The Best Chef’s Knife for Most Cooks

After 75 hours of research, talking with four experts, and testing 13 chef’s knives in our own kitchen, we think the MAC MTH-80 8-inch Chef’s Knife with Dimples ($145) is the best for most home cooks. This Japanese-made stamped knife was, hands down, the sharpest, most durable, and most comfortable model we tested. Its razor-sharp blade diced onions, turned bulk carrots into classic French cuts, and sliced through tough butternut squash better than any other knife we tried. It even cut through delicate basil without causing the edges to brown—something none of the German knives could equal. Its durable high-carbon blade will also stay sharp longer than almost any other knife blade we found at this price range. At $145, it’s not cheap. But we think its combination of performance, durability, and comfort make it an investment that could last a lifetime. From that perspective, it’s a bargain.

Last Updated: June 5, 2015
After 75 hours of research, the MAC MTH-80 8-inch Chef’s Knife with Dimples is our new pick for best chef’s knife. It’s the sharpest, most durable, and comfortable model we tested. Our runner-up is the Tojiro DP, which is extremely sharp and easy to maintain, but doesn’t have much knuckle clearance. We also have picks for more heavy-duty tasks or if you want to spend a little less.
Expand Most Recent Updates
April 30, 2015: Our previous step-up choice has snagged the top pick spot. The MAC MTH-80 out-chopped the competition to become our new main pick. If $145 is more than you want to spend on a knife, the Tojiro DP ($57) is a cheaper and lighter-weight alternative. It was knocked down to second place because cutting hard butternut squash put a tiny knick in the blade that was barely noticeable, and those with larger hands might find it doesn't have much knuckle clearance. For those who can't shake their love of German drop forged knives, we liked the Wusthof Ikon ($141). It's heavy enough to break lobsters, and offers stainless durability for those who tend to be rough on knives. For the novice cook, or the graduate moving into their first apartment, the Wusthof Pro ($25) is our budget pick. A sharp blade and big cushy handle made this a favorite budget knife with our testers. We'll be updating the guide with all of our new research and testing within the next two weeks.
December 15, 2014: Clarified statements about putting knives in the dishwasher.
October 24, 2014: America's Test Kitchen pulled out the big guns and put our Victorinox pick under an electron microscope, along with a much more expensive carbon steel knife from Henckels to check out the steel's grain. The Henckels has a very tight grain, which is what makes it such a sharp, durable knife that stays sharper longer. Their microscope test also revealed that the Victorinox's steel was nearly as tight. They concluded with this endorsement for our pick: "When the results are that close, the bottom line for us, has to be practical. We're still gonna use our Victorinox Stainless Knife. It's low maintenance, it's cheap, and it's the best tool in our kitchen."
September 17, 2013: We put four hours of research into making sure our picks were still the best for most people. They are.
November 1, 2012: Updated November 1, 2012: Added some lines in the competition section to address this recent roundup review by Wired. Also better delineated the differences between forged and stamped knives and added the Wusthof Classic 8 inch Cook's knife as a recommendation for a German forged knife.
With its super sharp edge, sleek tapered shape, and comfortable handle, this knife will make your everyday dicing and slicing tasks smoother and quicker. Its high-carbon blade will also stay sharp longer than blades made from softer stainless steel.

When we originally reviewed knives in 2012, we didn’t include hands-on testing. For this update we wanted to see what a variety of testers of different skill levels preferred. Selecting a chef’s knife has a lot to do with personal preference. Ideally, you’d try a number of knives to see how they feel in your hand. But after more than 15 hours of testing with fellow Sweethome writers and editors in our New York City office and in-depth interviews with knife experts, we’re confident that the MAC MTH-80 is one of the most universally appealing knives out there and will make chopping tasks for most people much easier.

Also Great

*At the time of publishing, the price was $50.

Tojiro DP
This Western-style Japanese knife has a slightly less durable blade than our top pick, and the handle doesn’t provide as much knuckle clearance for bigger hands. But it’s extremely sharp, relatively easy to maintain, and more reasonably priced.

If our main pick sells out, we’d get the Tojiro DP ($60). Its extremely sharp blade—similar to the MAC’s in shape and steel composition—is relatively easy to maintain and the knife is better-balanced than many models we tried. It also comes at one of the best prices we’ve found for a Western-style Japanese knife. But testers with larger hands found there wasn’t enough knuckle clearance between the Tojiro’s handle and the cutting board. Its blade is also less durable than the MAC’s; the edge may develop small nicks from cutting hard vegetables such as butternut squash or raw beets. Although we think the Tojiro is a great knife, it needs a little more upkeep than the MAC MTH-80.

Also Great

*At the time of publishing, the price was $116.

Wusthof Ikon
This German drop-forged knife’s stainless steel blade will dull faster than our main pick’s, but its heft makes it better for tackling heavy-duty tasks such as splitting a chicken breast.

If you are accustomed to the feel of a heavier German knife, the Wusthof Classic Ikon 8-Inch Cook’s Knife ($145) is sharp, sturdy, and fits our criteria for a good knife. Compared to the other forged German knives in our testing sample, the Ikon’s thinner blade made for smoother cuts through butternut squash and carrots. It was also more agile at peeling the skin from a butternut squash due to its thinner blade. The Wusthof Classic Ikon’s blade is made of softer steel than the MAC MTH-80, which means it will dull faster. It’s also heavier than the MAC MTH-80, weighing 9 ounces—2.5 ounces more than the MAC.

Also Great
Wusthof Pro
This stamped knife is great for first apartments, car-camping cooking kits, or times when you need to share a knife. Its slicing action isn’t the smoothest, and the handle may be too big for some, but it’s by far the best knife we’ve found for less than $40.

If you’re simply looking for something cheap, durable, and crazy sharp, we like the Wusthof Pro ($25). Just like our top pick and runner-up, it has a stamped blade, but the slicing action isn’t as smooth. It has a big, cushy handle that’s best for large hands, but also pretty comfortable for smaller hands. The position of the handle can make it difficult to get a proper pinch grip on the blade, forcing you to adjust your grip completely on the handle. Overall, though, it was the most well-liked by testers of the five budget knives we tried.

Table of contents

Why you should trust us

I have an extensive culinary background that spans almost 18 years. I’ve cooked in the kitchens of brewpubs, small cafes, and fine dining restaurants. I also did some catering, which gave me opportunities to work behind the scenes at really cool parties like Elton John’s 60th birthday gala. I’ve sliced and diced thousands of pounds of onions, carrots, and celery. I also spent 6 years in a test kitchen, developing recipes for food stories that appeared in magazines including Martha Stewart Living and Everyday Food and contributed to the cookbooks Martha Stewart’s Cooking School, Dinner at Home, Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast, and Martha Stewart’s Entertaining.

For this guide, I consulted Brendan McDermott, chef instructor of knife skills at Kendall College in Chicago; Murray Carter, a knife craftsman who has completed more than 19,000 knives and calls himself a “17th generation Yoshimoto Bladesmith;” Howard Nourieli, owner of Bowery Kitchen Supplies in New York City; and Wendy Yang, Showroom Manager at Korin, a Japanese knife shop in New York City. I read Chad Ward’s An Edge in the Kitchen cover to cover and looked at reputable editorial sources including America’s Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, Consumer Reports, and Cooking for Engineers. Since this is an update, I also took our original writer and Sweethome associate editor Michael Zhao’s research into consideration.

Should I upgrade?

If you’re currently using a dull hand-me-down chef’s knife, or your subpar knife set isn’t cutting it anymore, it’s probably time for an upgrade.  Likewise, if your once-nice knife has been used and abused and never sharpened, or sharpened improperly, and you find it doesn’t seem to hold its edge (even after sharpening), it’s time for a new one. And if you’ve only ever used a stainless steel knife you may want a model—like our main and runner-up picks—made of high-carbon steel that will stay sharp longer.

