4 Best Chef Knives For Your Money

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4 Best Chefs Knives For Your Money

These are 4 of the best chef knives I own, I’ve had them for many years and have used them daily. They’ve been trade tested also been worked hard and stood the test of time. The right blade will easily cut through meat, vegetables, and other foods with little effort on your part.

There are many different brands out there that sell premium knives but not all of them offer everything you need in a top-tier cutting tool. In this article, I’ll take a look at 4 popular blades from leading manufacturers including Wüsthof, Henckels, and Shun.

Being a professional chef and having used these chef knives every day in a real-world environment for many years I highly recommend them!

4 Best Chefs Knives
Best trade tested chef’s knives

These four kitchen knives are the best chef knives I own, a chef’s knife is a large kitchen knife that professional chefs used for preparing vegetables, meats, or other foods.

In addition to being the most important tool in your kitchen when it comes to food preparation. The best chef knives are also widely regarded as the most versatile tools available.

Chef knives can be found in professional kitchens and provincial homes alike and are considered an essential piece of cutlery for any true cook.

They come in all shapes, sizes, and qualities. Before you spend your hard-earned money on a new knife set for yourself or as a gift. It is important to get some background on the different types of knives available and what makes one better than another.

If you have to buy one kitchen knife make it a chef’s knife. A chef’s knife or cooks’ knife is an extension of my right hand.

My Best Chef Knives I Own

I use it for cutting and processing meat and poultry, prepping fruits, and vegetables, and finely chopping fresh herbs. For pretty much most cutting jobs in the kitchen, I use a chef’s knife.

Chef knives are functioning all-purpose knives, I own some of the best chef knives. Some of the best chef knives generally have a blade length of between 20 – 25 cm (8 – 10 inches).

 

Yoshihiro Best Hammered Damascus Chef’s Knife

Yoshihiro Hammered Damascus Chef’s Knife
Yoshihiro Hammered Damascus Chef’s Knife

Yoshihiro Hammered Damascus 18.5 cm (7.3 inch) Chef’s Knife

I’ve had this chef’s knife since 2018. Brought in Osaka, Japan, Hands down my favorite chef’s knife.
I can’t believe how well-made it is and all of the attention to detail that went into making it! It feels like a work of art as I use it, which makes me proud.
It’s perfect for slicing delicate foods while still being able to handle hard vegetables without dulling the blade too quickly.

Yoshihiro Hammered Damascus Chef’s Knife Credentials

  • Total Weight: 178 gm (6.3 oz)
  • Total Length: 30 cm (12 inch)
  • Blade Length: 18.5 cm (7.3 inch)
  • Feels so sharp I can feel it bite into the chopping board when cutting foods.
  • The grip is made of Black PakkaWood, with a Western style ergonomic grip, strong, and durable.
  • Fully visible tang no bolster.  The excellent amalgamation of natural steel and wood which I like.
  • Great durability the blade is layered, Very hard steel is easy to keep sharp and holds its edge.
  • Surgically sharp, thin blade easy to maintain.
  • Run it across a steel couple of times a day, you’ll keep it sharp for years. 
  • Easy to clean, hot soapy water only. The visible tang is flush with the grip.  No food particles get caught in the seam.  No bacterial buildup and is food safe.

Yoshihiro Damascus The Cut

  • Hands down my favorite, lightweight, cuts beautifully, easy to clean and sharpen.  
  • Follow basic care and maintenance.  Easy to maintain and surgically sharp.  
  • The visible full tang is so flush with the handle that no food particles get caught in the seam. 
  • Lightweight thin chef’s knife, a mix of Japanese blade and Western style handle. 
  • For cooking delicate foods this is the best knife to use. The thinner the knife the easier it will move through the food. Delicate blade and shouldn’t be used to bone-out meat or try to chop through bone.

