From award-winning chefs to humble home cooks, knives are essential culinary equipment.
You may find that as you build the culinary kit, you pick whatever seems to fit your budget. Understandable.
However, now you want something with real power. You don’t have to break the bank to purchase a strong, reliable chef knife.
No matter the food you enjoy preparing, there is a knife for you, but making the right choice can be difficult.
With so many high-quality chef knives available for under $100, it can seem almost impossible to find one that will fit your needs.
Before searching for a chef knife online, you should bear a few things in mind.
Before purchasing any, you must determine the type of knife you require for your specific use case, whether the knife is worth the asking price, and whether a reputable manufacturer made it.
But you can relax as we have selected 5 of the best chef knives under $100 for you to choose from.
We have devised a simple buyer’s guide so you know what to look for on your next cooking adventure.
What are the 3 most important kitchen knives?
The three most critical knives in a kitchen are the chef’s knife, the paring knife, and the serrated knife.
1. The Imarku Chef Knife
Beginner in the kitchen? The Imarku Chef Knife is an excellent choice.
This high-quality knife makes cooking easy by allowing you to relax and the blade taking on most of the work.
One of the highest quality steels, German stainless steel, was used to construct the blade of this knife, giving it exceptional strength and sharpness.
When navigating through a recipe, you may find that you have various ingredients to chop.
This knife makes chopping easy, from soft vegetables to boning chicken; there isn’t anything this knife can’t cut through.
Chop, cut, mind and dice anything your heart desires without fear of corrosion; with a combination of carbon and chrome, this blade is glossy and long-lasting.
While the blade is a bit larger than other knives at 8 inches, we still recommend this knife to beginners.
The sharp blade and lightweight handle allow you to maneuver your way through the kitchen easily.
The Pakkawood handle allows you to hold the blade for extended periods without experiencing fatigue, finger numbness, or aches.
- Lightweight. Made from Pakkawood, the handle of this knife is extremely lightweight, perfect for those who spend most of their day slicing and dicing in the kitchen.
- Anti-Corrosion. With a blend of carbon and chrome, this blade is glossy and set to last a long time.
- Multi-Purpose. While most knives have a specific purpose, this blade has many uses. From boning chicken to slicing veggies, this knife can do it all.
- Blade Length. 8-inch blade may take some time to learn when used by beginners.
2. Mercer Culinary Genesi7-inchch Santoku Knife
It is no secret that Japanese knives are something to be desired.
With their sleek design and insane results, it is no wonder they also come with a steep price.
However, the Mercer Culinary Genesis Santoku Knife (see also ‘Santoku Knives Vs. Chef’s Knives‘) is a Japanese knife with an even more desirable price point.
The flat blade makes it different from a typical chef knife and makes these blades better suited for cutting in an upward and downward motion than swaying the blade.
The holes running along the side of this blade are not just for decoration; they help prevent food from sticking to the blade as you cut.
An irritation of many chefs. The German steel blended with carbon makes this a durable, reliable knife.
This is a great option for those with smaller hands or who often struggle when chopping for long periods.
The 7-inch blade makes navigating different ingredients simple. It needs a quick wash with warm water and mild soap for caring.
Slice, dice, mince, and cut your way through each ingredient easily with the Mercer Culinary Genesis 7-inch Santoku Knife.
- Damage Resistant. German steel infused with carbon makes this blade extremely damaged and corrosion-resistant.
- Well-Balanced. The Santoku form of this blade makes it easy to use and works best in an up-and-down motion.
- Price. You will experience a high-quality knife for an extremely budget-friendly price.
- Blade. The 7 Inch blade may be too small for certain cutting tasks.
- QUALITY CONSTRUCTION: Knife is precision-forged with high-carbon German steel for better durability, and taper-ground edge allows for increased efficiency when cutting along with incredible long-lasting sharpness
- SUPERIOR DESIGN: The finest handle in forged cutlery; built to last ergonomic handle offers comfort and a non-slip grip, even with wet hands
- BEST USE: Sharp tines are perfect for piercing food; a compliment to any of Mercer Culinary's Carving Knives to easily slice and serve meats like chicken, ham, or turkey
- EASY CARE: To maximize the performance and longevity of your carving fork, carefully wash by hand with warm water and mild soap; rinse and dry completely with a soft towel. Do not place in dishwasher or submerge for long periods of time
- MERCER CULINARY GENESIS SERIES: Never stop experimenting in the kitchen; this Genesis fork is essential in every kitchen, perfect for professional use or the home cooking enthusiast
3. Kutt Hikari Chef Knife Set
If you often tend to nick your fingers when cooking, you may just be in luck.