Generally, you’ll find chef’s knives in two styles:

  • German: The most widely recognized chef’s knife in the West, this has a pronounced curved blade that tapers to a sharp tip. Most have a bolster—a thick metal cuff—between the blade and handle. Some have full bolsters that extend all the way to the edge and some have partial bolsters that don’t. These knives are generally heavier and have thicker blades than their Japanese counterparts, making them great for tough jobs like breaking lobsters and splitting chicken breasts. Their blades have an even bevel and are generally made of softer steel, so they tend to lose an edge quicker.
  • Western-style Japanese: Also called a gyuto. The blade has less of a curve and tapers to a very sharp tip. Compared to a German knife, the blade is thinner and it never has a full bolster, which helps when sharpening the knife. Because they are thinner and made of higher-quality hard carbon steel, they take a much more acute bevel angle, so they tend to be sharper than German knives. Unlike classic Japanese knives, which are only sharpened on one side of the edge, gyutos have an even bevel. Because they’re made of high-carbon steel, they tend to be less stainless than German knives.

How we picked & tested

A chef’s knife can tackle 80 to 90 percent of cutting tasks, such as breaking down vegetables, chopping herbs and lettuces, and slicing onions and scallions. It should handle simple meat cuts, like cubing beef for stew or slicing chicken into strips for a stir fry. (It is not, however, the best knife for breaking down a chicken—you’ll want a boning knife for that.)

To do all of this, the knife has to be sharp. It should be able to slice through paper straight out of the box. As long as you hone the blade and maintain thoughtful upkeep, it should remain sharp through moderate use for 6 to 12 months before you need to sharpen it. (For more on the difference between honing and sharpening, see Care and maintenance.) Dull knives are not only frustrating to use, they’re dangerous. People try to compensate for a dull blade by applying more pressure, which can cause the knife to slip off the food and nick a hand (or worse).

“An 8-inch chef knife is a happy medium and perfect for almost anybody.”
Chef’s knife blades range from 6 to 12 inches long, but for most people around 8 inches is the perfect length. Brendon McDermott, chef instructor of knife skills at Kendall College, said, “I tend to always tell people to go bigger than smaller, but I think an 8-inch chef knife is a happy medium and perfect for almost anybody.”

The best knives have handles that fit comfortably in the hand. This depends on the size and shape of your hand and the way you grip your knife. After you feel out the size and shape of the handle, look for knuckle clearance. There’s nothing quite as annoying as banging your knuckles on the board while chopping.

How to hold a chef's knife

When holding a chef’s knife, there should be enough clearance between the handle and the cutting board so your knuckles don’t hit the board.

Knife balance means different things to different people. The blade, handle, and sometimes a bolster (a metal cuff at the base of the blade) all contribute to a knife’s weight distribution. Some people want a blade-heavy knife, while others think the blade and the handle should be the same weight. A half-bolster or bolsterless knife will be more blade-heavy, whereas a full bolster throws more weight in the handle.

Anatomy of a chef knifeBolsters aren’t for everyone. These metal cuffs can help balance knives with a heavy blade—such as the Wusthof Ikon—where you want more weight in the handle. A full bolster extends to the heel of the blade, while a half bolster doesn’t. For lighter knives like gyutos, a bolster isn’t necessary. Chad Ward said, “I happen to like my knives blade-heavy, so a bolstered knife that shifts too much weight behind my fingers feels awkward and out of control. It’s all a matter of feel and preference.” Full bolsters, in particular, can even make sharpening more difficult, because eventually you’ll need to grind down the bolster to sharpen the blade.

There’s debate about the importance of a knife’s tang—a piece of metal extending from the blade into the handle. Some cooking supply shop salespeople might tell you that a tang that extends through the whole handle helps balance the knife, making it stronger. Brendan McDermott agrees: “Having the full tang really helps balance the blade so the handle and the blade can remain at an even balance, but it also again shows that it’s one piece of steel.” Chad Ward, on the other hand, argues that a full tang is unnecessary (in his book he says that even katana swords didn’t have a full tang). Wendy Yang at Korin said that traditional Japanese knives with a stick tang can be sent back to the factory in Japan to be repaired if the handle gets damaged or broken (not an option with a full tang knife). All the Western-style Japanese knives we looked at have full tangs with riveted handles. I personally think the reason for that is the Western consumer uses that as a benchmark of quality because that’s what they’ve been sold on for years with German knives.

Group of chef's knives

Chef’s knives come in a number of shapes and styles. From left to right: stamped Tojiro DP Gyuto with half bolster; drop-forged Wusthof Ikon with half bolster; drop-forged Wusthof Classic with full bolster; and stamped Wusthof Pro with extended plastic handle.

Blades are either forged or stamped, and both methods can produce high or low quality knives. Forging, the oldest method, uses heat and pressure to shape the blade. Boutique knife makers, such as Murray Carter, still pound out the shape of the blade with a hammer, but most mass-market Western-forged knives are drop-forged. In this process, a manufacturer takes a blank of steel and heats it to an extremely high temperature—much higher than with hand forging—and uses a high-pressure hammer to pound it into the shape of a blade. “Drop-forged became a term associated with a higher quality product because of the technological advancement in the process,” explained Carter. But he argues it was a step back metallurgically because the extreme heat involved ruins the tight grain integrity—which is important for edge retention—that hand forging delivers.

Stamped blades, as the name suggests, are stamped out of a larger sheet of metal before further refinement and sharpening. The quality of these knives varies widely, from the flimsy knives found at grocery stores to our top pick and runner-up. Knife makers like MAC and Tojiro heat-treat their blades to make them just as strong as forged steel. In an Edge in the Kitchen, Chad Ward says, “There is some great steel out there now, better than anything ever before used for kitchen knives. It can be drop-forged or it can be laser-cut out of sheets. With proper heat treatment, the method of shaping the blade has more to do with manufacturing processes and knife styles than anything else.” He calls these heat-treated stamped blades “machined” to differentiate them from regular stamped knives. Cook’s Illustrated also points this out in their chef’s knife equipment review.

When buying a knife, it’s good to spot check the spine and edge for defects. Hold the handle with the edge facing downward and look along the spine to make sure the blade is perfectly straight.

Checking a chef knife's spine for straightness

Check a knife’s spine to make sure the blade is straight.

Next, turn the knife over and examine the edge. If you see any light reflecting back at you, that is a roll spot in the factory edge, which you can grind out with sharpening, but you shouldn’t have to sharpen a brand-new knife. Don’t be shy about asking for many versions of the same knife to decide on the particular one you want to take home. At Korin, they usually bring out two to three of the same knife so you can examine them and choose the one you like.

Checking a chef's knife for roll spots

Check the knife’s blade for roll spots, which make the knife duller.

You can get a decent chef’s knife for $40 or a truly exceptional one for $400. The experts I interviewed agreed that a home cook doesn’t need to spend more than $150 on a chef’s knife. It all depends on the quality you need or want.

We couldn’t test all of the possible contenders that fit our criteria, so we focused on popular, widely available knives. We also did not include Japanese santoku knives in this review, since these are better suited to vegetables and not as versatile as standard chef’s knives. In the end, we brought in 13 knives that all had an 8-inch blade, clocked in at $150 or less, didn’t have a full bolster, came recommended by experts and trusted editorial sources, and had stellar Amazon ratings.

Group of chef's knives

We peeled and broke down a butternut squash to test maneuverability and how smoothly they cut through the notoriously hard gourd. We gauged blade sharpness by dicing onions, making classic French cuts with carrots, and thinly slicing scallion greens. We tested whether the knives could handle delicate tasks by cutting basil leaves into a fine chiffonade and observing whether the herb’s edges bruised and turned black.

