How To Choose The Best Kitchen Knife Brands For Under $50
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the number of cooking shows out there, it’s that a proper knife makes the biggest difference in making a dish. To become the next Master Chef, or even just to cook a dish that looks somewhat decent, it’s time for an upgrade.
Leave behind those discount knives we’re all guilty of stocking up on because it’s time to look at the best kitchen knife brands under $50.
Great brands don’t have to be equally expensive. There are elements that build the best kitchen knives and we’re going to lay them out nice and easy.
With a list of the top brands and all the info you’ll need on what makes a good knife, this article might just bring you one step closer to that classic cooking experience.
Why Buy the Best Kitchen Knives?
Budding chefs everywhere, this article is for you. We need to clear the air here with why bigger brands are so important for something as simple as a knife. The main reason? There’s actually nothing simple about knives.
Knives are carefully crafted for optimum cutting. Some are made sturdier, some use different blade angles to achieve distinct slices; there’s a world of differences in each knife that make or break the prepwork.
Cheaper knives aren’t made as durable as bigger brands. Professional chef kitchen knives are built to bring ease to each motion. A good quality knife can cut through bone in one go – isn’t that better than having to saw through a steak?
10 Best Kitchen Knife Brands Under $50
Sounds a little intense, right? No worries. We’ll break down not only the components of knives but also what we consider to be the best kitchen knife brands under $50.
Built around “Better Cooking, Better Living,” Imarku set out to raise the standards of kitchen knives for amateurs and professionals everywhere.
Founder Mark Liu built this brand around a single chef’s knife. The company’s creation came as a result of Liu’s friend being unable to find an affordable, high-quality chef’s knife.
After studying in Japan to learn the process, materials, and culture surrounding knives and the culinary institution, Liu found his way from his first chef’s knife into a business composed of knives, cookware, kitchen essentials, and more.
With more than 10 years in business, this brand sticks with carbon stainless steel blades for their knives, with costs averaging between $40 to $80 for a standard chef’s knife.
One of the best parts of this brand is that deals and promotions are everywhere. Sales are constant so costs aren’t nearly as steep as they might originally seem.
2. J.A. Henckles
One of the oldest knife brands in existence, Zwilling (aka J.A. Henckles) was trademarked in 1731 by Peter Henckles in Germany. This company seeks to inspire the culinary world, including both professional and home chefs alike.
Beginning with knives, this company expanded in the 1990s to include cookware, electronics, tools, storage, and more. Moving from their niche culinary market outward has advanced sales over the past decade alone.
Forged with a “special formula steel,” these German blades are a global bestseller for professionals.
The Germans don’t mess around when it comes to quality, but that also brings up costs. With that being said, when it comes to saving money this brand has you covered by offering a filter for $50 and under. In chef knives alone, 14 different models are listed in this section.
Those are several quality options at a reduced price (considering many chef’s knives easily run for $200).
Launched in 1981, Messermeister joins our list of the best kitchen knife brands under $50 for their affordable options. Offering a number of chef knives under the $50 mark, this brand literally translates from German to mean “knife master.”
The Messermeister was actually the first knife model this company created in 1985. Originally named Dressler American Marketing Company (DAMCO), this company rebranded once their bolster 20 degree blade was born.
First to patent the edge guard, they continue to push forward and provide top quality products for a range of prices.
Including knives, cooking tools, culinary sets, and apparel, this top brand is one to keep in mind when shopping for top-quality builds.
If there’s one thing Victorinox knows, it’s blades. Known for their popular Swiss Army Knives, this brand carefully crafts its blades for durable use and multi-purpose designs.
Their move to include culinary products really only made sense considering their mastery of smaller blades.
This brand has been around since 1897, meaning they’ve had plenty of time to master their designs. Now offering watches, fragrances, pocket knives, and culinary products, this Swiss company really does it all.
This company generally works with German-style blades, but they do offer a few Japanese options for more detailed slicing in the kitchen. A variety of options is available for reasonable prices, making this an easy addition to our list.
5. Mad Shark
Using Damascus Steel (a layering process of steel sheets forged into one blade), Mad Shark brings military-grade quality to German-style knives. We’ll be honest, we don’t know much about the history or mission of this company, but it all sounds pretty good so far.
Mysterious in nature, all we can judge from is the quality and make of their blades. These knives are made to be cheap, safe, and sharp (dull blades cause more accidents than sharp ones).
The sharp edge lining the blade is secured by a finger guard designed bolster to protect the chef’s digits while chopping away.
Solid handles, blades, and prices. This seems like a simple solution to overpriced chef’s knives for those looking to test out better quality builds.
