Best chef’s knives for 2020: Mercer, Global, Mac and more

I use my chef’s knives for all kinds of preparations: from chopping napa cabbage to homemade kimchi to chiffonning sage for a pizza (I know we make unusual foods). But with a tool that you use so often in the kitchen, it is important that you make the right purchase decision. Plus, few things feel worse than spending $ 150 on something you end up hating. So before you click “Buy” on Amazon or throw the cheapest knife into your shopping cart on your next trip, you need to ask yourself two questions: What does a chef’s knife offer and what? she Do you need it for in the kitchen?

Above all, high-quality chef’s knives offer versatility. Unless you spend a lot of time boning fish or peeling pears, you don’t need a special boning knife, paring knife, carving knife, serrated knife, or any other specialty knife as a chef’s knife should meet 95% of your needs. And let’s not even start at the counter consumed by a giant knife block.

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Since you will be using it a lot, it should be a pleasure to use a chef’s knife – really heavy, but not heavy enough to be strenuous. You might even want an ergonomic handle. As for the blade? Long lasting as it uses so much and is consistently sharp. There’s nothing worse than having a dull knife while cutting, chopping, and slicing, so edge retention should be a priority.

The second question – what you need – is harder to answer. Fortunately, I’ve tested some of the most popular chef’s knives on the market. Below are the best chef’s knives for any type of home cooking. We will update this list regularly. Grab your cutting board and your tomatoes – we’ll dive in!

David Priest / Tips Clear

This Japanese-style chef’s knife is on the high end of the spectrum in terms of price, but it tops the list of the best lists online for one reason: it’s a fantastic product. Not only is it super sharp (it glides through tomatoes without tearing), but its blade is thinner than heavier knives like Wusthof’s, which makes cutting snappy vegetables like carrots feel like slicing a ripe banana with a butter knife . No, I’m not exaggerating – this is a super sharp knife.

Mac’s most popular chef’s knife is perfectly balanced so you never run the risk of losing control of the blade. Its belly is also pleasantly rounded, which makes the rocking motion feel natural when chopping. The Wusthof was my favorite before I got my hands on the Mac, but when this Japanese-style knife arrived I found that I turned to it for all of my basic needs.

David Priest / Tips Clear

The classic 8-inch chef’s knife from Wusthof is a workhorse in the kitchen. It’s one of the heaviest knives I’ve tested. It helps cut more delicate foods like tomatoes as effortlessly as warm butter, and more robust foods like butternut squash with ease. The heavier knife weight helps guide the blade in smooth movements when in use, but the Wusthof isn’t so heavy that you will ever feel controlled by the blade.

The Wusthof was my first pick for the best overall knife until I got my hands on the Mac knife (above), and it’s still a top option. The only drawback of the Wusthof is the slightly softer steel used for its blade, which it doesn’t quite as razor-sharp as the Mac.

Nevertheless, the Wusthof classic is perfectly balanced between the handle and the blade and has a heel to protect your fingers, which makes it feel all the more secure. One of the best measures of how comfortable a knife feels in the hand is cutting up a chicken, as it involves many types of cuts across the skin, meat, fat, and cartilage. When I used the Wusthof to smash a bird, it felt like I had used the knife for years. I didn’t make a single flawed cut or uncomfortable move.

This knife is one of the best from top to bottom for a reasonable price. It’s versatile and comfortable, and its forged carbon steel blade holds a sharp edge like almost any other knife – Mac and Global excluded – in this price range.

David Priest / Tips Clear

Global’s popular chef’s knife is a Japanese knife-style blade like Mac, which means it has an incredibly sharp edge and a nimble, light body. Global’s design is also unique: the handle and blade are made from a single piece of carbon steel, and the handle is filled with sand to weigh it down. Like the Wusthof and Mac knives, Global’s 8-inch option is well balanced and meets all of your usual needs.

While the edge isn’t quite As sharp as Mac’s 8-inch blade, this versatile knife is great for those who prefer lighter blades. And if, like me, you can find it on sale for a cool $ 80, be sure to grab this lightweight kitchen knife.

David Priest / Tips Clear

For $ 50, the 8-inch Zwilling Gourmet chef’s knife from JA Henckels is a great budget option. It doesn’t have the heel of a heavier knife like the Wusthof or JA Henckels Classic, but it’s well balanced and cuts tomatoes and herbs cleanly, cuts onions quickly, and cuts a chicken relatively easily.

