If you are familiar with cooking, you probably know that some fundamental tools should be present and ready to use in each kitchen at all times. One of the essentials in the kitchen is decent cutlery, and the chef's knives are the cutlery of utmost importance: they are responsible for doing all the slicing, chopping, dicing, and cutting. Therefore, such a knife should have ultimate performance and versatility and be a long-lasting one at the same time. In this review we have prepared, we covered all the basics and the details of a chef's knife and arranged comprehensive product reviews.
Stay edified by browsing through a comprehensive list of the best chef's knives under $100.
Here is our top list ready;
#1. Best Overall - Dalstrong 9.5" Chef Knife
This is a blade with a personality. Under its minimalist design lies a combination of many great features. Beautiful craftsmanship is put into it, such as the hand-finished scalpel-like edge. Expert bladesmiths have worked the high-carbon super-steel with the traditional Honbazuke 3-step method and brought the blade to a 15-degree angle on both sides. The work in this blade is not limited to the edge: the blade is also nitrogen cooled to gain flexibility and harness.
Moreover, the blade is also hand-polished. Since this is a blade from DALSTRONG’S Shadow Black Series, it is given a titanium nitride coating to enhance corrosion resistance and robustness as well as providing a non-stick and stain-resistant surface with added chromium. The steel has also gone into a vacuum heat treatment at the 58+HRC on the Rockwell hardness scale. With all the work that has been put into the steel, the edge retention turns out to be exceptional.
Dark and precise as a shadow, a chef’s knife with strong characteristics.
When we look at the handle part, we also see an exceptional black design with a military-grade G10 handle to eliminate slipping, but the most striking feature is in the shape. The form is extraordinary: it is innovative, minimalist, and dashing at the same time. Straight lines in the design complement and define the blade in the best way: determined and precise.
Overall, we think that this is an assertive and bold choice. A great shade of black and a powerful design is implied, and the steel is quite promising. This night dark knife has a sheat of the same color; therefore, you can store it conveniently after each use. Last but not least, Dalstrong offers a lifetime warranty against defects with the purchase of the knife.
#2. Hardest - Findking - Dynasty Series 8" Chef Knife
The next multipurpose knife on this list is one from the Findking's Dynasty Series: the core is crafted with a high-end Chinese stainless steel with a high amount of chromium and an average amount of carbon inside and forged into three-layer composite steel. While the chromium in the core gives the blade corrosion resistance, the carbon causes the steel to gain durability and hardness; in other words, together, they form the perfect blade that has a score of 60+-2 HRC on the Rockwell hardness scale. Also, the steel has a 16-degree angle on both sides, and it is polished by hand.
A blade that is excellent in design: steel with exceptional hardness and an authentic look combined.
On the other hand, the handle part is crafted with African Rosewood and comes with a beautiful shape: An octagonal design made with wood, one we usually come across in traditional Japanese cutlery. In short, the handle complements and balances the steel both in terms of look and weight the best way with a slight touch of authenticity and also gives the user a total maneuver capacity on the blade.
To sum up, 60+-2 HRC is an outstanding score on the Rockwell Hardness Scale; it indicates great strength and durability. The octagonal handle, on the other hand, is a lovely plus for tradition and authenticity enthusiasts.
#3. Best Budget - Imarku 8" Chef Knife
The next multi-functional knife on this list is a Gyutou knife by Imarku. A Japanese version of traditional chef’s knives, manufactured with high-quality stainless steel and given 8 inches of length. Nevertheless, what is unique about the steel is a bit unusual and unheard of: the steel contains almost twice the carbon of regular chef knives, which means it has twice the sturdiness of traditional steel. Illustrative is the blade’s immense score on the Rockwell hardness scale: HRC 56-58. Moreover, the blade has also been through 2 more different steps for optimizing performance: vacuum heat treatment and nitrogen cryogenic tempering. Last but not least, steel is also combined with 16-18% of chrome in order to provide a glossy look to the knife while eliminating any tarnishing, rusting, corrosion, or fading problems.
Twice the hardness and performance: a blade enriched with more carbon to enhance solidity.
On the handle part, pakkawood (a combination of plastic and wood and used mainly on household items such as knives) - is preferred. Handle balances the steel perfectly and makes the knife dishwasher safe. However, Imarku recommends hand-washing of the product, and so do we on any type of cutlery. In addition to the weight and the balance, the edge retention of this knife is outstanding as well.
