If you’re looking for a one-size-fits-all kitchen knife, look no further than a chef’s pride, the Chef’s knife. You can use it to dice vegetables, cut or mincemeat, chop nuts, and slice herbs. Plus, you can use its large blade to crush ginger or garlic.
In other words, you can use it for everything and anything, which makes it a kitchen must-have. Contrary to the name, it can be used equally well by amateurs and master chefs alike.
It is easy to get confused by the plethora of varieties that even a general-utility tool like a chef’s knife can offer. To steer through the options and to get the best out of your purchase, you must invest in a knife with a premium quality steel blade. We’ve narrowed down the finest quality steel chef knives available to help you choose..
What Is a Chef’s Knife?
A chef’s knife has a sharp wide blade, varying between 6 to 14 inches. It has a deep curvature fashioned towards the tip of the knife. Most cooks use it in a continuous rocking motion for chopping stuff up. For better control and balance, they hold the knife using a pinch grip. Its blade is made using materials such as ceramic, plastic, and our personal favorite steel.
How Steel Differs: Key Characteristics
When it comes to knife blades, steel is among the most popular choices of manufacturers.
It fulfills the two basic ingredients to make a good knife: sharpness and durability. But not all steel is the same. The properties of steel vary across its type, from stainless to carbon. They differ in terms of price, composition, hardness, toughness, sharpness, and rust-resistance.
- Hardness: It is the property of steel to resist indentation and plastic deformation. It is measured using the Rockwell Scale (RS). It roughly correlates with the tensile strength of the steel.
- Tensile Strength: It refers to the ability of the steel to resist breaking under tension. It indicates the maximum force that it can withstand before chipping and breaking.
- Wear and Tear Resistance: It indicates steel’s ability to survive adhesive and abrasive wear.
- Corrosion-Resistance: It refers to steel’s ability to resist corrosion, like rust. For the sake of durability, steel must withstand environmental factors like humidity and moisture.
- Edge Retention: It indicates the maximum duration for which a blade can retain its sharpness. It has a direct impact on how the knife performs.
- Physical Composition: The material found in the majority of the steel indicates its type. A considerable number of kitchen knives have some composition of carbon, which gives it hardness. Chromium or Vanadium is used for making the steel corrosion-resistant. To increase the strength of the blade, phosphorous, silicon, and cobalt may also be used.
Choosing the Best: Different Types of Steel Used in Chef’s Knives
Steel, an alloy of iron, may contain manganese, carbon, silicon, and phosphorus, in varying degrees, depending on the type of steel.
1. Stainless Steel
This is an ideal fit for blades used in kitchen knives. In addition to being rust-resistant, they are durable and budget-friendly. However, even this option is not truly rust proof; it is stain resistant rather than being stainless.
Stainless steel consists of around 10-15% chromium as its key element. High-quality German knives make use of a premium stainless steel, X50CrMoV15, which has Vanadium and molybdenum, in addition to carbon, and chrome.
One drawback of using stainless steel knife, however, is that it lacks sharpness and requires frequent sharpening.
2. Carbon Steel
Steel with more than 1% carbon content is classified as carbon steel. Plus, it also contains manganese, Vanadium, and a small quantity of chromium. It is cost-effective and has great edge retention. One drawback is that it can stain easily and will discolor over time. Blue paper steel or Aogami and 1095 are among the popular types used in kitchen knives.
3. Powder Steel
Powder steel is used to mix and bond several metal powders. Thereafter, the fine metal mixture is subjected to heat and compression to build tools like kitchen knives. MC66, SG2, and SGPS are among the most commonly used in kitchen knives. They offer considerable durability and hardness.
4. Damascus Type
This is not a variant of steel, but a complex forging process, often used by high-quality Japanese manufacturers. It requires layering a minimum of two types of steel using force and heat. Typically, a combination of soft yet tough steel and sharper but brittle steel is used.
5. High-Carbon Stainless Steel
These are steels with greater carbon content than usually available stainless steel. They are engineered to provide increased edge-resistance, corrosion resistance and are easy to resharpen. This material type is used in knife brands like Wusthof, Victorinox, and J.A. Henckels, among other manufacturers. They increase the style quotient of your kitchen and are specially used for professional quality knives. They require minimum maintenance; just simple hand wash, drying, and proper storage would ensure that it lasts.
On the downside, they are pricier than your usual carbon and steel knives. Also, there is no clear-cut standardization to mark high carbon stainless steel, which leads manufacturers to falsely slap it on the label.
Best High-Carbon Steel Picks for Chef Knives
Here is a list of premium quality high carbon stainless steel chef’s knives:
1. Messermeister San Moritz Elite Chef’s Knife, 10-Inch
German-made, this Chef’s knife is convenient to sharp and can easily hold an edge. It is wider when compared to the usual Chef’s knife and can easily scoop the vegetables of meat after chipping. Its handle is ergonomic, sigh a round and polished spine. The polymer made handle, and high carbon steel blade won’t splinter, crack, or break if submerged in water.
This masterpiece is the flagship of the San Moritz knife line. This solid, premium quality knife is forged using a one-piece high-carbon steel alloy.
It can be used to easily peel, slice, mince, trim, chop, and dice vegetables, fruits, meat, and fish. Given the features, it is worth the one-time investment, and with proper care, it is sure to last a lifetime.
- Easy to sharpen the blade
- Polished spine
- Wide bladed
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Fit for professional chefs
- lacks a full tang
2. ZWILLING Professional “S” Chef’s Knife 8-Inch
The sturdy Zwilling Henckels Professional is a hand-honed chef’s knife made using high carbon stainless steel. This German-made, French-styled knife is ideal for chopping, mincing, cleaving, and dicing.
The high carbon, non-staining steel formula is exclusive to Henckels and is used with Henckels’ proprietary Friodur ice-hardening system.
- Full tang and bolster
- The strong and broad blade
- Full lifetime warranty
- Dishwasher safe
3. WÜSTHOF CLASSIC IKON 8 Inch Chef’s Knife
This contemporary knife is a chef’s delight. Crafted by forging a single block of premium quality high carbon stainless steel, it is razor-sharp and durable. The ergonomic handle is made of polyoxymethylene (POM) and can resist discoloration and fading.
Perfected in Germany, this multi-purpose knife is suitable for rocking, mincing, chopping, dicing, and slicing. Suitable for professional chefs, it has a double bolster, which provides a comfortable cooking experience.
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Double bolster
- Ergonomic handle
- It comes with full tang
- Dishwasher safe
- Full lifetime warranty
- Not the sharpest blade
Since its invention, steel, with its durability is the among the most popular household materials. But it doesn’t stop at that. Steel has been twisted and turned to suit particular needs. We have stainless steel, carbon steel, powder steel, Damascus type, high carbon, among others.
Notwithstanding the multitude of options available, the winning bet for the best steel for the all-in-one chef’s knives is marginally won by high carbon steel. The only true downside is its price. When it comes to choosing the best steel chef’s knife, our pick is the one-time investment in Messermeister San Moritz Elite.
You must choose a knife with the type of steel that matches your cooking needs. If you are a professional or an at-home chef with some extra-budget, high carbon stainless steel blade might be the one for you. At the same time, most amateur chefs can easily work their way through stainless steel chef knives.