If you’re shopping for new kitchen knives, you might be wondering:
Should I buy a 6-inch or 8-inch chef’s knife?
8-inch chef’s knives are more popular than 6-inch because they’re versatile and can handle larger ingredients, but they’re heavier, less agile, and more expensive. 6-inch chef’s knives lack the cutting range of an 8-inch chef’s knife, but they’re lighter, easier to control, and cheaper.
In this brief guide, I dive deeper into how 6-inch and 8-inch chef’s knives compare in terms of weight, maneuverability, price, and much more.
By the end, you’ll understand the most important factors to consider and have all the facts you need to decide which size chef’s knife is right for you.
Let’s get right into it!
Use the links below to navigate:
- How Chef’s Knife Sizes Work
- The Most Important Factors to Consider
- Other Factors to Consider Besides Size
- Bottom Line: Should You Buy a 6 or 8-Inch Chef’s Knife?
How Chef’s Knife Sizes Work
Before I get into the key differences between 6 and 8-inch chef’s knives, it’s important to understand how knife sizes work.
Chef’s knives usually come in lengths from six to 12 inches, but some brands go up to 14 inches (ex. Wusthof Classic 14-inch chef’s knife – view on Amazon).
The size refers to the length of the blade only, not the handle.
As you can see below, the entire knife (blade and handle) is much longer than 6 and 8 inches.
Some knife makers increase the handle length slightly to accommodate the larger blade, but most don’t.
So, the main difference between the six and eight-inch chef’s knives is the blade’s two inches.
6 vs. 8-Inch Chef’s Knives: The Most Important Factors to Consider
The most important factors to consider when deciding between a 6 and 8-inch chef’s knife are weight, versatility, maneuverability, and price.
Let’s look at the differences between the two sizes.
As you would expect, 8-inch chef’s knives are heavier than 6-inch knives.
The weight difference can range from 4% to 50%, but on average 8-inch chef’s knives are 30% heavier than the 6-inch versions.
Since 8-inch chef’s knives are heavier, it takes less effort to cut through dense ingredients, but if you’re vigorously chopping for long periods, the extra weight can cause wrist fatigue.
Below is a chart comparing the weight of 6 and 8-inch chef’s knives across different brands and collections.
(Click the weights to view each knife. All weights are according to listings on Williams-Sonoma.com)
|Brand/Collection||6-Inch Chef’s Knife Weight (oz)||8-Inch Chef’s Knife Weight (oz)|
Chef’s knives are incredibly versatile. They’re the ultimate all-purpose knives because they can handle a wide variety of ingredients. Use them for slicing, dicing, mincing, cutting, and all other types of chopping.
That said, size has an impact on the versatility of a chef’s knife.
An 8-inch chef’s knife is better suited for larger ingredients such as watermelon, pineapple, lettuce heads, large cuts of meat, and butternut squash.
With the longer blade, you’ll slice through long ingredients such as salmon, zucchini, and carrots with a single stroke.
While you can dice and chop with an 8-inch chef’s knife, it can feel quite large and overbearing in your hand when using it for smaller ingredients like onions and tomatoes.
Six-inch chef’s knives are more agile and excellent for dicing and chopping smaller ingredients, such as fruit and vegetables.
They can handle most of the big stuff too, but it will often take more effort and multiple cuts.
With its lighter weight and shorter blade, 6-inch chef’s knives are easier to control.
Its superior maneuverability makes a 6-inch chef’s knife ideal for finer work, like mincing garlic, chopping ginger, and breaking down a small chicken. With a 6-inch chef’s knife, you can focus on delicate details, while still cutting most substantial foods.
Another benefit—the superior control makes 6-inch chef’s knives safer. Since the tip is closer to your hand, the chances of cutting yourself are minimized.
Eight-inch chef’s knives are still easy to use, but they are longer, heavier, and often have wider blades, making it more difficult to maneuver.
You might find that you can work faster with a shorter blade, especially when dealing with small ingredients like herbs, tomatoes, onions, and peppers.
Prices vary from brand to brand. However, the 8-inch chef’s knives will always be more expensive than 6-inch chef’s knives when comparing the same brand and collection.
On average, 8-inch chef’s knives are 30% more expensive than 6-inch chef’s knives.
