As anyone who knows their way around a kitchen will tell you, a high-quality chef’s knife is one of the most important staples of a cook’s utensil collection.
However, in recent years, more and more professional and amateur chefs have been gravitating towards Chinese chef’s knives instead of the traditionally curved chef’s knives that are the standard in the U.S.
A Chinese chef’s knife, otherwise known as a Chinese cleaver, is a multipurpose chef’s knife with a heavy-duty, rectangular blade.
The reason these knives have become so popular in the U.S. and elsewhere is that their shape makes them highly effective for the majority of cutting-related kitchen tasks, from chopping and dicing vegetables to sometimes even cutting through bone.
Their handles also tend to be more ergonomically designed, so they’re more comfortable to handle over long periods of time.
We’ve done our research and put together a list of the best Chinese chef’s knives on the culinary market. With our help, you’ll be revolutionizing your cooking style before you know it!
Can’t wait? Here’s our top choice:
- High-carbon stainless steel
- 7-inch blade
- 8° - 12° sharpness
- Non-stick blade pattern
- Strong fiberglass handle
OUR TOP PICK
TUO Cutlery is one of the most affordable manufacturers of mid-to-high-quality kitchen utensils, specializing in chef’s knives.
Therefore, it’s hardly any surprise that the company’s Chinese Chef’s Knife for vegetables and meat is one of the most popular Chinese chef’s knives on the U.S. market.
This knife is versatile and suitable for preparing both meat and vegetables, so it’s perfect for anyone looking for an effective, multipurpose kitchen tool.
The incredibly sharp blade, which has been sharped to 8 - 12° per side, is made from high-carbon stainless steel for superior strength and rust-resistance.
The steel has received high-vacuum heat treatment and has also been tempered with liquid nitrogen to enhance flexibility and durability.
Additionally, the ripple patterning on the blade looks beautiful while increasing slicing efficiency by minimizing blade contact and sticking.
Measuring 7 inches in length, it’s on the smaller end of the spectrum as far as Chinese chef’s knives are concerned.
While this means it might not be the best choice for handling particularly large cuts of meat, it does mean that it will be lighter and more comfortable to handle than some larger models while still providing enough blade length to be effective at most tasks.
The handle of this Chinese chef’s knife is made from G10 fiberglass and has a full-tang structure with built-in triple rivets.
This impressively durable handle is also highly ergonomic due to the comfortable grip and balance.
- Suitable for meat and vegetables
- Sharp and durable stainless steel blade
- Ripple patterning for efficiency
- Strong, ergonomic fiberglass handle
- Some reports of damage on arrival
This Chinese chef’s knife from Kiaitre is beautifully crafted for high performance and sleek aesthetics.
This is, once again, a multipurpose knife that’s perfect for preparing just about every food type you can imagine, from meat and fish to fruit and vegetables.
The only explicitly-stated restriction to this knife’s functionality is that it is not suitable for cutting through bone.
The sharp (15°) 7-inch blade has been hand-polished by masters of the trade and is constructed from quality, high-carbon German steel which has been vacuum and cold-treated for corrosion-resistance and extra strength.
The ergonomic pakkawood handle is comfortable to hold and has convenient non-slip properties that ensure your safety and cutting accuracy.
The pakkawood has the added benefit of creating stunning, natural wood patterns along the handle.
The metal parts of the handle (the rivets and the top of the hilt) are non-corrosive and easy to clean for effortless maintenance.
We also love the high-quality, lined wooden box packaging that this knife comes in. The luxurious presentation makes this Chinese chef’s knife the perfect gift for the serious cook in your life!
- Sharp German steel blade
- Ergonomic pakkawood handle
- Easy to clean
- High-quality packaging
- Not suitable for cutting bone
This is another Chinese chef’s knife from TUO, but this model is specifically designed for use in preparing vegetables.
This vegetable cleaver is the ideal choice for any professional or amateur chefs specializing in plant-based food.
This 7-inch blade is slightly different from the ones featured on the Chinese chef’s knives we’ve reviewed so far in that it has a distinctive curvature to it.
This curve enables a natural ‘rocking’ motion during cutting and chopping, helping the user to achieve the high-speed vegetable slicing required in a professional environment.
Moreover, the blade is made from high-carbon German steel which has been vacuum-treated for superior strength and hardness.
It has also been hand-sharpened by professional bladesmiths to a sharpness of 18° on each side.
