Selecting the best chef knife under 100 for the home cook can be a laborious process. In addition to a great deal, you’ll want a high quality product that improves the quality of your cooking experience. It’s important to carefully assess the value of the knife by researching the durability of its materials, understanding what it’s best for cutting, and verifying the credibility of the manufacturer.
To save you some time, the following knives have been thoroughly researched and have proven to have an excellent quality to value ratio. There is something for every budget and even suggestions for specific types of knives under $50. If you’re interested in better understanding the knife making process, check out our Chef Knives 101
This Japanese Damascus blade is one of the best values for just under $100. It’s been forged from Japanese steel VG10 and is surrounded by 67 layers of Damascus steel. This combination produces an ultrafine edge that can resist corrosion and maintain sharpness for an exceptionally long time.
The knife is full tang, meaning that the steel of the blade extends to the end of the handle, creating a more durable and ergonomically comfortable product. It’s 8” long and is suitable for almost all common kitchen tasks, from dicing to carving to cutting bread. The blade is slightly curved which provides a slight advantage of sharpness to it.
While customers are generally impressed with this knife, they do note that it is heavier than comparable models and has a larger handle as well. This is meant to help with an ergonomic grip, however, may be uncomfortable for those with very small hands or for commercial levels of prep.
Overall, this knife is the best value for price on the market. It’s incredibly difficult to get this quality of Japanese steel for under $100, however, the manufacturer ships this material to China for assembly in order to offer it at a lower cost to customers. It’s been noted that Kyoku has exceptional customer service as well, from remedying product issues, to answering questions, to keeping customers updated on shipping.
This Dalstrong chef knife is in their Shadow Black series, and is as functional as it is sleek and beautiful. It’s scalpel sharp edge is hand finished using the Honbazuke method, a traditional Japanese method where the blade is sharpened and polished by hand in three stages. It’s also treated with a titanium nitride non-reflective coating that minimizes corrosion and enhances non-stick properties.
The blade is made from military grade high Carbon -7CR17MOV-X vacuum treated German steel, meaning that it will maintain its sharpness much longer than more common or economical steel blades. It’s full tang which increases strength across both the blade and handle. For further protection, it comes with a sleek black sheath for storage.
Customers state that the knife is well balanced and a good medium weight, with a slightly larger grip that remains secure even when the handle is wet. Some have a difficult time sharpening this knife due to the black titanium coating. Sharpen this knife slowly and carefully in order to preserve its beauty!
This high-carbon chef knife uses German engineering to ensure a tough 8” blade that is blended with chrome to deliver strength and shine. The length of the handle is 5” and gives the knife a length of 13” overall. The pakkawood handle is lightweight and easy to work with to provide balance and ease for frequent use.
Many customers appreciate the thick 2mm blade, however, a few find this to be too thick and occasionally a problem for their baked goods and breads. Most people report that with heavy use, three times a day, the blade has remained relatively sharp, and does not require regular sharpening. The producer advises against cutting frozen food with this knife, which may dull it much more quickly.
The manufacturer is highly reputable and offers a lifetime warranty on all of their knives, so you can rest easy knowing that this budget buy will be a lifelong kitchen accessory.
The Auikiy chef knife is an amazing value for a forged stainless steel knife that can last you a very long time with infrequent but consistent sharpening. The blade contains .0% to .75% carbon, which helps reinforce its strength and makes it much more durable than other knives at the same price point.
This is a good lower end steel product that’s a Chinese copy of 440a, making it a solid option for a chef’s knife. It should be very easy to sharpen and keep honed, but don’t expect it to hold an edge with no maintenance as it’s still a low grade stainless. With regular sharpening you shouldn’t have any issue using it on harder foods such as carrots and sweet potatoes.
Some customers are less than enthused with the handle of this knife, as well as how the hand rests on it. Some have reported that there are slightly sharp edges where the metal and wood of the handle meet. Others have mentioned that when prepping and slicing large amounts of food at once it can create irritation and even blistering on certain fingers due to repeated rubbing. This should only be an issue for those using this knife commercially, and otherwise, it is an incredibly high-performing and comfortable knife.
This chef knife set includes ten knives: an 8″ Chef Knife, 8″ Slicer Knife, 8″ Bread Knife, 7″ Santoku Knife, 5″ Santoku Knife, 7″ Cleaver Knife, 6″ Boning Knife, and 3.5″ Paring Knife. These knives are great quality for the cost and are made of high carbon forged stainless steel(440A) which comes with a 54+ Rockwell Hardness. They are rust resistant, anti-corrosive, and have a long-lasting sharp edge.
