There is a reason why chefs carry their knives with them: kitchens and appliances can vary, but the popular chef’s knife is irreplaceable. This also applies to home cooks. I invested in a chef’s knife after college and have been using it almost every day since then – from slicing fruit to chopping onions and chopping garlic. At this point, my knife feels like an extension of my arm when I prepare food.
But a chef’s knife is an investment. And $ 150 can feel like a lot for a good knife – let alone one you don’t like in the end. So before you “buy” from Amazon or throw the cheapest knife into your shopping cart on your next trip, you should consider two questions: What does a chef’s knife offer and what do you need it for in the kitchen?
High-quality chef’s knives in particular offer versatility. If you don’t spend a lot of time boning fish or peeling pears, a chef’s knife should be able to cover 95% of your knife needs. So it should feel good – really heavy, but not heavy enough to make it exhausting. well balanced between handle and blade; durable because it gets so much use; and of course consistently sharp.
The second question – what you need – is a little more difficult to answer. Fortunately, I’ve tested some of the most popular chef’s knives on the market. Below you will find the best tips for every type of home cooking.
David Priest / CNET
$ 150 feels a bit steep, but Wusthof’s 8-inch chef’s knife is a workhorse in the kitchen. It’s one of the heaviest knives I’ve tested, and it helps cut more delicate foods like tomatoes as effortlessly as warm butter. The weight helps guide the blade in smooth movements when used, but the Wusthof isn’t so heavy that you’ll ever feel controlled by the blade.
It really comes down to balance: the Wusthof classic is perfectly balanced between the handle and blade and has a heel to protect your fingers, which makes it feel all the more secure. One of the best measures of how comfortable a knife feels in your hand is to disassemble a chicken – since it requires many types of cuts over skin, meat, fat, and cartilage. When I used the Wusthof to smash a bird, it felt like I had used the knife for years. I haven’t made a single faulty cut or uncomfortable move.
Basically, this knife from top to bottom is one of the best at a reasonable price. It is versatile and comfortable and its forged carbon steel blade holds a super sharp edge or better than any other knife in this price range.
David Priest / CNET
For $ 50, J.A. Henckel’s Zwilling Gourmet 8-inch chef’s knife is a great budget option. It doesn’t have the heel of a heavier knife like the Wusthof or J.A. Henckels Classic, but it is well balanced and cuts tomatoes and herbs cleanly, cuts onions quickly and breaks down a chicken relatively easily.
The Zwilling Gourmet is more of an embossed than a forged blade, which means that it is unlikely that it will last as long as the Wusthof. It’s also lighter, which means your hand won’t run as well through a tomato or similarly sensitive food.
All in all, the twin ‘s cuts were consistently clean, it felt comfortable in my hand, and for $ 50 I would like to add this knife to my kitchen.
David Priest / CNET
Undoubtedly, the biggest surprise of my tests was the performance of Mercer’s $ 16 Cullinary Millenia 8-inch chef’s knife. It’s not as well made as the twin or Wusthof blades – both have a long-lasting full-tang design (the metal of the knife moves in one piece from the tip of the blade to the handle.) However, the handle design is perfect, to teach beginners how to hold and use a chef’s knife and to guide their thumb and index finger to the base of the blade. It is well balanced and, to be honest, most of it feels like an extension of my arm when I was preparing various vegetables, fruits, and meats in my tests.
The light weight and cheap design mean you won’t get the long life or versatility you would get from a workhorse like the Wusthof, but if you want a chef’s knife to learn for six months while you save for a bigger one Investment, the Mercer is really a great product.
How we tested
Our procedures combined five tests – slicing tomatoes, diced onions, chopping leafy herbs, chopping carrots and cutting chickens – each with a rating of 1 to 10, with more general use and observation. I wanted to approach the process like an average home cook and focus on general use and experience. I also avoided over-emphasizing the sharpness as the factory sharpness doesn’t say much about a blade beyond the first few weeks or months of use.
In fact, you will probably want to invest in a sharpener as soon as you buy a chef’s knife. I wrote about itin a separate story. We also wrote about it correctly.
I have taken into account the type of steel used for the knife construction (most are carbon steel), the method (whether forged or stamped) and the general design (e.g. solid tenon knives last longer than blades on a particular handle).
Aside from its measurable performance with different foods, I approached each knife as a package – and experienced how its weight and balance came together to create an experience that felt either intuitive or uncomfortable.
The rest of the field
In total, we tested nine of the most popular chef’s knives for home cooks, including Victorinox, Kitchenaid, Cuisinart, Homefavor, Farberware, Zwilling, J.A. Henckels, Wusthof and Mercer. (Note: I focused on the most popular knives at various U.S. retailers, but thoseis also well regarded, if not a bestseller. I will update this list with a Mac Knife review as soon as I can purchase one. Most of these knives were solid, and only one really stood out Bad.
Wusthof and Zwilling were my outstanding favorites for quality and performance, though Mercer and to a lesser extentoffered solid performance and balanced products for beginners looking for a bargain (Victorinox finds a lot of love online for its price and balance, but it’s more expensive than the $ 16 Mercer and not all also balanced).
and s knives were more robust than their cheaper competitors, but they didn’t stand out in any category.
The $ 50, which, given its reasonable price and similar design to the more expensive Wusthof classic, seems like a natural winner, really disappointed me. It is another workhorse of a knife, but its butt is heavier than it should be, making difficult preparations tiring and chopping feel uncomfortable.
In the end,The knife was the worst: it is so poorly balanced that I stopped the chicken test halfway for fear of cutting myself. The handle is extremely light, so that the center of the balance for the knife is one or two centimeters above the blade. This means that almost every type of preparation, from cutting and dicing to chopping and boning chicken, feels uncomfortable at best and dangerous at worst. In short, don’t buy this knife.
A chef’s knife can be your best friend in the kitchen – if you find the right fit. So take your time, find out exactly what you need from your chef’s knife and make an investment. You could buy these generic $ 10 knives in the store every time your knife gets boring. However, if you are really serious about improving your kitchen game, a high quality chef’s knife is one of the best investments you can make.