Finding the Best Chef Knife & Knife Set For Beginners: How to Pick Up One?

A quality chef knife is the most important tool in the kitchen.

That’s students and those who are just beginning their culinary journey are encouraged to get one as their first investment.

But with all the options out there, figuring out the best chef knife for a beginner can be tough.

What qualities should the knife have?

How much should you spend?

How long should the knife be?

In this article, we talk about all of that and more as we have also compiled reviews of the best chef knives for beginners on the market today.

So if you’ve been looking to start your culinary journey and are looking for the right knife to start it with, then you’ve come to the right place.

Keep reading to learn more.

Best Chef Knives & Knife Sets for Beginners – Quick Comparison

Reviews of the Best Chef Knives For Beginners

1. DALSTRONG Shogun Series

DALSTRONG Chef's Knife - Shogun Series - Damascus - Japanese...
  • A unique cutting experience: The Shogun Series 7.5” Serrated Chef...
  • Unrivalled Performance: Engineered to perfection with perfectly spaced...
  • Dalstrong Power: An ultra sharp AUS-10V Japanese super steel cutting...

This may seem like an odd pick for a beginner chef knife, but ask any professional out there and they’ll tell you a serrated knife is just as important as your standard chef knife.

Serrated knives are great for those extra-tough ingredients and can cut through them with ease.

This particular knife is 7” long, which is a great size for beginners as it gives you enough size to cut through large ingredients while still giving you a good amount of control.

It has 66 layers of high-carbon stainless steel and an AUS-10V core with a Rockwell Hardness rating of 62.

This makes for an extremely durable and sharp knife.

The handle is made of G10, which is a very durable and comfortable material in the hand.

It’s a full tang knife that’s triple-riveted so it gives you a great amount of balance when cutting.

If you’re looking to cut larger ingredients, then this serrated knife is a great option for you.

Pros:

  • Can cut through tough ingredients
  • Made of quality materials
  • Full-tang gives the knife a great balance
  • Very sharp right out of the box
  • A good size for beginners

Cons:

  • Not ideal for cutting the more delicate ingredients

2. Mercer Culinary Millennia

Mercer Culinary Millennia Chef's Knife, 8-Inch, Green
  • Ergonomic handle – a combination of Santoprene for comfort and...
  • Textured finger points provide slip resistance, grip, and safety....
  • Hand wash knives for blade edge and surface care

The next knife on our list is a great budget pick for beginners looking to buy their first chef knife.

It’s made of high-carbon Japanese steel that gives a sharp edge and great durability.

The handle is made of polypropylene and santropene.

This gives the handle a sturdy build and an ergonomic feel.

The handle has textured finger points that can serve as a guide while also reducing slips.

The knife also has a protective finger guard that is a huge plus for a beginner who is getting used to the feel of a chef knife.

It may not be the highest-quality model out there, but it does the job really well while saving you some money.

Pros:

  • The design is great for beginners
  • High-carbon stainless steel blade
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Very sharp right out of the box

Cons:

  • Not the highest-quality knife on the market

3. Kai Wasabi

Kai Wasabi Black Chef's Knife, 8-Inch
  • Japanese style chef's knife, multi purpose knife used for slicing,...
  • Made with Daido 1K6 high-carbon, stainless steel for superior edge...
  • Embellished with the japanese character for' wasabi'

While the Kai brand may not be the most popular, they produce very great products at a practical price.

The steel on this chef knife is very sharp and very high-quality.

But that shouldn’t come as a surprise since Kai also produces Shun cutlery.

This blade has a very classy and sleek look to it.

It comes very sharp right out of the box, and honing the knife for a minute or two a day will keep it razor sharp.

You won’t have to worry about taking out the whetstone weekly for this knife.

It’s also made in the Japanese style, which makes this knife very sharp and durable.

This is a great knife for beginners, and it comes from a very trusted brand.

Pros:

  • Made of high-quality materials
  • Doesn’t require too much sharpening
  • Great feel
  • Sleek design

Cons:

  • Not dishwasher safe

4. MOSFiATA

MOSFiATA 8" Super Sharp Professional Chef's Knife with...
  • 【8 Inch Chef's Knife】: This MOSFiATA 8 Inch Chef Knife is made of...
  • 【Sharp Edge & 14~16° Sharpening Angle】: Sharpness is key....
  • 【Sturdy Ergonomic Design & Micarta Handle】: The solid Micarta...

This is a very well made, ultra-sharp knife that comes at a reasonable price.

It has an artificial Damascus pattern which isn’t the most attractive feature, but the blade’s quality definitely makes up for that.