This knife has a pakkawood handle that sits comfortably in the user’s hand and resists splitting and warping better than other kinds of wood.
The appealing wooden pattern created by the pakkawood is a nice bonus.
- Specially designed for vegetable preparation
- High-carbon German steel blade
- Curved blade for faster cutting
- Ergonomic pakkawood handle
- May be too large and heavy for smaller hands
Shi Ba Zi Zuo is one of the leading manufacturers of kitchen knives in China, and this Chinese chef knife certainly didn’t fall short of this company’s reputation!
Featuring a 7-inch blade made of 3-layer, high-carbon stainless steel with a non-stick coating, this knife will make quick work of meat, fish, and vegetables alike.
The curve of the blade enables fast and efficient chopping while the upturned blade tip is perfect for fine mincing and dicing.
The blade’s increased width means that the knife can even be used as a garlic crusher or spatula!
The full-tang rosewood handle is solidly attached to the blade and is highly ergonomic thanks to the grooves along its length which make for a solid and comfortable grip.
The knife in its entirety is surprisingly lightweight, which some users love since it means it’s easier to handle, especially for those with smaller hands. However, other customers feel that the knife is slightly lighter than they would like.
What impressed us even more about this Chinese chef’s knife was the affordable price attached to such a high-quality and multifunctional piece of kitchen equipment.
For anyone working to a budget without wishing to compromise on quality, this is a fantastic option.
- 3-layer high-carbon stainless steel blade
- Full-tang rosewood handle
- Too light for some customers’ preferences
Mercer Culinary manufactures affordable chef’s knives good enough to compete against more expensive, high-quality brands.
This knife features the only 8-inch blade on our list. The length of the blade means it will perform well against larger cuts of meat and other foods that may require a more leveraged sawing action to cut through.
The high-carbon stainless steel metal, meanwhile, is rust-resistant and extremely durable.
The blade has been taper-ground to a fine stone finish to make it more stable and sufficiently sharp.
The textured, Santoprene handle is designed to be non-slip and comfortable to grip due to the rubber-like texture.
It has been sanitation-sealed according to NSF standards for hygiene and the faux-bamboo texture gives this knife the feel of an authentic Chinese handle.
- Long 8-inch blade
- High-carbon stainless steel
- Non-slip Santoprene handle
- Blade could be sharper
As we hope you’ve been able to tell from the products we’ve chosen to review, Chinese chef’s knives are pretty incredible pieces of culinary equipment and there are some truly outstanding models currently available on the market.
If you need a little more help in making your decision, take a look at this buyer’s guide!
The most important component of any chef’s knife is a high-quality, sharp, and durable blade.
When it comes to Chinese chef’s knives, these qualities are possibly even more important. This is because the multipurpose functionality of these kinds of knives requires them to perform optimally during the majority of basic cutting tasks.
The most frequently used material in the construction of Chinese chef’s knife blades is high-carbon stainless steel.
Stainless steel is, of course, an excellent choice for knife blades because of its corrosion-resistance and combination of strength and flexibility that makes it less likely to break under pressure.
The addition of carbon to the stainless steel makes it even harder and resistant to impact damage such as scratching and deformation.
However, carbon can also make a blade more brittle, which means that it will break before it bends. Luckily, this issue is minimized in most of the Chinese chef’s knives we’ve reviewed because they have been vacuum-treated for extra durability.
The next thing to think about is the shape of the blade. As we already know, the standard shape for a Chinese chef’s knife is rectangular, but you may have noticed that some Chinese chef’s knives feature a slight curvature.
This curve is particularly useful for cutting vegetables and other ingredients smoothly and at high speeds because it enables a rocking action that is perfect for these kinds of tasks.
A completely straight blade, on the other hand, will be better for the kind of even slicing you want with cuts of meat. Therefore, whether you opt for a flat or curved blade will largely depend on what kind of food you prepare most often.
You’ll also need to consider the sharpness of the blade. Blade sharpness for kitchen knives is measured in degrees according to the angle, where a smaller number indicates a sharper blade.
For reference, the average kitchen knife has a sharpness rating of about 20°. As you can see from our reviewed products, high-quality Chinese chef’s knives run much sharper than this, ranging between 15° and 8°.
Generally speaking, the more tough, heavy-duty cutting tasks you perform in the kitchen, the sharper you’ll need your blade to be.
