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The best chef's knives and knife sets for those on a budget

A great knife can mean the difference between a joyful 10-minute prep time and something much longer.
by Vidya Rao and Danielle Wolf /  / Updated  / Source: TODAY
best chef's knife, best kitchen knives, best knife sets
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A good knife can mean the difference between a joyful 10-minute prep time and a 30-minute prep time that’s a major chore — with a side of unwanted nicks and cuts. When it comes to knives, the typical home cook just needs a high-quality, sharp chef’s knife and a few other options like a serrated knife and a smaller paring knife.

If you’re holding on to old, dull knives because they feel safer, get rid of them immediately! Dull knives are dangerous because food can roll around awkwardly under the blade, making it difficult to do simple slicing and dicing.

The “best” knife is different for everyone — even celebrity chefs! It should feel comfortable in your hand and it should feel like an extension of you.

Here are some of our favorites. Some may be a little pricey but they're worth the investment. Always handwash knives (do NOT put them in the dishwasher), make sure to hone them every few uses and make sure to periodically sharpen them before they become too dull. Love them, and they can love you back — for decades!

Best budget chef’s knives

Imarku Pro Kitchen 8-Inch Chef's Knife, $30, Amazon

TODAY editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! Just so you know, TODAY does have affiliate relationships. So, while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue.

This Amazon best-seller is loved by reviewers for its size (not too big, not too small) and durability. The handle is designed to minimize any fatigue or finger aches, while the blade is made of chrome, making it anti-corrosion and anti-tarnish.

Wusthof 8-Inch Pro Cook's Knife, $35, Amazon

Also available for $40 at Bed Bath & Beyond.

This is a great value knife, as you get all-around good quality. The shape of the blade allows for an easy rocking motion when mincing vegetables. The blade may dull a little sooner than more expensive options but if it's sharpened regularly, that shouldn’t be an issue.

Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8 Inch Chef’s Knife, $36 (normally $54), Amazon

Also available for $30 at Walmart.

The Victorinox 8-inch chef’s knife slices and dices, handling tougher jobs as well as jobs that require a little finesse, like chiffonading basil. All the while, it stays sharp and is comfortable to grip, thanks to the contoured handle. It works as well as a knife that costs three times as much.

J.A. Henckels International Classic 8-Inch Chef's Knife, $44 (normally $53), Amazon

Also available for $35 at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Need to break down a chicken? Chop up large cuts of meat? Cut through tough squashes? This is the knife that will get you through the harder cutting tasks without breaking a sweat.

Best budget knife sets

Cuisinart Advantage Color Collection 12-Piece Knife Set, $19, Amazon

Also available for $19 at Target and for $20 at Walmart.

Yes, these knives are very, very bright. But they are also an Amazon No. 1 best-seller in the knife set category. Users love them because they are affordable and the color coding makes it easy to find the exact knife you need - limiting cross-contamination of food preparation.

Sabatier Self-Sharpening Edgekeeper Pro 12-Piece Knife Block Set, $53, Amazon

Made from high-carbon stainless steel, these corrosion resistant knives feel more expensive than they are. That's thanks, in part, to the self-sharpening knife block that houses them. Each slot features a sharpening mechanism that lightly sharpens each time a knife is pulled out, so they stay sharp for a long time.

Calphalon Classic Self-Sharpening 12-Piece Knife Block Set, $140, Amazon

Also available for $170 at Bed Bath & Beyond.

These knives are not only well-balanced and comfortable to use, but they stay sharp thanks to the fact that there’s a sharpener in the block itself. Every time you remove a knife for use, it gets sharpened. Boom! One less thing to worry about.

Mercer Culinary Genesis 6-Piece Forged Knife Block Set, $135, Amazon

Also available for $150 at Bed Bath & Beyond.

We like the transparent design of this knife block — say goodbye to the days of pulling out a knife you don’t need. It also comes apart for easy cleaning. The professional-quality set includes a 3 ½-inch paring, 5-inch utility, 8-inch chef's, 8-inch bread and 6-inch boning knife. The set basically has everything a home cook needs. The knives stay sharp for flawless cutting and they have no-slip grip handles.

Best splurge chef's knife

Mac Knife Chef Series Hollow Edge 8-Inch Chef's Knife, $95 (normally $145), Amazon

Also available for $145 at Walmart.

This knife is great for novices and experts alike and is a cut above the more modestly priced models. In fact, it was recently rated No. 1 by Food and Wine magazine. It stays sharp and the dimples prevent food from sticking to the blade. It has nice heft without feeling too heavy and the handle is comfortable for both big and small hands.

Best splurge knife set

Cangshan V2 Series 22-Piece German Steel Forged Knife Block Set, $350 (normally $496), Amazon

Also available for $496 at Bed Bath & Beyond.

This set has 22 pieces including two chef’s knives, a bread knife, a 5-inch utility knife, a paring knife, a honing steel and shears. The knives come razor sharp and hold their edge for a long time.

For more kitchen favorites, read about Anthony Bourdain's favorite knife, the gadgets Andrew Zimmern can't cook without and the $13 garlic press that will make cooking with garlic a whole lot easier.

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