Our pick

With its super sharp edge, sleek tapered shape, and comfortable handle, this knife will make your everyday dicing and slicing tasks smoother and quicker. Its high-carbon blade will also stay sharp longer than blades made from softer stainless steel.

The MAC MTH-80 ($145) is our favorite knife because it’s crazy sharp and will stay that way longer than most other knives. It was the only knife that was comfortable for all testers to hold and use. We found it had the best weight and balance; it felt more agile than the German models and more durable than the other Japanese knives. The dimples in the blade also make for slightly less food stickage. The MAC MTH-80 is the only knife in our testing sample that I can safely recommend to most people without reservations.

Out of the box, the MAC sliced straight through paper, which is something our previous pick, the Victorinox Fibrox 8-inch Chef’s Knife, couldn’t manage. It also made straight cuts through the thick center of butternut squash, which, again, the Victorinox couldn’t do. Even the Henckel Pro, a pricy German drop-forged knife, was a crooked cutter. The Rada, which was dangerously flimsy, completely failed at cutting butternut squash.

Butternut squash test cut

The MAC MTH-80 was one of the few knives to cut straight through the center of a butternut squash.

With fibrous carrots, the MAC always made clean cuts, unlike the Victorinox, which cut part way, then cracked the rest of the carrot like an ax splitting wood. The cut edges of basil stayed mostly green with very little oxidation, meaning the MAC’s razor-sharp edge broke very few of the herb’s cells. All the budget knives turned basil black within 5 minutes. To be honest, all the Japanese knives did a superb job with the basil test, because they’re sharper and thinner. The drop-forged German knives fell somewhere in between, only causing a moderate amount of bruising and oxidation to the basil.

Because the MAC’s stamped blade is made of very hard steel that has a Rockwell hardness of 59-61, it will keep its sharp edge longer than softer blades, such as those of the Wusthof Pro, both Messermeister knives, and Henckels, which are hardened to 56 HRC. At the same time, the MAC’s blade is made of a proprietary steel that’s not as brittle as the super hard Japanese VG-10 steel used for most gyuto knives. This means it’s less likely to chip, which the Tojiro did after cutting hard pumpkin. And because the MAC’s blade is slightly thinner than the German knives’s blades, measuring .0976 inches at the thickest part of the spine, it will be easier to maintain its sharp edge as you get toward the spine. In comparison, the Wusthof Ikon measures .1187 inches.

Of our five testers, everyone agreed that the MAC was really comfortable to hold and use. Personally, I like the simple shape and smaller size of the handle, which allows for a gentler grip and reduces fatigue during longer chopping tasks. Even those with larger hands, such as my significant other, found the handle gave plenty of knuckle clearance. By comparison, the Tojiro DP didn’t offer enough knuckle clearance for larger hands and the Global G-2, which has a tapered stainless steel handle, was offputting for some testers. The MAC’s handle is slightly short, but the length of the little curve from the bolster down to the heel gave adequate room for large knuckles.The handle of the Shun Classic, on the other hand, was so long and unwieldy that it kept jabbing into my forearm.

Our testers also universally liked the MAC’s weight. At 6.6 ounces, it’s lighter than a German drop-forged knife, but heavier and sturdier-feeling than many Japanese knives. Part of that, again, is due to the thickness of its spine. At the thickest part the Togiharu comes in at .0754 inch, the Tojiro DP at .0817 inch, and Global G-2 .0754 inch. The MAC’s relatively thicker .0976-inch spine gives the knife some heft and it doesn’t feel as delicate when cutting through tough vegetables like butternut squash, but it still has a smooth slicing feel of a thin blade.

The MAC was the only knife we tested with dimples on both sides of the blade to reduce food sticking to the knife. We don’t think this is the MAC’s biggest selling point, as it was only mildly effective, but it did come in handy when cutting butternut squash. Slices stuck to the blades of every knife we tested, but removing them from the MAC’s was much easier. By comparison, slices suctioned to the Messermeister Meridian Elite’s blade and it took some muscle to remove them, which made me feel uncomfortable about possibly cutting myself.

The MAC MTH-80 was our previous step up, and although it’s on the pricier end of the knives we tested, we think its combination of performance and superior build will give you many years of happy use—much more than a budget knife. In that respect, $145 is a bargain. It has a tapered, almost triangular shape, half bolster, full tang, and a riveted handle. I was so impressed by it that I took it on a food styling job the week after testing, where I had to perfect cuts of herbs and vegetables. I would be glad to have this knife in my kit for every shoot.

Cooking For Engineers rated the MAC their top pick after an exhaustive test of chef’s knives. Chad Ward calls the MTH-80 in An Edge in the Kitchen “…a treat to use,” adding, “They are extremely popular among chefs and line cooks because they are comfortable, reasonably priced, high-quality knives that come with an aggressive edge and hold it for a very long time.” There are also glowing Amazon reviews of the MTH-80, where it receives an average of 4.7 stars from 76 reviews.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

We understand the MAC’s price may be offputting for some. But because it’s made of quality materials, we think it could last a lifetime with proper maintenance. Check out our care and maintenance section for tips on keeping your knife in fighting form.

If you’re used to cutting with a German knife, you will need to change your cutting style with the MAC, adapting to a push and pull cutting motion. It takes a little getting used to. I made the switch to Japanese knives as a young, super green line cook, fresh to New York City kitchens. If I can change the way I work while a maniacal chef throws plates at my head, then anyone can.

The MAC, like all Japanese knives, requires a little more care because the blade’s hardness also makes it more brittle. You will not want to leave the MAC in a sink, where the edge may bang against plates or glassware, and never use it on hard surfaces such as glass or granite. If you need a knife that will take more of a beating, we’d suggest a German drop-forged knife with a stainless steel blade, such as the Wusthof Ikon.

There are some reviews on Amazon complaining about blade staining. I spoke with a MAC customer service representative, who explained that the knife’s high carbon content means that sometimes, especially when it isn’t rinsed and dried after cutting corrosive acidic foods (like citrus or tomatoes), you might see a rust spot. If you want a completely stainless knife that can take a crazy beating, get a Wusthof. But a little attention to care will keep your MAC clean and spot free.

Lastly, you need to find a reputable knife sharpener for Japanese knives. Because they are thinner and more brittle, the person working on them needs to understand these differences and proceed accordingly. The MAC is pretty forgiving because it has an even bevel, therefore doesn’t need to be sent off to a specialty Japanese knife sharpening service.


Also Great

*At the time of publishing, the price was $50.

Tojiro DP
This Western-style Japanese knife has a slightly less durable blade than our top pick, and the handle doesn’t provide as much knuckle clearance for bigger hands. But it’s extremely sharp, relatively easy to maintain, and more reasonably priced.

It’s not quite as good as the MAC, but for $60 the Tojiro DP is an exceptional knife. The thin, razor-sharp Japanese blade made perfect cuts of carrot and clean basil chiffonades with little bruising or oxidation. Chopping onions was very smooth and testers enjoyed using this knife, praising its sharpness and easy handling. One of our testers bought it as soon as she tried it. But there are several reasons it didn’t win over the MAC.

The handle is too small for bigger hands. Although the women in our testing group found the handle comfortable, when I had a man with larger hands hold the knife, he didn’t have enough knuckle clearance, which turned chopping into an annoying task.

The Tojiro’s steel core also appears to be more brittle than the MAC’s homogenous steel construction. After breaking down a butternut squash, we found a tiny, almost microscopic nick in the blade. As it turns out, the company’s website recommends the knife not be used for cutting pumpkin (or frozen foods), because the hard vegetable can chip your blade. The MAC is most likely made of higher-quality steel, which in turn makes it sturdier.

