A chef knife — popularly called a cook’s knife, is undoubtedly one of the most vital kitchen tools there is. Sporting a straight and wide cutting edge, the chef knife is largest across the heel and has a finely pointed tip.
While there are plenty of knives among popular kitchen tools, the chef knife holds a particular significance due to its reputation as an all-rounder. It is possibly one of the most adaptable knives in the kitchen, suitable for every task ranging from dicing to mincing, making it quite a task for you to choose the best chef knife among numerous options.
Irrespective of what you are – a professional chef, hotelier, homemaker, cooking enthusiast, or dealer in kitchen accessories, you have to be clear about certain factors while deciding to buy a chef knife. You have to choose the best among a massive list of options while carefully considering their pros and cons.
10 Best Chef Knives Under 100 USD
1. Mercer Culinary M22612 Millennia 12-Inch Chef’s Knife
It is made of high-carbon, stain-resistant Japanese steel and textured finger points that enable comfort grip, slip resistance, and safety. In addition, it has a protective finger guard as well.
This Japanese knife has more than a 4.5-star rating and 10,000+ reviews. Undoubtedly, the Mercer Milennia is the star of the show. It is particularly famous for the handle, which customers seem to find comfortable and ergonomic.
- Comfortable handle
- 12-inch length
- Incredibly sharp blade
- Ergonomic handle
- Super sharp handle, so caution must be exercised during use
- It may not be very comfortable for people with small hands
2. Mercer Culinary Chef’s Knife, 10 Inch, Ultimate White
It is made from stain-free Japanese steel and sports a polypropylene, ergonomic handle. The textured finger points provide good grip and safety. It also boasts easy edge maintenance and a hollow ground edge.
The Mercer Culinary Chef’s Knife is a miraculous product for people who prefer something lightweight or those having mobility issues of some kind. It’s from the same company and is equally sharp, despite the weightlessness. Customers have been raving about the product, claiming it to cut anything, from meat to veggies.
- It weighs less than seven ounces
- Very sharp
- 10-inch length
- Affordable price
- Slip resistance
- The lightweight feature may not be suitable for certain functionalities
- It is not dishwasher safe.
3. The Mercer Culinary Genesis Forged 7″ Santoku Knife
It is made of German stainless steel and is therefore quite resistant to corrosion and discoloration. In addition, it is quite strong and tough and can perform numerous other functions apart from chopping.
Another marvel from Mercer, this one has a Japanese blade style called Santoku. Its design is unlike a regular chef knife – it is flat and is more suited for chopping up and down. Although its specialty is chopping, the knife can perform various other functions equally well.
- 7-inch blade
- Full-tang design
- It has a limited lifetime warranty.
- It needs to be hand-washed very carefully after each use.
4. Mercer Culinary Genesis Forged Chef’s Knife
The knife’s handle is made from Santoprene material that helps provide a non-slip grip. The best part about this knife is that it is resistant to temperature and food oils.
Mercer has a specially manufactured chef knife for people with smaller hands, can you believe it? Yes, it’s true. This knife has a 6-inch blade and is very convenient for people with smaller hands. To that end, it is also brilliant for places where the kitchens have countertops and chopping boards that are quite small.
- Well balanced
- Consistency in sharpness
- Perfect for people with smaller hands
- 6-inch blade
- No degradation
- Temperature resistant
- Not an expensive knife
- It may not be suitable for people with larger hands.
5. Victorinox 47021 10-Inch Chef Knife
The best part about this knife is the rosewood handle, making it comfortable, appealing, and elegant. It comes with a lifetime guarantee not just against defects in workmanship but also in material. In addition, the textured handle makes it less slippery.
This chef’s knife is made of high-quality material and has extensive consumer reviews. The company itself is famous for manufacturing various knives – chef knife, serrated knife, paring knife, etc. The Victorinox 47021 10-Inch Chef Knife is known to last longer than most knives and maintains sharpness, despite being used on tough objects. The blade is made of stainless steel and is quite strong.
- Grip comfort
- Easy to maintain
- 10-inch blade
- Tapered stainless steel edge
- The grip may be a little small for some people.
- It may need to be periodically re-sharpened if used consistently on tough objects.
6. Victorinox Fibrox Pro 7″ Santoku Knife
The knife is also dishwasher-safe and easy to sharpen. The Granton edge prevents food particles from sticking to the blade, thereby reducing friction. The knife sports an ergonomic Fibrox Pro handle, which helps maintain a non-slip grip.
This one is a Santoku knife from Victorinox and is one of their best. It sports a Granton-edged blade and is quite lightweight – just 4.6 ounces. In addition, the handle is made from the company’s patented thermoplastic rubber material that makes the product comfortable to use.
