A chef’s knife is an indispensable tool in any kitchen. Distinguished by a large, long blade (typically between 20-30cm) and sturdy, robust handle, a chef’s knife is the tool cooks reach for to complete almost every kitchen task. The multifunctional design means they’re larger than utility and paring knives, but feature a smaller, wider blade than a carving knife. They will come as standard in all knife sets.


Most chef’s knives are made from steel, but the way the steel is treated means knife performance can vary hugely. Carbon steel is arguably the best choice for a chef’s knife as it’s easy to sharpen and tends to hold its edge for a long time.

Though, if not cared for, carbon steel can rust. Stainless steel is a widely accessible material, meaning knives made from this tend to be more affordable. It can’t be sharpened to the same edge as carbon steel, but it’s a hardy material that’s less likely to rust.

Some knives are laminated and layer both stainless and carbon steel in an attempt to get the best out of both materials. Knives can also be made from ceramic – these hard knives hold their edge for a long time and do not rust, but they are brittle and at risk of chipping. All of the knives on our list are made from steel.

You can use a chef’s knife for most tasks, be it finely chopping soffritto for spaghetti bolognese, cutting salted matcha fudge, slicing through bavette steak or halving squash for our stuffed butternut squash recipe. The only thing chef’s knives tend to be less suitable for is fine work, such as supreming citrus fruits or coring ingredients. For these tasks, opt for a paring knife. We'd also recommend something hardy, like a cleaver, if you need to chop through bones.

We tested two of the most common styles of chef’s knives: Japanese and European. The in-depth differences between these two knives can be found at the bottom of this page, but at a glance, Japanese knives are ultra-sharp and thin, whereas European knives have a robust, thick blade.

We chopped, sliced and crushed our way through a range of produce to find the best chef’s knives. Discover our top picks below.

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Best chef's knives at a glance

  • Best chef’s knife: Takamura VG10 Gyuto 210mm, £175
  • Best European chef’s knife: Zwilling Pro chef's knife, £109
  • Best Japanese chef’s knife: Miyabi 5000MCD67 chef’s knife, £449
  • Best-value chef’s knife: Victorinox Swiss Classic carving, £37
  • Best lightweight chef’s knife: Victorinox Swiss Classic modern carving, £62
  • Best full tang chef’s knife: Global chef's knife, £100
  • Best chef’s knife for large hands: Victorinox Grand Maître chef's knife, £158
  • Best chef’s knife for basic chopping: Katana Saya olive wood knife, £84.95
  • Best cheap chef’s knife: Rockingham Forge Equilibrium, £19

Best chef's knives to buy 2023

Takamura VG10 Gyuto 210mm

Takamura VG10 Gyuto 210mm 001

Best chef’s knife

Star rating: 5/5

Blade length: 21cm


  • Attractive knife
  • Nimble
  • Comfortable handle


  • Struggled a little with thicker ingredients

Featuring a tsuchime (hammered) finish and ultra-nimble blade, the Takamura VG10 Gyuto is not only the most attractive chef’s knife we tested, but it also excelled in test.

This knife offers the best of both worlds: the deft precision of Japanese steel and robust assurance of European handles. It looks and feels high-quality, and has a reassuring weight to it. In the hand, the knife is comfortable to hold and well-balanced. More than anything, it feels like an extension of the hand.

It cut through the majority of our test ingredients with ease, slicing through onion, celery and carrots like butter. Though thin, we were able to confidently crush a garlic clove under the blade. Our chef testers noted that the fine tip makes this knife ideal for precision cutting, and they were able to chop a variety of produce easily. The Takamura faltered slightly when cutting through a butternut squash, as a decent amount of force was needed to get through it. Though, once we’d portioned off a round, removing the skin and dicing the flesh was a breeze.

This razor-sharp knife is well worth the investment. It’s comfortable in the hand and isn’t likely to cause strain if used for a prolonged period of time. Just be sure to invest in a sturdy sheath to protect the blade.