The Tojiro is shaped like a classic gyuto, with a straighter edge, no bolster, and a pointed tip for accurate cuts. It has a full tang, and the handle is secured with rivets. Like the MAC, it has a bit of heft to it, which makes it feel more durable than the lighter Global G-2 and Togiharu.

In An Edge in the Kitchen, Chad Ward cites the Tojiro DP as “the bargain of the century.” He goes on to say, “The quality of the handle fit can be variable, and the handles themselves are blocky, but the performance of these knives is outstanding, especially for the price.” It receives an average of 4.6 stars of 141 Amazon user reviews.

We’ll be longterm testing it, so in 6 months we will report on its durability.

For heavier tasks

Also Great

*At the time of publishing, the price was $116.

Wusthof Ikon
This German drop-forged knife’s stainless steel blade will dull faster than our main pick’s, but its heft makes it better for tackling heavy-duty tasks such as splitting a chicken breast.

We think the MAC is a better, more agile knife, but if you really like the heavier weight and more substantial feel of a drop-forged German knife, or if you don’t want to change your cutting style to accommodate a Japanese knife, we recommend the Wusthof Ikon ($150). It has a super sharp edge and tip and, compared to other German knives, a thinner blade, a more comfortable handle, and more manageable blade curve, which gives the user better leverage.

It made clean cuts through butternut squash and quickly diced onions, although carrots did split slightly. Like the other drop-forged German knives, it caused moderate bruising to cut basil. Compared to the MAC, the Ikon was less agile and sharp. When breaking down a butternut squash, the MAC was faster and more precise at peeling the skin away.

Compared to the MAC the Ikon’s blade is pretty thick, measuring .1187 inch at the spine. But it isn’t as thick as the Messermeister Elite at .1461 inch, or the Henckels Zwilling Pro at .1298 inch. The Ikon’s thinner blade makes the knife a tad lighter than the those knives and means it will be able to take a keener edge than the thicker knives over the long run.

Many testers liked the Ikon’s smooth, rounded handle, which molds nicely into the palm. It was much more comfortable than the Messermeister Elite’s handle with its hard angles. The Ikon’s gently curved blade also made it more comfortable to use. The Henckel Pro, by comparison, had such an aggressively curved blade that chopping and cutting was awkward (the edge also wasn’t very sharp). I felt like I had more control with the Wusthof and food stuck to the blade less than with the Meridian Elite.

One advantage the Ikon has over the MAC is that its stainless, softer steel blade will take more of a beating. If you drop a Wusthof into a sink or leave acidic food residue on, it shouldn’t stain or corrode. But that kind of treatment will also destroy your edge, so don’t do that to your knife.

With a 4.9-star average rating on Amazon, the Ikon is a well-loved knife. Out of the 137 customer reviews, 126 of them give it five stars.

For those on a budget

Also Great
Wusthof Pro
This stamped knife is great for first apartments, car-camping cooking kits, or times when you need to share a knife. Its slicing action isn’t the smoothest, and the handle may be too big for some, but it’s by far the best knife we’ve found for less than $40.

For a budget knife, we like the Wusthof Pro Chef’s Knife ($25). It was introduced 4 years ago for professional cooks in restaurant kitchens and only recently offered to the general public. Of five budget options, our panel of testers liked this knife best. It has a cushy rubber handle and stamped blade that was by far the sharpest of the budget knives. It doesn’t really compete with the Mac or our other top picks. With this knife, you’re sacrificing longevity. It’s a great model for beginning cooks, but you might eventually want to graduate to a higher-quality knife.

The Pro diced an onion quickly (although not as smoothly as our other picks), thanks in part to its sharp pointed tip. It made clean cuts through carrots with minor splitting. It wasn’t good for peeling a butternut squash, but the Victorinox was more cumbersome with its dull blade. Like all the budget knives, it turned the chiffonade of basil black pretty quickly.

It comes with a cushy rubbery handle that’s comfortable to grip,and accommodates large hands. Personally, I didn’t like the handle much; its size hindered my pinch grip. I found all of the budget knives’s handles too big and awkward. But most of our testers weren’t bothered by the Pro’s handle.

There aren’t many Amazon reviews for this knife, but most of them are favorable; people seem to really like the large handle. We will be longterm testing the Wusthof Pro for 6 months and will report back. I’ll even take it to one of my stones after excessive use to see how it takes a new edge.

How to use a chef’s knife

I tested all of these knives with a classic pinch grip, the most secure way to hold your chef’s knife. I strongly urge you to train yourself to use the pinch grip. You’ll have more control over your knife and as a result cut yourself less. Also, you’ll become faster at chopping tasks.

German knife blades are curved and designed for a rocking chopping motion. This is when the tip of the knife mostly keeps contact with the cutting board and the heel is raised and lowered while the guiding hand pushes food underneath the blade.

Chef knife rockingBecause Japanese knives have straighter edges, it’s best to use a push-pull motion, lifting the whole knife off the board for each cut. If you decide to make the jump from German to Japanese knives, this will take some getting used to.

Chef knife push pull

Care and maintenance

It’s easy to care for a knife, it just takes attention and 2 extra minutes. Simply hand wash the blade, dry it thoroughly, and put it away. Never put it in the dishwasher. It’s not good for the edge to bump up against other things, such as glassware and ceramic—materials that are harder than the steel. Don’t use anything abrasive on the blade, such as a Brillo pad or the rough side of a Scotch Brite sponge, which can make little scratches in the metal.

Never throw unprotected knives into a drawer where they dull quickly. Wall-mounted magnetic strips, like the Benchcrafted Mag-Blok we recommend in our small apartment gear guide, are better and safer. If you don’t want a magnetic strip mounted to your wall, buy a blade guard. That way you can store it in a drawer or knife roll and the edge is protected. You could use a knife block, but personally I don’t like them because their narrow slots can’t be cleaned. I shudder to think of what grows in a knife block over the years.

Only use your knife on a wood, plastic, or rubber cutting board. Do not, by any means, let your edge hit glass, granite, or ceramics (not even a quick slice on a dinner plate!). Murray Carter explains, “Anything that has any degree of hardness that approaches metal, especially ceramic that’s 10 times harder than metal … as soon as it makes contact with the edge, it dulls it.”

Keep a sharp cutting edge longer with a honing rod. This doesn’t actually sharpen the blade—its sole purpose is to realign the microscopic teeth on a blade that bend and get knocked out of whack during the course of use. Although steel is a classic choice for honing rods, sometimes the material is softer than your knife, rendering it useless. A ceramic rod is best because it’s harder than the hardest steel, but the grit is smooth so it won’t chew up the edge of your knife while it realigns the edge. Hone it before each use and you’ll be golden.

Watching a chef whipping a knife down the rod towards their hand at lightning speed, it’s easy to see yourself taking a thumb off. But it’s not as difficult as it looks. There are two ways to effectively hone a knife:

Chef knife honing pointed downIf you’re starting out, it’s safer to place the tip of the honing rod on a cutting board, with the rod perpendicular to the board. Start with your knife towards the handle and pull down from heel to tip. Repeat on the other side and continue for four or five reps. The key with both of these styles of honing is to make sure the edge bevel is flush to the rod.

Chef knife honing pointed upThe way most pros do it is to point the tip of the rod up and and pull the knife down towards the handle.

Eventually your knife will need to be sharpened. Depending on your use, that could mean every 6 months to a year. You’ll know it’s time when you have to work to get through skins of tomatoes or cucumbers. If you’re going to get a pro to sharpen your knives, it’s important that you look for someone who really knows what they’re doing. Unfortunately, that’s really hard to find. My best suggestion for this is to ask a local chef where they would send their own personal knives (not the cheap kitchen knives they give to the prep cooks). Generally, chefs sharpen their own knives, but they usually know of a reputable knife guy.