- Non-slip grip
- 7-inch blade
- The stamped blade construction process
- Easy to handle
- It doesn’t have a protective sheath, making it dangerous to keep around, especially if you have kids, as the blade is extremely sharp.
- Some food particles may still stick at the very top of the blade.
7. The Imarku Chef Knife
It is a highly durable knife made of German steel and takes chopping to a new level altogether. It is made from high-quality stainless steel, enabling the knife to maintain its functionality for a long time. It has amazing strength, is sturdy, and is designed to work for multi-purpose professional applications. This stainless-steel knife sports an ergonomic Pakka handle that helps minimize fatigue and prevent numbness when held long.
The Imarku SC10-01 chef knife is one of the best knives for people who prefer quality above all else. A good quality chef knife looks expensive and sleek but is cheap yet depicts high performance. The Imarku certainly comes in this category.
- Appealing look
- All-purpose knife
- Excellent sharpness & durability
- 8-inch blade
- Despite the sharpness, the knife cannot be used to slice frozen food.
8. Kutt Chef Knife Set, 8-Inch Professional Kitchen Knife
The product is made of standard stainless steel and is incredibly strong and durable. It has a curved blade and can accurately cut through all sorts of food. The thinner blade also enables it to be used for various functions without restriction. In addition, it features a full-tang design and a Pakka wood handle.
The Kutt chef knife set is an excellent choice at a lesser price, and the Kutt chef knife set is a highly good quality consumer product. Although the brand is not particularly well-known in the kitchen accessories space, it is slowly getting there. It has a rather impressive design and looks highly polished and sophisticated.
- Unique design
- Very sharp
- Amazing handle grip
- 8-inch blade
- Not known as a high-branded product in the market.
Price not available
9. The J.A. Henckels 31161-201 Classic Chef’s Knife, 8 Inch
The J.A. Henckels is dishwasher-safe and does not necessarily require a hand-wash. The knife handle is made from a non-slip polymer that lends comfort to users. The product features a satin-finished, professional blade that enables chopping in a precise manner. In addition, it has a full protective bolster that ensures safety.
The J.A. Henckels is a sharp knife that is of high quality and quite durable. It has a full-tang design that ensures precision while performing functions. It is made of high carbon steel and is quite sharp.
- Non-slip feature
- Very sharp
- Very stable
- Dishwasher safe
- Some may find it heavy to use.
10. Kyocera Advanced Ceramic Revolution Series 7-Inch Chef’s Knife
The Kyocera Advanced Ceramic Revolution Series 7-inch Chef’s Knife has a hard, sharp edge, and its handle has an ergonomic design. The ceramic blade is made from its proprietary zirconia material from Japan, and it is extremely sharp. In fact, it may maintain its sharpness up to ten times more than steel blades.
Most knives use stainless steel blades. However, ceramic blades are quite popular as well. The Kyocera Advanced Ceramic Revolution Series belongs to this category. The only drawback of ceramic knives is that they can easily break when dropped, but that apart, they are resistant to oils and acids and even corrosion.
- Not mandatory to have re-sharpening done with the same manufacturer
- Quite lightweight
- Dishwasher safe
- It is highly prone to chipping and breaking
- It cannot be used to cut frozen meat, bones, etc.
- You can only use it to slice, not chop.
Best Chef Knife Under 100 USD – Buying Guide
There are many significant factors you’ll need to understand before zeroing in on the best chef knife. Contrary to what laymen think, it’s not an easy decision.
A good chef knife with a bent edge helps it move backward and forward on the chopping board with ease, making it ideal for dicing veggies. In addition, it is largest across its heel, which helps it tolerate upping when handling heavy hacking work, useful when cutting harder food items.
Therefore, it is important to consider the sharpness, precision, balance, etc., while buying a chef knife. Some of the important pointers in this regard are enlisted below.
How To Choose the Right Chef Knife?
Blade Steel & Sharpness
The type of blade steel matters a lot when buying the best chef knife. There are two main factors to be considered here – the construction and the material. In the case of the former, most chef knives use stainless steel, as it is durable and strong. However, many are made using carbon steel, which is also pretty strong but not that durable – which means you may be dealing with consistent rust if you do not clean and dry the knife immediately after use.
A third option to look out for is high-carbon stainless steel. This one is more durable than carbon steel but less than stainless steel and is stronger than stainless steel but less strong than carbon steel.
Other materials include ceramic, titanium, and treated steel, each with its own set of advantages.
In terms of construction, there are two options to consider – stamped and forged knives. The stamped ones are punched out of a piece of steel on a machine. Once the blade is formed, the edge is sharpened. These are not necessarily considered high-quality, although they perform well.
Forged knives are manufactured when a lot of heat is applied to a piece of steel, which is molded as required. Given the heating process, these knives are considered to be of extremely high quality. In addition, the forging process helps create a strong blade that can last longer.
