We’ve chosen our top picks for Chef’s knives that are under the $100 radar that are offering excellent abilities when it comes to sharpness, comfort, and performance. We hope that these top picks that were selected from a much larger review will give you confidence in our opinion as to why these are the best knives under $100 for your money’s worth.
Like any other preferred knife in your kitchen, a chef knife is an essential tool that’s meant to be in every kitchen. Yet finding a quality knife for this task without the need to pay exorbitant prices is the real challenge. But we all know there is going to be a big difference between a $25 chef knife and one costing upwards of $200. However, there may not be much of a difference between a $100 chef knife and a $200 one. So let’s jump in and see what the differences are and we’ll list our favorite chef knives you can pick up under $100.
A little about our top picks
Before we start, we want to highlight two specific knives that we reviewed that are literally head-to-head above the others we tested. The reasoning is very simple simply because the manufacturing is top-notch and is constructed with tried and true methods that any self-respecting knife should be. You can read more detail about these two picks in the further review below, aside from the part that we feel these two need critical acclaim.
The first includes the Victornox Fibrox Pro 8-inch Chef’s knife and the second is Mercer Culinary Rennaissance 8-inch Forged Chef Knife.
Both of these knives will not only serve you well in the kitchen, but their reliability, durability, and sharpness are hard to beat.
The Victorinox is exceedingly lightweight and has a comfortable grip making it perfect for duties like slicing, dicing, and mincing.It’s equally easy to keep sharpened and will last for years with proper maintenance in your home kitchen.
But if you’re looking for something slightly heavier with some meat to it, the Mercer Renaissance is another top recommendation. This knife is forged from German steel complete with a full tang that adds structural strength and genuine stability when it cuts to cutting or slicing tasks.
The Mercer also features a handle crafted from durable Delrin that is shaped perfectly for controlling movement and alternating hand positions for cutting and dicing a variety of foods. Once again, either of these knives can be outstanding in your kitchen when used as an all-purpose Chef Knife with superior levels of control and great durability.
Both of these are under $100 and you can find out more details about them later in this review.
What to look for when buying a Chef’s knife?
Not everyone is an expert when it comes to selecting kitchen knives, but we certainly do love big-sounding brand names… The first thing that needs to be addressed is the cutting edge which is also called the ‘edge angle’. It’s the whole reason that a chef knife will perform as it does since the edge angle equates to how well it cuts. Narrow angles that are higher create a sharper cutting edge and ultimately cleaner cuts that give your knife a sharper cutting appeal.
Also See: Chef Knife Vs Santoku Knives
The average sharpening angle is typically 13 to 16 degrees on each side of the blade, giving it the ideal cutting edge that most home chefs like to work with. The higher the degree, the sharper your knife happens to feel but you do need to keep in mind that sharper angles also require frequent honing or sharpening to retain tip-top sharpness.
The blade itself should have a gentle curve running from the tip all the way back to the heel. This allows the blade to rock forward and backward while cutting, making it easier for random duties like chopping or dicing. Another aspect is easy to spot at the heel of the blade which should be at least 2 inches difference between the blade’s edge and handle. This is the area that gives you enough clearance for your fingers while you hold the handle. Looking at the spine that runs the length along the top of your knife also needs to look a specific way.
This spine needs to be rounded and not have sharp edges all along the entire length to the tip. This gives you a better ability to chop through tougher items like squash and carrots but is also strong enough to chop through thin chicken bones and cartilage. Those who enjoy chopping can rest their hand on the top of the spine to control mincing likewise. When it comes to handles, this is a slippery slope in itself.
You want to find a handle that fits your hand comfortably at any angle but has a shape that is secure enough that you aren’t fumbling with the handle with wet or slightly slippery hands. Rounded handles are nice but should still have an overall shape that is more or less oval and not perfectly rounded. The handle texture is a big plus but shouldn’t detract from having a comfortable grip that is between rubbery textures through hardwood handles.
See more: Knife Buyers Guide
Things to avoid when buying Chef knives
We can’t stress the idea enough that there are going to be things you just don’t want or need in a chef knife. Gimmicks aside, many knife manufacturers are counting on your lack of knowledge when it comes to buying an excellent chef knife, so here are important tips to keep watch for:
It’s not too uncommon that a brand new knife will cut fine for the first few times but quickly gets harder and harder to cut simple items. The worst thing you want in your kitchen is a knife that isn’t sharpened properly or honed each time. This is why you see chefs using their honing rods before cutting or slicing as if this is part of a religious ritual. In this way, a sharp knife will allow you the best results for slicing and cutting, even if all you’re doing is chopping or mincing…
Blades that aren’t sharpened to their best ability can also be a safety hazard that places more strain on arm muscles while cutting. Slipping and sliding while cutting through meat skin is also dangerous since a knife can easily slip out of place causing unintended injury like cut fingers. It’s a common problem that can be fixed with regular sharpening of your chef knives.