If you learn how to sharpen your own knives, you will have tools that are truly yours.
If you learn how to sharpen your own knives, it’ll be one of the most rewarding things you’ll do. Murray Carter highly recommends it. He said, “It’s a mentality perspective. Who in Western society ever thinks about sharpening their own knives? … Once they have a new sharpening skill, it empowers them to have mastery over the cutlery they own.” If you learn how to sharpen your own knives, you will have tools that are truly yours.

It’s a scary undertaking at first, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be putting a new edge on every old, crappy knife in your arsenal. I personally like to use Japanese stones. I have a 1000 grit and a 3000 grit that I use often. I also have a hand-me-down stone from my grandfather that’s a superfine 6000 grit for the most precise work. I particularly like these videos from Murray Carter and Korin that show you how to use the stones.

Finally, I must warn against the hand-held sharpener. Beware the sales pitch! MAC sells something called the Rollsharp and I can’t stress enough how much you must resist the urge to use one of these on your knife. The crude rollers on this type of sharpener usually take a harder angle—20 to 22 degrees—than the 15 or 16-degree angle the factory put on it, which will cause the knife to dull much quicker. Additionally, the grinding wheels are very rough and simply chew up a knife edge. The result is a toothy edge that is sharp at first, but goes dull quickly. Murray Carter also doesn’t like these sharpening contraptions; he feels the one-size-fits-all approach to sharpening will only yield poorly maintained knives.

Electric sharpeners are equally as damaging, but they have the added bonus of a motor to really chew your knife edge to pieces. America’s Test Kitchen did a guide where they recommend a couple of models by Chef’s Choice, but I wouldn’t put anything better than a $20 blade on those things.

What to look forward to

We wanted to test the Zhen 3-layer VG-10 Chef’s Knife ($55), but they have discontinued the current model and won’t have the new model until the fall. This knife comes at a great price and has a small cult following on forums. The reviews on this are mixed, but we want to see for ourselves. We’ll update this guide once we test the new model.

About blade steel

Steel hardness is measured on the Rockwell C scale. Used for more than 100 years, this method compares the forces necessary to indent various hard steels. Steel, at its most basic, is primarily iron with carbon added. Decent high-carbon steel knives should register anywhere between 55 HRC and 64 HRC (Wusthof and other German knives are generally 56 HRC and Murray Carter’s steel registers at 64 HRC). The higher you go, the more expensive the knife. The benchmark for “very hard steel” is 60 HRC, according to Wendy Yang at Korin Japanese Trading in New York City.

Modern knife makers add elements to their steel to increase stain resistance, machinability, and hardness; improve grain structure; and increase shock resistance. Some argue that these additives contribute to a stronger knife. Murray Carter says these are unnecessary ingredients to cover up inferior steel that’s full of contaminants, namely sulfur and phosphorus. All steel has these contaminants, it’s the degree to which they are present that makes all the difference.

In An Edge in the Kitchen, Chad Ward explains the composition of most German knives is X50CrMoV15, which roughly translates to 80 percent iron, 0.5 percent carbon, and 15 percent a combination of chromium, molybdenum, and vanadium. Chromium protects from corrosion and is what makes the knife stainless, while molybdenum and vanadium increase machinability, wear resistance, and refine the grain. This stainless steel is usually hardened to 56 HRC, which is softer than Japanese knives but can take a beating well and can stand up to a certain level of mistreatment.

Japanese steel generally has higher carbon content and, in addition to the ingredients in German steel, contains tungsten and cobalt, which improve hardness. VG-10, made by the Hitachi Corporation, is the most popular alloy and is what people think of when they think of Japanese steel. It makes hard blades that take and hold an edge very well but are also pretty brittle. This is why many gyutos are laminated with softer stainless steel to protect against shock and staining. The softer steel makes sharpening easier, too, since there’s less hard steel to grind away There are many other proprietary alloys that come out of Japan, some softer, some harder; we are just using VG-10 as an example.

You will see knives made from American steel, and while some of it is fine for knives there are a couple of formulas that don’t perform as well. In An Edge in the Kitchen, Chad Ward says, “I wouldn’t make garbage can lids out of 420J or 440A, but some manufacturers do use them for kitchen knives.” These types of steel are low carbon and highly corrosion resistant. They stay pretty but don’t hold much of an edge.

Quality stamped knives and drop-forged knives go through a heat treating process. The heat treatment is the process of getting the steel to the desired hardness. This includes, but isn’t limited to, annealing, quenching and tempering. In short, annealing relieves the steel of inner stress and prepares it for shaping and grain refinement. Quenching hardens the steel and tempering relieves some of that hardness to make it less brittle.


Global G-2 gyuto ($80) gets an honorable dismissal. It was a good contender and it would’ve been one of our top picks, but some people couldn’t get on board with the handle, which is made of hollow dimpled steel. Our kitchen editor Christine Cyr Clisset and I loved it for its light weight and razor sharp edge. Since it was so close, we will longterm test it and give notes in 6 months. The G-2 comes highly rated by Cooking for Engineers.

Togiharu Molybdenum Gyuto ($95) is a classic lightweight gyuto. Again an honorable dismissal, this knife is sharp and precise. Like the Tojiro, it lacks knuckle clearance for large hands, but I’ve used this knife professionally for 7 years, and other than needing to be sharpened a little more often than other knives, it’s decent. It’s thin, so I think it’ll be too delicate for hard vegetables. Chad Ward also praises this knife in An Edge in the Kitchen.

Victorinox Fibrox 8-inch Chef’s Knife ($40) was our previous pick and the favorite knife of America’s Test Kitchen. This stamped knife gets a lot of love from many people. It has an ergonomically-shaped plastic handle that most people like. I used to give this knife to friends who were new at cooking as a great starter knife. Sadly, it didn’t stand up to the competition. It was the only knife that didn’t cut paper straight out of the box. Also it split carrots and couldn’t cut butternut squash straight, and testers didn’t like the handle much. It’s fair to mention that we aren’t sure if there have been quality changes to the Victorinox or if they might have switched factories. Since this was our previous top pick, we decided to test a second brand-new Victorinox with Fibrox handle to be sure we didn’t get a lemon. The results were the same both times. Compared to the Wusthof Pro, our budget pick, the Victorinox didn’t have as sharp an edge or tip. Our testers also didn’t like the feel of the handle, saying the texture of the plastic was offputting. They much preferred the softer handle of the Wusthof Pro.

Messermeister Meridian Elite ($130) came recommended in Chad Ward’s An Edge in the Kitchen. The drop-forged blade was sharp enough, but it wasn’t as smooth as the MAC or the Ikon. It was heavier than the Ikon, and the testers thought is was awkward to hold.

Messermeister Four Seasons ($45) was another stamped budget choice and pretty much on par with the Wusthof Pro, but is almost twice the price. Our testers found the handle uncomfortable due to the sharp edges on the spine that kept digging into our forefingers.

Henckels Zwilling Pro ($130) drop-forged knife was just awkward. The curve of the blade was too severe and made chopping difficult. It was hard to maintain control of the knife.

Shun DM0706 Classic ($135) was mediocre. The long stick handle kept jabbing into my wrist and the cutting edge was only adequate. It felt like a heavy German knife with a Japanese name. While it has a lot of favorable Amazon reviews, like all the knives in our testing sample, the negative reviews complain of the blade chipping. That didn’t happen with us, though.

Mercer Millennia ($25) was not very sharp; the stamped blade split carrots and was not comfortable to use. There aren’t very many reviews of this on Amazon, but they are favorable.

Rada Cutlery French Chef Knife ($13) is comically inexpensive. Stamped from American stainless steel scraps, this knife is flimsy and couldn’t make straight cuts in butternut squash or carrots. Like the other budget knives, it turned green basil leaves into black-lined strips. It has a favorable Amazon rating, but I can’t understand why.

Butternut squash test cut

It was nearly impossible to cut through the center of a butternut squash with the Rada French Knife.

