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Every cook should have a great chef’s knife. It’s a go-to tool for cutting everything from vegetables to meat and is capable of tackling all your slicing, dicing, chopping, and mincing needs. The right knife can feel like an extension of your arm, an all-purpose kitchen tool. With it, you can chop anything. But how do you know which chef's knife is right for you? There are a dizzying array of options, and it can be hard to know where to begin.

With this in mind, we selected 10 knives from all price points to find their strengths and weaknesses, relying heavily on testing procedures instead of just personal preference. We put them in the hands of a trained chef (yours truly) to test how well each kitchen knife could tackle the most common tasks. After hours of testing, we came away with some solid recommendations: a high-quality chef’s knife capable of any kitchen task—the winning ZWILLING Pro Traditional Chef's Knife (available at Amazon for £86.31), a slightly more specialized knife for experienced cooks, and a value knife that went edge-to-edge with some of the more expensive knives.

If you're looking to fill out your kitchen knives collection, we also tested and reviewed paring knives, serrated knives, and boning knives.

Here are the best chef's knives we tested ranked, in order:

  1. ZWILLING Pro Traditional Chef's Knife (38401-203)
  2. Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef's Knife (5.2063.20)
  3. Mac Professional Series Chef's Knife With Dimples (MTH-80)
  4. Wüsthof Classic Ikon Cook's Knife (4596/20)
  5. Shun Classic Chef's Knife (DM0706)
  6. Mercer Renaissance Collection Forged Riveted Chef's Knife (M23510)
  7. Global G-2 Chef's Knife
  8. Zwilling J.A. Henckels Four Star Chef's Knife (31071-203)
  9. Wüsthof Grand Prix II Cook's Knife (4585-7/20)
  10. Dalstrong Gladiator Series Chef-Knife

Worcester News: Photo: Reviewed / Lindsay D. MattisonPhoto: Reviewed / Lindsay D. Mattison

BEST OVERALL

ZWILLING Pro Traditional Chef's Knife (38401-203)

J.A. Henckels is one of the most recognizable names in the knife making industry, so it’s not surprising that this knife rose to the top of our list. The Henckels Zwilling Pro is a serious workhorse, pulling ahead of the pack in nearly every one of our tests and earning the top spot as Best Overall Chef’s Knife.

This high-carbon steel German knife is one of the heftier knives we tested. The weight gave it the strength to handle the heavy-duty tasks we threw at it, cutting through a butternut squash with ease. A heavier knife can be less adept at precise cuts, but the Zwilling Pro has a super sharp edge that sliced up a tomato without issue. The design of the wide, tapered bolster made this knife easy to grip and seriously comfortable to use.

Overall, this is a really solid, well-balanced blade with excellent control, allowing you to confidently work through large cuts with precision and comfort. It's a perfect starter knife for beginners and would make a great addition to any pro’s knife collection.

Pros

  • Durable and heavy
  • Easy to hold and manoeuvre
  • Well-balanced blade

Cons

  • Slightly too heavy for very precise cuts

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Worcester News: Photo: Reviewed / Lindsay D. MattisonPhoto: Reviewed / Lindsay D. Mattison

BEST VALUE

Victorinox Fibrox 20cm Chef's Knife (5.2063.20)

While the Victorinox 20cm Fibrox Pro didn’t feel as sturdy as some of the other knives, it made up for it by acing most of our tests. The knife got a little stuck when cutting through tough butternut squash but otherwise had great control with rocking, chopping, and slicing. It stood edge-to-edge on sharpness with some of the more expensive knives.

The blade is stamped from Swiss stainless steel and doesn’t feature a full tang, meaning that the blade is simply connected to the synthetic plastic handle. The knife itself appears cheap and flimsy but don’t let looks fool you; it's well balanced and comfortable to use.

With a lightweight feel and razor-sharp blade, this knife may not be built to last a lifetime—but at this price point, it doesn’t have to. That makes it our pick for Best Value.

