On test: The best cook's knives

Cook's knives are a versatile kitchen accessory and can be used for anything from cutting meat and hard vegetables to chopping nuts. We pick our five favourite versions.

A cook’s knife is a firm, large bladed, all-purpose kitchen knife. It is surprisingly versatile and will assist you in the kitchen with all sorts of jobs, from finely chopping herbs and nuts and the preparation of meat and hard vegetables like squash or red cabbage to the precision cutting of vegetables and baked products. If choosing a quality cook’s knife, and you look after it, it will last you for years, and become a treasured possession. To keep it in good order, sharpen the blade frequently if it is made from steel and always cut on a wooden or plastic board as hard surfaces like glass or granite will damage and dull them. Also avoid using them to cut bone or frozen produce, as this could cause the blade to chip.

James Martin cooks knifeJames Martin 20cm cook's knife

This well priced cook’s knife has been exclusively designed by chef and TV personality James Martin. In our tests we thought there was a good weight to this, making it feel solid and well balanced for chopping and slicing, with a good edge to the Molybdenum steel blade. The black handle is from an anti-slip moulded compound.  Also available with a 15cm blade.


Robert Welch cooks knifeSignature cook's knife

We liked everything about this knife, from the good looks and tactile handle to the balance and sharpness of the blade. The blade is made from a marriage of German steel for strength with a sharp Japanese-style edge, but it is also thoughtfully curved to help you with the rocking action essential for easy chopping and dicing. The black handle is smooth and moulded over a full tang (the part of steel that extends into the handle) to ensure strength, comfort and balance. And if you normally find cook’s knives are too small or too large to use comfortably, there are six to choose from, starting from 12cm (£36) to 25cm (£58). 

  • From £36, Robert Welch and selected cookshops and department stores

Cerra ceramic knifeCerra black ceramic cook's knife

If you want a dramatic looking cook’s knife that won’t look out of place in a funky modern kitchen, and you don’t want to sharpen it, this will appeal to you. Ceramic blades are one of the hardest cutting edges available, apart from diamond, ten times harder than carbon steel yet much lighter. The blade of this is made from an advanced black zirconia ceramic with a silver, non-slip brushed steel handle. Put through its paces we found that we had to apply slightly more pressure than a razor sharp steel knife, but the results were still excellent.


io shen cook's knife21cm chef's knife

If you are looking for the sharpness of a Japanese blade, but prefer a heavier Westernised handle, look no further. This quality and amazingly well priced knife is the only Japanese brand to combine these two features in one. The blade uses triplex steel technology, which to you and me means the hardest, highest grade Japanese steel. This would normally be too brittle but is cleverly sandwiched between softer layers to protect the core and cutting edge. This blade glides through meat, root veg as well as delicate tomatoes with hardly any pressure. The decorative pattern on the handle is also part of the tang, which strengthens and balances the knife. An engraving service is also available if you are giving this as a gift. Available in five sizes from 16.5cm to 30cm.

  • £99.95, from I.O.Shen (visit the website for stockist locator)

Kai knivesSHUN 20cm chef's knife

Made in Japan and inspired by the art of the Samurai sword this chef’s knife will appeal to both professional and hobby cooks. The blade is made from hard damask steel with 32 layers and a hard core, creating a hard blade with a razor sharp edge. It also creates distinctive and attractive wood-like markings on the blade that literally glides through ingredients as though they were butter! The round, Oriental-style handle made from fine laminated pukka wood has a full tang for balance and strength. This knife is sharp, comfortable to use, but also visually very pleasing. Although expensive this will appeal to a serious cook who enjoys the pleasure of preparing food with the best tools.

This review was last updated in February 2016. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@bbc.com. 

Do you have a favourite cook's knife you couldn't live without? Share your recommendation with us below... 

Comments, questions and tips

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26th Oct, 2016
Personally i've found the Robert Welch knives are the best. They stay super sharp and come with a 25 year guarantee. I've had mine about 5 years since I purchased them from Philip Morris in Hereford (my favourite shop!) and they're as good as new. They offer a great little sharpening tool also which helps keep them in good condition. They're pretty reasonable in terms of price too!
10th Jan, 2015
The James Martin knives from Stellar are a very nice knife when new. However, after a couple of years, the handle starts to get very spongy particularly at the knife end and has to be replaced. This is even without putting the knife in a dishwasher or letting it soak in a washing up bowl. There is a "lifetime" guarantee, but this just applies to the blades and not the handle, so it's fairly useless.I have already had to replace my most used knife and am just about to replace it again because of the same problem.
28th Dec, 2013
myself i have allways used global knives they are confortable to use and not over expensive and very good quality
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