When most people go on the hunt for the best chef knife out there, they assume that expensive means better. The price, however, isn’t what distinguishes a good chef’s blade from a low-quality one. It pays to consider other features that point to high-quality chef knives.
To find an affordable yet decent chef knife, give these key features a thought:
1. Blade materials
Chef knives can be made of stainless steel, carbon steel, high-carbon stainless steel, titanium, and ceramic. Each of these blade materials has advantages and drawbacks of its own.
Ceramic is great for maintaining an edge and it also doesn’t rust. It doesn’t work well, though, for slicing through meat or frozen foods.
Stainless steel knives are technically rust-resistant. They may not hold their edge well, however, especially if the steel is inferior.
Carbon stainless steel is a budget-friendly option and it can hold a sharp edge for a long time. Its most significant drawback, though, is that it stains easily.
Titanium is an expensive blade material. But it’s far more flexible and doesn’t have chemical reactions with food.
High-carbon stainless steel seems like the golden medium, as it offers the best of both stainless steel and carbon steel. There’s no way to verify, however, whether a chef knife that is allegedly made of it is the real deal.
2. Blade edge
Chef knives come with two distinct types of blade edge: serrated and straight edge.
Straight edge chef knives are the most common type on the market. They tend to be the easiest to sharpen. But they aren’t capable of the functionality that the serrated edge offers.
Serrated edge chef knives are ideal for slicing delicate foods like tomatoes and bread. Their only significant drawback is that they usually require a professional to resharpen them.
3. Knife tang
There are two types of knife tang: full tang and half tang. A full tang is when the metal travels the entire length of the handle. A half tang is when only three-quarters of the metal go into the handle. Both types work. Full tang, however, is a sign of higher quality, since half tang is common among cheaper chef knives.
4. Knife’s construction
Metal knives can generally be made in one of two major ways. They can be either forged or stamped out of a metal sheet. Forged knives are more expensive, boast higher quality, tend to be thicker, and are slightly heavier. Stamped knives are thinner, lighter, and usually not very expensive. Both are durable options.
The way you hold your chef knife determines the cut. Which is why it pays to make sure the chef knife’s handle is decent. Handles are made of wood, stainless steel, synthetics, and laminate.
Wooden handles are comfortable and offer a variety of grips. But they are highly susceptible to bacteria build-up. Laminate chef knives can be reliable substitutes for wooden handles.
Synthetic handles are durable. They break under high temperatures, though, and wear out easily under sunlight.
Stainless steel handles are the most sanitary and very easy to maintain. They are the heaviest of all types, however.
6. Bolster bluff
Chef knives with a bolster bluff protect your fingers and provide you with a steady balance. This part of the knife is where the blade meets the handle. It can have weight added for better balance. Many chef knives have no bolster bluff but are still high-quality knives.
7. Weight and balance
Weight varies depending on the brand, style, and the materials that make up the build of the knife. A knife with good balance means easier cutting. A well-balanced knife shouldn’t feel too heavy on either the blade or the handle.
Eight-inch knives are the most common and offer the best of both large and small chef knife variations.
Nine-inch knives are longer and can cut a larger amount of food at the same time. Six-inch knives are easier to maneuver.
Top brands to get a chef knife under $100 from
If you don’t know where to start your search and are on a strict budget, check out chef knives from these brands:
- J.A. Henckels
- SKY LIGHT
- MAD SHARK
These brands have some of the nicest options for chef knives under $100 on the market. We hope our guide has helped you and we wish you luck in choosing the best chef knife under $100 for your needs.