2021 Chef Knife – Ultimate Comparison, and Reviews!

Let’s Take A Sharp Look At The Chef Knife
      – An Explanation, Knife And Brand Comparison

A top quality chef knife will probably last a lifetime.
In all likelihood, it will also come to be the most used item in your kitchen arsenal. So I wanted to help sharpen your knowledge about chef’s knives –

What is a chef knife?
How do you use a chef knife?
What is a chef knife used for?
Which brands are best to go for?
Which chef knives are good?
And which are absolutely fabulous?

So find out all this, and more, with this handy guide – 

Click to what you want to know now!
Or scroll down, to get all the information …

A good chef’s knife is arguably the most important piece of equipment for any home cook. For that matter, for most professional chefs as well. One often sees young chefs these days sporting forearm tattoos of their favorite knife. This is the status given to the chef’s knife. I have often sat around with my chef friends and discussed knives. That may sound creepy, but it’s fairly normal for people who work in kitchens. Which styles do we love or can’t stand, our preferred handle lengths, materials, brands etc.. There is no doubt that a chefs knife is an indispensable feature of every chef/cook’s life.

What Is A Chef’s Knife?

The chef knife is the king of the kitchen when it comes to tools. I once heard a chef tell an apprentice in her kitchen, that choosing a chef knife to work with was like choosing a dance partner.
Choose wisely, because you’re going to be spending a lot of time together.
Each cook is different and so selecting a knife is a very personal decision 🙂

What Shape Is A Chef Knife?

Chef knives tend to have a similar shape regardless of brand.

Most have a broad blade, curving upwards slightly as it reaches the tip. This allows the knife to rock (like a mezzaluna) for mincing.

The spine or top of the knife is thicker which helps add weight. This makes it easier to wield the knife and strengthens the whole blade.

What Is A Chef Knife Used For?

A good chef knife, like a good chef, will be multi-talented. Due to the design and the length of the blade, chef’s knives are able to perform a wider range of different kitchen tasks than other knives.

In addition, a quality chef knife will easily switch between jobs like slicing, chopping, mincing fruits and veggies, slicing and dicing meat, and working with larger cuts of meat or vegetables and fruits like pumpkins and watermelons.

What Is A Chef Knife NOT Used For?

The quality chef knife is undoubtedly a handy tool in the kitchen. As I have said, a good chef knife will quickly become your go-to knife for a multitude of tasks. However; it can’t, and should not be used for everything.

A chef knife is not suited for heavy-duty butchery. Nor is it the knife you should select when carving poultry.
If you need to remove the skin from vegetables or fruits, like butternut squash, you’ll find a flexible blade, or a utility knife more suited to the task.

There are always people who try to do everything in their kitchen with a knife, and that is always a bad idea.
Do not try to puncture a hole in tin, lift the lid on a can, or chop through bones with your knives.

What Size Chef Knife Is Best?

Chef knives come in a range of sizes. The most common are 6, 8, 10 and 12 inches. Usually, 8 to 10-inch blades are the best, and most popular for home and professional cooks.

That will sound unreasonably big to some people. Just remember the longer the edge, the more versatile your knife will be.

It is important to note that each knife will feel differently to each hand, so choose the blade that fits you. Longer blades can be harder to control, especially for those with weak wrists or small hands. So if you fit into either of those categories perhaps a 6- blade will be the perfect length for your chef knife. It is down to what suits you.

What Brands Offer The Best Chef’s Knives?

This is a question I am often asked. I always begin by saying that knives are a subjective purchase. What I like and value in a knife, and what feels good to me in my hand can differ greatly from what some others might think or want.

Having said that, there are some universal truths such as the value of high-quality materials and workmanship, having a brand guarantee, and excellent design.

I am partial to Japanese knives such as Global, Kasumi, Shun, Kamikoto, Miyabi, and Kai. The Japanese came from a tradition of extremely sharp single bevel knives, like samurai swords, but over time, as their cuisine changed to include more Western dishes and cooking techniques, so too did their knife design.

In my opinion, the Japanese knives are the best on the market.

I really like using German knives like Wusthof, and Henckels too, though. They are superbly made, strong and feel great in the hand, and although the handles are often made of a durable plastic (rather than wood), they offer a lifetime guarantee in many cases.

What Chef Knives Do I Recommend?

Again, I get asked this question so frequently, here are my top picks.
They are each wonderful blades to work with, and I have done my best to outline why…

Kamikoto 7 inch Santoku Chef Knife

Kamikoto 7in. Santoku Chef Knife

Again, I get asked this question so frequently, here are my top picks.
They are each wonderful blades to work with, and I have done my best to outline why…

A 7 inch knife, which is the shortest in our comparison. 

It is made by the Kamikoto company in Japan, who have 1,000 years of craftmanship behind them.
This knife is known to be particularly well balanced, aiming at precision knife skills. The blade is constructed using highest grade Japanese Nigata Steel. It is 2.5 mm thick, hollow ground on one side, and taper ground on the other.

Engineered for durability, endurance, strength, and excellent handling.

The handle is non-slip, and Komikpto state the knife in your hand feels “substantial, light, sharp, fluid, balanced, and comfortable”. A lot to fit into a knife! It is also long lasting, and will be passed down for generations to come.

The Kamikoto Santoku Chef Knife also comes packed in a beautiful natural-colored ash wood box for safe storage.

