The Zwilling Professional S 8" chef knife is equally as suited to restaurant work as it is to preparing your family's weeknight meals. With a classic European-style rockered blade, it excels at chopping and mincing. The polymer handle is ergonomic and large enough for even the biggest hands to be comfortable without feeling oversized and unwieldy.
While not quite as adept at some of the more delicate knife work as some of the Japanese-style blades we tested, the Zwilling handled julienning and chiffonades the best of all the euro-style knives we tried. With an excellent hand feel and enough weight behind it to make short work of winter squashes, this knife was our number one choice for a do-it-all chef knife.
Wustof has long been known in the culinary world for its quality German steel. While most might think of them as a maker of traditional European blades, the Classic Ikon is their take on a Japanese-style Santoku knife. The first thing you notice when picking up the knife is the satisfying hand feel. With a pleasing weight and a long tapered handle, this was one of our favorite knives to simply hold. The handle gives users excellent control, and combined with the straight thin blade, took to delicate tasks such as slicing and julienning with ease.
Although the handle is on par, the length of the blade isn't. The shorter design makes it difficult to fully slice through larger vegetables, like butternut squash and cabbage. However, what it lacks in short stature, it makes up for in high performance in all the other metrics. For this reason, the Classic Ikon is our favorite Santoku knife.
The Global 8" chef knife is crafted from a single piece of stainless steel, giving it a distinctive look and feel. It has one of the thinner heels of any of the rockered blades we tested, and the entire length of the blade stays thin, which aided performance when slicing, mincing, and chiffonading. Its minimal rocker lets it perform almost as equally as well at chopping and dicing.
We don't have too many complaints about this chef knife, but we will note that the handle was a bit small for our larger-handed testers. This made it difficult to obtain significant amounts of leverage while trying to cut through tough squashes. However, the short handle might just make it a perfect choice for those with smaller hands looking for an eight-inch rockered blade. The Global 8" is a great all arounder at an affordable price, perfect for putting through the wringer of everyday use either at home or in a professional kitchen.
The Imarku chef's knife is a decent all arounder that is a good introduction to Gyutou style knives. With less rocker than European-style chef's knives and typically thinner blades, it can take some adjusting to get used to working with Gyutou knives. This blade was a decent performer across the board but didn't truly excel at any one thing. As expected from this style of knife, it took to the more delicate knife work like julienning and chiffonades handily. Equipped with a beautiful wooden handle, this was one aesthetic knife for the price point.
This knife's most significant shortcomings were apparent while trying to break down big and tough root vegetables and squashes. The knife struggled to push through sweet potatoes and butternut squashes. Once these veggies were broken down into smaller pieces, the blade had no trouble moving quickly to chop or dice them but getting to the point was a process. All in all, this is a well-rounded knife that is ideal for someone wanting to try a Gyutou style knife without breaking the bank.
The Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8" chef's knife is the perfect way to dip your toes into the world of higher-quality knives. While it isn't the most beautiful or refined option, it is incredibly utilitarian. Sporting a lightweight plastic handle, it doesn't have the best hand feel, but it performed fairly well across all our metrics. It wasn't the highest scorer in any category, but for its low price, it's hard to beat. This is a knife that you can truly put through the wringer without worry.
This knife checks many boxes. It's a prep workhorse and a blade you won't be stressed about careless roommates mishandling. It's a great first chef's knife to start building your kitchen essentials around.
The MAC Mighty chef's knife is indeed mighty. With a razor-sharp factory edge and an ergonomic wooden handle, this knife tore through everything we threw at it. An excellent slicer, it could pull off the thinnest of cuts and turn carrots into perfect matchsticks. The dimpled or Granton edge made veggies roll off the side of the blade with much greater ease than many of the other knives we tested, leaving you to cut as fast as you want without having to stop and wipe off the blade.
This blade has a smaller rocker than classical Europeanchef's knives, so it might take some adjusting if that's what you are used to working with. With a higher price tag and a thin blade that could be more challenging to care for, this MAC knife is best suited for experienced cooks that are looking to upgrade.
A well-made chef's knife is the daily driver of choice for anyone who spends much time in the kitchen. Having a knife that is functional and beautiful can be a compelling reason to pick one knife over another. The Shun chef's knife is an elegant blend of form and function. From its pakkawood handle to its stylized blade, this knife was by far the most aesthetically pleasing blade we reviewed. But no matter how good something looks, if it doesn't function equally as well, it doesn't amount to much. The Shun's long handle and thin blade made it both an excellent slicer and equally as good of a chopper. The knife was also capable of chiffonading and julienning without a struggle.
Some of our testers felt that the long straight handle made the knife feel "stiff" and detracted from the knife's handling. However, with its good looks and more than adequate functionality, this is, without a doubt, a quality knife.
The Tojiro DP is a Gyuto knife, which is the Japanese equivalent of the European-style chef knife. The most noticeable difference is the smaller rocker and thinner blade than those found on European knives. The thinness of the blade makes it excel at dicing, slicing, mincing, and any of the more delicate prep work you find yourself doing. While not ideal for breaking through bones, it works well as a deboner.
