Best chef’s knives for 2020: Mercer, Global, Mac and Wusthof

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In the case of kitchen instruments, value and usefulness do not all the time line up. In truth, a number of the best tools out there only cost a few bucks. However chef’s knives are heftier investments — I spent nicely over $100 on mine, however I take advantage of it on daily basis to slice, cube, dice, mince or, if I am feeling fancy, chiffonade. A superb knife can really feel like a dream, however a poorly balanced or uninteresting one generally is a ache to make use of, and might even result in extra cuts and accidents. So earlier than hitting “purchase” on Amazon or tossing the most affordable knife within the cart in your subsequent outing, it is essential to ask your self two questions: What does a chef’s knife provide, and what do you want it for within the kitchen?

Excessive-quality chef’s knives provide versatility above all. Except you spend appreciable time deboning fish or peeling pears, you do not want a particular boning knife, paring knife, slicing knife, carving knife, serrated knife or different specialty knives as a result of a chef’s knife ought to have the ability to accomplish 95% of your wants. And let’s not even get began on the counter house consumed by a knife set in a large block.

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Since you are going to be utilizing it quite a bit, a chef’s knife needs to be a pleasure to make use of — correctly weighted, however not heavy sufficient to make utilizing it tiring. You may even need an ergonomic deal with. A superb knife has a sturdy blade — it will get a variety of use — and that blade needs to be constantly sharp. There’s nothing worse than a uninteresting knife when reducing, chopping and slicing, so edge retention needs to be a precedence. Chef’s knives additionally are available in a wide range of supplies. You might get a stainless-steel knife, a carbon metal knife or a ceramic knife.

The second query — which one you want — is more durable to reply. Fortunately, I’ve examined a number of the hottest chef’s knives available on the market, and beneath are the very best chef knife picks for each form of house cook dinner. We’ll replace this listing periodically. Seize your reducing board and tomatoes — we’re diving in!

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International’s common chef’s knife is a Japanese-style blade, which suggests it boasts a scary-sharp edge and a nimble-feeling light-weight physique. International’s design can also be distinctive: the deal with and blade are manufactured from a single piece of high-carbon metal, and the deal with is full of sand to weight it. International’s 8-inch possibility is well-balanced and meets all of your common mise en place wants. Slicing, mincing, chopping and even breaking down a rooster are all simple with the International.

Whereas the sting is not fairly as sharp as Mac’s 8-inch blade out of the field, I’ve grown to want it over my outdated standby, the Wusthof, and my first Japanese-style knife, the Mac. Its blade is extra sturdy than the easy-to-chip Mac, and it simply feels excellent in your hand. Plus, in case you discover it on sale for a cool $80, like I did, then you must completely snap up this light-weight kitchen knife.

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This Japanese-style chef’s knife lies on the increased finish of the spectrum on the subject of worth, nevertheless it rests on the prime of most finest lists on-line for a cause: it is a improbable product. In truth, it was my prime decide for a couple of months earlier than being unseated by International’s knife.

Not solely is the Mac tremendous sharp (it slides by means of tomatoes with none tearing by any means), however its blade is thinner than heavier knives like Wusthof’s, which makes slicing snappier veggies like carrots really feel like reducing a ripe banana with a butter knife. No, I am not exaggerating — this can be a tremendous sharp knife.

Mac’s hottest chef knife is completely balanced, so that you by no means really feel vulnerable to shedding management of the blade. Its stomach can also be comfortably rounded, which makes the rocking movement whereas mincing really feel pure.

The one disappointing characteristic of the Mac is how simple it’s to chip the super-thin blade. Inside a few months of standard use, I chipped off the tip of my Mac: I used to be holding the knife and turning when the tip nicked an open cabinet and easily broke off. I am pretty fastidious with my knives, however this, together with my rising fondness of the International chef’s knife, have resulted in Mac’s slight drop within the rating. That stated, it is nonetheless firmly in the very best three knives you may get for an affordable worth.