Other knives we looked at but dismissed:

Wusthof Classic 8-Inch ($130) has a loyal following, and it was the very first knife I bought as a budding restaurant cook at the tender age of 19. It has a full bolster that makes upkeep and sharpening difficult.

Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Pro ($100) has a full bolster, a dealbreaker. Also, I’ve never had great experience with this brand. Their blades always seem to come less than sharp and go dull pretty quickly.

Mercer Culinary Renaissance 8″ Chef’s Knife ($45) is a cheap drop-forged knife. They used to be made in Germany, but now are all produced in Taiwan. With better drop-forged options out there, we figured you really get what you pay for in this case.

Mac Knife Chef Series French Chef’s Knife, 8-Inch ($95) and MAC Chef Series Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife ($95) are less-expensive offerings from MAC. It seemed repetitive to bring these in. Since the MTH-80 has such glowing reviews and is made of higher-quality steel, we made an executive decision to test only that one. We’ll consider testing this for the update to this update.

Wusthof Gourmet 8-Inch Cook’s Knife ($80) and Wusthof Grand Prix II 8-Inch Cook’s Knife ($100) are other Wusthof offerings we dismissed. Unlike the Classic, they don’t have full bolsters, but the Gourmet is a cheaply made knife and the Classic Ikon beat the Grand Prix II in number of positive Amazon reviews.

Henckels International Classic 8-Inch ($55) is similar to the Wusthof Classic that we didn’t test simply because of its outdated full bolstered design, which can’t be properly sharpened.

Misono UX10 Gyuto ($260), Suisin Inox ($115), and other Japanese gyutos have an uneven bevel that is difficult for the average person to maintain.

Miyabi Kaizen 8-Inch Chef’s Knife ($170) sits just outside of our price point cutoff and it looks like the Shun, except $35 more. Those rounded handles aren’t comfortable to use for long periods of time

Wrapping it up

For everyday meal prep, we highly recommend the MAC MTH-80 chef’s knife. It’s one of the sharpest and most universally comfortable-to-use knives we’ve found, and it should last a lifetime with proper maintenance and care.

Photos by Amadou Diallo.

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  1. Brendan McDermott, Chef Instructor of Knife Skills, Interview
  2. Murray Carter, 17th Generation Yoshimoto Bladesmith, Interview
  3. Howard Nourieli, owner of Bowery Kitchen Supply, Interview
  4. Chef’s Knives, America's Test Kitchen, September/October 2013
  5. Kitchen Knives, Consumer Reports
  6. Best Kitchen Knives, Good Housekeeping

Originally published: June 5, 2015

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  • GP

    Great article! How does one properly dispose of old knives?

    • waltd

      Wrap it in packing tape and put it in the recycling, if you have single-stream. Otherwise, maybe take it to the Salvation Army or another thrift shop.

    • tony kaye

      I discussed this with a few people and they all said donate them to a Goodwill or Salvation Army type place. If you want to take the time, you can also put them up on Craigslist for cheap or free. WIkihow also has a great article on how to throw them away if you go that route. You can find it here (with pictures)

      • Torres

        Victorinox rules as well in year 2014. But: The competitors don’t sleep. Especially in Germany, some promising brands / manufactories / cutleries rised in the last years with fantastic chef’s knives, just as Nesmuk ( or traditional brands found to well known strength of “made-in-Germany-quality”, like Wusthof.

        It keeps exciting… ;-)!

  • Royce Ruiz

    Great post. Everything is right on target. I would add that if aesthetics are important to you Victorinox offers the same knife with a rosewood handle for a little more money. Performance is the same and most Chefs that I have seen use the rosewood because it doesn’t melt when you set it on a hot surface. Those Chefs that choose plastic almost always have handles that are partially melted.

    • Andrew S

      I was thinking of picking up the Fibrox knife recommended in this article, and then I saw the wooded handle version in the store. This brings up a helpful point – Sweethome, can you confirm performance is the same with the upgraded version? I thought I would find some mention of it when I revisited this article but there doesn’t appear to be any here.

      • tony kaye

        Via our researcher: It’s the same blade. I wouldn’t call it an upgrade. The handle isn’t as comfortable and will degrade over time. I do not prefer it in any way.

  • Micah Sherer

    Hey guys! Let me start by saying I’m a Shun junkie, so it hurts me a little to not even see them considered for the “higher dollar knives”… That being said, I think this is a great article. I’m a bit of a knife nut, and I have done comparisons between the Victorinox and my Shuns and Wusthofs. I would say that the Victorinox is fine for home cooks, but I wouldn’t use it personally (since I’m a chef and use my knives extensively every day). I would have one suggestion… Maybe check out the new Ginsu Chikara knives. I tried these myself, and I was very impressed. They are much more aesthetically pleasing then the Victorinox, and the performance is on par with the Swiss offering. I know Ginsu is basically a cutlery punchline from a bygone mail-order era, but they actually make excellent knives these days. You might end up finding they are a better recommendation than the Victorinox. Keep up the good work! Love the new site!

    • Alejandro Enrique de los Rios

      I’m also a big fan of Shun and equally disappointed that they were mentioned only in passing in this article. I’m not a professional chef but I have and currently bartend at high-end restaurants worked by classically trained chefs and count several more as my friends. Nearly every chef I know swears by Japanese steel and most prefer Shun knives for their craftsmanship, sharpness and comfort.

      Personally, I have their 8-inch chef’s knife and their 4-inch pairing knife (I was lucky to receive both as gifts). I use them constantly and can’t imagine using another knife. Yes, not everyone can afford it and not everyone is a professional chef (or likes to pretend to be one at home) but I have never been happier with nor have I seen such overwhelming support for a knife like with Shun blades.

      Oh, and they provide a sharpening service in case your blade gets dull (mine still haven’t after a lot of heavy use. Japanese steel is very, very strong.)

  • Roman Berry

    I’m going to chime in here with a recommendation for an unexpected brand at an absurdly cheap price. Update International is a commercial cookware company that makes (or sells under their brand) a huge variety of kitchen equipment…including knives. Their KP series of stamped steel blade commercial (NSF rated) kitchen knives have the same X50 Cr Mov 15 steel you’ll find in the Victorinox and Wusthof knives but they are a fraction of the price of even the Victorinox offerings. For example, the KP-09 10 inch chef’s knife is under eight dollars (!!) at Amazon. Food Service Warehouse also sells their complete line (KP-01 through KP-10.) And Update International also offers a very good, absurdly cheap line of forged knives, KGE-01 through KGE-10. How absurdly cheap? Food Service Warehouse has the KGE-09 10 inch forged chef’s knife for $12.59 (!!) as of this writing. Same knife is available at Amazon for less than 24 dollars (as of this writing.)

    I understand that people might be skeptical, but from first hand experience I can tell you that these knives are probably the best bargain in a super sharp high quality blade anywhere. The stamped KP series are comparable to the Victorinox/Forschner stamped knives in every way save for the textured Fibrox handle. (The UI’s are molded white polyurethane.) The KGE series are, in my experience, quite nice as well. They may not have the finish of a hundred dollar knife, but they’re only a tiny fraction of the price. Check ’em out.

    • Michael Zhao

      I actually went and bought one of their bread knives (stamped) and a paring knife (forged) on this recommendation. I also looked at the chef’s knives. I would say that they are about 80% as good as the Victorinox counterparts. They’re not as sharp out of the box, there are some slight fit and finish differences, but overall, they don’t feel like high-quality cutlery in the way that the Victorinoxes do. It’s not anything that’s easily described, but holding the bread knives side by side, it’s easy to see why one costs 3x as much as the other. I could see these working for some people, but if you cook on a regular basis, it’s worth investing in the Victorinox.

  • lauren_church

    Victorinox owns. Total agree.

