The Seasoned Chef’s Guide to Buying the Perfect Knife
Finding the right blade can be pretty tough. There are so many to choose from, a ton of different brands, opinions on each one vary from person to person, and more. With so many choices before you and a massive overload of information, it can feel impossible to find the chef’s knife that’ll work best for you. Never fear, though, Consumer Essentials is here to help.
Below we’ve provided a guide to help you pick out a great chef’s knife. The guide explains what features you should look for in a quality knife and gives a few pointers that will help you narrow down your selection quite a bit. This will make it easier to make a decision and help you get an excellent knife to use.
Weight and Overall Feel
Perhaps the most important aspects of a good chef’s knife are its weight and how it feels in your hand. The hard part, however, is that this will essentially come down to personal preference. Some people appreciate a heavier blade as it makes it easier to chop and dice up stuff because the blade kind of just drops with more force. Others like their knives to be lighter for faster and more fluid movements. So, ultimately, it’s up to you. Personally, we like a heavier style blade as it does often make chopping up veggies, fruits, and such a tad easier.
Regardless of what style you like, it’s important to buy a knife that is well-balanced. Most people like to have a chef’s knife that is perfectly balanced between the blade and the handle (an even distribution of weight on both ends). This is usually the best type. Some people, however, like to have just a tad bit more weight on the blade end than on the handle because it makes the blade drop with more force. Again, this comes down to personal preference but most aspiring and seasoned cooks prefer a perfectly even balance of weight.
Weight is everything, though. There’s also the handle to consider. The handles on chef’s knives are often made of different materials. Some are made with plastic-like materials while others have wood or stainless steel handles. If you prefer to have a bit of grip you’ll probably want to go for a knife that has a wood or texturized handle. If you want a knife that looks amazing and ruggedly made – go for a steel handle.
Another big thing to look for is a knife that has excellent blade retention. This just means that the blade will remain sharp for as long as possible. Higher-quality chef’s knives are able to retain their sharpness for quite a while without needing to be sharpened via a stone or electronic sharpener. Less expensive or lower-quality models, on the other hand, will become dull more quickly and require sharpening a lot more frequently.
Obviously it’s extremely difficult to tell how well a knife will hold its sharpness just by looking at it, though. In order to get an idea of the blade retention on a chef’s knife you’re going to have to rely on details supplied by the manufacturer or, better yet, read through real customer reviews on sites like Amazon.com to get a more direct and honest answer.
Finally, another thing to consider is the overall length of the blade on a chef’s knife. This is another one of those grey areas where personal preferences often come into play, but there a few things that a longer blade excels at more so than a shorter one. Shorter blades are often a bit lighter and work well for mincing garlic, slicing up juicy tomatoes, cutting up mushrooms, and more. A longer blade, on the other hand, can do all of the above as well as tackle bigger projects such as cutting a watermelon, chopping up pumpkins, and so on.
So, once again, it comes down to personal preference but, if you think you’ll want to cut up larger materials at some point – you’ll probably want to go with a slightly longer blade. Chef’s knives are available in a number of sizes, but most are sold as 7, 8, 9, or 10 inch models. Classic styles are typically 8 inches long. Japanese-style chef’s knives are typically shorter – around 7 or 8 inches in length. Finally, you have the larger versions which are usually 9 or 10 inch variants, but they even come as large as 12 inches.