Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

While there’s no such thing as the perfect knife, there are plenty of perfect-for-you options out there. The best knife isn’t just the sharpest one, it also has to fit your hand and be comfortable while making a variety of cuts. (Mince! Chop! Brunoise!). 

While we’ve reviewed a myriad of knives at Serious Eats, picking out the knife that best suits your kitchen can take some time. Do you need a Chinese cleaver for breaking down large produce? What about a petty knife for precision cuts? Then again, there’s always a classic chef’s knife if you need to tackle a variety of tasks. To help you wade through the nearly endless options out there, we surveyed our staff to find out which knives are their favorites and why.

Personal Favorites

My favorite knives include the Wüsthof Classic Chef’s Knife, which is a Serious Eats top pick. I have one with a lilac handle (called Purple Yam!), which endears it to me even more. And while it didn’t come out on top during our testing, I’ve owned this Shun knife for about 10 years and it’s still one of my go-to’s for slicing, dicing, and mincing. The Tojiro bread knife is also one of my favorites. It’s wicked sharp and nimble, capable of slicing bread, getting thin pieces of tomatoes, and even peeling butternut squash. Plus, it’s cheap! — Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm, senior commerce editor

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Affordable Standbys

Want to know how many knives I own? I have a magnetic knife holder with about 10 knives on it, a knife drawer with another 40 or so, and about 10 more knives stashed in my pantry, and then just the other week I was going through a closet and found an old knife bag full of another 15, and that doesn’t include my other knife bag and whatever mysteries it holds. And y’all want me to pick a favorite? Okay, sure, I will. In this one little snapshot in time, I mostly use my carbon steel Chinese cleaver (it does just about everything), my beater Mercer Chef’s Knife (excellent quality for the money), my beloved Tojiro Bread Knife (it’s the best serrated knife out there even without factoring in its incredibly low price, don’t argue with me, I will die on this hill), and then a Misono that I keep in a box for the times when I need something in better shape than my beater Mercer. — Daniel Gritzer, senior culinary director

Serious Eats / Daniel Gritzer

An Upgraded Japanese Vegetable Knife

When I was a 16-year-old prep cook at a country club, the chef would sometimes let us use knives from his personal kit. It was my first time handling a Wüsthof chef’s knife and I was immediately enamored with its balance and the sharpness of its edge. A few years later, in 2009, I was gifted one. And 14 years after that? It’s still my daily driver. I’ve had it professionally sharpened twice and used a whetstone a handful of times, and with just a few passes on a honing steel it still slides through tomatoes like they’re nothing. Impossibly sharp, comfortable to hold, perfectly balanced, and durable as all heck, the Wüsthof 8-Inch Classic Chef’s Knife really is worth the investment. But I also have to admit something: when I was compiling this piece I got so excited about knives that I actually bought this Tojiro DP Nariki. It’s the slightly nicer version of our favorite nakiri knife with an added bolster and full-tang construction, and I’m excited to have a dedicated vegetable prep knife with a new edge in the house. And yes, I, too, love the Tojiro Bread Knife, which glides through all the sourdough I bake without any resistance.  — Jesse Raub, commerce writer

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

A Nimble Go-To

If I was stranded on a desert island and told to bring one knife, I would probably bring my Messermeister Chinese cleaver; it was my great uncle’s and is perfectly balanced and sharp. If I was allowed two knives, I’d also grab my Victorinox Petty Knife, which is sturdy and nimble (I use it to cut vegetables). Three? Okay, we’re going beyond the scope of my “desert island” angle but, for kicks, I’d also bring my Tojiro Petty Knife (yes, I love petty knives, and this one is super sharp and agile). This trio would serve me well, with the cleaver providing a bench scraper-esque blade, the Victorinox providing durability and heft while still being nimble (for hardy island plants, ya know), and the dainty but sharp Tojiro for carving and eating loads of fish crudo (a girl can dream). All of these blades have served me very well beyond any island fantasy, and I reach for one of the three daily. — Grace Kelly, associate commerce editor

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The Do-It-All Pick

Roses are red, violets are blue, we have used our Wüsthof 8-inch Chef’s Knife for literally everything—too many things, all the things, we should probably use other knives to do some of these things—for many years now, these are three things I know to be true. K, bye! —Tess Koman, senior editorial director

A High-End Japanese Chef’s Knife

Like many people on this team I also own a stable full of knives that I love and use on a regular basis, but there are a few I reach for time and again. For times when I need to chop large amounts of vegetables I turn to a 10-inch Warikomi Damascus knife I purchased in Tokyo. For daily cooking, I use an 8-inch Shun Dual Core Kiritsuke, a style of Japanese blade suited for a wide range of tasks. For small tasks, I use the incredibly simple and inexpensive Victorinox paring knife Serious Eats has used in the past. And for Chinese cooking, I use a CCK Small Cleaver, a blade we’ve recommended before which is made in Hong Kong. — Jacob Dean, former updates editor

A Precise Slicer

I’ve never been a “knife head” so to say, although I’ve cooked professionally with many in the past. I have not-so-fond memories of “chef bros” pulling out their knife trays after service to show off their shiny assortment of knives. I was never that impressed. I prefer a few select knives that work well for me. My go-to is my Mercer 8″ Rennaisance Chef’s Knife. I’ve had this knife since culinary school and it can handle all the daily wear and tear I throw its way. For the (now) rare occasion when I am making delicate precision cuts, I’ll pull out my Misono UX10 (a longtime Serious Eats favorite chef’s knife). it glides almost effortlessly through onions, leeks, and scallops. I’ve also recently fallen in love with my new MAC Nakiri knife. I love that it is a bit shorter and easier to manage, so I can quickly slice through a mound of veggies, such as mushrooms.—Leah Colins, senior culinary editor

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

FAQs

What is the best chef’s knife?

While the Wüsthof Classic Chef’s Knife is our top pick for a Western chef’s knife, there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a chef’s knife, like price and style. We also have multiple budget picks (like the Mercer Genesis Chef’s Knife) and a variety of Japanese chef’s knives if you’re looking for a blade with a finer edge. 

Are Japanese knives better than German knives?

There’s no one country that makes better knives, but plenty of our favorite Western-style chef’s knives come from Germany, and Japan is still the top manufacturing hub for Japanese-style chef’s knives. The difference between Japanese and Western chef’s knives comes down to a few key points: Japanese knives are typically made from harder steel that holds an edge longer but is more brittle, and German knives are usually softer so that the edge will roll instead of chip. This means Japanese knives are more prone to damage, but need to be sharpened less. 

Why We’re the Experts

Jesse Raub is Serious Eats’ commerce writer and spent over 15 years working in the specialty coffee industry. He’s our in-house coffee expert and regularly tests coffee gear for this site. Serious Eats has a lot of knife content available, including reviews of chef’s knives, serrated bread knives, petty knives, and Chinese cleavers. You can also read our entire knife skills section to learn more about how to hold a knife, how to slice and dice an onion, and more.

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