The chef's knife is the most important knife in your collection. With a large blade, pointed tip and heavy rear, it can easily slice, chop and mince. With the back side of the blade you can smash garlic, and with the rear you can hack through bones. If you've read our Chef Knife Essentials, you get the point on why you need this all-purpose hero in your kitchen. Picked by pros and tested by home cooks, these knives are the best bang for your buck.
AROUND $30: Zyloss Control Chef's Knife
At just $30, this knife is a total steal. But in spite of its bargain-basement price, it easily handles every cutting chore — including slicing basil into thin ribbons or even quartering a chicken. It's designed to offer a good grip regardless of how you hold a knife. If you're a traditionalist and like to control a knife with just the handle, you'll find the grip won't slip in your hand. However, if you prefer to pinch grip the way the chefs do, by holding the very back of the blade between your thumb and index finger, you'll find the blade is rounded and comfy just at the spot where you place your fingers. Shop it here.
AROUND $30: Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef's Knife
This knife gets you closer to the knives professional chefs actually use. It's not fancy, though. The blade is cut from a single piece of steel rather than forged (which requires more time and labor and ups the price of a knife) and the plastic handle is pretty utilitarian. But this knife is easy to sharpen and holds its edge — and that's what's most important if you do a lot of chopping and slicing. Plus, the handle is textured so it won't slip in your hand. Bonus: The blade has no grooves, so it's extra easy to hand-wash. Shop it here.
UNDER $60: J.A. Henckels International Classic 8-Inch Chef's Knife
Honestly, this knife is almost exactly the same as the Wüsthof (see below). It's just a small step down in terms of materials. While I really think the Wüsthof version really is just the most perfect knife, this is your best bet if you don't want to spend more than $100. Shop it here.
AROUND $100: Wusthof Classic 8-Inch Chef's Knife
True to its name, this knife is a classic that's been around forever and I think it's just perfect. And it won't set you back a bundle. In your hand, it's well-balanced and just feels right. The blade is well-rounded on the bottom, which helps it to rock back and forth beautifully when you're using it to blitz parsley into confetti, and it has the heft you want in order to effortlessly dice onions or even debone a chicken. If you can afford it, I strongly believe this is the best chef's knife for any type of home cook. Shop it here.
AROUND $200: Kramer by Zwilling Euroline Essential Collection 8-Inch Chef's Knife
Designed by Bob Kramer, the foremost knife craftsman in the USA, and manufactured by Japanese artisans, this knife's sharpness is seriously impressive. And I can vouch for the fact that it stays that way a long time between honings. You'll find you can slice tomatoes or onions so thin that you can see through them.
Because it has a wider blade than most, you have lots of knuckle clearance above the cutting board when you're chopping. The rounded handle is particularly comfortable and the back of the blade is rounded to make it easy to pinch grip. All of these features make this the ideal knife, if you're a serious cook who does heavy-duty kitchen prep. To protect the edge and the handle, you'll want to hand-wash the Kramer. Shop it here.