Whether or not you’re a serious cook, a chef knife is one of the most important tools in your kitchen.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re cutting up some fruit for the kids or chopping up vegetables for a family dinner; you reach for your chef knife unthinkingly in most situations.
When evaluating what a quality chef knife is, there are three main factors you need to consider: efficiency, quality, and convenience.
And what if you’re on a budget? No worries—we’ve done the work for you. Today we bring you our picks of the best chef knife under 100 dollars, along with a comprehensive buying guide and answers to your most pressing questions about kitchen knives.
Keep reading for the ultimate guide in chef knives.
Top 5 Best Chef Knife Under $100 Comparison
by Mercer Culinary
by Mercer Culinary
by ZWILLING J.A. Henckels
We’re starting our list off with one of the sharpest knives under $100 out there—the Shun Sora. This brand makes knives with traditional Japanese designs for its blades and handles.
This knife does everything it’s supposed to do as a chef’s knife—on that front, you have nothing to worry about. But the design of the knife is unique in all the little ways that you won’t realize are making your life so much easier.
The blade of this knife has a lower curve than traditional Western chef’s knives. This is significant because the blade comes into contact with the cutting board more along its length, giving you a higher cutting rate.
Also, the tip of the knife’s blade has a gentler roll compared to a Western knife’s larger roll. This increases ease of use and efficiency, as it’s easier to lift and balance.
The blade itself is constructed from high-quality steel that has been molded with proprietary composite technology. The core is of VG10 San Mai with stainless steel cladding on each side. That’s a lot of big words, we know—all you need to know is, all of that makes for a sharp, durable blade.
Of course, such a great blade cannot be bought cheaply, but that’s probably the only real downside.
This Spanish-made chef’s knife with its German-made blade is the next one on our list. Its forged construction is what appeals to us, as that is usually the marker of more reliable durability.
The blade has a satin finish that we also love, and has been expertly honed. That only adds to the blade’s durability. You can use the knife for a whole range of meal prep activities, without worrying about wearing the blade out.
Although this knife comes in 3 other size options, our pick is the 8 inch because of its versatility. Whether you need to dice up some onions or slice through some salmon, you can do it with this knife.
The handle is also a big plus. For this knife, J.A. Henckels has gone with the old school triple-rivet handle, which is what accounts for the comfort and balance you can expect from this knife. Whether you have big hands or small, the 8-inch version of this knife is very likely to be a good fit.
Additionally, this chef’s knife is also dishwasher safe, which can be a huge benefit. However, it’s usually recommended to avoid putting any stainless steel knife in the dishwasher, as that may cause the blade to lose its edge more quickly.
If you’re looking for the best chef knife but can’t spend too much, you might think that that puts a damper on your possibilities of finding a good-quality knife. This knife from Mercer is here to prove you wrong—here’s why.
One feature of this knife that caught our attention is its full tang. Because the blade runs the entire length of the handle, you can expect to enjoy great balance while using this thing. And because the knife has a short bolster, the blade’s edge is fully exposed - sharpening it will be a walk in the park.
The blade itself is pretty much a show-stopper, especially considering the price. It is made from carbon, which gives it an excellent and durable sharpness. It’s also resistant to stains, corrosion, rust, and discoloration.
And since we’re talking about how easy this knife is to use, let’s talk about its Delrin handle. This one has a well-thought-out ergonomic design and is triple-riveted, which adds to the blade’s good balance. It should be noted, however, that since the handle is relatively small, this knife may not be well-suited to those with large hands.
On the whole, this is a very worthwhile knife at a considerate price—we don’t think you’ll regret buying it.
The next product we have chosen to present to you is a tough and sharp chef’s knife from a lesser-known, yet reliable brand called Yaxell. It’s a little on the more expensive side, but we promise you, it’s worth it.
Now, the first thing you need to know about this knife to understand why we love it is its blade’s construction. It’s been made from premium quality 3-layer Japanese Cobalt Molybdenum Vanadium VG10 stainless steel and clad by more high-quality stainless steel on both sides.
Next up is the knife’s handle. It’s made from linen canvas Micarta and black resin, which make it comfortable and easy to grip. Not just that, but it looks great, too, on account of the canvas material being dyed and polished. The end-cap of the handle is made from 18/10 stainless steel, giving it an impressive balance.
The overall look of the knife ties this awesome chef’s knife together: the blade has a sandblast finish and a Katana sword wave line—you’ll be feeling like a super-chef in the kitchen with this thing.
The last product on our list is our top value pick. If you’re on a tight budget or are looking to experiment with different chef’s knives before investing in the best one, then this review is for you.
First of all, despite its unbelievable price, this chef knife has been forged to enhance its durability. The 8-inch blade has a superbly fine edge that will allow you to make smooth, clean cuts for a variety of uses in the kitchen. It has a professional satin finish and, as far as we can tell, has been honed finely.
The handle is also worth a mention, as not only has it been triple-riveted, it also has a curved design for your comfort and convenience. Plus, the stainless steel endcap comes with a stylish little etching, which is a nice touch.