The Zwilling Gourmet is more of an embossed than a forged blade, which means it probably won’t hold its edge as long as the Wusthof. It’s also lighter, which means your hand won’t run as well through a tomato or similar sensitive food.

All in all, the twins’ cuts were consistently clean, it felt comfortable in my hand, and for $ 50 I’d love to add this knife to my kitchen.

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Without a doubt, the biggest surprise in my testing was the performance of Mercer’s $ 16 Culinary Millennia 8-inch chef’s knife. It’s not as well made as the Zwilling or Wusthof blades – both have a durable full tang design (the metal of the knife moves in one piece from the tip of the blade to the handle.) However, the handle design is perfect, to teach beginners how to hold and use a chef’s knife and guide their thumb and forefinger to the base of the blade. It’s well balanced and honestly feels most like an extension of my arm as I cooked various vegetables, fruits, and meats in my tests.

The light weight and cheap design mean you won’t have the long life or versatility you would get from a workhorse like the Wusthof, but if you want a chef’s knife to learn for six months while looking for a larger investment, the Mercer is really a great chef’s knife.

How we tested

Our procedures combined five tests – slicing tomatoes, dicing onions, chopping leafy herbs, chopping carrots, and chopping chickens – each with a rating of 1 to 10, with more general use and observation. I wanted to approach the procedures like the average home cook, focusing on general use and experience. I’ve also avoided over-emphasizing the sharpness, as the factory sharpness doesn’t say much about a blade beyond the first few weeks or months of use.

In fact, as soon as you buy a chef’s knife, you probably want to invest in a knife sharpener to get a sharp edge. I wrote about it Knife sharpener in a separate story. We wrote about it too how to sharpen a knife correctly. Taking sharpening seriously is the key to edge retention on a knife blade.

I took into account the grade of steel used in the knife construction (most are carbon steel), the method (whether forged or stamped), and the general design (e.g. full tang knives last longer than blades to a specific handle) .

Aside from its measurable performance on various foods, I approached each knife as a package and watched its weight and balance come together to create an experience that was either intuitive or uncomfortable.

The rest of the field

We tested a total of 11 of the most popular chef’s knives for home cooks, including Mac, Global, Victorinox, Kitchenaid, Cuisinart, Homefavor, Farberware, Zwilling, JA Henckels, Wusthof and Mercer. Of these knives, three were the clear leaders, most of the others were solidly designed, and only one really stood out Bad.

Mac, Wusthof, and Global were my standout favorites for quality and performance, and if you’re really serious about using a good quality chef’s knife, any of these three will do the trick. While I’ve made my ratings above, everyone will have their own preferences – the Mac felt best to me, but if I ate more meat and denser vegetables I’d probably lean toward Wusthof as the sturdier blade.

Mercer, Gemini, and to a lesser extent, offered solid performance and well-balanced products for beginners looking for a bargain (Victorinox is loved online for its price and balance, but it’s more expensive than the $ 16 Mercer and doesn’t quite also balanced).
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The classic chef’s knife from JA Henckels is similar to the Wusthof Classic, but due to its minor differences in balance and design it is less to be used regularly.David Priest / Tips Clear

and s knives were sturdier than their cheaper competitors, but they didn’t stand out in any category.

The 50 dollars which seems like a natural winner given its reasonable price and similar design to the more expensive Wusthof classic, really disappointed me. It’s another workhorse of a knife, but its bum is heavier than it should be, making heavy preps tiring and chopping up feels uncomfortable.

Finally, The knife was the worst: it’s so badly balanced, in fact, that I stopped the chicken test halfway for fear of cutting myself. The handle is extremely light, so the center of balance for the knife is an inch or two above the blade. As a result, almost every type of preparation, from slicing and dicing to mincing and boning chicken, feels uncomfortable at best and dangerous at worst. In short, don’t buy this knife.

A chef’s knife can be your best friend in the kitchen – if you can find the right fit. So take your time, figure out exactly what you need from your chef’s knife, and make an investment. You could buy these generic $ 10 knives at the store every time your knife gets boring. However, if you are really serious about improving your kitchen game, a quality chef’s knife is one of the best investments you can make.

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