Best Kai Shun Classic Chef’s Knife

Kai Shun Classic Chef’s Knife
Kai Shun Classic Chef’s Knife

Kai Shun Classic 25 cm (10 inch) Chef’s Knife

I’ve had this chef’s knife since 2005.  Brought in Tokyo, Japan.
Best Kai Shun chef I have, this is an excellent knife, I love the etched Damascus pattern and delicate blade.
This is the older Shun model etched Damascus pattern that I regularly use for my cooking needs.
It’s not good for chopping through bones, but it slices a tomato like nobody’s business!

Kai Shun Classic Chef’s Knife Credentials

  • Total Weight: 213 gm (7.5 oz)
  • Total Length: 34 cm (13.4 inch)
  • Blade Length: 20.5 cm (8 inch)
  • The D-shaped PakkaWood grip fits perfectly into my hand. Razor-sharp blade.
  • The lightweight is due in part to having a hidden tang and having no bolster, giving it the feel of an extension of your own arm!
  • With its unique D-shaped grip, genuine hardwood is impregnated with moisture resistant resin. 
  • The blade is forged out of a single piece of Cobalt steel. 
  • Easy to maintain, run it across a steel couple of times a day, and you’ll keep the blade true for years.
  • Absolutely crazy sharp, thin blade easy to maintain. 
  • Easy to clean, hot soapy water only. The hardwood grip makes it moisture resistant and food safe. 

Kai Shun Classic The Cut

  • Follow basic care and maintenance.  Easy to maintain the crazy sharpness.  
  • The tang is so flush with the handle that no food particles get caught in the seam. It is food safe.
  • Lightweight chef’s knife, of Japanese design.
  • Perfect chef’s knife for professionals and home cooks.  Feels excellent, looks awesome, and is great for finer work. 

Zwilling J.A Henckels Four Star Chef’s Knife

Zwilling J.A Henckels Four Star Chef's Knife
Zwilling J.A Henckels Four Star Chef’s Knife

Zwilling J.A  Henckels Four Star Chef’s Knife

I’ve had this chef’s knife since 1998 and used it every day for 5 years.
I don’t know what is more impressive: the time that I have put into this blade or how well it’s held up!
The Henckels logo wore off many years ago.
The polypropylene ergonomic grip feels great and is easy to handle. basically indestructible.

Henckels Four Star Chef’s Knife Credentials

  • Total Weight: 236 gm (8.32 oz)
  • Total Length: 35 cm (14 inch)
  • Blade Length: 22.5 cm (9 inch)
  • Using this bad boy for 14 hours a day, it actually doesn’t seem that heavy.
  • Excellent for doing the heavy work, but also the finer cutting as well.
  • Ergonomic grip, seamless transition from bolster to handle, full tang. 
  • Forged knives are renowned for their durability. With the amount of stress I’ve put this knife under, I’ve never chipped or cracked it.
  • Sharpen it on a stone once or twice every 3 months.  Run it across a steel a couple of times a day you can’t go wrong.
  • Can handle the heavy work, excellent for spatchcocking and breaking down whole chickens, portioning meats. Also suitable for vegetable prep as well.
  • The smooth bolster is food safe and easy to clean.
  • After all these decades of use, the polypropylene hasn’t come away from the bolster.

Henckels Four Star The Cut

  • I also love using this knife, feels comfortable, and is excellent for hard jobs but also great for the finer work.
  • If you follow the correct knife care and maintenance it will stay surgically sharp. 
  • The smooth bolster makes it a breeze to wash.  Won’t harbor bacteria.
  • Having some weight behind this knife helps to get through some foods.  Great for heavy work.
  • Heavy knives are not for everyone. If you’re used to using lighter, Japanese, or Damascus knives. Henckels isn’t for you.

Wüsthof Classic Chef’s Knife

Wüsthof Classic Chef’s Knife
Wüsthof Classic Chef’s Knife

Wüsthof Classic 25 cm (10 inch) Chef’s Knife

I’ve had my chef’s knife since 1992, this was one of the first knives I brought.
I worked at a seafood restaurant when I was younger and prepped thousands of crayfish with it.
Those shells are as hard as nails but never once did the blade chip.
The good thing about this knife is that it’s great for chopping but can also be used to cut through small bones using its back heel.

