Chef's KnivesHands down, the first knife any cook should have is the all-purpose chef’s knife. Many cooks describe the chef’s knife as feeling like an extension of their arm as it minces, dices, chops, and slices. Think of this knife as the first in a cutlery arsenal that you’ll want to add to.

A chef’s knife should be comfortable to grip, well balanced, and have a gentle curve in the blade to facilitate the rocking motion that’s used while chopping on a cutting board. One way to ensure a more balanced knife is to look for a “full tang” construction, where the blade extends the length of the handle, but some companies make up for the lack of a full tang by weighting the handle.

Because this is the knife that a cook ends up using 80% of the time, the blade needs to easily hold a sharp edge. To that end, a high-carbon stainless steel blade in the German tradition is a good choice as it’s easier to sharpen, but the Japanese style blades and ceramic knives are known to keep their edges longer.

Next up is weight. Heavy, forged knives are the traditional choice in western cooking. They’re known for their incredible durability and their weight can actually help you do your job on the cutting board. But thinner, lighter, laser-cut “stamped” knives have also become popular for their ease of use—not to mention price advantage. And Japanese knives, using a harder, thinner steel core, are lighter by design. Some feel their lighter weight promotes less hand fatigue while being easier to maneuver.

Chef’s knives come in 5- to 14-inch lengths. Most cooks end up with at least two sizes, but the standard size to begin with is the 8-inch, which can do the majority of the work.

Best Chef’s Knives

Wusthof Classic Cook's KnifeWusthof Classic 10-inch Cook’s Knife

Wusthof’s most popular line is fully hand forged and riveted in the traditional German method.
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Global Cook's KnifeGlobal 10-inch Cook’s Knife

Global knives have a smooth contour and seamless, all stainless construction that is lightweight, sleek and super sharp.
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Henckels Twin Four Star Chef's KnifeZwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Four Star 8-inch Chef’s Knife

Forged from high-carbon stainless steel with a full tang, the Henckels blade is FRIODUR ice-hardened for maximum sharpness.
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Victorinox Swiss Army Chef's KnifeVictorinox Swiss Army 8-inch Chef’s Knife

Lightweight but balanced for extended use, this stamped, high-carbon knife has a patented handle that’s slip resistant and ergonomic.
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