The holiday season is coming up fast, a time when even novice cooks often enter the kitchen.
One tool that can make meal prep and entertaining a cut above the rest is a good chef's knife, which can make chopping and slicing a lot easier.
You can pay a lot or a little. So how do you pick? Consumer Reports evaluated 8-inch chef's knives from Henckels, Wusthof, Mac, KitchenAid, Global, Zyliss, Keemake, and Mercer.
CR's ergonomics expert said a knife with a well-designed handle allows you to do more work and prevents you from becoming less tired in the course of doing that work, and it decreases the likelihood of accidents.
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The knife expert led a panel of testers in checking out the balance, comfort, and feel of the knife handles and the force transmission from the handles to the blades.
Then a Consumer Reports' writer, who also happens to be a trained chef, used the knives in his home kitchen. One of the hardest things you can do in the kitchen is to work with raw chicken. So he used each knife for that and to prep a variety of veggies. Which ones sliced, diced, and deboned the best?
According to our testers, the Henckels Premio 8-inch Chef's Knife for $40 seems to fit every hand, with a contoured handle that's comfortable to grip. The weight of the blade feels just right, and it's not too heavy or too light.
For the best classic design, there's the heftier Wusthof Classic 8-inch Chef Knife for $150. The blade is a single piece of steel that runs from tip to handle.
The best budget pick is the KitchenAid Classic Forged 8-inch Triple Rivet Chef Knife for $20. Although it's not made of carbon steel, the blade cuts easily.
Some good tips for caring for your knives: Keep them sharp and avoid putting them loose in drawers. And don't put them in the dishwasher because the blades can get knocked around and dulled.