Combining German and Japanese styles in one easy to buy location, Dalstrong makes our list of the best kitchen knife brands under $50 for their unique take on the industry.
Founded in Toronto, Canada by CEO Dave Dallaire, this brand was designed for professional chefs everywhere.
Dallaire was inspired by his time in the food industry, wanting to provide comfortable grips and equipment to the unsung heroes who work to the brink to deliver every dish.
Related: Check out our full Dalstrong Knife Review to learn more.
Inspiring creativity, passion, and joy in every cut, Dalstrong aims to produce knives that can match the excitement of kitchen workers everywhere.
Using German, Japanese, Scandinavian, American, and Sino steels on their blades, strength, balance, and comfort are key to these affordable knives. Make or break the kitchen with one slice from a Dalstrong blade.
Zelite caters to their market, and their market is…everyone. Separating their products by Professional Chefs and Home Chefs, this site directs every customer to where they need to go.
As one of our best kitchen knife brands under $50, this organization also covers costs with the lower prices geared towards home chefs.
Sporting both Japanese and German-style blades, this company is all about their knives. In fact, other than sharpening stones, this brand’s stock is made up entirely of their knives.
Their prices do tend to run higher, so make sure to check the price tag before buying.
Mercer doesn’t play around when it comes to variety. This innovative brand offers over 11 collections of styles. Doesn’t sound like a lot? That’s almost 400 knives and knife sets for sale. Granted, they aren’t all cheap, but the more options the better when it comes to buying.
This brand’s heart and soul is in the food industry. Existing to make the job easier, these blades (both German and Japanese options) have been carefully crafted for smooth and simple cuts. If knives are the sole purpose of your shopping trip, this is the place to check out.
Founded by Henry Liu, Cangshan was named for the small mountainside city where Henry and his wife grew up. Originally beginning with a kitchenware company in China, Henry realized he wished to pursue the American Dream and moved his family to start a new venture.
Partnering with a Chinese manufacturer, this brand began marketing Euro/Western and Asian blades to secure their success in the market.
Having won a total of 31 awards for the company and their blades, Cangshan has become well-established in the culinary world. Offering a variety of prices for their knives, this company can be found everywhere from Costco to Williams Sonoma.
Valuing family, inspiration, and creativity at its core, this family run business has maintained their roots through their growth.
We’re ending our best kitchen knife brands under $50 list with a classic. By classic, we mean the over 200 years that Wüsthof has been in business.
Originally producing shears, steel, and iron works, this company expanded into the culinary world when founder Johann Wüsthof’s son took over the family business. In fact, despite their long running history, this company remains in the family’s hands.
Currently exporting to over 80 countries, this company has maintained their quality and balanced products while continuing to move forward with innovative designs.
German and Asian-style blades are sold internationally, offering chefs the chance to expand their skills and attempt to conquer new dishes daily.
One of the more expensive brands on this list, this company comes closer to the $50 mark and above for their products. In our opinion, they’re well worth the cost.
Which Type Of Kitchen Knife Brand Should You Purchase?
Convinced you need one of the best kitchen knife brands under $50? Or are you willing to spend more for a solid slice? There are still a variety of details to take into account prior to purchase.
The biggest decision to make comes in the style you choose. The top kitchen knives used by professionals tend to fall into two categories: German and Japanese. We’re going to talk about both to provide all the pros to each style and help find the knife to best fit your needs.
- German Knives
German knives are one of the most popular choices for standard chef knives. These durable knives are made for strength rather than delicate work, so they’re a good choice to have in stock. Let’s go into a bit more detail on what makes these knives so great:
- Blade – We’re combining blade and material here because you can’t discuss one without the other. German knives are made of a soft steel that prevents them from chipping too easily and allows them the strength to cut through tougher materials.
Due to the softer steel, these knives will dull faster than hard steel, but it’s quick to sharpen and maintains its power.
Soft steel also resists rust and corrosion, making this a hygienic choice. When it comes to handles, German knives often use heavy plastic for their thicker handles.
Due to the heavier cuts made with these knives, the larger handle helps with leverage for each cut.
- Use – German blades are the universal knife. Made to cover a variety of cuts, foods, and crafting, these blades are multi-purpose and made to get the job done.
Used most frequently for cutting meats and bones, these durable blades are suited for quick cuts, thick foods, and rocking motion chops, making them a terrific all-purpose blade.
- Shape – The German blade shape is more rounded than its competitors. The rounded blade makes rocking slices easier, allowing quicker chopping motions for lengthy vegetables or other products.
- Finish – German blades are as smooth as they come. This makes for a pleasing appearance with the blade and bolster, and also adds to the strength of the blade in general. Solid steel makes for a solid cut.