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Wusthof’s 8-inch traditional chef’s knife is a workhorse within the kitchen. It is one of many weightiest knives I examined, which helps it slice extra delicate meals similar to tomatoes as effortlessly as heat butter and minimize by means of extra sturdy meals like butternut squash with out a lot exertion. The heavier knife weight helps information the blade in constant actions as you utilize it, however the Wusthof is not so heavy that you simply ever really feel managed by the blade.

The Wusthof was my authentic favourite knife till I bought my arms on the Mac and International Japanese-style knives, and it nonetheless stands up as a top-of-the-line possibility. The one shortcoming of the Wusthof is the marginally softer metal used for its blade, which makes it not fairly so razor-sharp because the Mac.

That stated, the Wusthof traditional is completely balanced between the deal with and blade, and it has a heel to guard your fingers, which makes it really feel all of the safer to wield. Top-of-the-line measures of how snug a knife feels in your hand is breaking down a rooster — because it requires many sorts of cuts throughout pores and skin, meat, fats and cartilage. After I used the Wusthof to interrupt down a chicken, it felt as if I might been utilizing the knife for years. I did not make a single errant minimize or awkward movement.

This knife is top-to-bottom among the best obtainable at an affordable worth. It is versatile and cozy, and its high-carbon metal cast blade will maintain a pointy edge in addition to practically every other knife — Mac and International excluded — on this worth vary.

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For $50, J.A. Henckels’ Zwilling Gourmand 8-inch Chef’s knife is a good funds possibility. It does not have the heel of a heavier-duty knife just like the Wusthof or J.A. Henckels Traditional, nevertheless it’s well-balanced and makes clear cuts on tomatoes and herbs, makes fast work of dicing onions and breaks down a rooster with relative ease.

The Zwilling Gourmand is a stamped blade, somewhat than a cast one, which suggests it possible will not maintain its edge so long as the Wusthof. It is also lighter, which suggests your hand will not be guided fairly as nicely by means of a tomato or equally delicate meals.

All that stated, the Zwilling’s cuts have been constantly clear, it felt snug in my hand, and for $50, I might be more than pleased so as to add this knife to my kitchen.

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Fingers-down, the most important shock of my testing was the efficiency of Mercer’s $16 Culinary Millennia 8-inch chef’s knife. It isn’t as nicely made because the Zwilling or Wusthof blades — each of which characteristic long-lasting full-tang design (the knife’s metallic travels all the best way from the tip of the blade to the butt of the deal with in a single piece). However the deal with design is ideal for educating newcomers find out how to maintain and use a chef’s knife, guiding your thumb and index finger to the bottom of the blade. It is well-balanced and truthfully felt essentially the most like an extension of my arm as I prepped numerous veggies, fruits and meats in my exams.

The sunshine weight and low cost design imply you aren’t getting the lengthy life or the complete versatility you’d get from a workhorse just like the Wusthof, however in case you’re wanting a starter chef’s knife to be taught for six months whilst you save for a much bigger funding, the Mercer actually is a good cook dinner’s knife.

How we examined

Our procedures blended 5 exams — slicing tomatoes, dicing onions, mincing leafy herbs, chopping carrots and breaking down chickens — every with a 1-to-10 score, with extra normal use and commentary. I needed to method the procedures as the common house cook dinner would, specializing in normal use and expertise. I additionally averted overemphasizing sharpness, as manufacturing unit sharpness does not actually let you know a lot a couple of blade past its first few weeks or months of use. 

In truth, you will possible need to spend money on a knife sharpener to get a pointy edge as soon as you purchase a chef’s knife. I wrote about knife sharpeners in a separate story. We have additionally written about how to sharpen a knife appropriately. Taking sharpening critically is essential to a knife blade’s edge retention.

I took into consideration the kind of metal used within the knife’s building (most are high-carbon metal), the tactic (whether or not it was cast or stamped) and the overall design (full-tang knives, as an example, last more than blades hooked up to a definite deal with).

Past its measurable efficiency with numerous meals, I approached every knife as a bundle — experiencing how its weight and stability got here collectively to create an expertise that both felt intuitive or awkward.