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Zwilling Pro chef's knife

Zwilling Pro Chefs Knife

Best European chef’s knife

Star rating: 5/5

Blade length: 20cm


  • Nicely curved
  • Classic design
  • Sturdy handle


  • Angular handle
  • Some rubbing if you hold with pinch grip

If someone asked you to picture a knife, this is the one that would appear in your mind’s eye. It’s about as classic in design as you could possibly get, with a curved tip and sturdy riveted handle.

The handle is rather angular, though we liked the addition of the pinky rest at the back. Zwilling says that the bolster (the part where the blade and handle meet) encourages a pinch grip, though our testers who like to chop with a pinch grip disagree, noting that the bolster began to rub after prolonged usage.

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This knife is razor-sharp and made its way through our test ingredients with ease. Like the Takamura above, a little extra effort was needed to get through the butternut squash.

Our chefs agreed that this knife is a pleasure to use, sturdy and nicely weighted. It’s not quite as balanced as our first-place knife as the handle is slightly heavier, but it is by no means unbalanced. A robust and reliable knife, built to last.

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Miyabi 5000MCD67 chef’s knife

Miyabi 5000MCD67 chef’s knife

Best Japanese chef’s knife

Star rating: 5/5

Blade length: 20cm


  • Attractive
  • Well packaged
  • Comfortable to use
  • Ultra-sharp


  • Tester struggled with fine chopping

There’s no denying this is an attractive knife: an ergonomic black ash handle and Damascus-patterned blade make this a real treat to behold. Straight out of the box, you can feel its quality – the handle is sturdy and the blade strong and well made.

The blade is nimble and ultra-sharp. We managed to achieve wafer-thin slices of carrot and celery when chopping, and this knife posed no real issues when slicing through butternut squash. Our chef commented that they found this knife lightweight and comfortable to use, though they struggled when doing fine and precise work using the tip.

The handle is smooth and comfortable. Notably, we found the blade slightly heavier than the handle, though this isn’t particularly noticeable when you’re using the knife.

We had one slight grumble about this knife: it’s the most expensive on our list (and completely worth the price), so it was disappointing to discover that no sheath or blade cover is provided.

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Victorinox Swiss Classic

Victorinox Swiss Classic

Best-value chef’s knife

Star rating: 4.5/5

Blade length: 19cm


  • Textured handle
  • Nimble


  • Very light
  • Not ideal for heavy duty tasks

Equipped with an ergonomic textured handle, this Victorinox knife offers a sturdy grip when chopping. The knife is a decent size and available in a range of colours (black, orange, yellow, pink, red, yellow). It was notably nimble when chopping a variety of ingredients.

This knife is very light, weighing just 92g. It’s balanced in the hand, but the handle feels plasticky and the blade itself is very flexible – almost as flexible as a fish knife – which makes it uncomfortable to cut through hard and heavy duty produce. But, this knife excelled when cutting through everyday items such as onions, carrots and celery. It cuts cleanly and is very sharp.

We were a little tentative when cutting through butternut squash: it didn’t cut through smoothly, but we easily cut off the rind and cubed the squash.

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Victorinox Swiss Classic modern carving

Victorinox Swiss Classic Modern

Best lightweight chef’s knife

Star rating: 4.5/5

Blade length: 20cm


  • Attractive
  • Lightweight
  • Feels like an extension of the arm


  • Blade feels a little flimsy

This Victorinox knife features the same soft, textured handle as the knife above. Rather than being ergonomically shaped, this one is modern and angular. Thankfully, the angles are smoothed out, making it comfortable to hold.

We were able to smoothly chop through a variety of vegetables. Our chefs found it a little difficult to be precise due to the length of the blade. But, when chopping and dicing, this knife excelled.

This knife didn’t feel as sharp as its Classic counterpart above. We found we needed to roll the butternut squash around the knife, rather than seamlessly cutting through it. But, the rind came off with total ease.

It’s a little heavier than the Victorinox above – 148g – but still definitely lightweight. Though, it's not so light that it feels out of control in the hand.