The chart below shows the actual prices of popular 6 and 8-inch chef’s knives. Click the chart to view more details of each knife on Amazon.
|Chef's Knife||Price||View Details|
|Wusthof Classic 6-inch Chef's Knife||Amazon|
|Wusthof Classic 8-inch Chef's Knife||Amazon|
|Zwilling Kramer Euroline 6-inch Chef's Knife||Amazon|
|Zwilling Kramer Euroline 8-inch Chef's Knife||Amazon|
|Shun Classic 6-inch Chef's Knife||Amazon|
|Shun Classic 8-inch Chef's Knife||Amazon|
|Victorinox Fibrox 6-inch Chef's Knife||Amazon|
|Victorinox Fibrox 8-inch Chef's Knife||Amazon|
Storage Space and Prep Area
If you have a smaller kitchen with less storage space and a limited prep area, a 6-inch chef’s knife is better.
I recommend always checking your countertops and chopping board’s size to ensure the knife will work well with your given space.
Other Factors to Consider Besides Size
Size is important, but there are other factors to consider when choosing the right chef’s knife.
Here’s a quick rundown of the other important factors to consider.
Stainless Steel vs. Carbon Steel: Stainless steel knives don’t rust, so they’re easier to care for and clean. Carbon steel may discolor when it comes into contact with acidic ingredients, and if you don’t wash and dry them after every use, they may rust. However, stainless steel is generally softer than carbon steel. Therefore, it doesn’t keep its sharp edge retention for as long. I recommend stainless steel for residential use since it’s easier to maintain.
Blade Thickness: Chef’s knives have different blade thicknesses depending on the brand. Thicker blades are generally more durable, but also less nimble. An example of knives with thick blades is the Zwilling Pro collection (one of the best German knife brands). By contrast, knives within the Oishya collection have much thinner blades.
Bolster: Some chef’s knives, such as the Wusthof Classic, feature a bolster while others, such as the Shun Classic, don’t. The bolster is the thick part of the steel where the handle and blade meet. Bolsters provide balance and prevent your hand from slipping onto the edge, but they make the knife heavier.
Handles: Each brand designs its handles differently. Some are ergonomically shaped to fit seamlessly into your hand. Others are straighter for a more universal option.
Blade Profile: The two most common blade profiles are rounded belly and straight edge. Rounded belly blades have a curve that is ideal for rocking the knife back and forward while chopping. A straighter edge knife is optimal for dicing and slicing, especially with fruit and vegetables.
German vs. Japanese Knives: In general, Japanese knives have sharper, thinner, and harder blades, which makes them great for fish, fruit, and vegetables. German knives are more durable, usually have a rounder blade profile, and are ideal for tough root vegetables and meat. For more information, check out my in-depth comparison: Japanese vs. German Knives.
Bottom Line: Should You Buy a 6 or 8-Inch Chef’s Knife?
When choosing a new chef’s knife, it mostly comes down to personal preference and how it feels in your hand. Every home chef has different needs, so think about the foods you cook with and the ingredients you most often use.
Below, is a summary of the things you should consider before deciding between a 6 and 8-inch chef’s knife:
Weight: 8-inch knives are heavier than 6-inch knives. If your wrist gets fatigued easily or you just prefer a lighter knife, go with the 6-inch version.
Versatility: Both sizes are versatile, but it’s easier to cut bigger ingredients, like watermelon and meat, with an 8-inch. The 6-inch is ideal for smaller ingredients like tomatoes, onions, lemons, and fish.
Maneuverability: The 6-inch knife is easier to maneuver. 8-inch knives are by no means bulky, but they’re less nimble and can feel unwieldy when chopping and dicing smaller ingredients.
Price: On average, 8-inch chef’s knives are 30% more expensive than 6-inch chef’s knives.
Space: Consider your storage space and prep area. Make sure your knife will fit in your kitchen and is the right size for your chopping board.
Chef’s knives come in a wide range of sizes, but 6-inch and 8-inch are the most popular. They are both versatile and practical, and you won’t go wrong with either.
If you’re looking for a nudge in one direction, I recommend getting an 8-inch chef’s knife because it can handle ingredients of all sizes and is also nimble enough for the small stuff.
If you can afford it, buy both sizes. With both 6 and 8-inch chef’s knives in your kitchen, you’ll have the range to handle any job.
If you found this article helpful, you should also check out:
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- Wusthof vs. Global: How Do Their Kitchen Knives Compare?
- Shun vs. Wusthof: In-Depth Kitchen Knife Comparison
- Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro vs. Pro “S”: What’s the Difference?
- Wusthof vs. Victorinox: How Do Their Kitchen Knives Compare?
- Are Victorinox Kitchen Knives Good? An In-Depth Review
- Santoku vs. Gyuto Knives: What’s the Difference?