Bob Kramer Chef’s Knife Blade Length: 8 inches 

KRAMER by ZWILLING EUROLINE Damascus Collection 8-inch Narrow Chef's Knife

Bob Kramer is an American Master Bladesmith working in Olympia, Washington. He creates handmade carbon steel knives that chefs have been known to wait years for (there’s a very long waitlist).

Happily, though a couple of years back, Kramer teamed up with German company Zwilling J. A. Henckels. They released a signature line, which has been made to his precise specifications.

The results are magnificent, and it’s now possible to own a Bob Kramer blade for a fraction of the price.

The reason Kramer works with carbon steel is that it takes and holds an edge much better than stainless steel. The disadvantage being that, unlike stainless steel, carbon steel can stain and rust. It also tends to react to acidic ingredients. So if you’re willing to maintain a carbon steel knife (it’s worth it!), this is the one to get.

Shun Premier Chef’s Knife 10 inch

Shun Cutlery Premier 10” Chef’s Knife; Light and Agile Blade, Handles with Ease, Longer Cutting Edge, Use with Wide Range of Foods from Small to Large, Beautifully Designed, Handcrafted in Japan

Shun knives are beautiful to the eye, and in the hand, that’s why I prefer them.

The Shun Premier collection features hand-hammered blades with 69 layers of super thin stainless steel, and high-quality wooden handles.

What some cooks will like about this 10 inch blade, is its lightness. The blade is particularly thin, despite being strong, so if you were after a knife with length, but are worried about weight, this might be the knife for you.

This chef knife features the longer 10 inch size mentioned before, and has the damascus steel layering, in a finish which is hammered by hand – in Japan this is known as ‘tsuchime’. The wonderful finish this gives, although beautiful, is actually designed to prevent food sticking to the blade of the knife while you are cutting. It’s always a desirable, if not essential quality to look for!

This ultra thin, but extremely sharp blade, has a 16 degree blade angle – much sharper than most Western knives, and making the blade more flexible.

The handle is premium pakkawood with a walnut finish, which allows many different grips – all comfortable, and feel good in your hand!

And of course, this Shun knife is handcrafted in Japan, coming with a limited lifetime warranty.

Shun 8 Inch Ken Onion Chef’s Knife

Wusthof IKON Cook's Knife, 9 Inch, Brown

The Ken Onion series features the classic Shun clad stainless steel blade, which has a non-stick feature to add to its functionality, making slicing fish or vegetables a breeze.

As always Shun has focused on the comfort level of the handle. This knife features a particularly handsome ergonomic handle design which has a wider bolster that has both a thumb and finger grip. This is aimed at reducing knife fatigue. It comes in ebony pakkawood, which is just stunning!

The blade, which is unique to the Ken Onion knife, has 16 stainless steel layers on each side, and is VG-10 Steel core clad, and also has the damascusfinish on the blade surface.

Again, coming with a lifetime limited warranty.

While it’s designed in Hawaii, it is also American made!

This knife is beautiful to look at, and a pleasure to use. It is superbly balanced, therefore it is easy to use. So if you’re looking for a knife that will aid you when it comes to harder jobs, this is the knife for you.

A well purchased and maintained chef knife will become an heirloom.

There are a few factors to consider when looking for that perfect chef knife, and I hope this article has helped you understand them.

Finding a knife with the right feel, length, and weight will especially save you time, energy and hassles in the kitchen.

Buying a good quality chef knife is something every passionate home cook should do, it’s something every professional chef will do, and you will find that it is, in fact, akin to finding a dance partner, because when you get it right everything just flows.

Happy cooking!

Comparison Table

Kamikoto 7in. Santoku Chef Knife
KRAMER by ZWILLING EUROLINE Damascus Collection 8-inch Narrow Chef's Knife
Shun Cutlery Premier 10” Chef’s Knife; Light and Agile Blade, Handles with Ease, Longer Cutting Edge, Use with Wide Range of Foods from Small to Large, Beautifully Designed, Handcrafted in Japan
Wusthof IKON Cook's Knife, 9 Inch, Brown

Brand Resources …

Watch Alton Brown Review Shun Knives…

Watch Bob Kramer Make A Damascus Blade Out Of A Steel Cable …

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  1. The Shun knives look awesome. I noticed that the non-stick feature was only mentioned for the Shun knives. Are the other chef knives mentioned here non-stick also? That seems like an important feature. I also like that they are lite and easy to handle. Do you find the 10 in blade as easy to handle as the 8 in blade? Is there much difference in weight and price? Thanks for the great information!
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  2. Thanks for the review and comparison table. I’ve been looking for a gift for my son who has just become a qualified chef and is building his knife collection. I really like the sound of the Shun 8 Inch Ken Onion Chef’s Knife with the lifetime warranty. Nice!

    1. I hope you are enjoying many delicious meals – I would love to have my son be a chef – though maybe it’s work for him now? But digressing – yes – the Ken Onion Knives are wonderful, great to see them made in America, and with their totally new design, they do a great job!

  3. You’re so right about them becoming heirlooms. I regularly use an old, slightly beat up Henkel that my 89 year old mom had for as long as I can remember. She would refuse to use anything else and she was a fantastic cook!
    I’m now shopping around for a beautiful and functional knife for my daughter (Christmas present). You’ve done a wonderful job reviewing some fantastic choices, which is so helpful to me as I try to narrow it down.
    I think she would absolutely love the Shun Premier!

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