  • billy

    I’m just wondering about how specific this recommendation is since victorinox do many extremely similar knives. It seems that outside the US they use different catalog/product numbers so it was difficult to find this specific knife.

    • Andrew

      I’ve seen the same knife listed as 40520, 47520, and 40520G; they’re are all the same thing, but have slightly different packaging.

    • tony kaye

      As Andrew below states – they use a variety of different model numbers for the same exact knife.

  • eaadams

    Over the years I have invested in a full Henckels Pro S set. Holliday Tip: Last year before the holidays I got them professionally sharpened at my local hardware store. Made a HUGE difference with holiday needs. Also a sharp knife is a safe knife.

    • tony kaye

      How much did it cost to get the set sharpened? Curious to get this done myself.

      • eaadams

        It was under $50 at my local ace hardware in Davis, CA. It was surprisingly affordable for the benefit it provided.

        • tony kaye

          Just called my local hardware store and they don’t do this – but said they carry knife sharpeners. Kinda funny. I live in a hipster-ish neighborhood and one time the guy helping me had no idea how to cut keys. And another time a really cool guy brought be down into the employees only area to pick out some wood scraps (for free). They get an A+ for cool, nice employees – but a D in actual “hardware store” protocol lol.

  • Adam Popp

    Just found this article and thought id throw in my two piece. I am a proffesional chef and knife junky. As such i can say that i never go anywhere without my wusthof classic 8inch chef knife. Old henkels are great but they have sold out. Allowing their name to be used on inferior products and producing their knives in other countries to cut costs has severely affected their reputation among proffesionals. While their older knives are high quality steel made in soligen germany (famous for knives because of their high quality steel) their newer knives are not reliable or durable. I also have many a shun and i do use them at home, they dont come to work with me. The shuns are ridiculously sharp but i have found their edges to be prone to cracking. I have great knife skills (i teach culinary arts) and have never abused or done anything wrong with the shuns but have had my clasic nakiri and classic chefs both crackle in the edge. By crackle a mean a small prtion of the fine edge crack off. While it is a small small peice i cant help but wonder where that metal went. My wusthof however is a workhorse. It takes a great edge especially with their new petec edge system, and holds it. It also takes a beating day in and day out and has never once flinched. I live in new england and fall and winter squash is a staple around here. I would never reach for my shun to peel and cut butternut ambercup buttercup or pumpkin. That being said the forschner is a great knife but dexter russell to me is a great knife and a great company. I live about a half hour from their factory and cant say enough good things about them. Their knives are downright cheap almost ridiculously so. Their steel is strong and durable. They are the most common everday workhorse house knife in any restaurant in new england anyway. They take a beating and come back for more. They arent super flashy (Except for connoisseur line amd awesome custom heritage line) but perform day in and day out. What gives them the edge for me over any other company is a number of things. One they are made in the usa in a real place by real people. Also as i mentioned i am a culinary arts teacher, they have donated knives for gifts at different events we have sponsored. They give our culinary students a discount and allow us to come to their factory off hours for our students to view demo and buy pieces. They have been a great supporter of our program, community, and students. They are a tremendous resource for us. Again i cant say enough grwat things about their company. Their knives really do speak for themselves. If you need some knives to improve your cooking and cooking experience dexter is inexpensive and high quality. Start off with an 8inch chef, a 3 inch pairing, a serrated or offset serrated, a honing/sharpening steel and possibly a boning knife. You can get all those from dexter for about 100 to 120 depending on where you go. Get some tongs and you will be all set to cook for 2 to 2000. Again just my thoughts but dexter will always edge out over victornox because of their company for me.

    • Michael Zhao

      D-R makes some good stuff! It’s just that it’s not as easy to find for people not in the industry. Vic/Forschner is a more consumer-oriented brand whereas D-R is more pro-oriented.

  • Air_Cav

    I have been using my Victorinox for many years and love it.

    • tony kaye

      Glad we’re on the same page 😉

  • jessheezy

    Can I get some reasons behind why to choose a 8-inch knife over a 6-inch or a 10-inch knife? Thanks!

    • Michael Zhao

      If you’re getting 1 knife, 8 inch is your best bet because it’s the most versatile. You can do the medium stuff and the big stuff, and the small stuff too (though it’s not great at that). With a 10 inch, it’ll fee unwieldy on medium tasks and ridiculous on small stuff (unless you have huge hands). With a 6-inch, you simply can’t do the big stuff.

      Personally, I’ve switched to a 6-inch Wusthof Ikon for most of my chopping needs and only reach for the 8-inch for bigger tasks. I like the agility that comes from the lightness.

  • jseliger

    Buying a chef’s knife is a lot like buying a musical instrument. [. . .] MAC MTH-80 8″ Chef’s Knife w/ Dimples

    I’ve had the MAC 8″ Chef’s Knife for about a week and love the sharpness and lightness. The downside, however, is the handle: It’s too small, especially compared to the Victorinox. I’m obviously a guy, but my hands aren’t enormous and yet the handle is still too small and makes the knife hard to grasp properly.

    This is part of the “Musical instrument” problem—everyone’s got an opinion—but I thought I’d mention it here.

    • Forrest

      Sounds like you’re holding the knife incorrectly. I wear and XL glove and the MAC handle is not too small for me.

      • jseliger

        Could be—do you have any links to tutorials or videos on how I should hold it?

        • Michael Zhao

          Pretend like you’re shaking its hand.

  • Forrest

    Alton Brown is not a chef. He’s a food commentator and enthusiast. A chef runs a kitchen. Alton has never run a kitchen. He just takes Harold McGee’s research and presents it like a cheap Bill Nye knock off.

    • tony kaye

      He’s actually what’s referred to as a celebrity chef and attended the New England Culinary Institute – which he graduated in 1997. He is a real chef.

  • jd80

    Based on the “April 30, 2015” update, will the Victorinox continue to be recommended in any way?

  • mjk2167

    Any concerns on knives being too sharp? I understand sharper is better, but I also don’t want to cut off part of my finger because I made a mistake (see the Amazon comments for the Tojiro). At what point is it a case of diminishing returns for basic home cooking?

    • tony kaye

      Dull knives our more dangerous than a sharp one – via our expert!

      • mjk2167

        That’s not really my question – I understand that sharp knives are better than dull knives. I’m wondering whether an average home cook really needs a knife that can cut through paper or if the Victorinox/Wusthof Pro knife, (despite not having that level of sharpness) is “good enough”.

        • Alecthar

          In my (admittedly inexpert experience) there’s really not such as thing as “too sharp.” A sharp blade requires less force to use, so you’re less likely to make a mistake when chopping/slicing. If you’re using the knife properly, there aren’t a lot of situations where having a dull knife would prevent injury

          If you’re worried about accidental knicks and the like from handling the blade, then yes, dullness would “help” there, but you could also just buy a cut-proof glove.

        • Matt Gilliland

          If your knife is dull enough that it doesn’t cut you when you miss, then it’s too dull for its job. If it’s in the middle zone (it cuts you, but isn’t as sharp as it could be), it has several problems. You’ll be more likely to roll the knife and cut yourself on weird surfaces like carrots, and when you cut yourself, it will both hurt more (duller = more tearing rather than slicing through) and heal more slowly. You always want the sharpest knife possible.

        • thejevans

          The problem is the amount of pressure you need to put on your knife to cut. If you have a sharp knife, you need less pressure, and can have more control. The sharper, the better. Always. You can’t cut yourself unless you lose control, so that is what needs to be minimized.

    • Sigivald

      A knife cannot be “too sharp” (as long as the edge is not so narrow it folds or fails when used as desired).

      If it’s dull enough to “not cut you”, it also won’t cut the food.

      Your finger, after all, is made of meat.

