Finding the perfect cut can be a struggle when you’re constrained by a budget, especially one that precludes the buying of most upmarket brands of knife.
You want your hard-earned cash to go further and being ignorant of your market options can cut into your budget in a bad way.
Fortunately for you, we’ve gathered a list of five chef’s knives under $100 dollars and have listed their pros and cons, as well as written up why we think they could be the implements that you’re looking for.
Not only that, but we’ve also included a buyers’ guide and an FAQ so that the most common questions about chef’s knives have been answered.
In a hurry?
This is our Winner!
Want us to cut to the chase? If you’re in a hurry and just want to see which knife came out on top, we have our number one option here.
We chose the Dalstrong Gladiator Series Chef Knife because it delivered a wide range of features whilst remaining roughly half of the given budget.
See just a few of those extra features below, for the full list you’ll have to check out the product page itself.
Triple-riveted grip made from stylish black pakkawood and fortified all the way through by a full tang for more forceful downward cuts.
Razor-sharp knife beveled at 14-16 degrees depending on which Gladiator knife you pick, all of them retailing at under a $100.
56+ Rockwell hardness rating, tapered for improved hardness, with a tall blade height to keep your knuckles safe when in rapid use.
Best Chef Knife For Under 100 Comparison Table
Best Chef Knife For Under 100 Reviews
The knife that topped our list is the Dalstrong Gladiator Series Chef Knife.
Coming from a brand who’s no stranger to designing cutting edge knives, this knife stood out to us thanks to its award winning design, which includes a triple-riveted grip made from black pakkawood for a combination of style, comfort, and most importantly, maneuverability.
Within that grip you’ll find a full tang that guarantees this knife will make strong downward strikes when you’re using it to chop ingredients.
It’s rated a 56+ on the Rockwell hardness scale, the average rating of high-carbon steel like the kind that this blade is formed from, but the rest of the design and the fact it skates under your budget with room to spare made this product a standout.
As for the blade itself, it features a razor-sharp, hand polished edge that’s beveled at 14-16 degrees per side depending on the exact size of the knife you choose, all variants falling under your budget.
No matter which one you choose, all of the knives of the Gladiator series are made to be tall blades that make it a feat to catch your fingers or knuckles with them when chopping or dicing in the kitchen.
For when you aren’t using the knife, it fits snugly into Dalstrong’s PerfectFit sheathes so that it can stay safe from the elements and you can stay safe from accidentally cutting yourself on it.
For our second product we have the Zelite Infinity 6-Inch Chef Knife, the only length of these Zelite Infinity Alpha-Royal Japanese range chef’s knives that fits snugly into your budget.
An Asian-styled gyutou blade that’s versatile in all sorts of uses, the first thing you should notice about the blade of this knife is the beautiful marbling effect on the steel it’s made from.
This mottling of the blade that makes it look like running water is achieved by its Damascus steel forgery process and adds some style and elegance to your culinary adventures.
The metal this blade is made from tried and true AUS10 Super Steel in 67 layers and with high-carbon content for increased hardness, which is rated at the Rockwell scale at 61.
This blade gets its sharpness from the traditional three-stage Honbazuke honing method whereby it was ground by both vertical and horizontal rotating sharpening stones before getting polished against a leather stropping block.
Another standout in its construction is that its grip is a military-grade G10 rounded handle secured by a full tang, which ensures that the handle is both strong and durable whilst ergonomically pleasing in the palm of your hand.
As mentioned, only the six-inch knife fits into your budget, and barely at that. This means that if you’re looking for a longer knife, or one that won’t take up your whole budget, then this may not be the option for you.
An Amazon’s Choice product for the search term “chef knife”, the Imarku Chef Knife is the option to go for if you want to buy a knife that takes a stab at your budget but leaves most of it intact.
It’s a multi-functional gyutou blade made to slice and dice, as well as most other things you will want to do with it.
That blade itself is a stainless-steel blade hardened by the fact that it has a higher percentage of carbon content, and there’s more chrome in the metal blade’s composition to give this knife anti-tarnish qualities.
The knife is rated 56-58 on the Rockwell scale, which is tougher than average for a knife of this style. The real show-stealer is the ergonomic pakka handle which, whilst minimizing fatigue for some and being both comfortable and stable, can be a bit too thin for some.
The knife is also very light which again, will appeal to some people’s preferences but won’t be ideal if you’re looking for a hefty knife that you can easily chop with.
The next product is one from the prestige Wusthof brand, so don’t let its place this far down the list dissuade you from checking it out if it impresses.
With your budget you can only afford the six-inch variant of this Wusthof Classic series, but you still have some choice in that the option to have your knife arrive with a chopping board that also fits in the budget.
This Wusthof blade is made using Precision Edge Technology (PEtec) so that it can be 20% sharper for easy cutting. At 58 on the Rockwell hardness scale, this knife is not only hard but durable thanks to the PEtec sharpening which helps this blade hold its edge retention for twice as long.
