A chef knife is an excellent investment thanks to its versatility, allowing you to use it for most kitchen cutting tasks. However, not everyone will have a few hundred bucks to spend on a chef’s knife. This doesn’t mean you can’t find a good-quality chef knife on a budget. You can still find the best chef knife for under $100. After all, price is not always the determinant of quality.
While you wouldn’t find a model made from premium high-end materials, you can still score a durable and affordable chef knife.
I’ve taken the time to test out some of the top-rated models on the market. After weeks of testing, I’ve shared my top 12 picks for this year to help you find the right model for your kitchen.
A Quick Comparison of My Favorites
01. Dalstrong 8-inch Chef Knife
The Dalstrong 8-inch chef knife packs great affordability and functionality. The knife features an ultra-sharp high carbon German steel made using cutting-edge technology and ingenious craftsmanship to give it an attractive finish and equally peak-performing function.
Its full-tang design reinforces its durability and safety in the kitchen. On the other hand, its hand-polished 16 to 18-degree edge on either side gives it a razor-sharp and smooth cutting function.
Furthermore, the blade is precisely tempered and stain-resistant to further prolong its longevity. On the other end of the knife is a premium G10 Garolite handle with a triple riveting design and high grip handle.
The handle also features a polished laminated finish which improves hygiene, especially when handling the knife in a busy kitchen.
02. Mercer Culinary 8-inch Short Bolster Chef Knife
The Mercer Culinary 8-inch kitchen chef knife caters to those on a strict budget. But, the knife still offers incredible performance and longevity in the kitchen. The chef knife’s unique blade design adds to its value.
Its taper-ground edge allows for increased stability while making honing easier. In turn, this prolongs the edge retention and improves cutting and chopping efficiency. Furthermore, the blade is made from high-quality, high-carbon forged steel with a stain-resistant finish.
The knife is also coated with an x50 Cr Mo V15 alloy, allowing it to resist rust, corrosion, and discoloration. For even better stability, balance, and snap-free performance, the kitchen knife features a full tang with the blade running the full length of the blade.
03. Mac 8-inch Premium Hollow Edge Kitchen Knife
The Mac 8-inch Chef’s Knife is built with incredible versatility thanks to its unique blade design. The knife is fitted with a 2mm blade made from high-carbon steel for an exceptionally sharp performance.
The 2 mm blade thickness is enough to give the knife a razor-sharp performance, allowing for effortless slicing while retaining its sharpness for longer. In fact, the blade integrates molybdenum steel content for even greater edge retention.
The blade’s materials give it a stain, discoloration, rust, and corrosion-free finish. I also noticed that the 8-inch chef knife is articulated with consistent dimples along the edge.
The dimples facilitated a smooth and non-stick performance when tested on meat and vegetables. This, in turn, allowed for cleaner and neater cuts on the food items.
04. Global 7-inch Japanese Chef’s Knife
If you are still learning to master your knife handling skills, the Global 7-inch Oriental Chef’s Knife is a perfect choice, thanks to its lightweight build. The knife’s light build eliminates hand fatigue even during long-term usage.
The knife is a popular choice among home and professional cooks, thanks to this design. Nonetheless, the knife maintains great functionality. It is fitted with a Cromova blade made with molybdenum, vanadium, and chromium blend.
This combination makes the blade ultra-strong and sharp. However, it remains soft enough to make sharpening with a whetstone easy. The knife’s Cromova steel blade also gives it an impressive resistance to rust and stains.
Unlike standard knives with beveled edges, this chef knife has a proprietary straight edge. The blade is sharpened on both sides, with the edges ground steeply to an acute angle. This results in a much sharper and longer-lasting edge.
05. Shun 8-inch NSF Certified Kitchen Knife
The Shun 8-inch Chef’s Knife integrates a superior blade technology to improve its durability and sharpness. The hand-crafted Japanese knife features a proprietary composite blade technology with a VG10 san Mai cutting core and a Japanese 420J blade upper.
The VG10 cutting core is clad with a single layer of stainless steel on each side to create the San Mai edge. This fabrication technology also provides the blade with stain, corrosion, and rust resistance.
