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There’s a reason why professional chefs wear special shoes in the kitchen. Cooking is hard work, and making the perfect meal means spending a lot of time on your feet. To maximize comfort (and safety), it’s best to don a pair of work shoes that provide things like extra padding, arch support, and slip-resistant bottoms.
Here is a collection of the best kitchen shoes that do just that (and more)—all suitable for amateur at-home chefs.
Best Overall: Dansko Women's Professional Clog
For the all-around best kitchen shoe that’s both durable and stylish, our top pick is the Dansko Professional Clog. It’s one of the most popular options in professional kitchens, but one that translates well to the home kitchen.
These kitchen shoes are easy to slip on for quick changes, plus offer the functionality you want. Extra durable and stain-resistant, the leather is easy to wipe clean, there's excellent shock absorption, the arch support is more than satisfactory, and these work shoes can withstand extreme temperatures (great for when you spill some hot cooking liquid at your feet).
The shoes are also very stylish compared to a lot of other comparable options. They come in more than two dozen colors and patterns, so you’re sure to find something that suits your style. If there’s any downside, it’s the cost. But it’s one that’s well-justified if you’re looking for a kitchen shoe that’ll hold up to heavy use for years to come.
Best Budget: Sloggers Women's Waterproof Rain and Garden Shoe
Technically billed as a garden shoe, this pair is a great budget-friendly option for the kitchen, too. Like true kitchen shoes, these are built for maximum comfort and have select safety features to keep you, well, on your feet. The waterproof clog-style shoe is easy to slip on, has a plush insole for shock absorption, and has deep treads to provide stellar traction even in less-than-ideal conditions (like if you inadvertently spilled something on the floor!). Another bonus: The pair comes in nearly 30 fun patterns to help ensure you find something you love.
And as if that isn’t enough, the eco-conscious will love the fact that they’re made right here in the U.S. from 100 percent recyclable material. Plus, when it’s time to get a new pair, you simply return the old and the company will make them into a new pair through its “reuse and recycle” program.
Best Durable: Birkenstock Profi-Birki Polyurethane Clogs
Birkenstock has long been known for practical, durable, and comfortable footwear—and its professional shoes are no different. These easy-to-slip-on clogs are a popular choice among employees in hospitals and the food industry, but they’re perfectly suitable for your own at-home workspace.
These are truly built for comfort, with a raised heel section and an extended front that encloses the entire foot and promotes a natural rolling motion to prevent feet from premature fatigue. They also feature nonslip soles that help you get a good grip on smooth floors, like hardwood and tile that are common in kitchens.
The shoes are also oil- and grease-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about inevitable spills. Plus, you can easily wash the outside of the pair in temperatures up to 176 degrees, and the removable polyurethane footbed can handle temperatures up to 140 degrees.
Best Slip-Proof: Sanita Professional Cabrio Clog
If simple is the name of your game, you’ll love the Sanita Professional Cabrio Clog. It’s a very standard clog-style shoe that comes in just five colors—black, brown, grey, blue, and bordeaux—so you won’t be overwhelmed by options.
The shoe is about as safe as you can get, too, thanks to a reinforced instep and a skid-resistant outsole that has excellent shock absorption. Don’t worry about comfort, either. Your feet will remain in good shape through marathon cooking sessions because of a lined, moisture-wicking footbed with excellent arch support.
Best Clogs: Crocs Mercy Work Clogs
Even if you wouldn’t normally be caught in a pair of rubber shoes like Crocs outside of your house, there’s a good argument to keep a pair in your kitchen. The shoes, which are specifically designed for food service, hospitality, and healthcare professionals, are supremely easy to slide on and offer the utmost comfort. Though they’re extremely lightweight (great for hours on your feet), they’re highly supportive and durable, thanks to a wide, roomy fit, a secure ankle strap, and an easy-to-clean surface. The pair also has slip-resistant treads to keep you upright, even in slippery conditions.
Best Sneakers: Skechers Felton Albie Work Sneakers
If you can’t keep clogs on no matter how hard you try, you may prefer a pair of dedicated kitchen sneakers. This pair isn’t at all like your typical running shoes. Instead, these shoes are designed for long hours on your feet in less than ideal conditions, like potentially slippery kitchens.
For starters, the shoe is wider and roomier than your typical sneaker, so that it won’t cut off circulation. It also has a memory foam insole to help absorb shock and soften the ground beneath your feet.
That’s not all, though. The shoe is also designed with safety in mind. It’s substantially insulated to protect you from any electrical hazards (unlikely, sure, but a bonus nonetheless), a durable safety toe to keep your feet safe in the event you drop something sharp or heavy, and slip-resistant treads to keep you on your feet at all times.
Best Comfortable: ChayChax Waterproof Fur Lined Clogs
Though these fur-lined clogs from ChayChax would never fly in a professional kitchen, they are perfectly suitable for a home kitchen—especially in cooler winter months when you really want something ultra-plush and warm.
The outer material is waterproof and anti-slip, so you’ll stay safe, even if something spilled on the floor. It’s also extremely easy to clean should you spill directly on your shoe. But, unlike other options on the list, the interior is a plush fleece lining that softly wraps your feet for warmth and comfort.
Best Stylish: Blundstone BL500 Leather Boots
While you might not initially think to try a pair of sturdy boots like these leather boots from Blundstone, tons of chefs swear by them, especially in the winter months. Though you’ll have to be a little bit more deliberate about putting these on (you can’t slip them on in flash the same way you can with clogs), they’re very durable and they look great outside the kitchen, so you can treat them more like a pair of universal shoes.
The attractive shoes have everything all the other great kitchen shoes have: a durable rubber outsole that’s resistant to oil, acid, and organic fat, a shock-absorbing heel, admirable arch support, a fully removable comfort footbed, and a leather exterior that’s easy to wipe clean. As an added bonus, they’re heat-resistant up to 284 degrees.
What to Look for in Kitchen Shoes
Materials that can stand up to repeated splashes and spills are critical to a great pair of kitchen shoes. That's why you'll see many made of rubber and durable leather. It's an essential factor when you want to protect your feet from the occasional hot water or grease splash. These materials are also quick and easy to wipe clean when needed. Additionally, look for kitchen shoes that have slip-resistant rubber soles, which help prevent falls on slick, wet kitchen floors.
Kitchen shoes should be practical. The goal is to protect your feet while cooking and keep them comfortable when spending more than an hour in the kitchen. Look for closed-toe shoes with good arch support and shock absorption. Shoes that you can quickly slip on when headed to the kitchen—rather than fussing with shoestrings, buckles, and zippers—will also help you want to wear them.
Footwear is a personal preference, and everyone has their own needs and style. With kitchen shoes for the home cook or professional chef, your buying decision should be based more on comfort than fashion. Even some home cooking projects require you to be on your feet for a few hours, and the wrong shoes can easily make the work harder than it should be. Wider shoes will help your feet and toes relax when standing, while a good insole will add padding that offers extra cushion to prevent sore feet.
Why is it important to wear proper shoes in the kitchen?
While you might enjoy being barefoot in the comfort of your home or remain in your comfiest slippers, switching to proper shoes when working in the kitchen can make a difference. A little extra arch support can relieve back pain and take the stress off your feet, and that alone can make cooking more enjoyable. Plus, even the most careful cook will occasionally spill or drop something. Kitchen shoes add a layer of protection to prevent injuries and keep your slippers stain-free.
Why do chefs wear nonslip shoes and clogs?
Nonslip rubber clogs are a popular footwear choice for professional chefs. They are comfortable and easy to clean, and a convenient option for anyone who stands on their feet for hours in an environment that can get messy. The rubber sole also helps prevent falls when chefs walk on wet floors or grease spills. The clog design is also easy to slip off at the end of a shift when chefs want to switch to more fashionable street shoes.
Are steel toe shoes necessary in the kitchen?
Steel toe shoes are not necessary, but they're also not a bad idea in the kitchen. Cooking requires working with sharp knives and heavy objects, and steel toes can protect your feet from accidents.
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This roundup was written by Brigitt Earley, who has written and edited food content for various publications over the course of the last 10 years. She also holds a culinary degree from the French Culinary Institute.