The remainder of the sphere

General, we examined a dozen of the most well-liked chef’s knives for house cooks, together with Mac, International, Artisan Revere, Victorinox, Kitchenaid, Cuisinart, Homefavor, Farberware, Zwilling, J.A. Henckels, Wusthof and Mercer. Of those knives, three have been the clear leaders, most others have been solidly designed and just one stood out as actually unhealthy.

Mac, Wusthof and International have been my stand-out favorites for high quality and efficiency, and in case you’re actually critical about adopting a high-quality chef’s knife, any of those three will do the trick. Whereas I gave my assessments above, everybody may have their very own slight preferences — International feels finest to me, but when I ate extra meat and denser veggies, I might in all probability lean towards Wusthof because the extra sturdy blade. And if completely minced herbs and delicately sliced fish have been extra frequent cuts in my kitchen, Mac may take the crown.

I additionally extra just lately examined the $445 Chef’s Knife from American firm Artisan Revere. That knife carried out in addition to any of the highest three. It is well-balanced, and feels closest in profile to International: it is not heavy and thick-spined just like the Wusthof, and so had extra hassle with the butternut squash and pineapple; and it is not fairly as razor-sharp because the Mac. But it surely’s a extremely well-designed center little one that may really feel extremely snug to many house cooks.


Artisan Revere provides a superb product for a worth that shall be laborious to swallow for many clients.

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Artisan Revere’s important drawback? That price ticket. I simply can’t suggest that house cooks purchase a chef’s knife that prices $300 greater than comparable merchandise, besides as a luxurious merchandise. David Olkovetsky, founder and CEO of Artisan Revere, informed me over e mail that the explanations for the value tag are manifold: most significantly, the high-quality metal is made with extra environmentally pleasant strategies, and the so-called “tremendous metal” will retain its edge higher than opponents. I’ve used the knife each day for a couple of weeks, together with subjecting it to the identical exams as the opposite knives on this listing, and the blade, although actually dulling over time, has maintained its edge extra successfully than different blades. That stated, the Artisan Revere will possible want sharpening pretty typically, similar to every other knife, if you need it to maintain its edge.

I’ll maintain utilizing the Artisan Revere alongside my prime picks for this listing, and I will replace the Artisan Revere’s standing if it actually does carry out considerably higher than the competitors after six months of heavy use. For now, it appears to be a well-designed knife for patrons snug dropping over $400 on a kitchen software.

Mercer, Zwilling and to a lesser diploma,  supplied stable efficiency and well-balanced merchandise for newcomers in search of a cut price (Victorinox will get a variety of love on-line for its price ticket and stability, nevertheless it’s costlier than the $16 Mercer and never fairly as nicely balanced).


J.A. Henckels’ Traditional Chef’s Knife appears to be like just like the Wusthof Traditional, however its slight variations in stability and design make it a a lot much less gratifying knife to make use of usually.

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‘s and s knives have been sturdier than the cheaper opponents, however they did not stand out in any single class.

The $50 , which looks as if a pure winner given its cheap price ticket and related design to the costlier Wusthof traditional, actually dissatisfied me. It is one other workhorse of a knife, however its butt is heavier than it needs to be, so heavy prep will get tiring, and mincing feels awkward.

Lastly, ‘s knife was the worst of the bunch: It’s so poorly balanced, actually, that I finished the rooster take a look at halfway by means of for worry of reducing myself. The deal with is extraordinarily gentle, which leaves the middle of stability for the knife an inch or two down the blade. That makes nearly each kind of prep, from slicing and dicing to mincing and rooster boning, really feel awkward at finest and harmful at worst. Briefly, do not buy this knife.

A chef’s knife may be your finest buddy within the kitchen — in case you discover the suitable match. So take your time, work out precisely what you want out of your chef’s knife, and make an funding. You might maintain shopping for these generic $10 knives from the shop each time your knife will get uninteresting, however in case you’re actually critical about upping your kitchen recreation, a high-quality chef’s knife is without doubt one of the finest investments you can also make.

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David Priest