Pros

  • Good control
  • Easy to use
  • Sharp blade

Cons

  • Lightweight
  • Not very precise
  • Not built to last

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Worcester News: Photo: Reviewed / Lindsay D. MattisonPhoto: Reviewed / Lindsay D. Mattison

BEST FOR EXPERIENCED COOKS

Mac Professional Series Chef's Knife With Dimples (MTH-80)

You may have heard of Japanese knife makers like Shun and Global, but MAC knives fly under the radar for Japanese hybrid-style chef’s knives. These hybrid knives take hard Japanese steel and forge them to be all-purpose like traditional Western chef’s knives, sharpening both sides of the blade.

The MAC Professional Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife was easily my favourite knife throughout the tests. It aced every single test that we threw at it, with a super-sharp edge that made a beautiful chiffonade of basil. I thought this lighter knife would struggle to tackle the heavy-duty tasks, but it sliced through butternut squash like it was a soft stick of butter.

The super-thin, high-carbon steel blade is dimpled to help it glide easily through sticky foods like squash and cheese. In addition to sharpness and strength, it had the best control of all the knives, even when rocked to mince garlic.

With a very sharp blade, this MAC blade is ideal for experienced cooks. The knife would be a great addition to anyone’s knife bag, but we feel that beginners may benefit more from the sturdiness that comes from a traditional, German steel chef’s knife.

Pros

  • Extremely thin and precise
  • Very sharp
  • Good control

Cons

  • Not for beginners

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How We Tested

Hi, I’m Lindsay Mattison, a trained professional chef. I tend to use a chef's knife for most of my cutting tasks, as they last a lifetime if you take good care of them. They're also the perfect tool for cutting a large steak or prepping vegetables due to their straight, rigid blades. If you're working with a flexible budget and don't mind the maintenance, a chef's knife really is really an essential part of the kitchen.

A good chef’s knife should be able to tackle the majority of your knife work in the kitchen, so it needs to be well-rounded and capable of handling almost any task you can throw at it. We tested each knife on three major criteria: sharpness, strength, and control.

A dull knife is a dangerous knife! When your knife isn’t sharp, it’s more likely to bounce off food than cut through it, which could result in serious injury. To test sharpness, we put each knife to the precision work test: If it could get through tomato skin without snagging and cut basil without bruising the delicate herb, we deemed it sharp enough.

We tested strength by throwing heavy-duty ingredients at each blade, seeing if it could get through butternut squash’s hard exterior without sticking and slice a large block of cheddar cheese without crumbling or tilting.

Finally, we tested overall control by monitoring how the knife felt as we tackled each ingredient, assessing how the knife’s weight and balance felt in our hand. We paid attention to comfort additions like bevelled bolsters and curved handles and measured how the knife tackled chopping versus rocking motions.

What You Should Know About Chef's Knife

Unlike a paring knife (a knife with a small blade) or a serrated knife (a knife with a toothlike edge), a Western-style chef's knife typically has a straight, rigid blade. It's a multi-purpose tool, meaning you can use it to dice vegetables or trim meat. You can also use it to disjoint large cuts of beef.

Chef knives are usually made of either stainless steel or carbon steel. There's actually quite a big difference between the two. Carbon steel knives cut better, but they're more fragile and prone to rust. Stainless steel knives, on the other hand, are less delicate and easier to maintain.

One of the major things to consider is whether or not you want to keep up with regular maintenance. If you're willing to sharpen your chef knife a few times a year, you're going to have a product that'll last you a lifetime. If you're not comfortable sharpening your own knife, you can always bring it to a professional.

The one thing you should never do with a chef's knife is put it in your dishwasher. The high water pressure and detergent will absolutely ruin your knife by dulling the edge and messing up the handle. That's why you should only wash it by hand.

OTHER CHEF KNIVES WE TESTED 

Wüsthof Classic Ikon 20cm Cook's Knife (4596/20)

The Wüsthof Classic Ikon came in a close second for our Best Overall winner. This is a sharp knife that performed well on most tasks, taking down heavy-duty items with no problems but struggling ever-so-slightly on precision work like tackling tomato skin without snagging and thinly slicing radishes.

I liked the contoured handle for the comfort of its slightly curved design, but the handle is slightly longer than the other knives we tested, which tips its balance and makes the knife harder to control than the competition.