Kutt’s Kijari Chef Knife Set comes with a handy finger guard and an odor-removing soap to keep your knives fresh and ready to use.
While you may not be spending as much as you thought, this knife will surely surprise you.
As you put it to good use, you will notice its impressive strength, sharpness, and durability, even though it is made from standard stainless steel.
This knife has a gorgeous handle made of Pakka wood, which gives the blade a distinctive and lovely appearance and provides incredible comfort and grip.
While the Kutt brand is not hugely known within the industry, you know you are paying for a reliable, strong knife that will surpass your expectations.
I am allowing you to focus on what matters. Does your recipe need more salt?
- Unique Design. Each Kutt product has an expertly designed brand logo giving it a professional finish. The Pakkawood handle also adds a lightweight feel.
- Budget-Friendly. You will receive a high-quality, high-performance product for an affordable price.
- Accessories. When handling a sharp object, safety is important. The metal finger guard means you can cook with the peace of mind that you are protected.
- Blade Strength. While this blade will deliver high performance, the blade could be made from stronger materials than standard stainless steel.
4. Cangshan German Steel Forged Chef’s Knife
When looking for a knife you know you can rely on upon without researching the brand, we also go for Cangshan.
They are known for producing well-crafted knives for an affordable price that will last in your kitchen.
While this knife comes in various sizes, the 8-inch blade is sure to give you the most versatility.
This blade size is sure to take away the daunting thought of working with a chef’s knife as it’s lightweight and ergonomic.
If you are familiar with Cangshan knives, you may feel like you have seen the handle. The handle of the German Steel Forged Chef’s Knife is a redesign of a previous model’s handle.
It is now lighter, providing a stronger grip and comfort without sacrificing the knife’s sleek look.
We highly recommend the Cangshan German Steel Forged Chef’s Knife to anyone unfamiliar with a knife.
This high-quality knife is the perfect gateway into the world of Chef Knives to give you a more professional result.
- Brand Image. Cangshan is an industry-recognized brand known for producing high-quality knives that achieve great results.
- Sizes. This knife comes in various sizes, from 7 to 9 inches, making it perfect for anyone with any knife-handling experience.
- Well-balanced Handle. This redesigned handle is lighter, making it more comfortable to hold and allowing for a stronger grip.
- Grip. While the handle allows for a strong grip, this may not be the case if you have smaller hands.
- Hand crafted full tang knives forged from fine grained, German X50CrMoV15 Steel for incredible durability, stain resistance and exceptional edge retention. USPTO Patented Design.
- Each blade goes through an (ultra6) stage heat treatment ensuring every blade maintains its strength and function.
- Well balanced 5.5" handle and 8" blade with HRC 58 +/- 2 on the Rockwell Hardness Scale.
- This chef’s knife is the ultimate, all-purpose knife you will use every day. Use it for chopping, slicing, dicing, and mincing just about any ingredient. Strong magnets are embedded into the edge of the sheath to hold onto the spine of the knife. An innovative and stylish way to protect your blades and fingers.
- NSF International Certified. Lifetime Warranty against manufacturer defects. Wash knives with warm water and a little detergent, rinse carefully and dry with a towel.
5. Henckels Classic Precision 8 Inch Chef’s Knife
The Henckels Classic Precision 8 Inch, Chef’s Knife is great if you often attempt rather delicate work in the kitchen.
This Spanish-made knife features high-quality German stainless steel and has a stunning satin finish with a fine-edged blade.
Perfect for even the most fragile of work. This blade is also stain-resistant, meaning it is set to last for quite some time in your kitchen.
The ergonomic triple rivet handle and wide bolster provide a new level of comfort, safety and weight.
Whether chopping potatoes, dicing an onion or mincing garlic, this knife will protect and help you every step of the way.
This knife makes it into our top picks as the handle has a straight spine ending in a curve, allowing for a stronger grip meaning less chance of it slipping and sliding out of your hand.
While this is one of the more expensive chef knives in this article, it is worth the investment. And it is still under $100.
You will find yourself reaching for the Henckels Classic Precision Chef’s Knife for your every chopping need in the kitchen.
- Quality. This chef’s knife is made in Spain and is infused with strong German stainless steel. Meaning it is made to last you for a long time.
- Handle. The triple rivet and wide bolster give it a stronger grip than other blades.
- Reliable. You can rely on the Henckels Classic Precision Chef’s Knife to see you through every recipe you try.