The knife integrates a double bevel hand sharpening at 16 degrees on either side for even better performance.
On the other end of the knife is a traditional Japanese handle made using a blend of plastic materials. The knife integrates a texture PP/TPE blend, allowing for better grip and easy care.
06. Zwilling J.A. Henckels 8-inch Pro Chef’s Knife
The Henckels Zwilling 8-inch kitchen knife features a protective bolster to improve safety in the kitchen. The protective bolster provides the much-needed weight balance and safety to make the knife ideal even for beginners.
Its wide blade design makes it incredibly versatile. I tested the knife for various cutting tasks, including chopping, slicing, mincing, and dicing.
The knife provided excellent cutting results on both using different food items, including beef, carrots, Napa cabbage, watermelon, and parsley.
In addition to its wide build, the blade’s impressive function is facilitated by its high-quality German steel construction. The German steel construction promotes precision cutting while its fine honing retains a longer-lasting edge.
Additionally, the knife features a fully forged construction for long-lasting function and snap-free performance. This construction design allows for a seamless transition from blade to handle.
07. Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8-inch Knife
The Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8-inch Chef’s Knife mimics a professional chef knife to meet the demands of your kitchen and elevate your home cooking.
The kitchen knife integrates a high-quality and lightweight European steel blade design for better and smooth handling.
The ultra-sharp blade boasts a long and sloping curved blade design. Thanks to this design, you will enjoy smooth rocking motion for effortless mincing and chopping jobs.
The blade’s flat spine, on the other handle, gives it more power to handle hard-skinned foot items, like pineapples and grapefruit. In fact, the NSF-certified knife integrates a versatile blade design for most cutting jobs.
You can use it for dicing, mincing, chopping, shredding, and slicing. Furthermore, the knife features an ergonomically designed handle for reduced wrist and hand fatigue.
The non-slip patented Fibrox Pro handle also offers a secure and comfortable grip, regardless of your hand size.
08. Zelite Infinity 6-inch Small Chef’s Knife
The Zelite Infinity features a shorter blade design to make it an excellent choice for beginners and cooks with smaller hands. Thanks to the knife’s short design, you will enjoy better control, cutting power, and safety.
Nonetheless, the powerful 6-inch blade made from ThyssenKrupp high carbon stainless steel still offers an impressive performance.
The blade comes with 56 Rockwell hardness for added toughness and versatility for chopping, slicing, dicing, and mincing. The stain-and-corrosion-free blade also boasts exceptional edge retention.
Its 43mm thickness gives it a deep finish for incredible balance and feel. On the other end of the knife, its full tang and ergonomic forged rounded handle improve its grip.
The handle also features a unique tapered bolster to cater to people who prefer a pinch grip cutting style.
09. Famcute 8-inch Gyuto Chef Knife
If you are searching for the ultimate chef knife without breaking the bank, the Famcute 8-inch Japanese chef Knife is the perfect option.
Featuring a Gyuto knife design, the Japanese chef knife caters to all your cutting needs, whether cutting meat, chopping vegetables, or mincing garlic.
The knife is designed to have a curved edge profile and a less-turned-down tip. This gives it a sharper tip with a rocking motion during cutting, providing the knife with its versatility.
This seamless rocking motion and ultra-sharp blade allow the knife to produce the best sushi presentation with zero tears or rough cuts on the ingredients.
The knife remains ultra-sharp yet, gentle enough to handle delicate food items like fish. Furthermore, the knife’s impressive blade and ergonomic handle make it a good option for both home and professional kitchens.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Chef Knife Under $100
When choosing the best chef knife under $100, you must pay attention to several key features. There are plenty of affordable chef knife options on the market.
Hence, picking the right one for your kitchen isn’t always the easiest. However, combining these standard features below will ultimately help you filter out the list and find the ultimate option.
Partial Tang vs. Full Tang
Generally, the best chef knife under $100 will feature a full tang or half-tang construction. A full tang features a knife with a blade that runs the length of the handle. On the other hand, a half tang integrates a blade that runs through a portion of the handle.
