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
- A 6-inch can handle a 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. Plus, it’s excellent at cubing butternut squash.
- 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.
- 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 a home cook may struggle to use these knives effectively.
- A 6-incher 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 chef’s knife suits home kitchens and professional kitchens, although some home chefs may find the size intimidating.
- 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 knife 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 knife would suit you for providing the best results.
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.
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 things 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.
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, thus providing a better result. 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 for almost everything.
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).
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. Check out another comparison article on 8-inch vs 10-inch chef knives.
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 chefs 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. However, a German stainless steel unit will cost you a bit more than the typical carbon steel-made ones.
Frequently Asked Questions
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. Plus, a 6-inch knife blade fits easily on most knife block units.
How do you measure a chef knife?
Like most kitchen knives, 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 other knife skills, like chopping vegetables or large chunks of meat. Never employ your bread knives to cut meat, even if you don’t have other options available to you at that moment.
Is santoku a chef knife?
The word santoku is of Japanese origin, which indicates its multi-functional capabilities. While these fall into the category of chef knives, high-quality Santoku knives are better suited for precision cutting.
Why Japanese chef knives are so expensive?
Japanese knives are typically built with harder blades, thanks to their high carbon steel construction. These are also pretty sharp and sport the best craftsmanship. All of these factors contribute to the high price tag of Japanese knives.
Should You Choose 6 or 8-Inch Chef’s Knife?
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 from the top knife makers.