Most professional cooks would agree that a good quality chef’s knife is an essential tool in any kitchen.
This all-purpose kitchen knife makes food prep more manageable, whether in a professional or home kitchen setting.
There are many factors to consider when investing in a good quality chef’s knife, but today, we will focus more on its size.
You might be asking now, what length chef knife should I get?
Chef’s Knife’s Profile
If you compare a chef’s knife to other knives in your kitchen, you will notice that it has a broader blade that tapers to a point.
This design allows you to perform the rocking motion efficiently when chopping and mincing ingredients.
It’s one of the reasons why home cooks and professional chefs consider this knife an essential part of their cutting arsenal.
This versatile knife allows you to perform various tasks and complete food prep jobs without using other cutting tools.
Hence, choosing the right knife size ensures that it fits your hand comfortably.
Different Chef Knife Sizes and Functions
The size indicated in a chef’s knife’s product description is the blade’s measurement, excluding the handle.
Why the different blade sizes? Let’s check each size and its functionalities to help you choose better.
For some, a six-inch chef’s knife may seem short when in fact, it is the perfect size for cooks with tiny hands.
Most chefs would say that it is safer to use a smaller knife than a bigger one because it allows you to control it better.
Also, this knife size weighs lighter, making it more comfortable to use. It is also more economical because of its lower price point.
A six-inch chef knife offers the agility you will not find in bigger blades, allowing you to quickly chop and dice small fruits, vegetables, and more.
It can even slice blocks of cheese effortlessly.
Though you can use a six-inch knife for bigger ingredients, it may require more effort to complete the task.
As mentioned, most cooks consider an eight-inch chef’s knife as the average size for an all-purpose cutting tool.
It’s the ideal size for various users in a single household, allowing them to use the knife comfortably.
This knife size offers maneuverability for small hands while eliminating the awkward feeling for users with sizable palms.
Naturally, an eight-inch knife has more weight because of its added length.
Some manufacturers also extend the handle to counter-balance the blade’s size.
This added weight makes it easier to cut denser ingredients with less effort.
However, your wrist will feel the heaviness as you use it for extended periods.
An eight-inch chef’s knife is best suited for large fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients like lettuce heads, pineapple, watermelon, and chunks of meat.
Also, its longer blade lets you slice lengthy ingredients with one stroke, so you can complete the task faster.
Still, eight-inch knives may feel overbearing when handling small ingredients like herbs, onions, peppers, and tomatoes.
Generally, a 10-inch chef’s knife will feel too big for users with an average height.
More often than not, they will have difficulty controlling their movement.
On the other hand, taller folks with a height of six feet and up will not have any issue with the blade’s size.
It offers the perfect length, leverage, and stability for chopping, cutting, mincing, and slicing different types of ingredients.
What Length Chef Knife Should I Get?
Chef’s knives come in various sizes. Technically, the blade’s length can range from six, eight, 10, and even 12 inches.
These variations make it confusing to determine which size suits your cutting needs.
Some suggest several methods to choose the right chef’s knife’s length.
Firstly, you must consider your height. A six-inch chef’s knife suits you best if you are on the shorter side.
On the other hand, if you are a six-footer, you can maneuver a 10-inch blade comfortably.
Professional chefs often use the 12-inch chef’s knife, which is quite challenging to handle.
Hence, the eight-inch chef’s knife is the usual choice of most home cooks for all their food prep needs.
Another suggested method when choosing the appropriate blade length is to use your forearm.
Most cooks attest that it is more comfortable to use a knife that has the same length as your forearm.
You can do the forearm test by aligning the knife’s heel to your wrist. The blade’s tip should be perpendicular to your elbow.
This test is suitable even if you are buying the knife online. You only need to measure your forearm and check the blade’s length on the product description.
If your forearm measures in-between two lengths, you can opt for the shorter blade size for better control.
Other Factors To Consider
Apart from the blade’s length, it would help to look at more factors when choosing a chef’s knife to ensure comfort.
You should also take note of the heel size and bolster, and here’s why:
The knife’s heel size is simply the distance of your fingers from the cutting board as you hold the handle.
Users with larger hands require more space between the cutting board and the handle to prevent their fingers from hitting the surface.
A longer heel provides additional clearance for your knuckles to avoid the cutting board’s surface.
Therefore, shorter chef’s knives designed for smaller hands tend to have a shorter heel size.
A bolster is not just for decorative purposes. It is a solid piece of metal placed between the blade and the handle.
Not all chef’s knives come with a bolster, but most Western-made ones do, indicating their excellent quality.
A bolster adds weight to the knife to give it balance.
On Chef Knife Lengths
So, what length chef knife should I get?
Honestly, it’s a matter of personal preference and which one feels comfortable to hold.
When it comes to length, most home cooks prefer the versatility of an eight-inch chef knife.
Some amateur chefs may feel intimidated by a 10-inch blade.
On the other hand, the six-inch blade can give you the flexibility of a paring knife but will lack the strength and stability when cutting something big.