Essential Tools

9 Best Chef’s Knives, According to Pros and Home Cooks Alike

For slicing, dicing, and everything in between.

February 22, 2022
Photo by Rocky Luten

If I could only have one kitchen tool with me on a desert island, it’d have to be a good chef’s knife. It’s incredibly useful (for obvious reasons) and unless I’m carving a turkey or constructing an elaborate wedding cake (though I probably won’t be doing much of either on a desert island), a sharp, lightweight chef’s knife is versatile enough for any occasion.

Naturally, I had to ask other home cooks, former restaurant cooks, recipe developers, and cookbook authors for their desert island chef’s knives. From affordable buys to investment-worthy heirlooms, here are the nine best chef’s knives for slicing through butternut squash, dicing onions, and more.

Photo by Amazon

1. MAC Knives

Three of our experts waxed poetic about MAC knives. Recipe developer and food stylist Anna Stockwell relies on two knives every single day: an Opinel paring knife for small tasks and a dimpled chef’s knife, which she’s had for about five years, for everything else. “The 8-inch length is perfect for me, and because it’s not too heavy and not too light, it feels right in my hand. It slices and dices beautifully, and holds a good sharp edge,” she says.

MAC also makes the same dimpled knife in a 6 1/2-inch size that professional baker Laurie Ellen Pellicano loves. She finds the smaller size to be just right for her petite frame and small countertops, too. “MAC makes some of my favorite knives in the kitchen because they really strike the balance between function and finesse,” says Pellicano.

Meanwhile, cookbook author and recipe developer Dawn Perry swears by the classic chef's knife she was gifted years ago.

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2. Fibrox Pro from Victorinox, $54 $41.35

Perry, and recipe developer and Food52 contributor Maki Yazawa both echo Stockwell’s sentiment about a knife’s weight and making sure it's comfortable to hold. If you can, try going to a store and “shake hands with a few knives to see what feels good to you,” Perry says. “I have weak wrists so I like a lighter weight knife because I do a lot of chopping.” For an inexpensive pick, Perry and Yazawa both recommend the Fibrox Pro from Victorinox, though Yazawa notes that “you might find yourself at the sharpening stone more frequently to maintain a nice edge.”

Photo by Amazon

3. Yoshihiro VG10 16 Layer Hammered Damascus Gyuto Japanese Chefs Knife, $165 $149.99

Getting a feel for a chef’s knife before you buy it in-person or online also comes in handy for investment-worthy essentials. “When splurging, I shop at Yoshihiro Cutlery in Redondo Beach, California, which carries a wide variety of handcrafted Japanese knives from top-notch materials like Damascus steel,” says Yazawa. That’s how she discovered her favorite Yoshihiro Damascus Stainless Steel Gyuto, a Japanese version of a western chef’s knife, and how it helped prevent buyer’s (cook’s?) remorse. “Like picking out a car, giving a kitchen knife a trial run is imperative to assess the comfort level, grip, and style,” Yazawa points out.

Photo by Made In

4. Made In 8 Inch Chef Knife, $99

Food writer and cookbook author Nik Sharma depends on a classic 8-inch knife from Made-In because like Perry, it’s got a comfortable weight for his hands (see a trend yet?).

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5. Dexter-Russell Basics P94801B 8" Cooks Knife, $27.54 $17.55

Available in a few different colors, the Dexter-Russell 8-inch Cooks Knife is an affordable pick that comes highly recommended by Pellicano who thinks “it’s beastly when it comes to chopping.” When it starts to get dull, just take it to a kitchen supply store or knife shop to be sharpened on the regular, or try the DIY route with these expert-backed knife sharpeners.

Photo by Amazon

6. Misono UX10 Gyutou 8.2", $241.91

Take it from the pros: if a knife works, stick with it. “I bought myself the Misono UX10 Gyutou Japanese chef’s knife when I graduated from culinary school,” says Jess Young, CEO of Bubble Goods and former professional chef. Young explains that the model is so sharp, durable, and well-constructed that she hasn’t bought another chef’s knife since.

Photo by Amazon

7. Shun Cutlery Classic 7” Asian Cook’s Knife, $159.95

The Shun Classic Asian Cook's 7" knife was the first high-quality knife that Washington Post food writer and recipe developer Aaron Hutcherson bought for himself almost a decade ago in the transition period between culinary school and his line cook days. Still, Hutcherson says the knife is “the one I use the most to this day—it’s great for most common kitchen tasks.”

What's your go-to chef's knife that you can't live without? Let us know below!

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Smaug
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    Frank K.
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Food writer, late-night baker, year-round iced coffee drinker.


Smaug March 2, 2022
Still have my ancient Sabatier 10" carbon steel knife from when Sabatier was the "it" brand (they seem to have sold out and become a bargain basement brand) and stainless knives were mostly used as garden tools. Still cuts as well as any, but I mostly use a Shun Damascus steel 8" these days- my aging hands find it a little easier to handle, and you don't have to wash it every time you cut a lemon.
Frank K. March 2, 2022
I love my 6" & 8" Wusthof iKon Chef's knives, though I usually reach for the 6" because it's so much easier to maneuver. I also adore the magnificent BD1N steel of my Yaxell Fusion Chef's knife. Incredibly long lasting edge with razor sharpness, though it looks more like a cleaver than a Chef's knife.
Beth February 27, 2022
Henkel 4-Star knives have been in my kitchen for 47 years. That's a LOT of chopping, slicing, and mincing and I'm very happy with them.
CAndreaW February 23, 2022
Of course, loud mouthed David Chang will tell you to just take whatever knives you have, keep them sharpened and you’ll be just fine…