- Price. While worth every penny and still within the $100 price range, this knife may still be expensive.
- Fabricated from high-quality German stainless steel
- Fully forged construction offers durability and a seamless transition from blade to handle
- Professional, satin-finished blade boasts precision cutting and is finely honed for long-lasting sharpness
- Rounded spine provides balance and comfort
- Ergonomic, curved triple-rivet handle encourages tireless cutting
When scoping the market for the best high-quality value chef’s knife, it can become confusing.
After all, a knife should just cut through things, right? While you are correct, there are certain factors to be considered when purchasing a chef’s knife, and we have included them below:
Blade Size And Balance
Most knives, chef, kitchen or otherwise, come in various sizes.
You may find some as small as 4.5 inches, while others as large as 16 inches.
So, you may discover a knife with everything you need, but if it is too big or too small for your skill level, you may struggle to get its full use.
We recommend a blade of around 7-8 inches for the general home cook.
This is because 7-8 inches is the most common length of the blade, and you are most likely to be comfortable with this length already.
However, if you are a professional chef, you may be more comfortable with a larger blade.
For more intricate work, such as mincing garlic, you may prefer the precision of a smaller blade.
The blade size you choose depends more on your skill level than the length of the blade itself.
Be wary of selecting a blade that is too long, as you may put yourself at risk of injury.
Regarding balance, it is important to consider the handle and the blade together. There are 3 types available:
- Back-Heavy. This is when there is more weight in the handle with a lighter blade.
- Balance. Both the handle and the blade are equal to each other’s weight.
- Front-Heavy. This is when there is more weight in the blade than in the handle.
Professional chefs may prefer a Front-Heavy blade as they are chopping daily.
Home cooks may prefer a Back-Heavy knife to provide a larger sense of control when chopping and cutting.
However, blade length and balance are personal preferences and may take some trial and error to discover.
Finding a chef’s knife with a handle you can hold comfortably is important, as this is the section of the knife you will use most.
For example, for left-handed people, you may want to avoid knives with a molded grip as they are typically designed for right-handed users.
Handle design often differs depending on the brand and the knife’s intended use.
Even how a knife is to be cleaned can impact the handle design.
It can often look like all blades are made of the same materials.
However, 2 common materials are used to create the blade of a knife, and they can significantly impact the blade’s performance and life.
- Carbon Steel. Carbon steel knives will react to the environment over time and patina (an incrustation, usually green or brown, produced by oxidation on the surface of the metal). This can seem like they are not worth the investment; however, they are still extremely popular as they are easy to keep sharp.
However, we recommend stainless steel if you want a more low-maintenance blade.
- Stainless Steel. Stainless steel blades are less prone to corrosion and damage, making them popular among chefs and cooks worldwide. They are extremely long-lasting and require a simple maintenance regime.
Japanese Vs. European Knives
When searching for a chef knife to upgrade your culinary set, you may be tempted to purchase a knife from a specific place due to its reputation.
However, depending on your skill level and preferences, this could be a rather large mistake.
We have put together the main differences between Japanese and European knives to ensure you know what each place has to offer when it comes to its knives.
- Light and well-balanced knives
- Strong steel
- Thinner blade
- No bolster to balance the blade and handle for support.
- A straighter blade is better for slicing than other tasks.
- They are heavier than Japanese knives overall.
- Weaker steel
- Thicker blade
- The bolster is thicker, providing more support.
Overall, the type of knife you purchase is a completely personal choice. Everything must suit you, from the material of the blade to the handle.
This buyer’s guide explains each element that must be considered when selecting a chef’s knife.
Frequently Asked Questions
We have answered the most frequently asked questions concerning chef knives under $100 to help make your selection process simple.
What Size Knives Do Chefs Use?
Due to their experience and daily activities, professional chefs mainly use 12-inch blades.
However, experienced home cooks typically use an 8-inch blade for comfort.
Should A Chef’s Knife Be Light Or Heavy?
A heavier-weight knife is suitable if it is used mostly for cutting tough foods like squash and potatoes.
A lighter knife might be preferable when cutting highly delicate items like tomatoes and soft fruits. In the end, it comes down to preference.
When searching for the latest upgrade to your kitchen kit, it can be hard to determine what’s good, what’s it, what will give you results, and what will suit your preferences.
Take a look at our 5 best chef knives for under $100. We have selected the best chef knives on the market that won’t break you won’t get.
Whether a gift or for a restaurant, a chef knife can make a difference in giving you better performance in your home kitchen.
Make the right choice, and check out the options above!