Each knife comes with a protective sheath which can further extend their life and sharpness. Some customers mention to use caution when the handles get wet and to make sure to keep your grip tight for safety.
A carving knife is a long and slender type of culinary knife used to carve thin slices of meat. The Mairico Ultra Sharp Premium carving knife is ergonomically designed and super sharp for finely cutting any meat, fruit, or vegetable.
It’s 11” long which is long enough to cut through larger pieces of meat such as turkey, ham roasts, and brisket. It also quickly cuts through harder to slice fruits such as pineapple or squashes.
The knife is made of durable stainless steel and is compatible with any type of sharpener if you want to maintain a razor sharp edge on it. The manufacturer offers a full refund if you’re unsatisfied with this product for any reason.
Many customers are deeply impressed by the incredibly thin cuts this affordable carving knife can make. One customer states that when making thin slices, they are so translucent that you can actually see the knife passing through on the other side. Another highly recommended this knife for making incredibly thin and tender slices of gyro meat and korean bulgogi meat.
The knife comes in a secure box for storage in case you don’t use it on a regular basis.
This 10” serrated bread knife is made out of Germany high carbon stainless steel and is a great deal for a professional grade knife for the home chef. The handle is a comfortable wooden base (pakkawood) that is easy to hold and provides a proper weight balance for delicate and specific cuts, such as on a cake.
Most customers feel that this knife is perfect for the home cook and the culinary enthusiast and hobbyist, but is notably lower quality than a commercial bread knife. This company offers a lifetime warranty on all of it’s products so if the quality proves to last for a shorter time an anticipated, rest assured that Imarku will replace your product.
The Zelite Infinity paring knife is 4” of high carbon german stainless steel. It’s loved by home and professional cooks alike and is the perfect tool for small intricate work such as removing seeds from peppers, deveining shrimp, cutting cheese, and peeling skins from fruits and vegetables.
The stainless steel blade has long lasting performance, is non-stick, and rust resistant. 56 Rockwell Hardness means the blade is tough, hard, and has exceptional edge retention, which means less frequent sharpening. The company recommends honing the knife every 8 hours of use to maintain the optimal edge and recommends using a fine grit ceramic honing rod.
The Imarku Meat Cleaver comes in a 7” and 8” variety and both are made from high carbon German stainless steel. It has a carbon content of .65% to .75% which makes this product extremely corrosion resistant, wear resistant, and rust resistant. It’s the perfect tool for cutting and pounding meat, smashing garlic, fine dicing vegetables, and even removing skin from a fish.
Make sure not to use this cleaver on bones, joints, or frozen meat. The blade is quite thin and may quickly dull if used in this way. The manufacturer recommends using a sharpening stone with this knife every 2 or 3 months. They also offer a lifetime warranty on the product in case anything happens over the years.
Anatomy Of A Chef Knife
When choosing a handle that’s right for you, you’ll want to find one with a good grip that doesn’t strain your hand, especially for long periods of time. It should also be made out of a material that stays secure when wet to make sure the knife doesn’t slip out of your hand. Some handles are designed to be ergonomic for an easy grip while others have more minimal designs that allow for different type of grips.
The spine runs along the top of your knife and has a flat squared edge. It’s important that the spine is smooth and polished so it doesn’t cause irritation for your hands. The spine should also taper down at the tip for a thin blade that can easily cut and puncture your food.
The edge is the cutting surface of your knife and certainly one of the most important points of construction. Many people use the “paper-cutting method” to test the sharpness of their knives. Take a sheet of paper, stand it up vertically, and use your blace to slice the sheet in half from the top and down. You can control the sharpness of your knife by being mindful of what kind of knife you buy, as well as by regularly sharpening it.
For most knives, the heel is the widest and thickest part of the edge. This is where a majority of the knife’s weight comes from. You use this end for cutting when you want to break through tougher foods such as tendons, cartilage, or hard rinds on produce such as watermelons and squash.
This part of the knife is also called the shank, shoulder, or collar. It’s the thicker part of a knife’s metal where it tapers down and connects with the handle. This part of the knife can act as a finger protector as well as a place for the finger to rest. It also adds additional heft and strength to the knife overall. Not all knives have this component, especially Japanese style knives. The bolster can provide you with protection and control. However, not having one allows for a longer blade that can be sharpened all the way to the edge.
