The 10 Best Carbon Steel Chef's Knives

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This wiki has been updated 13 times since it was first published in August of 2019. A quality chef's knife is the most important tool in your culinary toolbox, whether you're a professional or amateur cook. Rather than modern, stainless alloys, many chefs prefer the light weight, classic appearance, potential sharpness, and great edge retention offered by old-school carbon steel blades. Here are some of the best-performing options, from the inexpensive to the high-end. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Misono Swedish

2. Yoshihiro Mizu Yaki Shitan

3. Tojiro F-701A

Editor's Notes

November 27, 2020:

Because carbon steel rusts very easily, a knife made from it may or may not be the best choice for a novice. If you have little to no experience sharpening, the Ontario Old Hickory is a good one to start with, because it's relatively soft and easy to sharpen, plus it doesn't cost much at all. If you have a little experience on a whetstone but are new to Japanese steel, the Honmamon Honbazuke and Tojiro F-701A should be on your list. The Tojiro is slightly softer than the Honmamon, but they're not terribly different, although the Tojiro does have a better fit and finish.

Both the Yoshihiro Mizu Yaki Shitan and Yoshihiro Mizu Yaki Super are considered premium knives, although the Super is really only suitable for someone who knows their way around its ultra-hard alloy.

Japanese steel is pretty fragile, though, and not suitable for every task. If you want something that's a bit softer, and therefore more durable, the K Sabatier Forged is hard to beat. Its classic profile and relatively malleable alloy make it highly popular among accomplished chefs. Alternatively, the Wok Shop Chinese Cleaver is a Chinese chef's knife that, while quite different from most, is highly useful in its own right.

August 05, 2019:

Carbon steel is not like stainless steel; it will rust and discolor very quickly if it's not properly taken care of. If you're not used to these materials or you're apprehensive about the level of care they need, check out our general rundown of chef's knives, which contains some of the most popular choices on the planet. If you do decide to spring for a high-carbon blade, you will 100% absolutely need to also invest in a good sharpening stone as well as a honing rod, and it will also take a while to learn how to maintain your edge perfectly. But don't fret, as this is a normal part of learning to take care of high-end knives. If you're just starting your journey, I'd strongly suggest getting an Old Hickory. These are basically identical copies of a classic and relatively famous brand called American Forgecraft, one of which I've used extensively in the professional field. They may have some inconsistencies as far as fit and finish go, but it doesn't cost very much, so if you scratch it on the stone or have to take off an extra millimeter or two, it's no big deal.

If you already know what you're doing, and you want a blade you can use for years that will never let you down, look no further than the Misono at the top of the list. The second you take it out of your knife bag it's likely that a professional chef in the room will comment on it. It weighs next to nothing and can literally get sharp enough to shave with (although that I would not recommend testing out). The Suisin is a close second that costs about half as much and makes a great first carbon-steel tool for the budding pro. Knifesmiths like Moritaka and Yoshihiro make truly high-end options whose quality is only matched by their very high cost and beautiful finishes. For a more traditional Western feel, the K Sabatier, Wusthof, and Bob Kramer are worth a look. And while it's a bit more specialized, we've included a great Chinese cleaver that should help you get your stir fry ready in no time.

Special Honors

Takeda Hamono Knives With centuries of combined experience among its craftsmen, this company can be trusted to make some of the finest blades out there. It may require a notable investment and some time to craft your knife to order, but Takeda tools are known to be some of the best. We particularly recommend the Sasanoha, which is one of the thinnest, lightest, and most finely crafted knives on the planet.

4. Ontario Old Hickory

5. Masamoto CT

6. Yoshihiro Mizu Yaki Super

7. K Sabatier Forged

8. Honmamon Honbazuke

9. Wok Shop Chinese Cleaver

10. Bob Kramer by Zwilling

Christopher Thomas
Last updated by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.

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