Finding the Best Chef Knife & Knife Set For Beginners: How to Pick Up One?

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 10/03/20 •  13 min read

A quality chef knife is the most important tool in the kitchen.

That’s students, and those who are just beginning their culinary journey are encouraged to get one as their first investment.

But with all the options out there, figuring out the best chef knife for a beginner can be tough.

What qualities should it have?

How much should you spend?

How long should it be?

In this article, we talk about all of that and more as we have also compiled reviews of the best chef knives for beginners on the market today.

So if you’ve been looking to start your culinary journey and are looking for the right one to start it with, then you’ve come to the right place.

Keep reading to learn more.

Best Chef Knives & Knife Sets for Beginners (Updated List)

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Qualities To Look For When Buying A Beginner’s Chef Knife

the best chef knife and knife set for beginners

1. Price

One of the first things to consider when getting a chef knife is how much you’re willing to spend.

Higher-priced knives will generally be of higher quality, but spending a large amount of money as a beginner may be impractical for many people.

When looking for a chef knife, a good price range to look at is the $100-$150 range as the knives in this range tend to be of great quality and aren’t too expensive.

But there are also many great options out there for beginners below the $100 mark that will serve you well.

2. Quality Of Materials

Regardless of the price, you want to make sure the materials used in making the knife set are of high quality.

Firstly, you should look at the blade of it.

One of the best materials for a blade is high-carbon stainless steel.

It can retain its edge for a long time, is very durable, and resistant to shattering.

Another great material is Damascus steel, which is forged steel with many durabilities and can be incredibly sharp.

This kind of steel also leaves behind a “rose” pattern on the blade that can be very eye-catching.

Another thing to look at is the handle, which can also be very important in getting a good grip on it.

Handles can be made out of various materials, but the most common ones are G10, steel, or wood.

The type of handle for you will largely depend on personal tastes and preferences.

3. Length Of The Blade

Professional chefs can commonly be seen using large chef knives with 10”-12” blades.

This allows them to work faster and chop more ingredients, but this size might be a bit too large for a beginner.

For those starting, chef knives with smaller blades would be much easier to get used to.

When looking for a beginner’s chef knife, try looking at blades between 8”- 10”  in length.

And if you want even more control when learning the ropes, you can even use a smaller 6”-7” knife as well.

4. Bevel

The bevel refers to the way the blade slopes down at the sides.

There are two common bevel styles the double bevel which you can see in German-style chef knives, and a single bevel with Japanese-style chef knives.

German-style knives slope down on both sides and are typically sharpened to a 20-degree edge for beginners.

This makes it very durable while remaining sharp.

It’s a great beginner choice because it keeps its edge for a long time and remains durable.

Japanese-chef knives, on the other hand, aren’t as durable because of their single bevel.

However, this does make it much sharper and precise.

Japanese-style knives like the Gyotu or Santoku are typically used for more precise cutting and slicing jobs.

Depending on your needs as a chef, either one of these styles might suit you better.

That’s why it’s important to know and understand the difference before getting yourself a chef knife.

5. Construction

Another thing to look at is to see how the blade was constructed.

A modern chef knife will either have a stamped construction or forged construction.

Forging steel is the more old-school style, and it admittedly gives it a seemingly unparalleled edge and durability.

Blades that are forged however tend to be more expensive.

Stamped blades aren’t of the same quality as their forged counterparts, but they still retain a nice edge and are much more affordable.

And don’t worry, the difference isn’t too large.

6. Feel

The most important thing to look at when checking out beginner chef knives is the feel.

To get a good understanding of the feel, you have to try it out yourself.

Hold it in your hand and ask yourself how it feels and whether you think it’s the right one for you.

Only you will know which knife feels right, and it will come naturally once you hold the right one in your hand.

So make sure to try knives out first before buying them.

Reviews of the Best Chef Knives For Beginners

1. DALSTRONG Shogun Series (Best Overall)

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This may seem like an odd pick for a beginner chef knife, but ask any professional out there, and they’ll tell you a serrated knife is just as important as your standard chef knife.

Serrated knives are great for those extra-tough ingredients and can cut through them with ease.

This particular one is 7” long, which is a great size for beginners as it gives you enough size to cut through large ingredients while still giving you a good amount of control.

It has 66 layers of high-carbon stainless steel and an AUS-10V core with a Rockwell Hardness rating of 62.

This makes for an extremely durable and sharp knife.

The handle is made of G10, which is a very durable and comfortable material in the hand.

It’s a full tang triple-riveted knife so it gives you a great amount of balance when cutting.

If you’re looking to cut larger ingredients, then this one is a great option for you.

Our scores:



2. Mercer Culinary Millennia (2nd Runner-up)

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The next one on our list is a great budget pick for beginners looking to buy their first chef knife.

It’s made of high-carbon Japanese steel that gives a sharp edge and great durability.

The handle is made of polypropylene and Santoprene.

This gives the handle a sturdy build and an ergonomic feel.

The handle has textured finger points that can serve as a guide while also reducing slips.

It also has a protective finger guard that is a huge plus for a beginner getting used to the chef knife.

It may not be the highest-quality model out there, but it does the job really well while saving you some money.

Our scores:



3. Kai Wasabi (Best Japanese Choice)

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While the Kai brand may not be the most popular, they produce very great products at a practical price.

The steel is very sharp and very high-quality.

But that shouldn’t come as a surprise since Kai also produces Shun cutlery.

