Credit: Dera Burreson

Best for Butchering: Wüsthof Classic 8-inch Knife

View at Wüsthof ($200)

Pros: This is a sturdy knife with a weight, grip, and stability to make cutting into tough ingredients easier and safer.

Cons: Though it's durable, this knife is definitely on the heavy side which means it can be cumbersome when tackling repetitive tasks over long periods of time.

This Western-style knife is one of the most durable, heavy-duty chef's knives we tested. The Wüsthof brand is known for making high-quality knives that are admittedly heavier than others, but that makes them ideal for tough tasks like breaking down whole chickens or cutting up dense root vegetables. It has a half bolster that helps protect your finger from touching the blade's edge. The blade had no trouble gliding through paper in our out-of-the-box sharpness test and expertly achieved thin, consistent cuts in all of our vegetable tests. The handle is sturdy and slip-free, which makes applying extra pressure easy and safe. 

However, our editors who have used this knife over the course of many years noted that the heavy handle can feel bulky and cumbersome when doing repetitive tasks like prepping large quantities of vegetables. So users should keep that in mind depending on their regular kitchen tasks.

  • Weight: 9 ounces
  • Metal: High-carbon stain-free steel
Kiritsuke chefs knife
Credit: Dera Burreson

Best for Precise Cuts: Kiritsuke Oxford Chef's Knife

View at Amazon ($90)

Pros: Thanks to a sharp blade from belly to tip, this nimble knife can chop, slice, dice, and core with ease. 

Cons: Our testers noted that the handle is slightly heavier than the blade, which makes it a little unbalanced. However, we didn't feel that this hindered functionality.

For any home cook looking to practice their professional knife skills, this Japanese-style knife is a must. Throughout all of our tests, this knife stood out for its ability to easily glide through any type of cutting surface. Our testers loved how the tip of the blade was just as sharp as the belly, which let them use it like a paring knife for tasks like mincing garlic and carving out seeds in butternut squash.

The super-sharp edge allowed for paper thin cuts that were consistent from start to finish, even on a slippery tomato. We also found it easy to cut the dense butternut squash into perfectly uniform cubes. Though it's on the heavier side compared to some other knives on this list, our testers didn't think that hindered performance. 

  • Weight: 9 ounces
  • Metal: Damascus steel

Related: The Best Knife Sharpeners

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global chefs knife
Credit: Dera Burreson

Best Lightweight: Global G-2 Classic 8-inch Chef's Knife

View at Williams Sonoma

Pros: This knife is made from one single piece of metal, so it's lightweight and ergonomic.

Cons: Since this knife is on the lighter side, our testers had a little trouble cutting through tough ingredients like butternut squash. 

If you're most comfortable with a very lightweight knife and want one that's easy to care for, this is a solid option. It's made of just one piece of metal, including the handle, which is hollow and filled with sand. The specific construction makes the knife feel perfectly balanced from heel to tip. Because the handle isn't weighted down with any extra material—like rivets—the knife feels sleek and ergonomic in our hands. The metal handle has dimples to provide a safe grip, and while some cooks think it gets slippery when used to cut chicken, meat, or anything juicy, we didn't find that to be the case. Global's knives are made in Japan and come in a range of sizes like 6-inch, 8-inch, and 10-inch. 

This knife easily achieved paper-thin cuts in our tomato test and made easy work of chopping and mincing garlic. Though the super-sharp blade was able to slice through the squash, our testers noted that having a heavier knife might be better for tough, dense ingredients. 

Note that this knife should be hand washed using warm water and mild detergent. We found it to be easy to clean, though some ingredients left spots on the metal. 

  • Weight: 5.75 ounces
  • Metal: High carbon stainless steel

Related: Why This Chef-Designed Knife Roll Is the Perfect Storage Tool

shun classic chefs knife
Credit: Dera Burreson

Best High-End: Shun Classic Blonde Chef's Knife

View at Crate & Barrel ($170)

Pros: This Japanese knife has a Western-style curve, which means you get the benefits of both blade styles in one knife.