  • Martin

    Would someone who cooks primarily vegetarian be better off with a Santoku-style knife since it’s more suited to slicing, chopping, and mincing vegetables?

    • tony kaye

      Expert reply – No, a Santoku is not better for vegetables, but if you really want one and are comfortable with it, then go for it. A chef’s knife is used primarily for vegetables, not meat fabrication.

      • Ray

        Your expert states that “a Santoku is not better for vegetables,” but the article states that “santoku knives…are better suited to vegetables” (How we picked & tested, paragraph 13). Could you clarify the apparent disparity, please?

  • laurenceYYZ

    What about ceramic knives? Thoughts on those?

    • tony kaye

      Via our expert- they are brittle & they break if you drop them, if they even chip you can’t sharpen them.

      • dreamfeed

        This is true. However they are super sharp and don’t need to be sharpened, and cheap enough to just be replaced when you break them.

        • Phil

          Not entirely correct. I have a couple of Kyocera knives and the edges do lose their sharpness and do chip very easily. Home sharpening is possible with the correct tools, but it’s cheaper to just send them back to Kyocera for sharpening.

  • Martin

    Are sharpening stones the only way to sharpen a good chef’s knife properly? Because the “best” sharpening service in my city uses those motorized spinning wheel stones for sharpening knives.

    • Sigivald

      A wheel is just as good as a stone; they’re great, if you’re doing a lot of sharpening and know what you’re doing. (If you’re too enthusiastic, you can potentially overheat the blade, or grind it down far too far.)

      They’re utter overkill for anyone doing their own sharpening, in terms of price, size, and learning curve.

      (I’m lazy, and tend to use a ceramic two-stick setup for my knife sharpening, with flat diamond hones to repair any actual damage.

      I reserve flat stones for woodworking tools, which are also much easier to sharpen on one, having smaller edges.)

  • wfjackson3

    Another disappointing review. From the article:

    “Bolsters aren’t for everyone.” This implies they are for someone, however, in the section on the individual knives:

    “Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Pro ($100) has a full bolster, a dealbreaker.”

    It’s pretty obvious from the review that there is a LOT of reviewer bias going on. Hell, it continues:

    “Also, I’ve never had great experience with this brand.”

    That’s not a reason to write off a knife. It’s not even useful information that someone could use to analyze whether or not it might be right for them.

    • Sigivald

      “In the end, we brought in 13 knives that all had an 8-inch blade,
      clocked in at $150 or less, didn’t have a full bolster, came recommended
      by experts and trusted editorial sources, and had stellar Amazon

      I believe they decided – per ” It has a full bolster that makes upkeep and sharpening difficult.” (on the Wusthof they rejected) that “full bolster”: means “not gonna review, because it’s a pain”.

      I believe the intention of the two texts was “you can get a full bolster if you really prefer the balance, but we think they’re too much of a pain to recommend and review”.

    • tony kaye

      I’m sorry it wasn’t to your liking. We stand by our pick(s)!

  • dfriedmon

    So cool to come across the review. I lived with a chef in 2009 who recommended this exact knife. I’ve had it now for 6 years and it’s phenomenal. Amazing control and sharpness with only one professional sharpening over the years. I also have the pearing knife which is great.

    There will always be people who don’t like the product being reviewed, so factor that in when you read through them. But know that I’ve used mine every day for some serious cooking year after year and can’t believe how amazing it is. My brother and mother would agree who both have them too-

    • tony kaye

      Great comment and glad yours has been going 6 years strong!

  • Sigivald

    That way you can store it in a drawer or knife roll and the edge is
    protected. You could use a knife block, but personally I don’t like them
    because their narrow slots can’t be cleaned. I shudder to think of what
    grows in a knife block over the years.

    If you’re bothered by it, spray dilute bleach in there.

    If you’re putting in only clean knives and not using it so much that it stays damp forever, the short answer for what grows in there is “nothing important”.

    Dry wood has antimicrobial properties; don’t worry about it.

    • tony kaye

      That’s our experts opinion. She personally doesn’t like the concept of a wood knife block.

  • gyamashita

    i have the MAC. it’s a wonderful knife, with an amazingly sharp blade. i also have a bunch of wusthof professionals that were wedding gifts…and even after getting them professionally sharpened, they are nowhere near as sharp as the MAC. i’ve recommended the MAC to my friends and tell them to put it on their wedding registries if they have the chance…

  • Allen

    Did the reviewers (or any readers out there) try the Furtif Evercut chef’s knife ( )? They seem kind of obscure and I’ve only seen one real review of it out there, but it just LOOKS so cool and also makes some pretty bold claims like holding an edge so well that it only needs to be sharpened once every 25 years. Please try it out next time you update this so you can tell us if it’s any good!

  • Richard Berg

    Did you consider any of the Japanese brands that specialize in ultra-thin blades like Kikuichi, Suisin, or Konosuke? Tojiro and MAC make great knives (had them for nearly a decade) but once you’ve tried a “laser” you are spoiled for life — the more “standard” gyutos stay on the magstrip nowadays unless my Kikuichi is being sharpened or I’ve got multiple chefs in the kitchen.

    • tony kaye

      We looked at the Suisin Inox. From the guide: Suisin Inox ($115), and other Japanese gyutos have an uneven bevel that is difficult for the average person to maintain.

  • Etnier

    It’s too bad no one here has picked up on the obsolescence of riveted knife handles. Eventually; much sooner than other designs, they fail. As they fail (the handle falls off in left and right pieces) I replace them with knives whose handles are molded in one solif piece around the tang. And those knives last practically forever.

    • tony kaye

      I actually have had a few hand-me-down riveted sets in my life and I’ve never experienced this. I’ve seen it, but never on my sets. I think it all depends on the quality.

  • Richard Hamilton

    I agree with the knife but disagree about sharpening. Have tried/used a number of different methods but gave away all of my sharpening equipment after I found/used the Work Sharp Ken Onion belt sharpener.

  • Adam Glinglin

    Please do consider keeping the Global, I used one in the pro kitchen and at home for years until I had it confiscated by security at a Chinese Train Station. I replaced it.. they’re fantastic knives. Make sure you get a custom sharpener though as they don’t sharpen the same way a German knife would.

  • Miriam Fleischmann

    When I was first married and equipping my first kitchen ( 1973) “the” name in kitchen knives was Sabatier. I still have my Sabatier chef’s knife and a carving knife but I never use either one. Now I am loyal to my Wustof chef knife and little pairing knife. I haven’t seen Sabatier anywhere in a long time. What ever happened to that company?

    • tony kaye

      They appear to still be around :)

    • JodiWarren

      Sabatier hasn’t been an actual specific company for some time. The wikipedia page ( has more info, but an excerpt:

      The name Sabatier is considered to imply a high-quality knife produced by one of a number of manufacturers in the Thiers region of France using a fully forged process; the knives of some of these manufacturers are highly regarded. However, the name “Sabatier” came into use before intellectual property laws and is not protected; knives legally bearing the name range from high-quality knives made in France to cheap mass-produced products of poor quality from France and other countries; a registered logo or full name, or both, such as “65 Sabatier Perrier”, is necessary to establish origin and quality.

  • Solenop

    I’ve always been a rocking-motion chopper. Can you recommend any how-tos on the Japanese push-pull method you mention above? Great review, thanks!

  • Buttermilk Supply

    Hi Lesley!

    I like your site. I appreciate the work you’re doing to educate people on making better knife choices. I wanted to give you a heads up that your Best Deals Crockpot sidebar link is broken! It seems to be a post from July 17th.

    I’ve been a chef for years but just started a shop to sell my favorite kitchen knives and tools. I’d love to hear what you think about our gear! We’re at

    Thanks again!


  • tony kaye

    This guide has been updated. The comments for the previous guide have been archived & removed. If you would like more information regarding this, please contact