How To Choose A Chef Knife
Most chef knife blades come in 6, 7, 8, or 9 inch varieties. In this article, we focus on 8 inch knives, as they are the most popular choice and work great for a variety of cutting such as slicing, dicing, shaving, and even paring. They will be able to handle large sizes and volumes of food without being as intimidating and challenging to handle as a 10 inch blade. You may want to prep your food more quickly or have more control over the movement of the cut. In this case, a smaller blade may be a better decision.
In order to find a knife weight that is best for you, you’ll need to try several different models. Some believe that a heavier knife will “fall” with more force onto your produce and meats, providing an easier and faster cut. Others feel that a lighter knife allows for quicker and more specific cuts. Choose what feels best for you, or even better, strike a balance with a medium-weighted knife for a wide range of applications.
Forged Knives: This type of knife is made by hammering an incredibly hot billet of molten steel into a mold. The blacksmith then pounds the knife into shape under this extreme heat. Since this process is very time consuming, these knives are often quite expensive. These knives tend to be heavier and have thicker blades.
Stamped Knives: This method involves cutting a blade out from a solid metal sheet. This knife is relatively strong and often high quality, however, it can be found at only a fraction of the price of a forged knife.
Types of Metal
High Carbon Stainless Steel: This type of metal is also referred to as Japanese steel and indicates that there is a carbon content of 5% to 15% percent in the blade. Carbon additives help to make blades firm and durable. Because the blade it so firm, it may at times become brittle, and you may experience chipping on the blade over time.
Carbon Steel: This type of steel is also known as German stainless steel and they are well known for their toughness. While this blade will be a bit softer than a high carbon knife, it can handle a tremendous amount of cutting and prep. These knives have anywhere from .5% to 1.5% of carbon content in them. These blades are generally thicker than Japanese steel, a necessity for softer metal.
Stainless Steel: This is the most economical type of blade you can find for a chef knife. Since they don’t have carbon added to them, they are relatively soft. This means that they will lose their sharp edge over time and need to be consistently sharpened.
Knife Tang Types
A knife tang is a very important part of your chef knife. Tangs are sheaths of metal hidden underneath the handle of the knife so you may not be as familiar with this section as the others. There are two main types of knife tangs to learn about.
Full Tang Knives: This tang indicates a high quality knife and means that metal runs through the whole length of your knife, from the tip to the edge of the handle. This reinforces the strength of your knife and also greatly prevents you from having any knife bending issues.
Partial Tang Knives: A partial tang only partially enters the handle of your knife as opposed to running all of the way through it. This knife is less durable overall, however it is usually much lighter, for those who prefer a light and swift chef knife.
How To Take Care Of Your Knife
Don’t Put Your Knife In The Dishwasher
Over time, your dishwater may dull your blade. It could rub against other cutlery and this may affect its edge. The chemicals in your dishwasher detergent may also react unfavorably with the blade. Several chef knife uses have also stated that the dishwasher has changed or loosened the fitting of the handle, possibly due to the extreme temperatures inside the machine.
Buy A Steel Or Knife Sharpener
Using a steel on your knife regularly will help keep the tip pointing straight, for better and finer cuts. This helps to make sure that the knife doesn’t get too far out of alignment, which can be harder to correct over time. A knife sharpener will maintain a scalpel like edge that will give you perfect well controlled cuts. Sharp aligned knives are also safer and can minimize accidents due to blunt hard to control blades.
Store Your Knife Carefully
Just as mentioned in the dishwasher bullet, it’s important that your knives don’t rub up on other kitchen utensils or pieces of metal, which can dull, scratch, and chip them. Many knives come with sheaths so that they can be stored in a glove for safety and protection. Another option is a knife block, where they nestle into slits and are easy to grab from the countertop. I personally prefer to use a magnetic knife strip that is mounted on the wall of my kitchen.
Use A Wooden Or Glass Cutting Board
Hard surface cutting boards such as glass, marble, or granite may damage and dull your knife. Wooden and plastic cutting boards have some give and will help maintain the sharp edge of your chef knife for longer.
Avoid Cutting Through Bones Or Frozen Foods
When cutting through frozen food or bones, you will quickly dull the knife, potentially may bend the knife, and even may chip it. Since chef knives are a major investment, make sure not to do this to preserve your knife indefinitely. Consider using a cleaver or a larger thicker knife for this type of cutting.
By know you should have a pretty good idea of how chef knives work and which one may be best for you! All of the knives reviewed above have consistently performed well for thousands of purchasers and almost all of them are backed by generous company warranties, so these knives could potentially last you a lifetime!
What’s your favorite chef knife, and what features matter the most to you and in your kitchen? Let me know in the comments below!