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Global chef’s knife

Global Chef’s Knife

Best full tang chef’s knife

Star rating: 4.5/5

Blade length: 20cm


  • Attractive
  • Textured handle
  • Full tang


  • Dirt traps in the handle
  • Some rubbing on forefinger

Global knives were the brand of choice for Anthony Bourdain, and Michel Roux Jr reaches for them today. It’s easy to see why. The chef’s knife is attractive, with a classic, smooth shape. The knife is full tang, meaning it can withstand more force than its half-tang counterparts. While it’s unlikely you’ll be putting the knife through its paces quite like a professional chef, it’s reassuring to know that the knife is designed to stand the test of time.

It sliced through the majority of ingredients with ease. Our chefs noted how direct this knife was when chopping, meaning they felt in control the whole time. Like some of the other knives we’ve tested, the butternut squash proved a little too tough for the knife, and we needed to roll the squash. Thankfully, this sturdy knife allowed us to put as much pressure as needed behind the knife.

Generally, the knife was comfortable in use, though some testers noted that the knife rubbed on the forefinger after prolonged usage.

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Victorinox Grand Maître chef’s knife

Victorinox Grand Maître Chef’s Knife 001

Best chef’s knife for large hands

Star rating: 4/5

Blade length: 22cm


  • Good for large hands
  • Reassuring weight


  • A little uncomfortable on forefinger
  • Handle very angular

Featuring a sweeping, curved blade and ergonomic handle, this Victorinox knife easily achieves a smooth, rolling chop when working through large quantities. Its big, wide blade makes it an efficient choice.

This knife features one of the thickest blades of all the knives we’ve tested. As a result, we struggled to achieve the precision needed for fine slicing and dicing. But, it powered through butternut squash easily.

The handle is long and smooth. There’s a thick bolster, which proved an irritant for those who use a pinch grip when chopping. Testers with smaller hands found the handle a little too big, though those with larger hands said it felt just right. So, if you often find the handles on knife a bit small, this Victorinox knife is worth considering.

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Katana Saya olive wood chef’s knife

Katana Saya Olive Wood Chef’s Knife 001

Best chef’s knife for basic chopping

Star rating: 4/5

Blade length: 20cm


  • Attractive
  • Sheath provided
  • Beautifully presented


  • Chunky handle
  • Handle almost too smooth

Unboxing the Katana Saya chef’s knife was a real joy. It arrived in a wooden presentation box and even comes with a sheath to protect the blade.

This is an attractive knife. The blade is Damascus steel and the handle is made from olive wood. The handle is pretty chunky. This, coupled with the lack of ergonomic shaping and smoothing, means it's not the easiest to grip. We felt the handle was almost too smooth. This posed no real issue when chopping through basic vegetables, but we felt a little less secure when we were required to use some real force.

The blade is sharp, though not as sharp as some others on this list. But, for onions, celery and carrots, we cut through with relative ease. We also confidently crushed a garlic clove under the blade.

It's a knife geared towards loose-gripped, basic chopping as opposed to hard, intense work.

Available from:

Rockingham Forge Equilibrium chef’s knife

Rockingham Forge Equilibrium chef’s knife

Best cheap chef’s knife

Star rating: 4/5

Blade length: 20cm


  • Lovely rocking motion
  • Comfortable handle


  • Struggled with squash
  • Can’t use full length of knife

This curved knife was built for those who enjoy chopping ingredients with a rocking chop. The blade flicks upwards and the handle is ergonomically shaped, making it very comfortable to hold. The shape of this knife meant we chopped, brunoised and minced with total ease.

It’s not the sharpest knife on our list, and as a result we struggled to get through butternut squash without lots of force.

One of our chef testers noted that the shape of the blade is slightly restrictive. For example, when you want to use the tip of the knife for fine work, you’re forced to contort yourself in a slightly uncomfortable way. Similarly, the curved shape stops you from using the full length of the knife comfortably.

But, the blade itself is sturdy and the rocking motion achieved is controlled and efficient.

What is a chef’s knife used for?

A chef’s knife is a multipurpose, everyday knife. It’s the most versatile knife in the kitchen and the one you’ll reach for most when cooking. Chef’s knives are particularly adept at cutting meat, vegetables and other hard and soft ingredients. You can also use them to carve and debone, and use the flat side of the blade to crush garlic.