The blade is made of high-carbon stainless steel that can retain its edge even after heavy use.

The knife also comes with a knife sharpener, making it ideal for those starting out in the kitchen.

It’s a full-tang knife, which means it will have a great balance to it that you will feel instantly.

The handle also has a very ergonomic design, making it very easy to use even if you aren’t used to the feel of a full-sized chef knife.

All in all a great knife for beginners to start out with that comes at a very affordable price.

Pros:

  • Very sharp
  • Well-constructed
  • The ergonomic design makes it easy to use
  • Comes with a knife sharpener and finger guard
  • Ideal for beginners

Cons:

  • The blade doesn’t have the nicest finish

5. J.A. Henckels Classic

-41% Sale
J.A. Henckels 31161-161 CLASSIC Chef's Knife, 6 Inch, Black
  • Made in Spain
  • Fabricated from high-quality German stainless steel
  • Fully forged construction offers durability and a seamless transition...

This a knife coming from a very well respected brand and is relatively affordable for a high-quality chef knife.

This is arguably the best beginners chef knife for the money out there and is well worth the investment.

It is made of German stainless steel, giving this knife a razor-sharp edge that will stay that way for a very long time.

It’s a Western-style chef knife, which could be a great pick for a beginner since they are fairly easier to use.

These knives also require less maintenance since they stay sharp longer.

It’s a forged blade, which also adds to its quality, and this can be hard to find among knives in this price range.

This knife is recommended for beginners because it is a knife that performs at par with more expensive models.

Pros:

  • Great value
  • Made by a trusted brand in Spain
  • Has a forged blade
  • Well-balanced
  • Full-tang

Cons:

  • A bit more expensive than other models in this list

6. Mercer Culinary Genesis

Mercer Culinary Genesis Forged Chef's Knife, 6 Inch
  • Santoprene handle for comfort and safe grip, NSF certified
  • High carbon forged steel from Soligen, Germany. Stain-resistant x50 Cr...
  • Taper-ground edge allows for added stability, easy honing, long...

This is a full-tang knife made of German stainless steel.

This means it will have a great balance to it, razor-sharp blade, and will be resistant to rust and corrosion.

This is a great knife for beginners as it can give you the feel of a professional chef knife while remaining very affordable.

It has a Santropene handle that gives you a very comfortable and safe grip, which can be a huge help to those starting out in the kitchen.

It’s an affordable knife with a great blade, proper balance, and a comfortable grip.

Not much more you can ask for when looking at beginner’s chef knives.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Full-tang
  • Has a sharp blade
  • Ergonomic handle

Cons:

  • May need to be sharpened regularly

7. Victorinox

Victorinox 6 Inch Fibrox Pro Chef's Knife
  • FOR HOME CHEFS & PROFESSIONALS. This Fibrox Pro Chef's Knife has been...
  • FIT FOR ALL TASKS. Designed to handle both small and large kitchen...
  • EASY HANDLING. Each knife features an ergonomic handle made from...

Wrapping up our list is a small, 6-inch blade.

It comes from Victorinox, a very respected brand in the culinary community.

This knife is very sharp, easy to use, and the small size gives you a lot of control.

The size of this knife can make a huge difference when you’re learning the ropes of preparing ingredients.

That being said, since it is a smaller blade, your workflow may be slower and you may have a  limited range of ingredients you can cut.

But as a beginner, that’s a sacrifice that’s worth all the extra control you gain.

So if you’re looking to start slow and use a smaller knife that gives you more control, this is our top pick.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Gives you a lot of control
  • Comes with a razor-sharp blade
  • Made of high-quality materials

Cons:

  • The size of the knife can be limiting

Qualities To Look For When Buying A Beginner’s Chef Knife

the best chef knife and knife set for beginners

1. Price

One of the first things to consider when getting a chef knife is how much you’re willing to spend.

Higher priced knives will generally be of higher quality, but spending a large amount of money as a beginner may be impractical for a lot of people.

When looking for a chef knife, a good price range to look at is the $100-$150 range as the knives in this range tend to be of great quality and aren’t too expensive.

But there are also a lot of great options out there for beginners below the $100 mark that will serve you well.

2. Quality Of Materials

Regardless of the price, you want to make sure the materials used in making your knife are of high quality.

Firstly, you should look at the blade of the knife.

One of the best materials for a blade is high-carbon stainless steel.

It can retain its edge for a long time, is very durable, and resistant to shattering.

Another great material is Damascus steel, which is forged steel that has a lot of durable and can be incredibly sharp.

This kind of steel also leaves behind a “rose” pattern on the blade that can be very eye-catching.