- Blade Angle – German blade angles match the overall build, working with a thicker angle. The typical angle seen in these knives is 17.5 degrees on both sides.
- Japanese Knives
Moving East, Japanese blades come in with a distinct purpose. These thin blades are designed for finesse and detailed cuts, so they’re often seen used for dishes such as sashimi. Looking closer, we’re going to lay out what makes these knives a winning choice.
- Blade – Japanese blades are designed for detail and steady hands. These blades are made thin and long for exact cuts and fine work. Handles are typically crafted from long, thin pieces of wood to keep the knife light and balanced.
Hard steel serves as the base for this blade, making them retain their sharpness far longer. The one downside to this sharp piece comes in the chipping dangers that accompany hard steel.
Due to the higher probability of blades breaking, these knives typically avoid the heavy meats and bones that German knives are accustomed to.
- Use – Like we mentioned before, these sharp blades are everything you need for delicate work. Ultra thin slices, controlled movements, these knives aren’t meant for quick chops.
Because of their hard steel blades, they work best with softer foods such as fish and vegetables.
- Shape – Weight is everything when it comes to Japanese knives. The best Japanese kitchen knife brands are those that respect the lightweight balance of the blade.
These knives are made with a straight edge for controlled dicing and slicing, but watch out for the tip as it tends to be made to puncture the food with ease!
- Finish – Japanese blades tend to look a little…different. These blades are often hammered. This standard technique actually aids in slicing as it prevents food from sticking to the solid blade and provides quicker cuts.
- Blade Angle – Due to their sharper blades, Japanese knives tend to have smaller angles to them. The standard for these blades is a 10-to-15-degree angle.
Smaller angle equals cleaner cut – so the food that’s been diced won’t look as affected by the blade that’s been used.
Both styles have their pros and cons, and most chefs tend to stock both German and Japanese blades. If you’re coming into the cooking scene or wanting a professional knife without going overboard and starting a whole collection, a German knife is a safe choice.
These blades are multi-purpose and tend to work for everything. Sure, a defined cut isn’t as likely with these knives, but if you’re only looking to add one knife to the kitchen, then multi-purpose is a better investment than finesse.
We recommend grabbing one of each. After all, these are the best kitchen knife brands under $50 for a reason. Save some money, try each style, and get ready to impress with those knife skills!
Things To Consider When Shopping From The Best Kitchen Knife Brands Under $50
With the styles in mind and a few brands under your belt, it’s time to narrow down the key elements to consider before buying one of the best kitchen knife brands under $50. While there’s an incredible amount to consider, we’re limiting our advice to 5 key points:
- Blade Material and Features
- Forged vs Stamped
- Weight, Balance, & Control
Our list of the best kitchen knife brands under $50 is a great place to start looking, but for those wanting to branch out, make sure to consider what you want to use it for before going into further details.
Once it’s determined whether multi-purpose or detailed work is the goal, check out the materials and, if possible, test the feel of the knife. Some people prefer a heavier blade while others prefer to balance a lighter knife while dicing.
No matter what brand you buy, get some research done into the make and test the feel before buying – trust us, you’ll appreciate taking the time when the right knife is found.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, let’s focus on those all-important details that make up the perfect knife.
- Blade Material & Features
A sharp cut goes beyond the point of the blade and also considers the material. There are a variety of materials that make up standard chef knives, each with their own pros and cons.
Stainless Steel is one of the most common materials found in kitchen knives. These blades are often stamped and come cheaper than alternative options.
With high rust-resistance to them, they stay clean with very little effort. With that being said, these knives tend to dull quickly, and lower quality steels are difficult to resharpen.
Carbon Steel is a classic due to its extremely sharp edges and strength in thinner builds. The downside with this one comes in the form of maintenance. Carbon steel is at risk of discoloration, rust, and corrosion.
High Carbon Stainless Steel is a favorite in the kitchen. Retaining the easy-care of standard Stainless Steel, these knives also hold their edge for longer and are far easier to resharpen.
Even better? These knives come in forged and stamped options, providing more choice to those who want a strong material and build.
Ceramic knives are gaining in popularity due to their high-density, lightweight, and incredibly sharp edges that hold for perhaps the longest of any other material.
They’re ridiculously easy to care for as rust and discoloring aren’t applicable due to the chemical makeup of the material, but they are impossible to resharpen, so they have to be sent away to be taken care of when they become too dull.
Other materials exist on the market for blades, but these four tend to be the top choices for home and professional chefs. Should another make cross your eye, research how the material holds up prior to purchase. There’s nothing worse than a dull and rusting knife.
It may be obvious to state, but different edged knives are created to do different jobs. Standard chef knives are traditionally made with a double-edge blade.