Briefly, his knife covers all the features of a strong blade: it has chromium and different treatments for enhanced hardness. Moreover, pakkawood is a great material for handles; it is dense and durable. Packaging is done with a small gift box that fits and covers the knife, great for safety and storing purposes after each use.
#4. Easy to Use - Victorinox Fibrox 8" Pro Knife
An 8-inch blade of a simple design, manufactured with high-quality and lightweight European steel. This blade stands out with a slight curve in the design that allows the user to move in a swinging motion and cut or dice the food with minimum effort.
The TPE handle of the knife is the result of ergonomic and performance concerns. It balances the blade and creates the base for a non-slip grip. Therefore, the knife will feel secure in your hands, and you will be able to use it safely without any slipping, even when the handle is wet.
A convenient option: a dishwasher-safe knife by Swiss brand Victorinox with outstanding aspects.
Also, the knife comes with a regular straight edge. Since expectations and purposes vary a lot among users, the sharpness of the blade might meet the expectations and satisfy some users. In contrast, others might opt for a more precise edge. However, such conflicts do not pose a problem since sharpness requirements differ even on different types of food; and you can always bring your cutlery into your desired sharpness and angles with a good quality knife sharpener.
In short, this is a lightweight and affordable knife. With frequent sharpening, it will keep in perfect shape. In our opinion, the non-slip grip is a plus: not only because it is safe, but you will be more comfortable when holding and maneuvering.
#5. Best Sharp - SHAN ZU Chef Knife
Next, we are looking at an ultra-sharp blade by SHAN ZU. This one is also designed with 15- degree angles on both sides; therefore, it is another ambidextrous blade. It consists of 0.5% carbon and 15% chrome in the high-carbon German steel part: carbon serves to provide the knife with outstanding durability and solidity, while chrome material perfectly complements the blade by creating a non-stick surface. In addition to adjustments in the material, SHAN ZU repeats one more step in all their cutlery: Nitrogen cooling to intensify hardness and flexibility and provide the blade with corrosion-resistant features. As a result, on the Rockwell hardness scale, the steel has a score of 55-57 HRC. Moreover, the blade also carries signs of hand-craftsmanship: the steel is hand polished over 60 days.
A German steel knife enriched with chromium for ideal performance, durability, and precision.
SHAN ZU preferred pakkawood on this blade for comfort, strength, and stability purposes to balance this great steel with an ergonomically designed handle. To keep your knife in the best shape and make sure you have the best edge retention, SHAN ZU expresses that the blade should only touch wood, plastic, or rubber cutting boards since any interaction with other materials such as glass, granite, marble, and ceramics will damage the blade. The brand recommends hand-washing with a soapy cloth. They also state that the blade should be honed every 2-3 months with honing steel for best performance.
In conclusion, this knife is another outstanding one. The HRC score and the characteristics of the chromium-enhanced steel are beyond amazing. The balance and comfort have also been set to a reasonable level by the use of pakkawood.
#6. Best for Everyday Use - J.A. Henckels International Classic Chef Knife
This 8-inch blade with a fine edge is one of the dishwasher-safe options on this list: a made-in-Spain blade that is manufactured with high-quality german stainless steel. In terms of flexibility, this one has just a slight capability; thus, it is the perfect versatile option for chopping tough meals such as potatoes. In terms of the fully forged design, from the steel part to the handle, the transition could be referred to as a perfect, seamless one due to the traditional triple-riveted design that serves both ergonomic and comfort purposes. Not only the appearance, but the weight is also excellently balanced by the handle and the full bolster.
The type of chef’s knife you are familiar with: A triple-riveted and classic promising blade by world-known brand Henckels.
Henckels states that their knives come with a lifetime warranty and adds that they will be in razor sharpness with regular sharpening. The brand also expresses that even though the blade is dishwasher safe, unless it has been in direct contact with raw meat and needs sanitizing, hand washing should be preferred. In addition to the sharpening and convenient storage, with proper hand cleaning by using mild cleansers and immediate drying afterward, your knife will keep in the best condition.
Overall, the simple design of the knife resembles the cutlery we use in our daily lives or see in restaurants. It is a convenient and powerful option that will function and serve in a significant but modest way.
#7. Best Value - Mercer Culinary M23510
Following this, we are looking at another triple-riveted and classic-looking chef knife. Mercer Culinary has designed this blade with high-carbon and stain-resistant German steel and chose Delrin material for the full-tang handle. However, the great part about this blade is the stability: it resists any rust, corrosion, stain, and discoloration problems. On edge, the steel is given a 15-degree angle on both sides and formed a shortened bolster afterward to maintain balance, strengthen the steel, and make the knife last longer.