Cons: This is a pricier knife that should be hand washed and diligently taken care of. 

As far as Japanese Chef's knives go, Shun is an industry favorite that consistently offers sharp, lightweight knives that are durable and sturdy. The Classic Blonde does not disappoint, as it comes equipped with a birch wood handle that's treated with resin for extra durability and designed for comfort in both left and right hands. The knife is handcrafted with 34 layers of forged stainless steel on each side, resulting in a flexible blade that is rust-proof, stain-proof, and stick-resistant. As a high-end option, our testers love how easily it achieves paper thin slices, and the slightly curved blade allows for moderate rocking. 

After using this knife for many years, our editors can attest to its quality, so long as you care for it properly. Make sure to hand wash and fully dry in between each use, and store it in a way that will safely preserve the razor-sharp edge. 

  • Weight: 6.75 ounces
  • Metal: Damascus steel

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material chefs knife
Credit: Dera Burreson

Best Value: Material Chef's Knife

View at Material ($75)

Pros: This is a sharp, durable knife at an affordable price point. 

Cons: Our testers found the handle on this knife to be slightly awkward. 

If you're looking to add a simply designed, low maintenance knife to your toolkit without making a major investment, this option from Material is a great choice. Our testers found it to be sharp when cutting through paper and vegetables alike, and had no trouble breaking down tough ingredients like butternut squash. For occasional cooks looking for a reliable knife that can slice meat, chop vegetables, or mince herbs, this knife is balanced and efficient. 

Though the design is attractive to look at, our testers found the handle to be long and straight, which made some tasks feel awkward. We also noted some stains and water marks when cleaning it, so make sure to hand wash thoroughly after each use. 

  • Weight: 7.5 ounces
  • Metal: High-carbon and Japanese stainless steel

Related: These Cutting Boards Sold Out 5 Times, But They're Back in Stock Now

Conclusion

Overall, the Mac Professional Mighty Hollow Edge Knife allows you to prep food as quickly and efficiently as a professional line cook in your very own home. Our testers love how sharp the blade is and how consistently it can cut through all different types of food. If you're looking to invest in a high-quality chef's knife that can handle meat, vegetables, and fish, this is a fantastic choice. 

Factors to Consider

Blade Style

When shopping for a chef's knife, there are traditionally two styles to choose between. Heavy-duty, German-style models are usually made with a curved belly that allows for a rocking, chopping motion, in which the tip of the knife doesn't leave the cutting board. German knives typically have a heartier blade that lends itself to tough tasks like breaking down a whole chicken or slicing through dense squash. As a result, the knives are typically heavier and more durable. 

Alternatively, Japanese knives are lightweight with a sharp, straight blade, which makes repetitive motions like rocking and chopping difficult. However, this style of blade is ideal for making precise slices and cuts on a number of different types of foods. Some Japanese knives—like a Santoku knife—also feature dimples on the blade, which aim to prevent food from sticking. 

In addition to the shape of the cutting edge, it's important to consider whether or not the blade has a bolster. Bolsters sit between the blade and the handle and act as a guard that protects your fingers from touching the sharp edge. They're common in German-style models and are particularly helpful for cooks who like to choke up on the knife. Though bolsters provide protection, they add weight and can sometimes cause the knife to feel heavy or unbalanced. 

Types of Steel

The type of metal your knife is made from can have major implications on blade sharpness and how easy it is to clean. The much-simplified big picture is that if you are looking for an all-purpose 8-inch chef's knife—one that's in a reasonable price range and carried by most retailers—you have a choice between heavy-duty, German-style models that are usually made with slightly softer steel alloys (like high-carbon stainless steel), or lighter Japanese-style models, that are usually made with harder steel alloys (like Damascus steel). Neither is necessarily better than the other. They are just different, especially in terms of the way they feel and move in your hand.

