As you can see I originally started this site to focus on knife sharpeners, so it made sense to also include an article on how to choose the best chef’s knife, since that is the most common blade that needs to be sharpened. Ideally I hope you are able to use the information in this article along with the homepage in order to enhance your kitchen experience and save yourself money. I’d ask you to remember that if you have a good sharpener, any knife can last for decades and lose minimal performance, so don’t be afraid to invest in a high quality knife that will be with you for the foreseeable future. Ultimately, this’ll help you choose the best kitchen knife sharpener.
I made a very similar chart as the one I made for knife sharpeners on the homepage, but instead this time I created one for chef knives. It works the exact same way, you can click on the headers to sort or use the search bar above it to filter out certain results you are looking for.
If you are new to knives or cooking in general please scroll down below the chart to learn about the different aspects of chef knives and what you should be looking for according to your own preferences.
Since we’re looking at a different product I had to determine the best characteristics to look at, which I decided were the following:
- Image: This is a picture of the sharpener
- Knife Name
- Blade Size: How long the blade of the knife is in inches
- Material: What the blade is made of
- Price: Prices can fluctuate based on several factors but these should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect, I apologize if they’ve changed significantly and have not been updated.
- Rating: This is based on as many external ratings and knife sharpener reviews as I could find (typically over 100)
A chef’s knife is the cornerstone of all cooking in a kitchen. It is the most versatile tool in your arsenal and while it may not be as specialized as some knives it can do at the very minimum a decent job in just about any situation.
Typically a chef’s knife is somewhere between 6 and 14 inches long, most commonly 8 inches. The length of blade depends mainly on personal preferences and if you know that you often work with food that requires a longer blade.
The general shape of the blade is rounded, but how much it is rounded will depend on the type and the brand. The reason it’s rounded is to allow you to ‘rock’ it back and forth to make most cutting techniques simpler, and you can always use the front half when you just want a more or less straight cut.
Secondly I mentioned type of blade, which can be French or German. French knives tend to have less of a curve along the blade of the knife and the curve up towards the tip whereas German blades are typically a smoother curve all the way along the blade.Types of Chef Knives
There are many different materials that a chef knife can be made of; however, an overwhelming majority are made of one of the following materials.Carbon Steel
A first year materials engineering class would teach you that carbon steel is created by combining iron and carbon to form an alloy (with ~1% carbon). Carbon steel chef knives are by far the most common as they can be made relatively cheap. This does not however mean you are sacrificing performance necessarily.
Some of the benefits of carbon steel are that they are the easiest to sharpen and typically stay sharp longer. What you need to make sure you do if you buy a carbon steel knife is take care of it properly. It can be prone to rusting over time and staining, but you can avoid this if you clean it after every use (and keep it out of the dishwasher!).Stainless Steel
There are other alloy options available and stainless steel is extremely popular. Like carbon steel it contains iron and carbon, but only trace amounts of carbon. Instead it contains up to 15% of nickel and chromium.
Because the alloy composition can vary widely there is a big difference between a high-end stainless steel blade and a low-end blade. A high-quality stainless steel knife can obtain extreme sharpness and resist dulling better than carbon steel blades. On top of that stainless steel blades are also in general more corrosion resistant than carbon steel blades.Laminated
A laminated knife is nowhere near as common as either type of steel knife but can still be found if you look for it. The basic concept is to combine the benefits of 2 types of steel into one. Different parts of the knife may use different steels, for example you would want the inside layer to be flexible, but the outer layer that is doing the cutting to be sharper, which means it will be more brittle.Ceramic
Finally there are ceramic blades. Compared to the other types of blade materials ceramic knives are the best at retaining sharpness, but this also comes with a big drawback, which is brittleness.
Another positive is that they do not rust, period, so in certain environments they can be the best suited. However, unless you are really careful ceramic blades will chip over time and can be destroyed if you drop it.
Yet another drawback is that they hard to sharpen, most kitchen knife sharpeners I have discussed on this site would not be suitable for ceramic blades.Summary of Knife Materials
Putting all of that together we see that:
- Ceramic knives aren’t great for beginners, they are really made for specialized chef uses
- As a starter knife most carbon steel blades will do a good job
- If you want a top quality knife for the long run stainless steel is the best option. However, low-end cheap stainless steel blades will perform worse than carbon steel blades.
- Laminated blades can certainly be okay, but in general a carbon steel or stainless steel will be the best chef knife for most people.Cutting Technique for Beginners
At this point you should have a decent idea of what you’re looking for in a knife. You can either go use the chart now, or watch this video I’ve included on basic cutting technique. I highly recommend this video for any beginning chef, or even watching it as a quick refresher.