The 9 Best Chef's Knives of 2020

This tool is a must-have in the kitchen

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Wusthof Classic Cook's Knife at Amazon

"The Granton edge on the 8-inch blade helps keep food from sticking to the blade as you chop, slice, and dice."

Best Mid-range: Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8-Inch Chef's Knife at Amazon

"The blade is straight with a gently curved tip that encourages a rocking motion, so it’s also great for slicing meats."

Best Budget: Farberware Knife with Self-Sharpening Sheath at Amazon

"You can store this in a kitchen drawer or toss it into a picnic basket without worrying about finding the blade."

Best 6-Inch: Mercer Culinary Genesis 6 Inch Chef's Knife at Amazon

"The edge is taper ground so it can be easily honed and it will maintain a sharp edge for a longer time."

Best Design: Shun Classic 8-Inch Chef's Knife at Amazon

"Made with a proprietary VG-MAX cutting core that lends extra strength and corrosion resistance."

Best Professional: Mac Knife Professional Series 8-Inch Chef's Knife at Amazon

"This 8-inch knife is beloved by professionals and novices alike."

Best Ceramic: Kyocera Advanced Chef's Knife at Amazon

"They’re completely resistant to acids, salts, or oils, and they’ll never rust or corrode."

Best All Metal: Global G-2 8-Inch Chef's Knife at Amazon

"There are no joints, rivets, or corners where food could accumulate."

Best Custom Engraved: J.A. Henckels Chef's Knife at Amazon

"Has a satin finish rather than a polished one, so it won’t show the inevitable cooking scratches as easily."

  • 01 of 09

    Best Overall: Wusthof Classic 8-Inch Hollow-Ground Cook's Knife

    Wusthof Classic 8-Inch Hollow-Ground Cook's Knife

     Courtesy of Amazon

    What We Like
    • Trusted brand known for durability

    • Stays sharp

    • Food doesn't stick

    What We Don't Like
    • On the heavier side

    This knife is a true kitchen workhorse that you’ll reach for every day. The Granton edge on the 8-inch blade helps keep food from sticking to the blade as you chop, slice, and dice. The blade is forged rather than stamped, for better durability and a comfortable weight, and the knife has a full tang with a triple-riveted handle for security and a classic look.

    The knife is made in Germany and has a synthetic handle that can stand up to kitchen abuse while providing a good balance when cutting. The full tang keeps fingers away from the blade and helps promote a proper pinch grip when cutting, for more efficient and safer use every time. When it comes to weight, it's all about personal preference, but some warn this one is on the heavier side for chef's knives.

  • 02 of 09

    Best Mid-range: Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8-Inch Chef's Knife

    Excellent
    What We Like
    • Super sharp

    • Affordable

    • Nonslip handle

    What We Don't Like
    • Included sheath may be too thin for storage

    • Rough handle surface grabs debris

    • Blade is stamped rather than forged

    If the Victorinox name seems familiar, perhaps it’s because it's the manufacturer of the very popular Swiss Army knives. Like those knives, this one is made in Switzerland. The 8-inch blade on this knife is made from high-carbon stainless steel that will maintain its super-sharp edge. The blade is straight with a gently curved tip that encourages a rocking motion, so it’s also great for slicing meats.

    The handle is made from the proprietary Fibrox material that is textured to provide a nonslip grip. It's placed so you won’t hit your knuckles on the cutting board, even if your hands are large, and it’s designed to provide a comfortable ergonomic feel for most users. Our tester said the knife came "seriously sharp" and also reported that it maintained its edge well during her testing.

    "There’s not much this knife can’t do, so if the budget is tight, it would be a great first knife until there’s room in the budget for a companion or two." Donna Currie, Product Tester

  • 03 of 09

    Best Budget: Farberware 6-Inch Chef’s Knife with Self-Sharpening Sheath

    What We Like
    • Inexpensive

    • Self-sharpening sheath

    • Comfortable grip

    What We Don't Like
    • Not the sharpest

    This knife is inexpensive to buy and inexpensive to maintain, since a sharpener is built into the sheath. Every time the knife is inserted or removed, the blade sweeps against the sharpener to hone it and keep it sharp without the need for a separate sharpener.

    The six-inch blade is great for people who have smaller hands, and it’s also great for tiny kitchens. Since it comes with a sturdy sheath, you can safely store this in a kitchen drawer or toss it into a picnic basket without worrying about finding the blade instead of the handle.

    With an affordable price point and lack of maintenance needed, this is also a great knife for a vacation cottage or RV, or for taking along to potlucks or parties where you want to slice the food onsite. 

  • 04 of 09

    Best 6-Inch: Mercer Culinary Genesis 6 Inch Chef's Knife

    What We Like
    • Perfect for smaller hands

    • Stays sharp

    • Well balanced

    What We Don't Like
    • Not professional quality

    This chef’s knife has a 6-inch blade, so it’s easier to use for people with small hands, or for those who simply prefer the shorter length. It’s also great from tiny kitchens where counters and cutting boards are similarly small.

    The handle on this knife is made from Santoprene, so it’s NSF safe for commercial kitchens and easy to keep clean. The Santoprene material also provides a firm, non-slip grip, no matter if your hands are wet or dry, so it’s great for working with wet foods that you’ve just washed. It is also unaffected by heat, cold, or food oils, so it won’t crack, get sticky, or degrade over time.

    The blade is made from German high-carbon steel that resists corrosion and is forged rather than stamped. The edge is taper ground so it can be easily honed and it will maintain a sharp edge for a longer time.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Best Design: Shun Classic 8-Inch Chef's Knife

    What We Like
    • Beautifully designed

    • Proprietary core is extremely durable

    • Super sharp

    What We Don't Like
    • Not the best for lefties

    The popular Japanese knife brand Shun calls its Classic Chef's Knife the "one knife you simply can't be without." And it's easy to see why. It's beautifully designed with an ebony Pakka wood handle, a full tang for balance, and 34 layers of Damascus steel enveloping each side of the blade. In terms of quality and durability, all Shun knives are made with a proprietary VG-MAX cutting core that lends extra strength and corrosion resistance.