If you're looking to slice through tough squashes and separate chicken bones, go with a European model instead. If you require a highly agile knife that can speed through most prep work, then this chef knife is for you.
The Wusthof chef's knife is everything you would expect from a classic german blade. It's heavy, has a substantial rocker, a thick heel, and a sharp blade. This knife is best suited for heavy-duty chopping and prep work. The extra weight and thickness of the blade are great for separating chicken bones and cutting through thick-skinned veggies, like tough squashes. If you need a knife that can slash through an endless pile of vegetables, look no further.
For the same reasons that it's such a great workhorse, it's not the most agile blade. While not bad at chiffonades or julienning, it didn't perform as well as knives with thinner and lighter blades. If you are a fan of euro-style chef's knives, you'll feel right at home with the comforting weight of this blade in your hand.
The Global Santoku has a little bit of everything and is a great all-purpose knife for smaller-handed cooks who don't want an eight-inch blade or a long handle with a slight rocker. Forged from a single piece of stainless steel, this knife comes with a razor-sharp factory edge. This knife received high marks in slicing, dicing, mincing, and all the other delicate work we asked of it.
Given its short length and lightweight, it wasn't the best at cutting through large squashes. It is a worthy addition to any kitchen, whether it is the only knife in your drawer or just part of your quiver that you break out for technical knife work.
If you're unsure if Santoku-style knives are for you, this Victorinox Santoku is a great way to try one of these knives without a big financial commitment. It was an excellent slicer with a thin and sharp blade and a good knife to learn Santoku-style knife work with.
All in all, this chef knife performed decently well in most metrics but had the worst hand feel of any of the knives we tried. The lightweight plastic handle simply feels cheap. If you're on a tight budget or just want a knife that you can toss in with your car camping gear and forget about, this is a decent little knife — it's just not of the same quality as the others on our list.
At first glance, the Paudin chef's knife is a beautiful knife. With a light-colored pakkawood handle and a faux Damascus finish on the blade, this knife prioritizes aesthetics. While it scored high marks in the looks department, it was a fairly low scorer in actual performance. The knife is decently heavy and has a fairly nice hand feel when you first pick it up, but during actual use, it felt off.
There is a pronounced edge where the blade meets the handle, and when our testers would choke up on the knife while chopping, they found that it created a hot spot at the base of their index fingers. While it certainly wasn't dull, the factory edge on this blade was the least sharp and felt like one of the thicker blades we tested. This knife is ideal for someone looking for an affordable knife that prioritizes aesthetics.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our lead tester, Buck Yedor, has put in the time when it comes to knife work. Having worked as a cook in multiple commercial kitchens, he has spent uncountable hours chopping carrots, dicing onions, mincing garlic, and doing every other kind of prep work under the sun. His first cooking job was under the tutelage of Che Paniz alum and culinary school instructor Julia Crookston, who schooled him on the ins and outs of proper knife work. This time on task experience has given him a good understanding of the pros and cons of various knife styles. Buck knows the importance of having a well-made knife that you can count on to help you get dinner to the table night after night.
To start our search for the best chef's knives, we researched top-selling products and looked at which knives were commonly recommended by industry professionals. After narrowing our search down to ten contenders we were interested in testing, we set out to identify what makes each knife unique.
We put each one through a series of identical tests showing how well they sliced, julienned, diced, chopped, minced, and chiffonaded. We also analyzed the sharpness of their factory edge and the overall hand feel. Rather than simply rotating each knife into our daily cooking routines, our systemized testing ensured we could directly compare each knife's functionality for specific tasks. This ensures a comprehensive look at each product that isn't just based on our gut feelings after a one-off trial.
Analysis and Test Results
To test how well each knife performed, we put them through a series of identical tests that showed us how well they sliced, julienned, diced, chopped, minced, and chiffonaded. We examined the sharpness of their factory edge and the hand feel of each blade while in use. We chose food items and tasks that are likely to be most representative of the prep work you would do in your own restaurant or kitchen. Rather than simply rotating each knife into our daily cooking routines, our systemized approach made sure we could directly compare each knife's functionality for specific tasks; this ensures a comprehensive look at each product that isn't just based on our gut feelings after a one-off trial.
Slicing refers to making long and typically thin cuts of whatever food type you are breaking down into smaller pieces. We chose to use an apple, a head of cabbage, and a lime for our slice testing.
Across the board, we found that the knives with thinner blades, such as the Tojiro DP and the Wusthof Icon, could make the thinnest and most consistent slices. We also found that the blades with dimples, such as the MAC Mighty, were effective in reducing pieces of apple from sticking to the blade while being sliced.
Testing indicated that the heavier euro-style knives were better for coring the heads of cabbage. The longer length and extra weight behind the blade made slicing the cabbages lengthwise easier and handled the tough core without being held up at all. When it came to slicing the cored cabbage, the thinner Japanese knives again took the lead and made thinner and faster slices.