Wüsthof Classic Chef’s Knife Credentials

  • Total Weight: 262 gm (9.2 oz)
  • Total Length: 35.5 cm (14 inch)
  • Blade Length: 25 cm (10 inch)
  • Using this knife for heavy work, actually makes the job easier this is due to the weight of the knife.
  • The Polyoxymethylene, ergonomic grip is smooth and non-slip when wet.
  • The blade is forged out of a single piece of high carbon stainless steel.
  • After all the years the Polyoxymethylene grip is still firmly attached to the knife. No cracking or coming away from the tang.
  • Can do the heavy work great for cutting rib-eye tomahawks, striploin, and of course cracking crayfish, lobster shells
  • The visible tang is so flush with the grip. No food particles get caught in the seam. Food safe, won’t harbor bacteria.

Wüsthof Classic The Cut

  • Follow basic care and maintenance.  Easy to maintain extraordinary sharpness. 
  • The visible tang is so flush with the handle that no food particles get caught in the seam.  Won’t harbor bacteria.
  • Heavy robust and hard to chip or damage.
  • Heavy robust knife, thick in cross section. The thick knife is going to do much better in situations where there is more stress put on the blade.
  • Ideal for heavy everyday work, This is a heavy knife, if you prefer lighter chef knives this is not for you. 

Can I Put my chef’s knife in the dishwasher?

One of the many questions you might have is ‘can I put my chef’s knife in the dishwasher?’

The answer to this question is no. Your best bet when it comes to getting your knives clean and grease-free is by hand washing, with hot water and soap.

This will ensure that not only do you get all the dirt off of your knife but also that you don’t risk dulling or damaging it while it’s being washed.

What is a chef’s knife Used For?

A chef’s knife is the most versatile kitchen tool. It can be used for mincing, slicing, or chopping meat, vegetables, and herbs with precision.

The blade of a chef’s knife is typically long and narrow to allow excellent control over how you cut your food.
The shape of the handle varies depending on personal preference.

Knife Skills How Compound Butter Is Made

What Are The Different Types Of Blade Shapes?

There are two common types of blade shapes in chef knives, Western and Japanese. Western-style knives are more continuously curved along the whole cutting edge with a sharp tip.

The Japanese Gyuto or Santoku chef knives with their rounded spine or back and the absence of a tip.

A western-style chef’s knife is designed with a curved blade and sharp tip. When used, naturally causes the knife to rock the blade back and forth completing the cut. 

The Gyuto or Santoku with their rounded spine or back and the absence of a tip which means you can slice in a single downward cutting motion.  

While many chefs including myself skillfully excite the rocking method, the Gyuto and Santoku with their downward cutting motion are way faster and more precise.

Do you want to cook excellent food? To start you will need a quality sharp chef’s knife.

It is impressive to watch a chef speedily cut ingredients without missing a beat, with every slice being identical to the next.

I know people find it entertaining when I do this, especially when I’m not paying attention.  This has become second nature to me.    

Cautionary Note

The professional chef and home cook proficient with chef knives can control the downward cutting motion of the Gyuto and Santoku.

When using these knives in this way, you will tend to lift the whole blade off the cutting surface. 

This will increase the chances of you cutting yourself if you’re unfamiliar with or uncomfortable using a Gyuto or Santoku knife.  

What Kinds Of Steel Are Used To Make Chef Knives?

Carbon, Stainless, and Damascus Steel

Carbon Steel knives are professional chef knives that will react with the environment and will patina over time.

(Patina – over time an incrustation, usually green or brown produced by oxidation on the surface of the blade).  Older carbon steel knives will darken over time and potentially rust.

Stainless Steel chef knives won’t patina or rust over time in most normal circumstances. That’s why it’s called stainless, as it stains less than carbon steel.

Damascus steel is 2 or more quality steels fused together and folded. The more folds the more they’ll cost.  This is how that beautiful unique wavy light and dark pattern is formed.

Damascus steel will not patina over time and can be sharpened to a fine edge. The reason you might choose to buy a carbon steel chef’s knife is carbon steel is easier to resharpen.

Also, many chefs prefer the aesthetics of a knife that adapts to its environment over time.