A durable full-tang knife by the Culinary brand Mercer: easy honing and maintenance will turn it into your go-to option in the kitchen.
Moreover, the blade is also NSF certified - a highly respected independent organization that is the global provider of public health and safety-based risk management situations-. This knife by Mercer Culinary has been tested and meets this organization's standards in terms of safety, quality and performance.
Overall, this knife is one of the classic and convenient choices: any honing will be easy thanks to the taper ground edge; therefore, you won't have any trouble in terms of sharpness or efficiency. Last but not least, the brand states that their cutlery should never be put in a dishwasher since heat and cleanser may cause deterioration, and they offer a limited lifetime warranty.
#8. Best Handle - Kamosoto Chef's Knife
Next, we are looking at a knife manufactured with Japanese 67 layers VG-10 Damascus Stainless Steel. As the complex name gives out, this is another chef's knife option with a great blade. Not only is it precisely the same steel that forms the world's finest Samurai swords, but the material is also stained, wear, and corrosion-resistant.
Carrying great craftsmanship, hard work, and visible marks of all the 67 layers of forge and steel.
Wavy patterns that come from Damascus resemble a water's surface and can easily be seen on the blade. The transition from the 60-62 HRC-rated steel to the handle is perfectly balanced, and the ergonomic G10 handle provides the user with the best moving capacity.
Damascus VG-10 and G10 are superior materials: the knife is strong, durable, and will be long-lasting. While the material is dishwasher safe, the brand recommends hand-washing and immediate drying. Moreover, the packaging is great for having it as a gift or storing it conveniently after each use.
#9. Best Japanese - Fanteck Kiritsuke 9.5" Chef's Knife
Following, we are looking at an exceptional knife: a Kiritsuke. Kiritsuke is a knife traditionally only used by the executive chef of a restaurant in Japan; therefore, it is pretty valuable and carries great merit and meaning. And this Kiritsuke by GRANDSHARP is one with outstanding features: 67 layers of VG-10 Damascus high-carbon stainless steel and a G10 handle are used in the design.
Marvelous design, great strength, and a special meaning: a personal knife in every way.
In addition to the quality materials it is manufactured from, the shape of the knife is also magnificent. All the beautiful patterns that come from Damascus can be seen on the elegant and thin blade part. Overall, the HRC 62+ rated blade carries great strength itself as well as a graceful look.
A Kiritsuke with excellent hardness - a score of 62+ HRC. As we mentioned, Damascus VG-10 and G10 are superior materials; therefore, this knife is an upper-level one, offering full performance. The brand also provides lifetime service against defects and ships the knife in a lovely gift box, making it the perfect gift for anyone, especially yourself.
#10. Best Gift - FANTECK Professional Chef's Knife
The last one on this list, we have another powerful blade with 67 layered VG-10 Damascus stainless steel: one that is also faithful to the techniques of making excellent Samurai swords - Katanas. Thus, it is safe to say that this knife is also great in terms of strength and durability. The 62+ HRC strong steel is brought to a 10-15 degree angle on both sides with razor sharpness and treated with vacuum heat and nitrogen cooling to enhance performance.
Marvelous design, great strength, and a special meaning: a personal knife in every way.
Damascus VG-10, G10, and exclusive hardness rating. In short, the knife excels on all levels. Moreover, your purchase will arrive in a beautiful gift box, a knife sheath for convenient storage, and the brand also sends a mini knife sharpener with it.
Budget Chef Knife Features to Consider
The main two features that you should seek when choosing a chef knife are:
- Quality steel and sufficient hardness to chop any food
- Balanced weight and comfort grip
If a knife provides these major two aspects, the rest is pretty much up to you: just choose one among many customized options.
In terms of steel, we suggest going with a high-carbon and chromium added blade since they are the ones that offer the optimum performance: durability and edge retention will be perfect. Yet, the steel will also be non-stick and corrosion resistant at the same time. VG-10 or other steels that are enhanced with chromium are great options. Also, you might prefer Damascus steel. Damascus is originally one of the oldest sword-making techniques used in weapon craftsmanship, and it is still used by many brands in cutlery manufacture today. Steels go through special forging processes that cause the steel to gain durability and performance improvement; at the same time, it also causes wavy, almost floral patterns to form on the blade. That is why Damascus steel in a knife is a plus both in terms of performance and look.
