How to Buy a Chef's Knife

If you ask what the most essential piece of kitchen equipment is, a chef will most likely name their chef's knife. This knife is versatile, allowing the chef to slice, dice, mince, chop and julienne. A chef's knife can be used to mince a shallot, carve a turkey or de-bone a pork roast. Choosing a chef's knife is a very individual decision, so this article will provide some tips for making an informed choice.


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    Choose a store that stocks a variety of chef's knives.
    • Choosing a chef's knife is a hands-on activity. Find a store that allows you to hold the knife in your hand. Preferably, the store should give you the opportunity to cut food with the knives you are considering.
    • Knowledgeable salespeople can be a great asset when deciding on a knife. They should be able to answer any questions you have and help to guide you to the knife that fits you the best.
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    Decide on the kind of blade you want.
    • The majority of chef's knife blades are made of high carbon stainless steel. These are durable and hold their edge well (unlike non-carbon stainless steel) and do not discolor (unlike non-stainless high carbon steel). Titanium blades hold their edges well, but can be a little too flexible for typical chef's knife applications. Ceramic blades will hold their edges extremely long, but are brittle and can break much easier than a steel blade.
    • Blades are created either by being stamped or forged. Forged blades, those that are poured into a mold, are considered more durable and flexible than those that are stamped. Stamped blades, those that are cut from a sheet of steel much like a cut-out cookie, are considered inferior. Recent laser cutting technology, however, has produced some stamped blades that can rival a forged blade.
    • Chef's knives are usually range from 6 to 12 inches (15.2 to 30.4 cm) long, with the 8-inch (20.3 cm) size being the most popular. Trying different sized knives will help you determine which size you prefer.
    • The shape of the blade will determine the rocking motion that is the trademark of a chef's knife. Some blades have a more pronounced curve from the base of the blade to the tip, which causes a larger rocking motion. Again, only using a knife will tell you what works best for you.
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    Decide on the handle that best fits your hand.
    • Holding a knife in your hand is the only way to know if you will feel comfortable using it. Knife grips are made of different materials, shaped in diverse ways and balance the knives differently. What feels good in your hand may not to someone else.
    • The tang is the part of the knife that holds the handle to the blade. It is commonly believed that a full tang--one that runs the entire length of the handle--is preferable to a partial tang. Knives with partial tangs run the risk of having the handle loosen with use.
    • Using a knife in the store will enable you to make sure that your knuckles will not hit into the cutting surface while using the knife. A wider blade may be needed if this is a problem for you.
    • When using a chef's knife, the hand not holding the knife is often resting on the spine of the blade--the part of the blade opposite to the edge--which is usually squared off. Testing a knife will help you determine whether the spine is comfortable for that hand.
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    Determine the price you want to pay for the chef's knife.
    • Although there are some high quality knives on the lower end of the price scale, chef's knives can be very expensive. But, by treating the knife as an investment and caring for it properly, a chef's knife can last a lifetime.


  • Comparison shop and check for sales online after testing knives in a store.

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Categories: Cooking Knives and Blades