Another thing to look at is the handle, as that can also be very important in getting a good grip on the knife.

Handles can be made out of a variety of materials, but the most common ones are G10, steel, or wood.

The type of handle for you will largely depend on personal tastes and preferences.

3. Length Of The Blade

Professional chefs can commonly be seen using large chef knives with 10”-12” blades.

This allows them to work faster and chop more ingredients, but this size might be a bit too large for a beginner.

For those starting out, chef knives with smaller blades would be much easier to get used to.

When looking for a beginner’s chef knife, try looking at blades that are between 8”- 10”  in length.

And if you want even more control when learning the ropes you can even use a smaller 6”-7” knife as well.

4. Bevel

The bevel refers to the way the blade slopes down at the sides.

There are two common styles of bevel, the double bevel which you can see in German0-style chef knives, and a single bevel which is common with Japanese-style chef knives.

German-style knives slope down on both sides and are typically sharpened to a 20-degree edge for beginners.

This makes the knife very durable while remaining sharp.

It’s a great beginner knife because it keeps its edge for a long time and remains durable.

Japanese-chef knives, on the other hand, aren’t as durable because of their single bevel.

However, this does make the knife much sharper and precise.

Japanese-style knives like the Gyotu or Santoku are typically used for more precise cutting and slicing jobs.

Depending on your needs as a chef, either one of these styles might suit you better.

That’s why it’s important to know and understand the difference before getting yourself a chef knife.

5. Construction

Another thing to look at is to see how the blade was constructed.

A modern chef knife will either have a stamped construction or forged construction.

Forging steel is the more old-school style and it admittedly gives the knife a seemingly unparalleled edge and durability.

Blades that are forged however tend to be more expensive.

Stamped blades aren’t of the same quality as their forged counterparts, but they still retain a nice edge and are much more affordable.

And don’t worry, the difference isn’t too large.

6. Feel

The most important thing to look at when checking out beginners chef knives is the feel.

To get a good understanding of the feel, you have to try the knife out yourself.

Hold it in your hand and ask yourself how it feels and whether you think it’s the right knife for you.

Only you will know which knife feels right and it will come naturally once you hold the right knife in your hand.

So make sure to try knives out first before buying them.

FAQ’s

1. What Is The Best Chef Knife For The Money?

This will all depend on a number of criteria.

And most importantly, it will depend on your own needs and wants.

But if you want something decent to start with, then I highly recommend you try the Dalstrong Shogun series chef knife.

2. What Brand Of Knives Do Professional Chefs Prefer?

Different chefs will have different opinions when it comes to which brands are good.

This is because everyone has different tastes and needs, especially with something as personal as a chef knife.

However, some brands tend to stick out more than others.

These brands are Shun, Mac, Global, Henckels, and Wusthof.

There isn’t one objective best brand out there for chef knives, but these ones are definitely in the top tier.

3. How Can I Tell If A Knife Is Good?

A good knife is durable, sharp, and feels good in the hand.

The best way to determine whether a knife is good is to try it out.

Try to feel how the knife cuts through ingredients, how it fits in your hand, and how durable the construction seems.

At the end of the day, it’s how a knife feels in the hand of a chef that matters the most.

4. What Size Chef Knife Should I Buy?

Professionals tend to use larger knives that measure up to 12”.

That can be great, but if you’re starting out, it’s best to go for the models that are a bit smaller.

This will give you a better sense of control as you slowly figure out how to use and maneuver your knife.

5. How Sharp Should A Chef’s Knife Be?

Typically a chef knife should be sharpened to an edge anywhere between 15 and 20 degrees.

However, there are some brands out there releasing knives with even sharper edges of 12-13 degrees.

And while these knives are very sharp, they might not be ideal for beginners who are just starting to learn the ropes.

So depending on your skill level and the things you’ll be cutting, the right sharpness on your knife will be different.

But as long as you maintain your knife properly and can cut through ingredients with ease, then your knife is just as sharp as it needs to be.

Conclusion

And that’s our list of the best chef knives for beginners.

These knives are all designed for different kinds of chefs, which is why the choices can seem very varied.

But when it comes to buying chef knives, what’s most important is how comfortable the chef is with their knife.

Most people will know the right knife when they hold it in their hands, that’s why trying out blades before buying is of the utmost importance.

And when you finally find that blade that fits just right in your hand and feels great when cutting, you’ll know that you have the best chef knife for you.

Further reading:

Learn to Cook: 12 Basic Skills Everyone Should Know

How to Start Cooking At Home

9 Knife Care Tips We Learned from a Master Bladesmith