Guide to chef's knives

So, you know you’d like to buy a good Chef’s Knife. But where do you start? 

The expert team at Sous Chef  guides you through different Chef knives available, and what to look for when buying the best Chef knife for you.

Sous Chef knife experts

In this guide, you’ll hear from Sous Chef buyer Kristin Lohse, who has many years of kitchen knife experience - and is a true expert in sharpening and caring for knives.

In his blog, we’ll discuss:

What is a chef knife used for?

A chef knife is one of the most versatile knives you can buy. It's ideal for chopping vegetables, slicing meats, and chopping herbs. Despite being a large blade, it can range for delicate work such as finely dicing onion, to robust work such as prepping large cuts of meat.

Read our ultimate guide to which kitchen knives you need - to understand more about the role of a Chef’ knife.

What to consider before buying a chef’s knife 

There are vital considerations when buying a chef's knife.

  • First, think about blade length. A 8-inch knife offers good control and versatility for most tasks. You can find smaller and longer knives though.
  • Materials matter. Stainless steel resists rust, while carbon steel stays sharp longer. Handle comfort is key for long cooking sessions. 
  • Consider how it feels in your hand; it should feel balanced and secure. Think about whether you like large or small handles. And whether you prefer smooth, or shaped handles.
  • Think about the knife's weight. A lighter knife is easier for quick tasks, but a heavier one can handle tougher cuts. Finally, look at the edge. A finer angle cuts more precisely.

How do you pick a chef's knife?

Here, we run through a few of the common questions people ask, when buying a Chef’s knife.

  • Do I need an expensive chef knife?

No, not necessarily. We have a range of different price points, and it's all dependent on what you are looking for. What matters is how the knife feels in your hand and suits your needs. 

Affordable brands like Opinel Parallele Beech Handle Chefs Knife N.118 offer reliable sharpness and comfort. The key is finding a knife that balances well, maintains its edge, and feels comfortable during use.

However, higher priced knives can offer exceptional craftsmanship. And often, you get what you pay for when it comes to kitchen knives. 

But with regular care, a mid-range knife should last you a very long time. Read our guide to caring for a kitchen knife here, for more info.

  • Why are chef knives expensive?

Chef knives can be pricey due to materials, craftsmanship, and the time taken to make the blade. High-quality steel for the blade ensures sharpness and durability. Crafting these knives involves precision and skill, often with hand-finished touches. 

  • How much should I spend on a Chef’s knife

A good Chef’s knife should start at about £40. At this price point, you can be fairly confident your knife will be a good quality. Make sure you research user reviews, and if possible read a few first-hand accounts of fellow cooks using the knife you have in mind.

  • Should I get a heavy or light chef knife?

Choosing between a heavy or light chef knife depends on personal preference and cooking style. A heavy knife offers momentum for chopping tough vegetables or meats. 

On the other hand, a light knife allows for quick, agile movements, ideal for precise slicing or mincing herbs.

Consider what you cook most often. If your dishes involve a lot of chopping, a heavier knife might be more beneficial. Ultimately, the best choice feels right in your hand and compliments your cooking habits.

4 Best Chef knives - tried & tested at Sous Chef

In no particular order

Opinel Parallele Beech Handle Chefs Knife N.118

Perfect to start your knife collection at a budget. French brand with good quality knives at low price points

Japanese AUS10 Chef's Knife 210mm

Japanese steel with a fine edge, in combination with a more classic western style handle

Messermeister Oliva Luxe Chef's Knife, 16cm

Lovely german steel with italian olive wood handle

Katto Rosewood Handle Chef's Knife, 21.5cm

UK made with a thicker round handle and hammered blade to help food slip off when chopping

    What is the difference between a chef's knife and a cook's knife?

    The terms "chef's knife" and "cook's knife" often refer to the same type of knife. Traditionally, both describe a versatile kitchen knife with a broad blade ranging from 6 to 12 inches in length, designed for a variety of tasks. 

    This includes slicing, dicing, chopping, and mincing. The confusion arises from regional terminology differences. In many parts of the world, the term "chef's knife" is commonly used, especially in professional settings.

    Meanwhile, "cook's knife" might be more frequently used in domestic contexts or in certain regions. Regardless of the name, the important features - such as blade material, handle comfort, and balance—are consistent across both terms. Both are essential tools in the kitchen, capable of handling most cutting tasks with ease.


    Looking for more knife expertise? Read our What Are The Best Kitchen Knives blog, or browse all our Kitchen knives here.

    Become a kitchen knife expert, with our Ultimate Guide to Kitchen Knives.


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