The High-Quality, Low-Cost Chef Knives You Should Gift The Home Cook In Your Life

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A good chef’s knife can change the way you cook, speeding up your slicing and dicing while reducing the chances of nicked fingers. But if you don't want to drop a ton of cash on a fancy (read: expensive) knife, the best chef’s knives under $50 can still offer huge benefits to home cooks.

Before you purchase a chef’s knife, take a look at what material the knife’s blade is made of. Steel blades with high carbon content tends they also tend to change color over time in a process known as patination. If you don’t like the aesthetic of patina, you’ll want to opt for a stainless steel blade with a low carbon content, which won’t react much to the environment and is less prone to alterations in color or rusting, but low-carbon options also don't stay sharp as long as their high-carbon counterparts.

You should also take note of the knife’s tang, or the part of the blade that extends into the handle. Knives with full tangs, or blades that run all the way through to the end of the handle, tend to be stronger than their counterparts with shorter tangs. Often you can identify a full tang as a silver stripe that extends along the top and bottom of the knife’s handle.

Finally, you should consider the knife’s bolster, which is where the handle first meets the heel of the blade (or the edge that runs from the handle to the cutting board, opposite the blade's tip). The bolster is typically thicker than the tip of the blade to give the knife strength and balance. In some cases, the bolster is rounded and serves as a protective barrier between your hand and the knife. If you have concerns about your hand slipping onto the sharp heel of the blade, you should consider a knife with a solid bolster on the blade or built into the handle.

The knives on this list are all 8-inch chef’s knives, which are a good choice for most home cooks and can be used for everything from dicing vegetables to slicing meat. While many manufacturers list their knives as dishwasher safe, it's best to hand wash your knives if you can to minimize chips, stains, and dulling.

These chef’s knives are the answer to all your basic chopping needs, no matter your experience, skill, or budget — plus, they’re all available on Amazon.


The Best Chef’s Knife For Most Home Cooks

The Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8-inch chef's knife is made by a Swiss company that has been around since 1884. The tapered European steel blade has a gently curved shape so that you can rock the knife as you cut. It cuts smoothly through both meat and vegetables and has a flat spine that allows you to support the knife with your other hand if need be.

The nonslip thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) handle offers enough grip to feel secure even if it gets wet. It’s designed to be ergonomic, so comfort is key with this one, too. The handle extends out a bit further than many other models, which means your finger doesn't have to push against the metal of the bolster when you chop. Plus, the Victorinox Fibrox comes with a lifetime warranty.

Reviewers say: “[T]his knife far exceeded my expectations and lived up to the hype surrounding it. I acclimated to it quickly and it performs beautifully with the basic everyday tasks I use it for. Slicing raw meat, even bacon, is effortless. Veggies don't stand a chance. [...] I'd buy it again and would be proud to give it as a gift.”


The Best Budget Chef’s Knife

With more than 3,500 five-star reviews on Amazon and a low price point, the Mercer Culinary Millennia 8-inch chef's knife is an incredibly good deal for the quality of knife you get. This knife, which is part of a budget line from the well-known Mercer Culinary brand, features a high-carbon, stain-resistant Japanese steel blade. Its handle has textured finger points and a finger guard to protect your hand from slipping. The knife doesn't have a full tang and therefore won't withstand huge amounts of pressure, but it's great for everyday use.

This is available in eight different colors, and you can also snag the 9-, 10-, or 12-inch versions if you want a larger blade.

Reviewers say: “The Mercer Culinary Millennia 8-Inch Chef's Knife, and the whole Millennia series of Mercer knives, is an extraordinary value for a knife of this quality. It is a straightforward no non sense tool, made from high carbon Japanese steel. [...]I was so impressed with the first Mercer Culinary Millennia 8-Inch Chef's Knife that I purchased that I immediately bought two more, plus a 10 inch model of the same knife. RECOMMENDED.”


The Best Chef’s Knife With Full Tang

The Zwilling J.A. Henckels 8-inch chef’s knife is part of a lower-priced Henckels line from the longstanding Zwilling brand. (Peter Henckels registered the Zwilling trademark in 1731!) Fabricated in Spain, the knife features a fully forged blade, which means the blade is forged from a rod of steel rather than stamped by a machine. The full tang blade has a satin finish and is made of German stain-resistant carbon steel.

The knife's traditional triple rivet handle is on the thinner side, but it's ergonomic. It also has a full bolster to keep your hand from slipping and getting nicked on the corner of the blade — you can actually see the ridge of the bolster along the heel-edge of the blade. In addition to the 8-inch knife, it comes in 6- and 10-inch models. It also comes with a lifetime warranty.

Reviewers say: “For regular food prep, this works just as well, if not slightly better, than the more expensive knives that I own. The blade feels sturdy and the groove of the handle fits well in my hand. It has a nice weighty feel to it, too. I've had this knife for almost 2 months now and use it daily. I haven't had to sharpen it yet. For a full tang knife, this is one of the best priced ones on the market.”


The Chef's Knife With The Best Handle

This Wusthof 8-inch chef's knife comes from a popular and reputable German knife brand that designs knives for professionals. One feature that sets this knife apart from the others is the design of its soft, ergonomic poly handle, which extends out over the bolster of the knife and almost completely covers the knife's heel-side edge. It essentially guards your fingers from the blade, making it a great option for folks with little-to-no chopping experience.

The blade is made of a rust-resistant German steel. You can also get the knife with a custom engraving (which would make a great gift for the home cook in your life), or in 10- and 12-inch versions.

Reviewers say: “I love this knife so much. The balance of the blade and handle is perfect and the way they crafted the handle allows for the perfect grip to form naturally. Blade is exceptionally sharp and takes on actual effort on my part to cut. Will purchase from this line again.”

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