Steel Hardness

The hardness of the steel is based on how the steel is heat-treated in the knife-making process.

A good example is my Shun Classic chef’s knife I own; it has a very high level of hardness in the steel. Its benefits are that it maintains its edge for longer, so I don’t need to sharpen the edge as frequently.  

The downside of that is the edge is more brittle. I once dropped the Shun on the kitchen floor and the tip just broke right off.

The Wüsthof Classic chef’s knife I own is a good example of a knife that has a little softer steel, there are pros and cons to that as well.

The softer chef’s knives won’t retain an edge as long however the edge won’t chip as easily. The whole knife in general will be more resistant to shock and abuse.

If I dropped it on your kitchen floor the tip would most probably bend over and I could probably bend it back straight. 

Steel Summary

Carbon SteelStainless SteelDamascus Steel
Overtime will patinaWill not patina over timeWill not patina over time
Requires more maintenanceRequires less maintenanceSharpened to a fine edge
Hard SteelSoft Steel
Maintains a sharp edge longerRequires more frequent sharpening
More brittleResistant to breaks

What Is The Difference Between Double And Single Bevel

All the chef knives I own have a double bevel.  The bevel refers to the part of the knife that’s ground on a grinder down to the cutting edge. 

Single Bevel

Excellent for cutting raw fish. Japanese sushi and sashimi chef knives will be single bevel knives.  Single bevel knives are unique to Japan.

The downside to single bevel chef knives is the edge is very delicate and you will need some experience to know how to sharpen these kinds of knives.

This is a completely different sharpening technique.  When cutting with these knives they will tend to naturally wander, cutting food unevenly. 

A single bevel knife will have one side only ground down to the cutting edge. You will be able to see the transition between the bevel and the upper part of the knife.  

If you want to buy a single bevel knife and you are left-handed be careful.  As they come in right and left-handed options.  

Double Bevel

A double bevel knife will have both sides of the knife ground down to the cutting edge.

The double bevel knife will always cut straight down and is easier to sharpen.  More robust and ambidextrous.   

Cross-section of a blade single and double bevel examples

Examination Of The Chef’s Knife

The Examination of A Chef's Knife

Examination of the chef’s knife.  Let us talk about the tang, not all are equal.  There is the full tang, hidden tang, and half or partial tang.

The tang on chef knives is the metal extension from the bolster to the butt.  Chef knives are regularly made with full, hidden, and half or partial tangs.  

A full tang knife means that the metal knife is one strong piece from the tip to the end of the handle or butt.

This makes for a strong knife, being one continuous piece of solid steel. My Wüsthof Classic and Damascus Santoku chef knives have full visible tangs.

My Henckels Four Star and Shun Classic Chef Knives have hidden tangs. I don’t own any chef knives with half or partial tangs.

These would be cheap plastic handle inferior steel knives and I wouldn’t recommend buying one for everyday or professional use.

As it won’t last the test of time.

Final Words On Best Chef Knives

All these chef knives I brought have served me well over the decades of cooking. Used them day in and day out in a professional environment. The best chef knives are not cheap! When buying a chef’s knife you get what you pay for.

The best chef’s knife I own is the Yoshihiro Hammered Damascus. Hands down my favorite, lightweight, cuts beautifully, easy to clean and sharpen. Also looks stunning and eye-catching.

The second chef’s knife I like to use is the Zwilling J.A Henckels Four Star. Feels comfortable, and excellent for heavy work but also great for finer work as well. Also not too heavy. 

If you’re wanting to do finer cooking the Kai Shun Classic or Yoshihiro Hammered Damascus Chef Knives are perfect.

Wanting a knife in between that can do finer work and handle some real-world pressure and stress. The Wüsthof Classic Chef’s Knife is the one for you.

These are also some of the best chef knives for beginners, as they will last you a lifetime.

You clean it with hot soapy water, and maintain and sharpen it regularly it will last you a lifetime. To cook excellent food you will require a good quality sharp chef’s knife. 

Whether you’re a professional chef or an avid home cook, one of my best chef knives will become your favorite too.

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