We also believe you should be able to use your chef’s knife for fine chopping: dicing carrots, celery and onions for soffritto, for example.

What to look for in a good-quality chef’s knife

The first question you need to ask yourself when buying a new knife is: “Do I want a European or Japanese knife?"

European knife features:

  • More robust, thick blade
  • 20-degree edge
  • Made of a softer steel than Japanese knives
  • Needs sharpening more often
  • Not as difficult to sharpen as Japanese knives
  • Handles tend to be synthetic, are generally larger and heavier

Japanese knife features:

  • Light, thin blade
  • 15-degree edge
  • Retain sharp blade for longer than European knives
  • Sharpening can take time, as you should use a sharpening stone or go to a professional
  • Made from a harder steel than European knives, but the thin blade is brittle and prone to chipping if used incorrectly
  • Handles made from wood or wood composite – they taper inside the handle

Hybrid knives

We’re starting to see more hybrid knives on the market; these tend to merge the robust handle of a European knife with the agile and sharp blade found on Japanese knives.


A chef’s knife with a blade between 20-22cm is a good size for most everyday tasks. Those that are 23-30cm are better for larger tasks only.

Stamped or forged?

A stamped knife is cut from a single sheet of metal. Stamped knives tend to be cheaper, but they can be weaker than forged knives.

A forged knife is made from liquid metal that has been formed into a knife. These tend to be stronger than stamped knives.


This is subjective, but you need to choose a knife that strikes the balance between having a reassuring weight and not being too light. A heavy knife may seem as though it’s the better choice, but you don’t want to become tired while using it. Equally, a light knife is easy to control, but it may not be able to stand up to harder foods. A knife should feel like an extension of the hand when you’re using it.

How to sharpen a chef’s knife

There are many ways to sharpen a chef’s knife but at home. A whetstone or handheld sharpener are two of the most common methods.

A handheld sharpener is usually small and has a V-shaped section for you to pull your knife through. The “V” is made from two plates with differing grades of abrasion, similar to sandpaper. Some sharpeners will just have a single pair of plates, while others with have two or three with different abrasion levels. Little skill is needed to use these sharpeners – simply pull the knife through in a controlled manner.

A whetstone requires much more skill. These stones need to be soaked in water before use, which can take around 15 minutes. When it's time to sharpen, simply slide your knife along the stone at either a 15 or 20 degree angle, depending on the type of knife you’re sharpening. This technique can take around 20-30 minutes, depending on how dull the knife is. (Most sharpening stones have two different grit levels. Begin by working on the more abrasive size, then flip to the smooth side.) But, this does yield the best results.

Because of the brittle nature of Japanese knives, we’d advise against sharpening your knife using a handheld sharpener. European knives can be sharpened using both methods.

How we tested the best chef’s knives

To put chef’s knives to the test, we prepped a variety of hard and soft produce, including carrots, celery and onions. We chopped, julienned and brunoised to discover how the knife performed when completing large and small tasks. To test the strength of the blade, we crushed a garlic clove and sliced through tough butternut squash.

We also gave the knives to our chefs to use while they were recipe testing; they gave their real-time feedback as they worked.

Knives were also scored against the following criteria:

  • Balance: we looked for a well-balanced knife that wasn’t weighted too heavily towards either the blade or handle
  • Comfortable to hold: knives should fit into the hand with ease and shouldn’t rub. We favoured knives that were comfortable to hold, whatever the user’s preferred knife-holding style
  • Sharp blade: blades that cut through ingredients with ease scored more highly than those that required force
  • Strong blade: sturdy and robust blades offer more versatility than those that are flexible. We wanted to feel confident using the knife; we were less trusting of weaker knives
  • Well-shaped: we preferred knives that allowed us to use the full length of the blade. Blades that were upturned at the tip offered less comfortable usability
  • Sustainable: knives that came in cardboard or wooden boxes scored highly, as did those that provided long warranties

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Recipes where a chef's knife is essential

Celeriac soup with chorizo oil
Vegan Bolognese
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Vegetable soup
Pan haggerty
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Lydia AndersonProduct Testing Lead

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