This simply means that both sides of the blade have been sharpened, providing a balanced cut that’s able to handle tougher materials.
The bonus to double-edged blades is their versatility. Aside from what they’re able to handle, these knives work for left or right-handed individuals with no issue. The downside to them is that they’re much more difficult to resharpen on your own.
Single edge blades are commonly used on softer foods like vegetables and fish. With a straight side that comes in to help finish the stroke, these knives are designed for right-handed chefs and pose quite a danger to those who work left-handed.
The other issue comes in the price – these blades tend to be up to 50% more expensive than double-edged blades.
Straight vs serrated is the other common debate, but you’ll be glad to know these blades have completely different functions.
Straight blades tend to be the most common chef’s knives on the market. The straight edge allows a constant pressure that creates a smooth cut when slicing and dicing. These blades are multi-purpose and tend to be a great addition to any kitchen.
Serrated blades saw through the food. Rather than a single cut, the toothed blade works to actually tear the food. These blades are best used on ingredients with tougher exteriors and softer interiors such as bread and tomatoes.
- Forged vs Stamped
For those newer to kitchen knives, it may not be known that there are two main methods of production for these blades. Forged and stamped blades are the most common types on markets, but what’s the difference between them?
Stamped knives are sleek and machine produced. These blades tend to feel cheaper than the alternative just due to the smooth finish. They’re just as sharp, shiny, and can get the job done for a good price.
Forged knives are commonly used by professionals. These knives are made to last and can often stick with chefs for their entire career and still remain good enough for kitchen use.
Heavier in design (but lightweight due to the balance), these knives tend to be top choice as they’re hand-crafted by professionals with high-quality materials.
Stamped knives tend to run cheaper than forged due to their manufacturing process. Both knives will work, but if you’re aiming to recreate Chopped at home to the best of your ability, then a professionally forged knife is the investment to make.
- Weight, Balance & Control
The best blades are forged for balance. This means no matter how heavy the blade is, the counterbalance of the design will lighten the piece to make it easier to control. So, how do you find that perfectly balanced blade?
The best kitchen knife brands under $50 are designed with balance and control in mind, so any popular companies should be safe to shop from. Knives with bolsters are crafted with the counterweight centered between the handle and the blade.
Bolsters are common on German knives, providing a shoulder between blade and handle that protects fingers and adjusts the weight distribution.
Another new term to add to the list? Tang (not the drink). The tang is an extension of the blade centered in the handle to counter the weight of the blade and make it easier to slice through whatever is on the table.
When the tang extends to the back of the handle, that’s called a full-tang (as opposed to partial tangs that aren’t worth mentioning).
The final new word we’re adding to the list (there won’t be a test, don’t worry): distal tapering.
This is another method used in production to adjust the thickness of the knife. Common in forged blades, all this term means is that the blade gets thicker as it moves towards the handle.
This ensures the strength of the blade is located towards the back and reduces stressors that may snap the blade.
The best way to find a good weight and balance is to simply test the knives out for yourself. Knife weights affect everyone differently and perseverance is all that’s needed to find that perfect knife. Try, try again. You’ll find it. We promise.
Last on the list before stepping out to buy the best kitchen knife brands under $50, the handle. Pretty standard to most knives there are a few things to think about before buying.
Handles come in a variety of sizes and materials dependent on the style of knife, so keep that in mind when researching types of blades.
The most standard handles are made from plastics and wood. These maintain a lightweight and steady grip on the blade.
We will say that wooden handles require more care as dishwashers can dry and crack them – so if this is your choice, make sure to care for it while cleaning (and hand-wash it!).
Larger knives come with larger handles to balance the cut. When it comes to shopping for handles, it really comes down to preference. Test out a few materials and see what feels the most natural for grip and weight.
Natural products such as wood do tend to be more expensive than simple plastic handles on a stamped blade. Don’t let price hold you back, though. If wood works best, then invest and be satisfied with every slice.
What originally highlighted the best kitchen knife brands under $50 really turned into an in-depth dive into the make and model of professional knives. We regret nothing.
It may seem arbitrary, but this information is all something to keep in mind to get that kitchen upgraded to the next level.
We aren’t expecting Master Chef quality dishes, but tossing out those cheap knives for something worth the money is the first step to success.
Investing in a top-quality brand (without breaking the bank) is the best thing one can do for their kitchen. A single knife really can make the difference.
The most important thing to remember out of all of this? Test the grip and weight before buying. No one likes to use something with an uncomfortable grip for longer than they need to.
Be comfortable, cool, and start slicing and dicing with your new and improved knife. You’re welcome.
Looking for other top brands? Check out these curated lists below: