As famed Japanese Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto once said, “a kitchen without a knife is not a kitchen.” And he certainly was not wrong. More often than not, a strong, durable chef’s knife is the true workhorse behind any great meal. But unlike the celebrity chefs we see on TV or read about in magazines, most of us aren’t about to shell out thousands of dollars for a premium set.
The good news is that you don’t actually have to. Today, there are plenty of high-quality options available that will not only get the job done, but can also stand the test of time. So whether you’re an aspiring Bobby Flay, or more of a home cook amateur looking to step up your kitchen game, these affordable chef’s knives will help do the trick.
Wüsthof Classic Ikon 9-Inch Cook’s Knife
Wüsthof is a family-owned German knife manufacturer that has been crafting some of the world’s finest blades for more than 200 years. Their Classic Ikon collection is a favorite of chefs across the globe thanks to their versatility and elegant design. The 9-Inch Cook’s Knife is an excellent all-purpose kitchen tool perfect for chopping, mincing, slicing, and dicing whatever you put in its path. But don’t let its lightweight construction fool you — this knife is seriously heavy-duty. A high carbon stainless steel blade and comfortable contoured handle make it a top contender, as does its Precision Edge Technology which yields a blade that is 20 percent sharper with twice the edge retention of similar, more expensive knives.
Masahiro Carbon 9.5-Inch Gyuto
Each Masahiro Carbon 9.5-Inch Gyuto knife is expertly crafted in legendary Seki City, Japan. The superior blade is made from virgin carbon steel and features an 80/20 asymmetrical edge, providing a smoother slice by distributing pressure from your fingers to whatever it is you’re chopping. But keep in mind: it requires a bit more maintenance than its stainless steel counterparts. Expect the blade to develop a darkened (desired) patina over time, but beware of rusting if not dried thoroughly after each hand wash.
Bob Kramer Essential 6-Inch Chef’s Knife by Zwilling J.A. Henckels
Bob Kramer is one of the greatest American bladesmiths of all time, and his handmade knives are considered to be among the best — and most expensive — in the world. So his Essential 6-Inch Chef’s Knife by Zwilling J.A. Henckels is a total steal at $167. Each endures a thorough 42-day manufacturing process, involving a team of 45 artisans and 100 different steps. As a finishing touch, every piece is finished with a central mosaic pin handcrafted in Kramer’s personal studio. Users love the knife’s easy-to-manage size, extra wide FC61 steel blade, and brushed polymer handle that lends a secure grip. Double Friodur hardening also helps to improve the steel’s structure, increasing its sturdiness and providing corrosion resistance along the way.
Shun Kanso 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
Inspired by the Zen principles of simplicity and the elimination of the non-essentials, the Shun Kanso Chef’s Knife cuts right to the chase. The 8-inch Japanese blade is forged from refined high-carbon, vanadium stainless steel and comes with Kanso’s Heritage finish, giving a rustic look that effortlessly hides dings and scratches. Full-tang construction allows for balance and precise control, and its slightly contoured handle uses sturdy tagayasan (also known as wenge) wood. It also features a flat profile and wider heel, so even beginners can master every cut. This knife goes back to basics, which lets you master any task at hand, from slicing vegetables to cutting up protein, and even gently julienning fresh herbs or spices.
MAC Professional Series 8-Inch Chef’s Knife with Dimples
Another 8-inch blade, the MAC Professional Series Chef’s Knife is one with a bit more personality. The thin 2.5-millimeter blade is dimpled along the edge, helping the knife glide through such sticky foods as squash, apples, and starchy potatoes. It’s one of the most popular Western-inspired models available today, beloved by professionals and newbies alike. Thanks to MAC’s proprietary chrome-moly vanadium steel blade, the entire knife weighs just 6.6 ounces, making it extremely maneuverable. Fans praise the knife for its long-lasting blade and sheer usefulness for virtually any kitchen task. The company is so confident in their product that each knife comes with an impressive 25-year warranty against any defects in materials or workmanship.
Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife
Priced at less than $50, this model also happens to be the number one bestseller on Amazon, with a nearly five-star rating from more than 2,600 satisfied customers. The high-carbon stainless steel blade succeeds at maintaining a sharp edge, ideal for slicing and mincing. The award-winning knife is undoubtedly the best budget option on the market, but be prepared to make a few sacrifices, like settling for a plastic (albeit still ergonomic) handle.