    You will love both the look and feel of this knife. The ergonomic D-shaped handle provides a comfortable hold, although left-handed chefs may not like it as much as righthanded folks. It's meant to be "rocked" (the curved belly is better suited for this motion than straight chopping), and the extra-wide blade is ideal for transferring your freshly chopped herbs and other food from cutting board to pan.

  • 06 of 09

    Best Professional: Mac Knife Professional Series 8-Inch Chef's Knife MTH-80

    What We Like
    • Extremely sharp

    • Lightweight

    • High-quality craftsmanship that will last

    • Stays sharp for long

    What We Don't Like
    • Pricey

    Mac Knives have a long-standing reputation for quality Japanese craftsmanship, and this 8-inch knife is beloved by professionals and novices alike. Its lightweight design (6.5 ounces) and thin 2.5-millimeter blade and bolster make it easy to slice through almost anything. Added dimples aid in chopping sticky foods like potatoes and squash. The Pakka wood handle offers a comfortable grip that cooks say is well-balanced and easy to use no matter what you're trying to chop.

    It's extremely sharp and holds an edge well (customers recommend Mac Knives' sharpeners for when you do need to resharpen the blade). This knife is not dishwasher safe, but if you follow the care instructions carefully, it should last you for many years even with regular use. While it may not be the cheapest, its versatility and durability make it worth the cost.

  • 07 of 09

    Best Ceramic: Kyocera Advanced Ceramic Revolution Series 7-inch Chef's Knife

    What We Like
    • Extremely lightweight

    • Dishwasher safe

    • Can be sent to manufacturer for resharpening

    What We Don't Like
    • Fragile

    Ceramic blades are becoming increasingly popular, and they’re being made better than ever before. While ceramic blades can shatter or break when dropped, they’re completely resistant to acids, salts, or oils, and they’ll never rust or corrode.

    The 7-inch black blade on this knife looks professional (and a little exotic), and it’s precision ground by the manufacturer for a super-hard and extremely sharp edge. To keep that edge, the knife can be sent back to the manufacturer for resharpening. For home maintenance, the Kyocera electric knife sharpener for ceramic blades is recommended.

    Since ceramics are lighter than metal and the handle is designed to be ergonomic, this is great for people who fatigue easily.

  • 08 of 09

    Best All Metal: Global G-2 8-Inch Chef's Knife

    What We Like
    • Lifetime warranty

    • Easy to clean

    • Stays sharp

    What We Don't Like
    • Can be uncomfortable for larger hands

    Unlike knives that have an attached handle, this entire knife is made from stainless steel, with no joints, rivets, or corners where food could accumulate. To provide a better grip, the handle has dimples that create a textured surface.

    The knife is designed to be lightweight (despite being made entirely from metal), so it’s easy to wield. Made from molybdenum/vanadium stainless steel, the blade is razor-sharp and will retain its edge. This knife comes with a lifetime warranty against breakage.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Best Custom Engraved: J.A. Henckels International Classic 8-Inch Chef's Knife

    What We Like
    • Durable stainless steel construction

    • Maintains sharpness

    • Makes a great gift

    What We Don't Like
    • Spine of the blade is extremely sharp

    This is truly a global knife: The metal comes from Germany, the knife is assembled in Spain, and it can be custom-engraved by an authorized Henckels dealer (which makes the perfect gift).

    The 8-inch blade is forged for durability and substantial weight, with a full bolster for a safe, secure grip. The blade has a satin finish rather than a polished one, so it won’t show the inevitable cooking scratches as easily. The blade is made from stain-resistant carbon steel with a full tang, and the handle is triple-riveted for security and a classic look. Some cooks warn that the top edge of the knife is quite sharp and can cause discomfort (or cut you) depending on your grip.

    The blade can be engraved in three different places, so you can customize it for a wedding, birthday, promotion, or any other event. The same knife is also available without engraving at a lower cost.

Final Verdict

The Wusthof Classic 8-Inch Hollow-Ground Cook's Knife is our top choice because you really can't be the quality and performance. However, if you're looking for an inexpensive option, the Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8-Inch Chef's Knife performed extremely well in our tests.

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Donna Currie is a cookbook author, food writer, and product tester for The Spruce Eats, and she personally tested one of the knives on this list. While she's somewhat partial to Wusthof knives, her knife block is a hodgepodge of brands from crazy expensive ones like Shun to some that are dirt cheap. She recommends going with one that feels comfortable in your hand—it's all about personal preference.

What to Look for in a Chef's Knife

Size: Chef's knives commonly range from 6 to 10 inches and there are different shapes and thickness for the blades. Longer blades are good for single strokes, and blades with a more curved tip are better for cutting food with a "rocking" motion. Some prefer smaller blades, whether that's because your hands are smaller and they're easier to use or you have a smaller kitchen or cutting board and chopping space is at a premium.

Maintenance: Consider how often you'll be using your knife and how often it needs to be sharpened—some hold an edge much longer than others. Also, consider how likely it is to rust or get water stains. Wooden handles are very common, but they can also attract food and bacteria, unlike all-metal knives. While most manufacturers recommend hand washing knives, there are some that can be put in the dishwasher.

Price: A chef's knife is often considered the most important knife to have in your kitchen because of its versatility. For this reason, it might make sense to invest in one that's going to last. However, if you're shopping for a vacation home or a small kitchen that doesn't get used much, there are plenty of budget options that will get the job done.