Due to its design, a full tang is more rigid and durable as it has a lower risk of blade snapping. It also offers better control and balance when handling your knife.
A half tang is usually lighter, making it easier to work with for a longer period. However, this means that it compromises the structural strength and durability of the knife.
You can find various types of knife blade materials on the market. However, if you want a good quality blade, you should go for high-carbon stainless steel. For one, high-carbon stainless steel doesn’t rust as easily.
Furthermore, unlike regular metal blades like stainless steel, high-carbon stainless steel doesn’t dull as easily, retaining its edge for longer. High-carbon stainless steel is also pretty easy to sharpen compared to materials such as ceramic.
A chef knife is fitted with a blade that measures about 6 to 8 inches long. Generally, a blade length will not affect the cutting results. Therefore, the length you pick entirely depends on your preferences.
Nonetheless, to achieve excellent and comfortable performance, you want to enjoy optimal control and maneuverability when using the knife.
So, as a general rule of thumb, get a shorter blade length if you have smaller hands or are still a beginner in handling a knife. You should opt for a longer blade length if you have larger hands.
The most important part of a chef knife is its blade edge. After all, you will virtually have a useless knife in hand with a poor blade edge. To determine the quality of your blade, look out for factors like its material and design.
You can opt for a single or double-bevel knife blade. However, a straight edge is a better option for tackling multiple types of foods.
Additionally, look out for a blade design that allows for non-stick performance and easy food release for a cleaner cutting job.
A chef knife under 100 is typically made with a wooden, metal, or plastic handle. Both materials offer a pretty good grip when designed well. Wood handles tend to be more expensive but offer a more attractive finish.
However, it can easily get damaged when in contact with water if untreated. On the other hand, metal handles become slippery on the hands when wet.
When picking a chef knife, you want it to feel comfortable on your hands. There are several factors to determine a comfortable knife.
These include an ergonomically designed handle with a curved finish and a lightweight blade. This is an important feature to focus on if you plan on using your knife for longer periods.
Pricing doesn’t necessarily determine the quality of your knife. While you are less likely to find an affordable knife made from premium materials, you can still find pretty good quality options.
The key to determining the durability of your knife is by paying attention to the blade and construction design. For example, materials like high-carbon stainless steel tend to retain an edge for longer.
Additionally, these materials aren’t susceptible to rust, corrosion, or staining. In addition to observing the specs of your knife, its reviews will give you a good idea of its durability.
In this case, look out for real customer reviews from credible sources to help you understand the durability of the knife you want to purchase.
A lightweight knife offers better control, making it ideal for beginners. It’s also a good option for those who intend to use their knife for long periods.
However, you don’t want to compromise too much on the weight, which may affect the performance. A knife that is too light can easily break or fail to handle some food items. Some professional chefs even prefer somewhat heavy knives.
Your knife should offer balance to make handling easy. For one, a balance between the knife blade and handle facilitates better handling.
To achieve this, you should aim for a lighter blade. Additionally, a full tang construction will give you better balance.
The best chef knife under 100 should come with a warranty. After all, a warranty will protect you if your knife has materials or workmanship defects.
Choose a knife that offers a warranty period of at least 3 to 5 years. You can also find good-quality knives that come with a lifetime warranty.
To prolong its durability, you want to hand wash your knife, even if it’s advertised as being dishwasher friendly.
This is because tossing it into the dishwasher machine over time will eventually dull the blade and increase the chances of rust and corrosion.
Instead, all you need is water and mild soap. If you notice any food remains, gently scrub the knife with a soft-bristled brush.
Even on a strict budget, you can still find the best chef knives on the market, whether a European style or Japanese style Gyutou.
While there are many options on the market, my list above makes the searching task a lot easier by narrowing down the best of the best top-rated options for this year.
So, take your time to go through picks for the best chef knife under 100. The right model will help transform the results in your kitchen without having to break the bank.
I have built kniveswow.com because as a home chef I know how important kitchen knives are. I use different kitchen knives every day and they always save my time. Here I share my thoughts, experience and knife maintenance tips with you. You can find more info about me.