This is in the top two most expensive knives we tested, and while it’s a great overall performer, it didn't quite measure up to the Zwilling.

Pros

  • Very sharp
  • Durable
  • Comfortable handle

Cons

  • Not super precise
  • Not perfectly balanced

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Shun Classic 20cm Chef's Knife (DM0706)

Shun knives are beautiful and sharp. If your sole purpose is to impress your friends, buy this knife without hesitation! It blazed through many of the tests without a problem, especially the tasks that required thin slices and precision work. However, the same extra-wide, curved blade that helped it perform so well in slicing tests caused it to struggle a bit while mincing the oddly-shaped garlic clove.

One major drawback to the design is that the handle is offset further than the other knives we tested. This makes the blade feel longer than it is, affecting the balance and level of control we felt when yielding this knife.

Also worth noting: while this razor-sharp, super-thin, lightweight knife is perfect for precision cuts, these thin blades do have a reputation for chipping easily.

Pros

  • Extremely thin and precise
  • Sharp

Cons

  • Not perfectly balanced
  • Might chip

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Mercer Renaissance Collection 20cm Forged Riveted Chef's Knife (M23510)

I was surprised by how much I liked this knife. Mercer Culinary is best known as the suppliers of culinary school knife kits. I remember disliking this knife when I was in culinary school, but during testing, it actually outdid many of the more expensive and flashy knives on the list.

It performed admirably across all testing categories and I dubbed it with the name of Squash Obliterator, as it outperformed every other knife when it came to easily carving up butternut squash. However, this is not a delicate knife, and its weight and balance prevent it from making super-thin slices.

Overall, this is a decently sharp knife with great strength and adequate control, although it did dull more quickly than the more affordable Victorinox.

Pros

  • Durable and heavy
  • Great at cutting squash

Cons

  • Not very precise
  • Quick to dull

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Global G-2 20cm Chef's Knife

The Global 8-inch Chef’s Knife was the lightest knife we tested. This super-light knife had a beautiful, sleek look. While it had great balance and control and was sharp enough to perform well on precision tasks, it struggled with heavy-duty tasks because it simply was not heavy enough to accomplish them. After extended periods of use, the metal handle became slippery and greasy in our hands.

Pros

  • Sleek look
  • Good balance and control

Cons

  • Too lightweight
  • Handle slippery when wet or greasy

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Zwilling J.A. Henckels Four Star Chef's Knife (31071-203)

Zwilling J.A. Henckels Four Star Classic has had the same design for the last 40 years. It's one of most lightweight German steel knives we tested, performing well on all of the tests. Its weight and balance made it easy to control when tackling both heavy-duty and precision tasks, and it was especially well-suited for dicing onions. The major drawback of this knife is the synthetic plastic handle, which became sweaty with extended use and made me feel like I had some residue left on my hands.

Pros

  • Good balance and control

Cons

  • Plastic handle

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Wüsthof Grand Prix II Cook's Knife (4585-7/20)

The Wüsthof Grand Prix II is almost as heavy as the Classic Ikon but it lacks the balance of the Classic Ikon to give it the right amount of control. The polypropylene handle is comfortable even after extended use, and the tapered handle tackles rocking tasks such as mincing garlic with ease. The blade wasn’t as sharp as the other knives we tested, and—despite its significant heft—didn’t tackle the heavy-duty tasks with as much ease.

Pros

  • Durable

Cons

  • Not well-balanced
  • Not very sharp

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AVOID

Dalstrong Gladiator Series Chef-Knife

There is no denying that the Dalstrong Gladiator Series knife wins for presentation: besides the sleek look of the large blade and beautiful pakkawood handle, the knife comes in an impressive box with a hard plastic blade cover, a polishing cloth, and a keychain (I’m not sure what I’m going to do with that!). Unfortunately, the knife is too heavy, lacks control, has an uncomfortable grip, and is sharper towards the handle and duller towards the tip. It struggled on all of the tests and wasn’t sharp enough to make it through the tomato test.

Pros

  • Very beautiful design

Cons

  • Too heavy
  • Lacks control
  • Uncomfortable grip

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