Most Chinese chef’s knives have blades that measure between 7 and 8 inches long. This may not seem like a wide size range, but that 1 inch can make all the difference in terms of functionality.
That’s why it’s necessary to consider what kind of foods you’ll be working with and what tasks you’ll require of your Chinese chef’s knife before purchase.
A 7-inch knife will be more than sufficient for most of your basic kitchen tasks. However, an 8-inch blade will perform slightly better at heavy-duty tasks, especially those that require a ‘sawing’ action since the extra length of the blade allows for more leverage.
If you’re a person with smaller hands, we would recommend a 7-inch blade. This is because it will be lighter and easier to handle. However, if you have larger hands or prefer a little extra weight to your chef’s knife (as many cooks do) we would recommend an 8-inch model.
Almost as important as the blade itself in terms of Chinese chef’s knife construction is the handle. The quality and build of the handle will ultimately dictate how comfortable and ergonomic your knife is to use, so it’s crucial to prioritize this feature.
As you may have picked up from reading through our reviewed products, there are many available options for handle materials in Chinese chef’s knives.
A very common material is pakkawood, which is a popular choice for knife handles of all types. Pakkawood is a deliberately engineered type of wood, originally developed in Egypt.
It is constructed from multiple layers of hardwood to which a resin is then added for extra strength and water-resistance. Because pakkawood is not a natural wood product, it doesn’t have the same weaknesses as natural wood.
It’s more or less waterproof and won’t warp or split in the same way. These properties allow pakkawood to lend a natural-looking wooden feel to a Chinese chef’s knife’s handle without the durability concerns that come with real wooden handles.
If you’re looking for maximum durability, we’d recommend a fiberglass handle. Not only is fiberglass very lightweight, thereby making a knife lighter and easier to work with, but it also matches the strength of steel without the cumbersome weight. Fiberglass is also corrosion-resistant.
A rosewood handle can make an aesthetically pleasing touch to any chef’s knife. As well as being a strong and durable wood material, rosewood is easy to polish for a luxurious finish.
However, this type of handle will require a little extra care and maintenance to stop it from splitting or warping under stress or exposure to water.
You’ll also find a knife with a Santoprene handle on our list. Santoprene is a rubber-like material that has the advantage of being easy to clean and maintain.
It’s also softer than a lot of other handle materials. So it feels comfortable in the hand. However, the main disadvantages to Santoprene are that it’s not as durable as other materials and some users find that it makes their knife look and feel slightly cheaper.
In terms of getting the most ergonomic and long-lasting value out of your Chinese chef’s knife, we recommend a full-tang handle.
This essentially means that part of the blade extends all the way up through the knife handle. Full-tang knife construction will provide more durability and leverage.
For the most part, a Chinese chef’s knife will be sold as a single product without extra accessories. However, the few additional features that typically come with Chinese chef’s knives have the potential to increase the value of the product overall.
With the vast majority of products sold online, the packaging isn’t a priority either to sellers or buyers, but when it comes to chef’s knives, this couldn’t be further from the truth!
Chef’s knives make great gifts for professional and amateur chefs alike, and a high-quality Chinese chef’s knife is sure to make your cooking-obsessed loved one’s face light up, no matter the occasion.
There’s nothing better to complete a thoughtful gift than beautiful packaging, and luckily, many of the Chinese chef’s knives on our list come packaged in sleek, elegant boxes that are perfect for this exact purpose.
So, if you’re thinking about buying a Chinese chef’s knife as a gift for someone you know, we recommend considering the packaging as well as the knife itself to enhance the gifting experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I care for my Chinese chef knife?
It’s important to be aware of the proper maintenance practices for your Chinese chef’s knife to ensure the longevity and long-term effectiveness of your utensil.
Because Chinese chef’s knives come in a range of handle materials, maintenance specifics are likely to vary. However, there are some general rules to abide by when caring for your Chinese chef’s knife that will help to extend its longevity and enhance its functionality.
First of all, never put your Chinese chef’s knife in the dishwasher. Always wash it by hand using hot water and soap. Do not leave the knife soaking in the water, and be sure to dry it well once it’s clean.
Try to use wooden or plastic chopping boards whenever possible to avoid fulling or damaging the edge of your knife.
When not in use, make sure to store your knife safely, either in a box or a knife rack, to avoid impact damage against other utensils in a drawer.