Weight and Handle
When choosing a handle, on the other hand, you will have so many more options. As long as it balances the knife, you can go with wood, plastic, rubber, polymer, or a G10 handle in different designs. Full-tang, octagonal, riveted, pakkawood, and ergonomic shapes are among the versatile options.
Dishwashers are not safe for cutlery for many reasons: the heat, the detergent, and the humidity. While some knives are said to be dishwasher safe, we always recommend using hand washing at all times.
Frozen foods practically have frozen water, ice in them. Even though chef's knives are durable types of equipment, cutting bones or ice will damage them. Any interaction with such foods will cause your blade to get dull and blunted.
A chef's knife is designed to cut almost any type of food: fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and herbs. It is a versatile blade for any slicing, dicing, cutting, and chopping. A wide blade, a length of approximately 10 inches, is the common feature. If you are a professional chef, you would naturally have some version of this knife in your kitchen. However, in our opinion, a chef's knife is a piece of must-have cutlery equipment in every kitchen, especially if you are a cooking enthusiast.
Sharpening a chef's knife is so simple since such knives come with two bevels. If you have an electric or manual sharpener device, all you have to do is slide the blade across the slots until you get to the desired sharpness. If you are using a whetstone for sharpening purposes, ensure that the stone is secure in place and swipe the blade across until the edge comes in razor sharpness. The only two details here that you should pay attention to are:
- The number of your swipe actions must be the same for each side of the blade.
- You must pay attention to the angle since you will be the determiner when using a whetstone. When sharpening, try to keep the original 10-15 degree angle of a chef's knife.
Before getting to the posture, you should make sure that the knife feels balanced and secure in your hands. Then, you can choose from various knife holding positions.
- You can hold the knife from the handle with all your fingers and form a secure grip.
- You can put your index finger and thumb to hold the blade and the rest on the handle as if you were pinching it securely.
- Some prefer to hold the knife with the thumb, index, and middle finger and leave the two fingers on the handle.
However, it would help if you never put your index on the spine of the blade. Not only such a position is not secure, but the tension coming from your index finger will put pressure on your tendons and cause your arm to get tired immediately.
The position of your second hand, one that you are using to hold the food, is vital. It would be best if you always positioned your hand with a curve and never spread it. Your fingertips should always be behind your knuckles to keep you from cutting yourself; that way, as you move the blade in a circular motion while never letting it leave the cutting board, you will make sure that your knuckles function as a guard and guidance for the knife.
How We Choose the Best Chef Knife under $100
Knives, chef knives, in particular, play a huge role in any kitchen. They are responsible for slicing and dicing ingredients, thus contributing significantly to the preparation of gourmet dishes and offering their share of advantages during home cooking. However, chef's knives require special attention since they tend to be expensive if something has been forged by hand with genuine steel or quality materials. If you are on a tight budget, you can still get your hands on chef's knives, but you should be extra careful.
The chef's knife that we have chosen is the great Dalstrong Chef Knife. It is a knife made of high carbon steel that has been given a special treatment to the blade to make it extra flexible and resistant. It is coated with titanium nitride to enhance its corrosion resistance, robustness, and longevity. The edge retention is tremendous for this chef's knife as a result of the work done during the heat treatment at 58+HRC on the Rockwell hardness scale. Moreover, it does not have an ordinary look: instead, its design is modern and innovative while also being functional.
The handle part comes in black G10 material, which provides an easier grip without any slipping issues whatsoever; however, this chef knife offers more than just comfort when in use. The handle has a sleek look to it and is in the form of straight lines. In addition, there are hard rivets which also have an essential role since they are meant to offer additional strength to the chef's knife while eliminating any possibility of its breaking.
With all these features available at such an affordable price, this chef's knife is an excellent choice for chefs who want to prepare high-quality dishes but do not want to spend hundreds or thousands on chef knives that will hold up for decades of use. Instead, you can get Dalstrong Chef Knife without compromising your budget and without having to worry about spending most of your salary on chef knives alone!
Many options vary in size, shape, pattern, and even color regarding chef's knives. Since they are one of the most common equipment, you will find that there are so many different designs from all price ranges, each addressing users with additional needs. So far, we have tried to cover the best and most versatile options for helping you to choose an essential for your kitchen: a long-lasting and robust chef's knife.
We hope that this review has been helpful and enjoyable for you and you have picked the best option that suits all your needs and expectations until now. If you wish to check out further information on cutlery and other essentials, don't forget to visit our other articles on Usen&Cook!