Also known as matchsticking, the julienne cut refers to creating small and thin pieces similar in size to a matchstick. To test how well each knife could julienne, we used each one to matchstick a carrot.
The Japanese knives with straight or nonbeveled edges took to this task with the greatest ease. The agile Tojiro DP with its slightly rockered and razor-sharp blade performed the best from start to finish while turning carrots into matchsticks. The Zwilling's chef's knife was the best performing euro-style knife in this metric, and despite its extra girth, wasn't far behind the Japenese knives in terms of performance.
For our testing, chopping refers to breaking your veggies down into half-inch cubes. Chopping is typically the fastest and least delicate task we asked of our knives. We ran each chef's knife through a butternut squash and a carrot to test how well each knife chopped.
Our favorite choppers were the Zwilling Professional S and the Wusthof 8" chef knife. With their heavy rockered blades, they flew through all of the chopping work we asked of them and had no trouble cutting through the hard exterior of the butternut squash. The worst performing chopper was the Victorinox Santoku; its small handle and light blade just weren't made for heavy chopping work. The Paudin was a decent chopper, but the large heel gave our testers a hot spot on the bottom of their index finger after sustained use.
Similar to chopping, dicing also refers to breaking veggies down into small uniform cubes. However, when something is diced, it is at least half the size, if not smaller, than something that has been chopped. We diced our way through red onions and sweet potatoes to determine how well each knife performed in this metric.
Thin blades such as the Wusthof Icon and the Mac Mighty faired the best at dicing the red onions, making crisp, clean cuts, while the heavy Zwilling Professional S had the best results with the dense and troublesome sweet potatoes. Gyuto style blades like the Imarku offer a nice sweet spot in performance somewhere between Santokus and European-style blades.
Mincing takes dicing one step further and breaks food down into even smaller, almost minuscule pieces. We minced garlic and parsley to test each knife's ability to break our veggies down into the smallest pieces.
The substantially rockered knives made mincing garlic a breeze. The ability to quickly rock back and forth over the garlic was a serious plus for this task. The Zwilling Professional S was an excellent garlic mincer.
When it came to the parsley, it was a slightly different story. The softness and springiness of the parsley often kept the thicker and beveled European blades from making contact with the cutting board without putting a lot of extra weight into the cut. The Mac Mighty, with its slight rocker and thinner blade, had no trouble cutting through the parsley with every stroke.
The chiffonade cut is a technique in which a thin leafy plant is rolled up and then cut into thin strips. For our chiffonade test, we used mint leaves, which are delicate and prone to tearing.
The top performer was the Tojiro DP; its thin blade cut through the mint without tearing or bruising the leaves, giving us beautiful, clean strips of mint. Other top performers were the Wusthof Icon and the Mac Mighty. The thick and light Victorinox performed the worst, slightly crushing the mint before slicing through it.
None of the chef knives we tested were dull straight out of the box, yet some had noticeably sharper edges. Both blade thinness and bevel type dictate the sharpness of the knife. Most of the blades in this review feature a double bevel. That means both sides of the blade have been ground to a certain angle to create the edge. Regardless of price or quality, the blade will eventually dull with use. That's why it's imperative to maintain your blades properly and periodically sharpen them so they perform as intended.
As we ran through our tests, we noted how clean the cuts were and how easily they penetrated the different materials without having to add significant weight. The sharpest knives were the Tojiro DP and the Shun Classic. The Global 8" was the sharpest fully rockered blade, which can be attributed to the straight beveled edge that all Global knives have.
While it's important that a knife comes with a razor-sharp factory edge, it isn't entirely telling of how well the knife will hold its edge over time and how the blade will respond to repeated sharpening. With that in mind, we looked at and tested the factory edge on each knife, but it wasn't weighted as highly in our decision-making as the hand feel of each knife.
By hand feel, we mean how the knife performs and feels in hand. Is it balanced? Is it light or heavy? Is the handle ergonomic? The highest scorer in this metric was the Zwilling Professional S; with a comfy and ergonomic handle and a nice heft to the knife as a whole, we found it was easy to control and pleasant to work with. We think either of the Global knives we tested would be a great fit for smaller-handed folks, particularly the Global Santoku, which was a highly agile knife. The hand feel of both Victorinox knives was on the bottom end of the spectrum. Both had cheap-feeling handles and lacked the comforting weight of the other knives we tested. The worst performer was the Paudin, which was the only chef knife to actively cause our testers discomfort.
After testing a fleet of the best chef's knives on the market, we were able to distinguish which are best suited for specific tasks. From traditional European chef's knives to Japanese gyutos, we put them all on the chopping block to see which knives were a cut above the rest. We tested how well each one could slice, julienne, chop, dice, mince, and chiffonade. We also took into account how sharp the factory edge was and how each one felt in hand. We broke down the jargon and sometimes confusing specs so you will have a clear idea of what each chef knife offers.
— Buck Yedor
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