Best Chef's Knife: The 2023 Tasting Table Awards

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Knives: a chef's favorite obsession. Perhaps more than any other tool in the kitchen, a knife's finest points (puns intended) are worth splitting hairs over since every cook dreams of a knife that can literally split hairs. A good chef's knife is a versatile tool that can pierce, slice, and chop to tackle all or most of the meal prep's cutting needs. 

To find the best knife you're likely to encounter in the common offerings, we tested popular blades for edge, balance, grip comfort, and weight, with lighter being better. All of the knives were 8" long, had a sturdy spine thickness unlikely to turn on you, and were roughly the same height, so we discounted those from our criteria. All of the knives below sliced easily through a piece of printer paper, as should be expected of a brand-new knife.

But which knife suits which need? A great chef's knife can do 90% of the necessary work in the average home kitchen, replacing the need for most cases of specialty knife types. But some chef's knives play to one strength over another. Here's our pick for the best of the block.

Read more about the 2023 Tasting Table Awards methodology and all the top picks here.

Best Overall: Hast

Hast comes out on top, even grading on a curve. Its blade just falls through anything beneath it. Translucent slices of tomato peeled away under this edge, regardless of whether they were ripe, juicy, tight, or mealy. Adjusting the angle is a measure of microns. Your control over this knife is unremarkable in the best sense — it feels natural to use.

We're also fond of the handle on this blade –it weighs very little while handling nimbly, making it almost intangible in your hand. By graduating from the relatively easy neck to the thick center of the gourd, this knife made short work of butternut squash, which challenged even the most well-regarded knives we tested. It's sleek T-1000 look is the icing on the cake. Competitive in every level at almost half the price, the Hast is an ultimately spectacular pick.

Purchase the Hast Chef Knife on Amazon for $79.

Best Classic Style: Wüsthof Gourmet

If you're a staunch traditionalist who will not be swayed by the superior talents of the Japanese shapes or just need a little more bulk in your bolster for gripping all in one place, the Wüsthof Gourmet is the purchase for you. This blade is perhaps understated by doing everything else just right. It's not flashy, yet maybe a victim of its minimalist functionality. Everything here is the effective amount and no more: lightweight, maneuverable, with a sturdy spine, balanced right on the heel, this is a classic chef's knife on every point of examination. 

It also wades right up to the front for how thinly you can slice foods. One cut from the tomatoes here was sheer and it handled cutting at a squash's thick point with relative ease. Honestly, this knife made us realize how hard it would be to narrow this selection down. If you like familiarity, Wüsthof Gourmet succeeds in it. And sometimes innovation isn't necessary when reliability excels.

Purchase the Wüsthof Gourmet Chef's Knife on Amazon for $100.

Best Budget: Cuisinart C77TRN-8CF Nitrogen Collection

You get a highly effective knife for two hours of minimum wage with this blade. Extremely light despite the thickest handle of the group, the Cuisinart Nitrogen Collection 8-inch is like waving air around ... poetic, given that nitrogen is used to lock in the steel's austenite phase. This is done to reduce corrosion and increase hardness, effectively preserving the edge of the knife longer. 

It takes some elbow grease to bite into a butternut, but Cuisinart won't wobble on you; it offered paper-thin tomato slices on par with our top recommendations, and it didn't crunch too much in its capable onion dicing test. It's a feat unto itself to stand alongside or above three other tested chef's knives that cost up to five times as much. If you're comfortable resharpening your knife as needed, you'll get 80% of the use from 20% of the investment.

Purchase the Cuisinart C77TRN-8CF Nitrogen Collection Chef Knife on Amazon for $15.

Best Handling: MAC Mighty MTH-80

The MAC Mighty MTH-80 is the only knife on this list with a Granton edge: divots that prevent surface tension from sticking food to the blade. It's an important consideration — disarray on a cutting board eats time. The efficacy of the grooves is debatable, but when using the MAC Mighty, even very thin cuts of tomato (which will cling to any blade) fell away.

That speaks very well of this knife. A bird-beak shape sets it further apart from other knives we tested and makes rapid chopping of any length or thickness a fun time. With very little adhesion and instant cuts, the MTH-80 made quick work of our testing trinity of butternut squash, tomato, and onion, then sped on through garlic scapes, celery, ginger, and anything else we could feed the blade.

The included instructions specifically caution against using this knife on "hard squash," yet it performed beautifully. (Long-run users may want to heed the company's advice.) While butternut might not be kabocha, it's impressive that the MTH-80 was able to move through a thick-skinned gourd with surprising swiftness, then go on to sliver tomatoes and finely dice onions.

Purchase the MAC Mighty MTH-80 Chef Knife on Amazon for $145.

Best Design: Misen

Misen offers a chef's knife that shines when it comes to performance and value. But what do we really love about this blade? It's beautiful. Still, the world's prettiest knife needs to cut well, and while we could stand to see a little more control in slicing angle and sliding, this is undeniably an affordable speed demon with a luxury-class look. Misen earned its esteem while slicing tomatoes and chopping onions and garlic scapes at top speed.

The design of the Misen knife encourages you to be comfortable using advanced cutting techniques, like a chef's claw grip. In fact, it's next to necessity, as forward momentum and holding the veggies together allow you to rapid-feed them into the knife bite. Assuming you don't cleave dense veggies every day, this is a great everyday tool, and it's a pleasure to behold. Misen looks like it's wearing a tuxedo, and its angles and curves delight the eye.

Purchase the Misen Chef Knife on Amazon for $85.