Overall, this is a pretty versatile knife with decent sharpness. However, remember that with products like kitchen knives, you always get what you pay for. Although this knife is adequately durable, everyday use is likely to wear it out. If you’re on a tight budget, get this knife, but a replacement might be due sooner rather than later.
The two main concerns you should have when buying a chef’s knife is how it feels in your hand, and its ability to retain its sharpness.
Keep reading for a more comprehensive idea
There are two basic types of steel that chef’s knives are made from. These are stainless steel and carbon.
Carbon is easily the more superior option, because not only does it give a great edge to the knife, it’s also much more durable than stainless steel chef knives. However, to be able to enjoy these benefits, you’ll have to put more effort into the maintenance of the knife.
Stainless steel is a better option if you don’t have a lot of existing experience with chef knives. They are easier to handle on account of their relatively lightweight, and definitely much easier to maintain. However, stainless steel blades are prone to lower durability.
Thankfully, there is an in-between: stainless steel knives with high carbon content. That’s probably the best option, all things considered; however, as you may imagine, these knives tend to be more expensive.
And that brings us to the rule of thumb governing all notions of the steel quality of a chef knife: the pricier, the better. As disheartening as that may be, think about the fact that even the difference between a $17 knife and a $50 is huge: you don’t necessarily have to break the bank to acquire a knife that will stay sharp.
The best way to decide which blade length you should buy is considering what you’ll be using it for.
If you’re a professional cook, or usually have to cook for large amounts of people, then you’re better off with a larger knife. And obviously, you’ll have an easier time with a smaller knife if you’re trying to do something like chopping up some onions.
However, the most crucial factor in determining blade length should be about how comfortable you are with it. There are a variety of options on the market, from 8-inch blades to 14-inch ones. When you go shopping, don’t be afraid to try each one out in your hand to see what suits you best.
Forged vs. Stamped
A knife's blade may be made in one of two ways: either it will be forged, meaning it will be hammered or pounded into shape (with heat treatment) from a single metal piece, or it will be stamped, which means it will be cut out of a large steel sheet.
Forged knives tend to be heavier and thicker than stamped ones, and will usually feature a full tang. The middle bolster also means that the knife is better balanced and weightier. Generally, a forged knife will stay sharper for longer.
Stamped knives are more flexible and lightweight, mainly due to their lack of a bolster. They tend to be less expensive than forged knives and are not recommended for use with materials that are too firm or thick.
Frequently Asked Questions
1.How can I choose the best chef's knife?
The three main determiners of a good chef’s knife are its quality, efficiency, and convenience. There are other factors to consider as well, namely the tang, length of the blade, and steel type. Refer to our buying guide above for more details.
2.What are the uses of a chef's knife?
All modern chef’s knives can serve multiple purposes in the kitchen, which is what makes them a staple for any cook. It is a versatile utensil that can be used to chop, slice, and mince any number of ingredients, be it vegetables or protein. The dull side of the knife can also be used for some unexpected operations such as scaling fish or crushing vegetables.
3.How can I sharpen a chef's knife using a whetstone?
To use a whetstone to sharpen your chef’s knife, you will have to soak the whetstone in water first. Then, angle the knife at 22 degrees, and push the knife down to move it evenly across the stone (do this at a medium pace). Then flip the knife over and re-do it on the other side. If you use a whetstone, it's usually enough to sharpen the knife only once or twice a year.
4.What type of steel is best for a chef's knife?
Between carbon and stainless steel, carbon is undoubtedly the better option as it is sharper and more durable. However, if you don’t think you’ll be able to keep up the maintenance of the knife, then you’re better off buying a stainless steel one. However, stainless steel ones won’t retain their sharpness for as long.
5.Which length chef's knife should I get?
If you’re a home cook, the most suitable choice would be the 8-inch chef’s knife, as this is the most versatile length. If you’re working with ingredients of higher volume, then something like a 10 inch is more suitable. On the other end of the spectrum is the 6-inch knife, which is more easily maneuverable and ideal for cutting smaller vegetables.
6.Should I buy a kitchen knife with a full-tang or partial-tang blade?
It is thought that full-tang blades are stronger and more resilient, so they are preferable over partial-tang ones. However, if a partial tang is the only thing keeping you from buying a knife that otherwise matches your needs, then you should disregard the issue.
After extensive research and consideration, we have decided that the best chef knife under $100 is the Yaxell Mon 8 inch chef’s knife.
Why, you ask? Well, we love its superior stainless steel construction, as that makes it both durable and sharp. The superbly balanced handle is also one of the main reasons. Plus, it looks great!
However, we know some of you are operating on a smaller budget. Not to worry—we have something for you guys as well, and it’s undoubtedly the J.A. Henckels Classic Chef's Knife. The blade has been forged and it’s finely honed.
But don’t let our choices limit you if you haven’t found what you’re looking for in the reviews. Consult our buying guide and let it help you pick out a knife for yourself.
Whichever path you take, we wish you good luck and happy cooking!