Cook Better: How to Pick Out a Great Chef’s Knife

A chef’s knife is a fundamental kitchen tool for cutting, chopping, slicing and more.

Person cutting an onion
Don’t cry because of onions—cry from the joy a great chef’s knife brings you.Unsplash

Across the world, a chef’s knife is a popular kitchen tool. These versatile blades can be used for nearly any task in a kitchen. Here’s how to make sure you’re getting a good one.

Mercer Culinary Millennia 8-Inch Chef's Knife, Black

Straight Blade

This blade is made from Japanese steel and has textured finger points to prevent it from slipping in your hand.Mercer Culinary

A Western-style chef’s knife has a slight curve to the blade—that differs from Eastern-style blades, which tend to be straighter. That curve allows a particular kind of rocking motion while slicing—a back and forth roll of the knife, rather than a straight up-and-down chop. Ultimately, it comes down to what you’re making personal preference when deciding what kind of knife to purchase.

WÜSTHOF 4582/20 Classic 8 Inch Chef’s Knife,Black,8-Inch

“Full Tang” Style

This blade is made from one single piece of steel, and is triple-riveted into the handle.WÜSTHOF

There are a few subtle differences that can indicate a good quality knife from a flimsy one. Look for a blade that goes the full length of the knife, even into the handle—this is referred to as “full tang.” Full tang knives are more stable and sturdy than those with partial tang, but they can be more expensive, depending on the material of the blade and handle.

Mac Knife Professional Hollow Edge Chef's Knife, 8 Inch, Silver

Dimpled Blade

This high-quality, lightweight tool is crafted in Japan and should be hand washed.Mac Knife

Chef’s knives range in size from about seven to twelve inches. Figuring out exactly what size is best for you can be tricky; hand size matters, but so does your level of comfort with a big knife. If you don’t have the opportunity to go to a store and physically hold knives, go for an 8-inch chef’s knife. It’s a standard length that works for chopping garlic, butchering a chicken, slicing vegetables and pretty much anything else you need a knife to do.