Harder steel holds a sharper edge for a longer period of time but can be more difficult to sharpen once it does get dull. And a very hard, very sharp edge can also be more delicate and brittle than a softer one, making cutting up a heavy squash, say, a little risky to the blade. A softer steel alloy, like those used in the German tradition, might be less sharp to begin with and get dull a little faster. However, it can be easier to re-sharpen, and therefore better for heavy-duty jobs—like splitting bone-in chicken breasts—without worry that you're going to damage the blade. In general, harder steel is sharper and more delicate, while softer steel is tougher. If you're shopping for a knife, ask where it falls on the Rockwell Hardness Scale. Low to mid-50s is on the softer end, mid-50s to low 60s is harder.

Balance

One of the most important aspects of a chef's knife is a balance between blade and handle. A knife with a heavy handle can put a strain on your wrist, making long-term use painful and inefficient. Repetitive motions like chopping and slicing can be tiresome, so having a knife that is easy to control and maneuver is essential. The handle should not feel significantly heavier than the blade, and the knife itself should feel balanced from heel to tip. If you plan to use your knife frequently for prep work like slicing vegetables, chopping herbs, or mincing garlic, balance is a key factor to consider. 

The Tests

Throughout our tests, we assessed everything from how sharp the blades were to how balanced they felt from tip to heel. We also took note of the weight and grip of each handle and assessed whether they felt heavy or light and slippery or sturdy. We noted how easy each blade was to clean and if the blades stained easily. In order to do so, we performed a series of different tests. 

Paper Test

To test sharpness out of the box, we conducted a paper cutting test. Holding the paper tightly with one hand, we dragged the blade of each knife through the paper along the entire length of the blade. We assessed whether or not we could achieve a clean slice, and evaluated how easily each blade could move through the paper, taking note of any snagging or tearing. This test helped us establish a baseline by determining how sharp each knife was directly out of the box, without any prior use. 

Vegetable Tests

After completing the paper test, we ran each knife through a series of vegetable tests to see how they performed using different textures of food. To test basic prep functionality, we diced an onion both coarsely and finely, which helped us assess the sharpness of the blade as well as how easy they were to use. We made sure to use both the tip of the blade and the belly of the blade to determine if the edge was consistent. 

Next, we evaluated each knife by cutting through a tomato, whose skins are taut and slippery. Tomatoes are notoriously hard to cut through without mashing them, and chefs often use a serrated knife to help manage the uncooperative skins. Therefore, they serve as an appropriate test of blade sharpness and handle grip. We took note of which knives were able to achieve thin, even slices and which knives caused the skins to wrinkle and tear. 

Lastly, we used each knife to cube one of the densest vegetables we could find: a butternut squash. Cutting a thick, heavy vegetable allowed us to assess handle grip, balance, weight, and blade sharpness. Though lightweight knives are typically preferable, having a heavy-duty knife can make tough tasks easier and safer. 

What Didn't Make the List

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shun classic western chefs knife
Credit: Dera Burreson

Shun Classic Western Chef's Knife

View at Williams Sonoma ($185)

Overall, our testers were impressed with the quality of this knife as well as the sharpness of the blade. It easily slid through the paper test and achieved precise, thin, consistent cuts in the vegetable tests. The Western-style knife from Shun is slightly heavier than the Classic Blonde, which is one of the only reasons we didn't select it as a top choice. Otherwise, this is a fantastic knife for any home cook willing to invest in a high-end knife. 

Imarku chefs knife
Credit: Dera Burreson

Imarku Chef's Knife

View at Amazon ($40)

We found this lightweight knife to be comfortable to hold and attractive to look at. It easily sliced through delicate foods but struggled with heftier ingredients like butternut squash. In fact, the squash we cut had jagged edges because the knife could not cut all the way through. Though this is an affordable option, our testers recommend splurging on a higher-quality knife.

victorinox fibrox chefs knife
Credit: Dera Burreson

Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef's Knife

View at Amazon ($42)

Our testers found this to be an excellent choice for the price. It's sharp and strong—it easily cuts through onions and butternut squash—but our testers didn't find it to be particularly nimble when working with delicate vegetables like tomatoes. Despite its sharpness out of the box, our long-term testers noted that the blade dulls easily and needs to be sharpened more frequently than others.