This blade has a very classy and sleek look to it.

It comes very sharp right out of the box, and honing it for a minute or two a day will keep it razor sharp.

You won’t have to worry about taking out the whetstone weekly for it.

It’s also made in the Japanese style, which makes it very sharp and durable.

This is a great choice for beginners, and it comes from a very trusted brand.

Our scores:



4. MOSFiATA (Best for Beginners)

This is a very well-made, ultra-sharp knife that comes at a reasonable price.

It has an artificial Damascus pattern, which isn’t the most attractive feature, but the blade’s quality definitely makes up for that.

The blade is made of high-carbon stainless steel that can retain its edge even after heavy use.

It also comes with a sharpener, making it ideal for those starting in the kitchen.

It’s a full-tang knife, which means it will have a great balance to it that you will feel instantly.

The handle also has a very ergonomic design, making it very easy to use even if you aren’t used to the feel of a full-sized chef knife.

All in all, a great knife for beginners to start with that comes at a very affordable price.

Our scores:



5. J.A. Henckels Classic (Best German Choice)

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It comes from a very well-respected brand and is relatively affordable for a high-quality chef knife.

This is arguably the best beginner chef knife for the money out there and is well worth the investment.

It is made of German stainless steel, giving it a razor-sharp edge that will stay that way for a very long time.

It’s a Western-style chef knife, which could be a great pick for a beginner since they are fairly easier to use.

These knives also require less maintenance since they stay sharp longer.

It’s a forged blade, which also adds to its quality, and this can be hard to find among knives in this price range.

It is recommended for beginners because it is a knife that performs at par with more expensive models.

Our scores:



6. Mercer Culinary Genesis (Best for Control)

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This is a full-tang knife made of German stainless steel.

This means it will have a great balance to it, a razor-sharp blade, and resistant to rust and corrosion.

This one is great as it can give you the feel of a professional chef knife while remaining very affordable.

It has a Santropene handle that gives you a very comfortable and safe grip, which can help those starting in the kitchen.

It’s an affordable model with a great blade, proper balance, and a comfortable grip.

Not much more you can ask for when looking at beginner’s chef knives.

Our scores:



7. Victorinox (Versatile Choice)

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Wrapping up our list is a small, 6-inch blade.

It comes from Victorinox, a very respected brand in the culinary community.

It is very sharp, easy to use, and the small size gives you a lot of control.

The size of it can make a huge difference when you’re learning the ropes of preparing ingredients.

That being said, since it is a smaller blade, your workflow may be slower, and you may have a  limited range of ingredients you can cut.

But as a beginner, that’s a sacrifice that’s worth all the extra control you gain.

So if you’re looking to start slow and use a smaller one that gives you more control, this is our top pick.

Our scores:




1. What Is The Best Chef Knife For The Money?

This will all depend on a number of criteria.

And most importantly, it will depend on your own needs and wants.

But if you want something decent to start with, I highly recommend trying the Dalstrong Shogun series chef knife.

2. What Brand Of Knives Do Professional Chefs Prefer?

Different chefs will have different opinions when it comes to which brands are good.

This is because everyone has different tastes and needs, especially with something as personal as a chef knife.

However, some brands tend to stick out more than others.

These brands are Shun, Mac, Global, Henckels, and Wusthof.

There isn’t one objective best brand out there for chef knives, but these ones are definitely in the top tier.

3. How Can I Tell If A Knife Is Good?

It should be durable, sharp, and feel good in the hand.

The best way to determine is to try it out.

Try to feel how it cuts through ingredients, how it fits in your hand, and how durable the construction seems.

At the end of the day, it’s how a knife feels in the hand of a chef that matters the most.

4. What Size Should I Buy?

Professionals tend to use larger knives that measure up to 12”.

That can be great, but if you’re starting out, it’s best to go for the models that are a bit smaller.

This will give you a better sense of control as you slowly figure out how to use and maneuver your knife.

5. How Sharp Should A Chef’s Knife Be?

Typically a chef knife should be sharpened to an edge anywhere between 15 and 20 degrees.

However, some brands release knives with even sharper edges of 12-13 degrees.

And while these knives are very sharp, they might not be ideal for beginners who are just starting to learn the ropes.

Depending on your skill level and the things you’ll be cutting, the right sharpness will be different.

But as long as you maintain your knife properly and can cut through ingredients with ease, then your knife is just as sharp as it needs to be.


When you start your culinary journey, the most important tools in your arsenal are your knives.

Whether you have one trusty chef knife or a full roll of them, rest assured that you’ll end up constantly reaching for them in the kitchen.

Based on our research, we’ve found that the Dalstrong Shogun Series Chef knife is the best pick out there.

While it is expensive, you get your full money’s worth as this is a sharp, functional knife that any young chef would enjoy.

But if you prefer sleek and modern designs, we recommend the Global 6” Chef Knife.

With its ergonomic stainless steel handle, you’ll be able to make accurate cuts and slice with ease.

And for chefs on a budget, we recommend the Mercer Culinary Genesis Chef Knife.

Despite being a budget option, this knife contains great features and would be a great companion for your first kitchen adventures.

Further reading:

Learn to Cook: 12 Basic Skills Everyone Should Know

How to Start Cooking At Home


Ryan Leavitt

Hi my name is Ryan Leavitt a Marine Corps Veteran and currently an over the road trucker (Long Haul). I am no expert chef but am enjoying preparing my own meals on the road and testing all the different knives.

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