Best cook's knife – on test

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 favourite versions.

Find out more about our BBC Good Food reviews.

Best budget blade

James Martin knifeJames Martin 20cm cook's knife

Best bits: Excellent price and well-balanced handle to blade ratio. 

Comments: 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.

Available from Milly's Kitchen Store (£13)

Best handle design

Robert WelchRobert Welch Signature cook's knife

Best bits: Tactile, curved handle and available in lots of sizes

Comments: 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 (£40) to 25cm (£64).


Best hybrid design

IO Shen KnifeI.O Shen 21cm chef's knife

Best bits: The sharpness of a Japanese blade with a European-style heavy handle

Comments: 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.

Find stockists on the I.O.Shen website (rrp £109.95)

Best Japanese blade

Shun knifeKai Shun 20cm chef's knife

Best bits: A great all-rounder for knife enthusiasts and beginners alike

Comments: 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 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.


For all of the products mentioned in this review, various retailers have been suggested by our affiliate partner Monetizer 101 and are not suggested or chosen by BBC Good Food. For more information on how these retailers are selected and the nature of our partnership, please read the Monetizer101 FAQ page

Knife know-how

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.

This review was last updated in October 2018. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at

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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28th Dec, 2017
I have switched to Yaxell Super Gou. Well balanced, 161 layers of Damascus steel, razor sharp and I haven't needed to sharpen yet. Global knives look great but aren't all that great quality. For example, they aren't one piece - the handle is welded onto the blade and when dropped they have been known to break into 2 pieces.
7th May, 2017
I personally use Yaxell Ran knives. A good balance of price and quality. It's a year old now and I've not had to sharpen it. This article also needs to make people aware that you can't just buy an expensive Japanese knife and sharpen it using a regular steel, or put it into the dishwasher. So the advice that the Kai Shun knife is suitable for beginners is a misnomer.
28th Dec, 2017
Agreed - could you imagine, putting one of those in a dishwasher. Ruined!
Jessy R
1st Feb, 2017
Karmin knife set is my favorite
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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