Now for the second point – sharpness; this matters a lot because a dull knife is really no use in the kitchen. The chef knife, given its significance, needs to be extremely sharp and well-working. Periodically, every knife will need re-sharpening. What’s important, though, is how long a knife remains considerably sharp before it needs to be sharpened again.
Titanium knives can be beautifully sharp, although they may not necessarily work well when using hard food material. Ceramic knives are sharp but quite delicate. A high carbon German steel edge will be one of the best options in this case – these knives are razor-sharp and precise; they’ll slice through just about anything.
Length & Weight
Chef’s knives are manufactured in a range of lengths – say, between 5 to 10 inches, or sometimes, even up to 14 inches. You must choose one that’s preferably longer, as it would keep you comfortable and give you more cutting space.
However, it is also important that you feel the balance in your hand while holding the knife, so, depending on the way you hold it, you may want to choose one of lesser length. If you’re buying online, you may have to trust your instincts on what length will suit you. If you’re buying offline, hold the knife and try out a few mock cutting motions with it to check if it feels balanced when you’re holding it.
To be candid, there’s no specific weight that can be tagged as right or wrong when buying a chef knife. It’s all about what feels correct to the hand; some may prefer lightweight chef knives, while others prefer heavier ones. In our opinion, it’s better to sample a few ranging from light to heavyweights and then choose one that is balanced enough to be used for chopping, dicing, mincing, and the like.
With the weight factor, the balance factor is one to be considered too. If the knife is too heavy, there’s a chance the weight may fall too much to one side.
Knife Brand Does Matter
Not that you have to be aggressively brand conscious but note that some amount of awareness is necessary. Choose a brand with a high reputation in the market, excellent reviews online, and a huge percentage of sales.
You’ll know which company to select once you’ve done some research. We suggest opting for a firm that has considerable experience and brand value.
Japanese Vs. German Technology
The debate between the best amid a Japanese knife and a German knife has been a long-standing one, although both have their distinct set of pros and cons and a reliable consumer base. Western chefs prefer either of these as per the job to be done and individual comfort.
|Single bevel design – the knife’s sharpest edge is on one side instead of the middle
|Double bevel design – the knives are sharpened on both sides of the blade
|Partial tang (Less sturdy)
|Full tang (Very sturdy)
|Harder steel used
|Less hard steel used
|Knife blades are sharper and slimmer
|Knife blades are not that sharp or slim
|The handle is simple and cylindrical
|The handle has an ergonomic design
|Brittle and more prone to cracking
|Stronger and not that prone to cracking
Handle & Comfortable Grip
The handle of a knife makes a huge difference in sales. Handle comfort largely depends on the material and weight of the knife. Comfort materials include plastic, wood, composites, and metal.
We know this can be tricky but try to choose a chef knife manufacturer who gives you a lifetime warranty to get a decent replacement when necessary. Warranties usually also come with free sharpening and buffing. Most major knife brands offer a lifetime warranty, while some offer warranty with rusting or breakage only.
Surprisingly, many prospective buyers ignore customer reviews; do not make that mistake. Most customer reviews are authentic, and the star-feedback rating helps elevate the best product on the top of the list. So, choose your product from the top, best-rated knives.
Should I Buy a Classic or Professional Chef Knife?
It depends on what your personal preference is. For example, if you’re a chef or have your own food-related business, it might be better to have a professional knife. On the other hand, classic knives are always in demand, so suit yourselves, analyze your occupation and requirement, and make an informed choice accordingly.
What Is the Best Chef’s Knife for On-A-Budget Chefs?
If you’re evaluating a knife purchase solely based on costs, the following would be the best affordable chef knives:
- Mercer Culinary Chef’s Knife, 10 Inch, Ultimate White
- Mercer Culinary Genesis Forged Chef’s Knife
- Kutt Chef Knife Set, 8-inch Professional Kitchen Knife
- The Imarku Chef Knife
- Victorinox Fibrox Pro 7″ Santoku Knife
What Do You Use a Chef’s Knife For?
As the name suggests, this knife is predominantly used by professional chefs and is consequently one of the kitchen tools. Most of the slicing, dicing, and mincing during food preparation is carried out using the chef’s knife.
It is durable, strong, and it gives a smooth rhythm as you cut and julienne veggies, mince spices, veggies, and meat, dice food into equal-sized pieces, and slice food into specialty cuts such as roll cuts, diagonals, lozenges, oblique, chiffonade, and rondelles.
All the options provided here are affordable and are high-quality knives. It depends completely on individual comfort and perspective. Some may find the Victorinox 47021 10-Inch Chef Knife comfortable, while some may go in for the not-so-famous Kutt Chef Knife Set, 8-inch Professional Kitchen Knife. In any case, conduct good research on the product before purchase and make an informed choice on a quality knife.