When shopping for a kitchen chef knife you will find that the majority of options fall into one of two categories: German and Japanese, referring to the metal type used in constructing the blade. Both types of knives are well known and often favored by the best of chef’s over others available on the market. As long as you are purchasing from a reputable company you can’t go wrong with either type.
The choice between German and Japanese steel knives is a matter of preference and cooking style. The difference between the two lies primarily in steel hardness and edge angle. When it comes to kitchen knives, however, the more hard-wearing option isn’t necessarily the better choice.
The amount of carbon in a piece of steel directly correlates to hardness and inversely correlates to durability. German steel is relatively softer, it’s capable of holding an edge longer and doesn’t need to be sharpened quite as often as Japanese steel blades do. German steel knives are known to be more durable and easier to sharpen. They are a good metal choice when cutting into boned meats or doing more robust kitchen work. While German blades are typically finished with a machine, Japanese blades are almost always hand-honed and hand-refined. German blades are often viewed as more versatile, used for chopping, cutting and slicing; their multi-purpose use and increased durability go hand-in-hand.
The Japanese Super Steels and Damascus style knives are sharper and hold their edge better. Due to a difference in forging techniques, Japanese steel blades contain a lot more carbon than German blades, making them harder, but also more brittle. Their fine edge is a little more fragile for hard boned items, but this is where blade shape and function come into play. Since these “Japanese super steels” can be more brittle they are almost always layered between other metals in a Damascus style.
An example of this is the Zelite Infinity Alpha-Royal Japanese Series 8” Chef Knife. They use an AUS10 Japanese Super Steel as the core of the blade, plus they add 33 layers of high carbon steel on each side. With 67 total layers of steel, the knife is very sharp, strong and durable – not to mention the Damascus layering adds a beautiful pattern to the blade. Damascus kitchen knives are considered the highest level of sharpness, edge retention, and performance that you can own.
Japanese knife blades are thinner than their German counterparts, allowing for a sharper edge — typically in the range of 15–16 degrees, compared to 20 degrees in Western style knives. Japanese kitchen knives are precision cutting tools, designed to slice first and foremost.
Shop and Compare:
German Knife Examples Using X50CrMoV15 Stainless Steel Blades:
- Zelite Infinity Alpha-Royal German 8 inch Chef’s Knife $55.97
- Zwilling Pro 8 inch Chef’s Knife $149.99
- Wusthof Classic Ikon8 inch Chef’s Knife $169.99
Examples Using Japanese Super Steel Blades:
- Miyabi Kaizen 8” Chef Knife VG10, 64 Layer Damascus Rockwell Hardness 60 $215.00
- Zelite Infinity Alpha-Royal Japanese Series 8” Chef Knife AUS10, 67 Layer Damascus Rockwell Hardness 61 +/- 1 $129.97
- Shun Classic 8” Chef Knife VG-MAX, 68 Layer Damascus Rockwell Hardness 60-61 $188.00
Zelite Infinity is a family owned and operated business aiming to make the perfect chef knife. What does perfect mean in their minds? A knife with great balance, outstanding performance, lasting edge-retention and superior comfort – at a great price. Even more importantly they focus 100% on customer service. Keeping their customer service team within the family allows them to develop relationships with their customers and hear directly from cooks when they have positive and negative feedback to their knives.
Zelite Infinity has several series of knives – German Steel and Japanese Steel – in order to offer their customers varying options in selection, price and overall quality. This allows both professional and home chefs to find the type of knife(s) to fit their kitchen needs.