21st July 2021
A chef's knife (also known as a cook's knife) is recognised as the most important blade in the kitchen by many, and can be used for almost every cutting task. It's a must-have item in every knife set, block or drawer.
In March 2021, we tested chef knives from well-known brands, such as Global, Lakeland, ProCook and Robert Welch.
Chef's knives are the most commonly purchased kitchen knife, which was why we chose them for our first-ever knife test.
Pricing and availability last checked 23 July 2021.
This is a well-balanced 20cm chef's knife designed for everyday chopping and slicing.
The blade is forged from Japanese stainless steel.
The handle is covered in soft-grip rubber, which Circulon says is ergonomically designed to sit comfortably in the hand.
This Global cook's knife is a back-heavy 13cm blade.
This kitchen knife is hand forged from CROMOVA 18, a high-carbon hand-forged stainless steel that Global says is exclusive to its brand.
It's one piece of metal from cutting edge to handle.
This 20cm cook's knife is front heavy.
The steel blade is one of the most flexible and lightest for its size of those we tested.
We found the soft rubber handle is well shaped to offer a comfortable grip.
It's one of the cheapest blades we've tested.
This is a front-heavy 20cm kitchen knife that comes with a sheath for safe storage.
The chef's knife is made from Japanese stainless steel.
The handle of the knife is wrapped in soft-grip rubber.
The Masterclass chef's knife is a 15cm back-heavy blade.
This kitchen knife is forged from a single piece of stainless steel.
The whole kitchen knife is covered in an armour coating which makes it dishwasher safe.
But how did this rigid blade compare with the others on test?
The Nihon X50 chef's knife is a perfectly balanced 20cm blade.
Its flexible blade is forged from X50 stainless steel, containing 0.5% carbon and 15% chrome.
This kitchen knife's rounded handle is made from European beech wood.
The cheapest knife we've tested is a 15cm front-heavy blade.
The kitchen knife has a carbon steel blade and an integrated soft-grip handle.
This chef's knife comes in sky or duck egg blue with a matching sheath for safe storage.
The Professional X50 chef's knife from ProCook is a back-heavy 15cm long blade of German steel.
Cheapest price: £39.99 available at . Also available at , ,
Blade size we tested: 12cm, also available in 14cm, 16cm, 18cm, 20cm and 25cm
Comes with a sheath: No
Dishwasher safe: Yes, but recommended to hand wash
This stylish back-heavy 12cm blade is the smallest of the chef knive we've tested.
The blade of the kitchen knife is forged from German steel.
We found the slightly curved handle comfortable to hold.
This is a perfectly balanced 16cm chef's knife.
The blade of the knife is Japanese steel, while the traditional style handle is smoked oak with brass rivets.
This kitchen knife is the most expensive of those we tested, but did we think it was worth the money?
A chef's knife is a large, general-purpose kitchen knife usually 12cm to 20cm long with a blade that curves upwards along its length and ends in a narrow point.
Your thumb and index finger should be on opposite sides of the blade, closest to the bolster, while your remaining three fingers should be loosely curled around the handle.
This grip, mainly through the thumb and index finger, gives you extra control over the blade.
Your other hand (not holding the knife) is called your guiding hand. It has the job of holding food in place to keep it from sliding around on the chopping board.
Keep your fingers safe by tucking them into a claw grip: fingers curled inwards, gripping the food with your fingernails. The side of the knife blade should rest against the first knuckle of your guiding hand.
You'll see us refer in our reviews to chef knives as back-heavy, front-heavy or balanced. Here's what that means:
One is not better than the other. It's a matter of personal preference.
When choosing a knife, you may see it described as having full tang or hidden tang. Here's a quick explanation of what that means:
European (also known as German) knives:
To find out which of our selected chef's knives was the best, we put the whole selection through a series of tests:
Before any other tests were conducted, we examined each knife fresh out the box for its sharpness.
We did this by shining a light directly across the cutting edge of the blade. Reflections on the cutting edge indicated areas of dullness.
The fewer areas of reflection, the higher the knife was rated.
Next, we sliced each knife through each of these:
Most of the knives we tested handled paper, cucumbers and chicken breasts well. If a knife didn't, we highlighted this in our verdicts.
Knives that cut through every piece of produce were rated more highly.
Each knife was rated on completing three basic kitchen knife skills:
Dicing Each knife was used to dice half a red onion.
Mincing Each knife was used to mince one garlic clove.
Julienning Each knife was used to julienne one 5cm piece of carrot.
After the cutting tests, the sharpness of each knife was rated by shining a light directly across the cutting edge of the blade. Reflections on the cutting edge indicate areas of dullness.
Then each knife was used to attempt to slice a piece of paper in half for the second time in our testing.
After testing, all knives were disposed of in a responsible manner by donating them to local soup kitchens.
We investigated the most popular and bestselling chef's knives from national retailers that were in stock for home delivery at the time of testing.
We purchased all the products we tested.