The knife’s handle is made from long-lasting synthetic material that is fade-resistant and should keep its color over time, and it also features a finger guard to avoid accidentally slipping your hand down to the blade of the knife and getting cut by it.
The handle is run through by the full tang of this knife, which guarantees stability and adds a bit of heft to the handle to equalize the weight of this blade in your hand.
At number five is a knife that both hobbyist chefs and the professionals can appreciate, the Victorinox Swiss Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife.
This is a weighted, easily handled and laser-tested blade that’s designed for multifunctional capability. Its grip is easy to hold and keep control of thanks to its non-slip Fibrox thermoplastic Elastomer design that keeps your hand firmly on the knife, even when wet.
Speaking of getting wet, unlike a lot of chef’s knives this product is made of dishwater safe materials so that they can be automatically cleaned.
The fact that this blade is weighted may not be ideal for those more used to lighter knives, but this is a preference-based concern.
Another concern is also that the blade gets dull rather quickly, and so can be a nonstarter if you don’t have the means to hone it yourself.
This means that this option is best if you want an affordable knife that’s easy to clean but may require some care.
Best Chef Knife For Under 100 Buyers Guide
How to Choose Quality Chef Knives
In this buyers’ guide we’ll help you to understand what makes a good knife good and a bad knife bad so that you can distinguish between them. This way you’ll be able to cut your purchasing times short in the future by quickly identifying and buying the best blade for the job.
Working our way from the foot of the knife upwards, we’ll be discussing the tang, the handle and weight distribution, the bolster bluff, the size of the blade and the sharpness of those blades.
Knife tangs come in two main variations, the full tang and the partial tang. Full tangs are when the sliver of metal at the bottom of your blade is fastened through the entirely of handle, which is often attached by rivets.
This way the metal of your knife is one whole unit that you can hold and manipulate effectively, which makes it the recommendation of many a chef if you have the choice between full or partial tang. Depending on the handle material, it also increases handle weight and helps with chopping strikes.
Partial tangs are the opposite, where the handle is its own solid construct that has a limited slot into which the sliver is secured, either by glue or rivet. There are knives that benefit from this, but this way of doing it makes the likelihood of the blade falling from the handle after prolonged use and damage higher.
The Handle and Weight Distribution
You don’t need to be very clued up on knife construction to figure out that having a good balance between the blade and the handle makes the knife easier to manipulate. Some knives are lighter or heavier by design, and you should have some idea of your preference before buying your knife so that you can get the right one for you.
Lightweight knives are very comfortable to use, but if your ingredients are very hearty and thick then you’ll benefit from a heavier blade.
With the right handle that caters ergonomically to the shape of your hand, and some experience under your belt, even heavier knives can still be used to great effect.
The bolster bluff is the thick junction at the top of a knife handle to separate your grip from the blade. This not only adds some more weight to the handle for the purposes of weight distribution but is a safety measure that makes it much easier to hone the knife and stops your hand from sliding upwards and cutting itself on the blade.
Think of it as the guard on the hilt of a sword but instead of protecting your fingers from someone else’s sharp knife, it protects yours from your own.
If you’re a chef that’s worth your weight in salt, you’ll have knives of multiple sizes and so you need to get a knife that’ll complement your collection and work well with your skillset. Generally, larger knives are more difficult to control, especially if you’re a beginner or have no prior experience with blades of that size.
Aside from prior experience, factors like hand size and the foodstuffs it’ll be cutting will also need to be considered before making your decision.
Last but most certainly not least, the sharpness of your prospective knife must be considered, because what good is a blunt knife? Whether it’s tougher meats or waxy-skinned vegetables, you’ll want a knife that slices through ingredients with ease but can also be versatile by being used to dice, chop and flay other ingredients.
Every new knife will be sharp out of the box, but that won’t last forever. If you do find your favorite new kitchen companion, it’ll dull in time from repeated uses.
This means you should look for resilience in the edge of your blade and should be prepared to hone your knives regularly to keep them at their best performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
How should you maintain a knife after use?
If you’re serious about knife maintenance, then you should be cleaning and drying your knife after every use. You should be familiar with whether your knife can be washed in the dishwasher or will require handwashing, and if it is the latter exercise caution so not to cut yourself on the blade.
Honing is also recommended, preferably after every single use but that can be a lot of maintenance for a knife, so we think you can get away with a weekly honing if knife performance is a big concern of yours.
How does the Rockwell hardness scale work?
The Rockwell hardness scale is a means of recording the hardness of a material, namely the indentation hardness where pressure is applied to the material until an indentation is made.
There’s HRA, HRB, and HRC scales but for the purposes of knife durability you’ll only really encounter HRC, so if you see that on product listings in your travels it’s referring to this scale.
HRC testing usually involves pressing a diamond at extreme pressures due to the hardiness of the materials being tested, like knife-worthy steels which usually rank from 55 to 66 on the HRC section of the scale.