A chef knife with a nice thick spine may give the appearance of a sturdy blade that gives you great control. The problem is that these knives are more trouble than they are worth when trying to slice through thick vegetables. Similar to how an axe will get stuck in a log, the blade will act just like a wedge and get stuck. It also makes cutting and dicing delicate items like garlic and green onions.
It would be an advantage to have no more than 1.3 millimeters at the thickest part of the spine will have the best amount of cutting control.
Do you remember those Ginsu knives that were always so flexible and kept their shape no matter how much you bend them? Well, this is very bad news for chef knives that shouldn’t act like Weeble-Wobbles. These types of knives are typically better for fine slicing and delicate culinary tasks, but cutting through meat should never include blades that bend. It’s a must to settle on a knife spine that supports the blade so it will not bend easily.
There’s nothing wrong with a chef knife that has some weightiness to it and can simply be a product of good old-fashioned forged iron. When it comes to personal preference, some chefs like their chef knives to be lighter depending on what task they’re performing. Just thinking about those kinds of activities that take a long time, it would make sense to have a lighter knife, but sometimes you do need some heftier weight if you’re doing heavy slicing and chopping.
All things aside, there isn’t much of an issue about weight unless you intend to use it to work for you otherwise a lighter knife could be the best solution.
BEST CHEF KNIVES UNDER $100
1. The Victorinox Swiss Army Fibrox Pro 8-inch Chef Knife
Coming in as the big winner as our top choice in this category, we are happy to recommend this durable and reliable knife that hits all the marks for quality and well-crafted design. The blade itself is crafted from high-carbon stainless steel that is not only strong but will resist corrosion better than most on the market. Even little details include a custom ground tip that’s been shaped on purpose just for precision tip cutting.
It further features a curved blade that will speed up the chopping and dicing duties of everyday kitchen ingredients. The blade has further been hardened using cryogenic cooling while it was forged, allowing it to have improved strength and hold a sharp edge for longer periods. The handle is a lightweight polymer that allows for excellent grip and comfort. It’s also textured on both sides making it easier to grasp the knife if your hand is wet or slippery from handling meat.
From our testing, we found that it’s razor sharp and holds its edge longer than other chef knives that require re-sharpening or honing. It slices through small bits like garlic effortlessly as it handles meats and veggies all the same. It also works great on chopping through tough cartilage and hard items like squash. It’s the absolute best pick for a chef knife under $100 for the sheer quality it has to offer.
2. Mercer Culinary Renaissance 8-inch Chef Knife
Our second recommendation for a top-rated choice comes from the Mercer Culinary brand that’s known for its high standards. This chef knife also features a great curved blade that’s equally sharp as the Victornox Fibrox Pro and has outstanding maneuverability while making delicate cuts. The handle is nice and comfy and fits snugly in your hand and is crafted from lightweight Delrin. It also features a spine that is lightweight enough for frequent usage.
Since it uses German stainless steel, the razor-sharp edge lasts longer without frequent honing needed as much. It can handle a variety of chef knife tasks like chopping and mincing yet handles cutting through thicker and denser items with just as much ease. If we had a part 2 of this review for best chef knives under $50, this chef knife would hit the top of that list too!
3. Victornox Swiss Classic 8-inch Chef Knife
Their classic version from Victornox makes an appearance on our list for some very obvious reasons. This model is nearly identical to the Swiss Army Fibrox Pro aside that the handle material being made from polyoxymethylene. It’s a lighter plastic that is better suited for prolonged kitchen duties that may tire your arms if you prep a lot of daily food. The blade is just as sharp and allows for chopping and slicing tasks of all kinds.
It’s another great pick that would make a great pick for under $50 for a must-have chef knife.
4. Zwilling Gourmet 8-inch Chef Knife
Zwilling is best known for their German forged steel knives but has also been praised for their inexpensive line of chef knives. The scores we give for this knife also earn our highest points on key points like sharpness and reasonable price. After all, just the name Zwilling is nearly enough to charge more but this is their economy-level knife that we’re talking about here. This is where you see little differences that make it good for some duties but lacking in other areas.
It would be nicer if the space between the bottom of the blade and the handle could accommodate larger fingers. Likewise, the handle isn’t as comfortable as we would like but is nice and light for dicing duties. If you’re looking for a great brand name for a price that is well under $100, the Zwilling Gourmet chef knife is a real bargain.
5. Dalstrong Chef Knife 8-inch Gladiator Series Elite
Our final choice includes a name that is synonymous when it comes to offering value and includes many fine points. With their Gladiator Series Elite chef knife, it features Japanese AUS-8 high-carbon steel that’s also stainless and complete with a full tang. It has the iconic 3 rivets that hold the comfortable grip that makes detailed and delicate work feel like a breeze. It holds a sharp blade for much longer than most knives would but does need careful sharpening fairly often.
They also use a special ‘Cryo’ process that hardens the steel so the resilient nature of this knife will last years. While you can’t throw this knife into a conventional dishwasher, the corrosion resistance through hand washing will keep this knife lasting for years. We are happy to include this chef knife on our list since it hits all the marks for things we like, and is under $100! As impressive as this knife performs, if you’re looking for a nice hefty feeling knife, this chef knife does deliver.