6 Inch or 8 Inch Chef Knife? The Ultimate Comparison

If you’re trying to choose between a 6 or 8 inch chef knife and having trouble deciding, we can’t say we’re surprised. There’s a lot of information on the internet about these two sizes that contradicts itself.

One blog tells you to go for the superior control of the 6-inch kitchen knife. Another tells you that this is irrelevant: with good technique, you can easily control an 8-inch knife while making full use of its weight for heavy-duty chopping.

So, which size truly is better?

We’re here to give you a definitive answer. We’ve spent hours researching the pros and cons of these two knives, comparing expert opinions and user reviews. In this guide, we’ll explain the advantages of each option and help you decide which suits you best. 

6 Inch vs. 8 Inch Chef Knife: At a Glance

Cutting Volume

  • A 6-inch can handle comparatively smaller cutting volume. This is fine for most home cooks but can be a hindrance for professionals.
  • An 8-inch can cut a large volume at once. This makes it better for prep chefs who slice watermelons or a lot of vegetables.

Weight

  • A 6-inch is typically lightweight and easy to manipulate. This is preferable when performing delicate tasks such as scoring.
  • 8-inch knives tend to be heavier. This makes them superior for tasks like cutting large pieces of meat into even pieces.

Control

  • 6-inch chef knives offer greater control than larger knives. This makes them more adaptable for tasks like deboning a chicken thigh.
  • 8-inch chef knives are more unwieldy. With a proper chef’s grip, control is simple, but home cooks may struggle to use these knives effectively.

Kitchen Size

  • A 6-inch is well-suited to a small kitchen without space for large chopping boards. In professional kitchens, it is a rarity coveted by prep chefs needing to perform delicate tasks.
  • An 8-inch suits home kitchens and professional kitchens, although some home chefs may find the size intimidating.

Versatility

  • A 6-inch is a versatile tool but has its limits. It can slice delicate fish and meat but is less useful when chopping large cuts of meat or many vegetables at once.
  • An 8-inch is highly versatile. It benefits from substantial weight and cutting volume and can handle heavy-duty cutting, as well as regular prep cutting.

6 or 8 Inch Chef Knife: Side by Side Comparison

Think of your most common kitchen tasks. Measure them against the information above, and you’re just beginning to grasp which size would suit you.

Still unsure about which to get? Let’s take a deeper look at the tasks you can perform with an 8 inch vs. 6 inch chef knife.

Cutting Volume

What do you use a 6-inch chef knife for?

This size is perfect for precision cuts and finely dicing vegetables such as onions and garlic. It’s also useful for cutting thin, attractive slices of meat for guests. Examples include preparing sashimi (check out these fine quality sushi knives) or neatly slicing grilled lamb shoulder off the bone.

What do you use an 8-inch chef knife for?

As a heavy-duty blade, popular 8 inch chef knife uses include quickly preparing large quantities of roughly-chopped vegetables, such as large onion chunks for a curry. Many professional chefs favor this size for this reason — time is money in the restaurant industry, and the bigger blade cuts fast.

Weight of the Knife

A 6-inch knife is lighter

This size is well-suited to chefs who find the heavier 8-inch blade cumbersome, tiring to work with, and a source of wrist pain. It is also an effective knife for activities like the julienne cut or scoring meat. A heavier blade might easily cut straight through the fat and into the flesh.

An 8-inch knife is heavier

Heavy blades are ideal for activities like slicing large cuts of meat into uniform chunks. Neatly butchering a large cut of beef for braising would be impractical with a smaller knife — the size of the cut would necessitate ‘sawing,’ which usually produces irregularities.

Control

A 6-inch knife offers superior control

Professional chefs value the smaller utility knife for its control and precision. For example, removing the bone (find some high quality boning knives here) from a chicken thigh is a delicate process that can easily lead to substantial waste/a ragged product if done with a heavy knife.

Home chefs often prefer this knife for producing even cuts when slicing vegetables.

An 8-inch knife is harder to control

Many home chefs avoid the 8-inch blade because it seems unwieldy and intimidating. Many prefer the 6-inch blade because it’s much easier to control.

However, if you can perfect the chef’s grip and learn the ‘rocking’ motion when chopping, an 8-inch can still be a precise cutting tool. 

See the legendary Chef John teach the chef’s grip below.

Size of Your Kitchen

8-inch knives can be harder to store, as the space in kitchen drawers is often limited. Beyond this, some households don’t have cutting boards large enough to support a larger knife. A smaller utility knife fits easily into most kitchen storage spaces.

Looking for a comfortable knife storage solution? Check out these Adhesive Knife Magnetic Strips then.

Many home cooks have a chopping style that involves sticking the elbow out when using a larger knife. If your kitchen space is cramped, this can lead to collisions (not ideal when holding a large, sharp knife).

Versatility

A 6-inch knife is less versatile

This knife is less versatile because you can’t use it efficiently for cutting larger ingredients. It fulfills certain purposes very well, but chefs and busy home cooks know that most kitchen work isn’t so delicate.

An 8-inch knife is more versatile

If a chef is preparing lamb chunks for braising, they need a large knife. You can use this same knife to dice onions and peppers to accompany the dish neatly. The 8-inch chef knife is preferred by home chefs and professional chefs alike for this reason.

Our Recommended 6 and 8 Inch Knives

We’ve seen that each knife has its place in the kitchen. Hopefully, you know which is more suited to your purposes by measuring the utility of each size against its benefits.

Does Knife Size Matter?

The standard chef knife size isn’t set in stone. That’s because each chef has a unique body type. Just compare Gordon and Gino to see what we mean. 

A smaller chef knife for small hands makes perfect sense — why would you demand that someone wield a heavy blade without any control? 

Equally, Chefs with larger hands often find it hard to get a good grip on smaller blades.

  • Choose the Knife Around the Job. Don’t purchase a blade before you know what you’re cutting. Decide on a task first, and then choose the most appropriate tool for the job.
  • Comfort Matters. Chef knives for beginners aren’t always the best-designed, with uncomfortable spines and awkward handles. A knife that fits into your hand neatly is a good start, at least.
  • Cutting Efficiency Differs. You’re likely to chop faster and more accurately with a knife that feels comfortable in your hands. While smaller knives tend to be more precise, you should judge by the feel in your hand.
  • Cost-Dependent. The most affordable chef knives are frequently smaller models. Large knives often cost more, which can make them prohibitive for some home chefs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a 6-inch chef knife too small?

How big are your hands? Do you feel comfortable using a 6-inch size? If so, it’s not too small. Most people use these knives with ease. 

How do you measure a chef knife?

Most chef knives describe their length on the packaging. Otherwise, measure the length of the blade edge with a tape measure.

What do you cut with a chef’s knife?

Cut delicate items with smaller chef’s knives. Use a larger one for chopping vegetables or large chunks of meat.

Takeaway — Which One Should You Buy?

There are many uses for both a 6-inch and an 8-inch blade. Whenever handling delicate ingredients, you’ll want to reach for the smaller knife. A chef with smaller hands will mostly rely on the 6-inch but use a bigger size when bulk-chopping vegetables or when cubing meat.

Both chef knives are kitchen essentials. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. One last piece of advice — whichever you buy first, make sure it’ll hold its edge as well as our favorite picks.

Brian M. Casey

Product reviewer & passionate blogger. Besides writing for this blog, I spend my time crafting research-based content for HuffingtonPost, Lifehacker & Forbes!

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