Overall, this affordable knife is lightweight and durable at the same time, which are two essential characteristics in any good chef's knife.

victorinox vic grand maitre chefs knife
Credit: Dera Burreson

Victorinox Grand Maitre Chef's Knife

View at Victorinox Swiss Army

This knife excelled in our tests, and had no trouble slicing through paper, tomato, onions, or garlic. The maple wood handle is sturdy, slip-free, and attractive, but the knife itself is on the heavy side. We noticed that streaks and spots were left on the blade after cleaning. Overall, our testers felt that this knife was a bit too expensive, and recommended opting for the considerably more affordable Victorinox Fibrox Pro instead. 

zwilling kramer chefs knfe
Credit: Dera Burreson

KRAMER by Zwilling Euroline Essential Collection

View at Sur La Table ($170)

Designed by Master Bladesmith Bob Kramer, this special collection from Zwilling is designed to increase comfort. It features a rounded spine and wide blade for increased knuckle clearance. Our testers found it to be durable and heavy-duty, which is great for cutting dense vegetables. However, our team also found it to be heavy and slightly awkward for people with smaller hands. Overall, this is a sharp knife that easily passed our tests. 

misen chefs knife
Credit: Dera Burreson

Misen Chef's Knife

View at Misen ($75)

This knife is a hybrid of Western and Japanese styles, and comes in at an affordable price point. It's great for common tasks like smashing and mincing garlic, but we had trouble when tackling tougher tasks like chopping butternut squash. Our testers noted that food stuck to the blade, and the handle didn't feel sturdy enough to cut through large vegetables. 

mercer culinary renaissance chefs knife
Credit: Dera Burreson

Mercer Culinary Renaissance Forged Chef's Knife

View at Walmart ($55)

This knife failed our first test. When attempting to test sharpness out of the box, it was not able to slice through paper, and crumpled it instead. We found it difficult to achieve uniform cus in the tomato test, but had no trouble mincing garlic or cubing butternut squash.

mercer millennia chefs knife
Credit: Dera Burreson

Mercer Culinary Millennia Black Handle Chef's Knife

View at Amazon ($25)

Overall, we found this knife to be uncomfortable and unbalanced. The shape of the handle made chopping difficult, and our testers noted that it put a strain on their wrists. It did not cleanly slice through paper and struggled when chopping an onion. 

JA Henckels chefs knife
Credit: Dera Burreson

J.A. Henckels International Classic Chef's Knife

View at Zwilling ($116)

Our testers found that this knife had a particularly long handle, which made it feel awkward and uncomfortable. The blade isn't as sharp as some of the others, and it did not pass any of our tests.

kyocera chefs knife
Credit: Dera Burreson

Kyocera Ceramic Revolution Series Chef's Knife

View at Amazon ($50)

This knife is super lightweight with the ability to cleanly cut through a variety of different ingredients. However, the blade has no flexibility, which we found to be a hindrance when cutting dense squash. Additionally, we noticed streaks and spots left behind on the blade after cleaning. 

made in chefs knife
Credit: Dera Burreson

Made In Chef's Knife

View at Made In ($99)

Though this knife is on the heftier end, it struggled when cutting through dense squash. Our testers noted that it felt balanced from heel to tip and excelled at simple tasks like chopping onions or mincing garlic. However, we had trouble safely and effectively cutting through denser ingredients. 

Our Expertise

Laura Denby is a former professional chef who has spent years cooking in professional and private kitchens throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Hamptons. A graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education with a degree in Culinary Arts, Laura now uses her experience in the kitchen to guide her expert product reviews for sites like Food & Wine and AllRecipes. Her writing can be found on FoodNetwork.com, Delish, Southern Living, Real Simple, and more. For this piece, Culinary Specialist and Food Stylist Sarah Brekke and Test Kitchen Brand Manager Juli Hale tested 17 different chef's knives to find the best one. Using their culinary and product testing expertise, they assessed different styles of knives over the course of several weeks.