Choosing the best Nakiri knife can be hard given so many options from most of the popular knife brands. While any cheap knife can chop vegetables, not all make it an easy and enjoyable task. Well, a virtuous Nakiri knife does exactly that.
Also known as Nakiri Bocho (literally meaning knife for cutting greens), these are traditional Japanese vegetable cleavers are designed to elevate your chopping and cutting skills as a chef. These are lightweight, highly versatile knives and can sometimes also be used for cutting fish or meat. The thin and flat blade profile is perfect for cutting long vegetables and getting consistency in chopped veggies.
Owning a good vegetable nakiri will ensure that your meals stand out. But depending on your requirements and personal taste, one of them might suit you better than others. Our Nakiri Knife review will highlight key differences between the best Nakiri knives out there and help find out the ideal one for you.
Review of the Best Nakiri Knives
If you thought all knives look the same, meet the Dalstrong Shadow Black Series Nakiri. Dalstrong is known for their innovative design and cutting-edge performance, and this 7” Vegetable Nakiri is a premium blend of aesthetics, sharpness, balance and reliability.
Before we move on to the cutting part, let’s take a moment to appreciate its nothing short of futuristic design. This knife looks sleek, aggressive and features non-reflective Titanium Nitride coating that not only gives it the stylish black look, but also provides added durability and corrosion resistant properties. To top it all, they also provide a protective sheath of the same color for easy storage.
The knife features a full tang design and is forged from high-carbon 7CR17MOV-X super-steel, and we have to say it comes razor sharp out of the box. Dalstrong clearly took their time to design the handle on this one. It has a unique geometry and is not flat like other knives. It has a tapered bolster where your knuckle will sit perfectly no matter what your hand size is. The knife has perfect weight and balance which makes it a joy to use for extended cooking sessions.
One of the most popular products from Wusthof’s Classic series, the 7” Hollow Edge Nakiri boasts cutting-edge German technology that can give even the best Japanese knives a good run for their money. Its design makes it extremely easy-to-use for amateurs and professionals alike, with a thinner blade than most traditional cleavers and a long straight 10° edge. That’s not even the best part, the hollow edge features evenly spaced indentations so any sticky or starchy food won’t stick on the blade.
Wusthof is a powerhouse in terms of high-quality materials, performance and longevity. It’s proprietary Precision Edge Technology enables it to have twice the edge retention and up to 20% more sharpness with the blade than previous models. These traits aren’t just limited to this Nakiri but extend to all Wusthof knives alike.
The Classic 7” Nakiri Knife is forged from High Carbon Stainless Steel and scores HRC 58 on the Rockwell Scale. The handle might look ordinary, but not all people care about good looks when buying a knife. It works, is comfortable to grip and has triple rivets from the full tang for stability, exactly what we want in a functional knife.
Shun Classics are the definition of traditional Japanese style knives, and rather than the heftier handles in Western knives, these offer lighter blades with sharper edges and more control. We are a big fan of Shun’s entire Classic range, but their nakiri is the perfect icing on the cake. This 6.5” vegetable knife can easily replace a wide amount of Western cutlery with its lightweight and multi-purpose nature.
The blade is made from Shun’s proprietary VG-MAX steel that’s extremely hard and durable, add to that 34 layers of stainless steel for a Damascus-style elegant look and enhanced stain resistance. We however, found the blade to be a bit brittle for hard foods.
On the bright side, it maintains the flexibility and hardness, this is achieved by higher carbon level and the perfect composition of cobalt, chromium, molybdenum and vanadium. Just like the Wusthof Classic, this blade has indentations to reduce friction and prevent slices from sticking.
Next we have the VG-10 core 6.5” Nakiri knife from Yoshihiro, which has been gaining a lot of popularity among chef’s. As one can notice from the first glance, the Damascus-style steel layers hammered to the core clearly give it an elegant look while providing much needed durability. The VG-10 steel construction helps it achieve a massive 60 on the Rockwell Scale, which surpasses most other stainless steel knives at this price.
This particular nakiri has a straighter and even edge, and the sharpness is reminiscent of the best traditional Japanese knives. Yoshikiro themselves don’t suggest using this knife on things like bones, nutshells, and frozen foods. While there are tools specialized for those purposes, this 6.5” Nakiri is perfect for chopping veggies for salads, soups or meals. Considering the brand’s prevalence and traditional opulence, you might even think of adding other selections of Yoshihiro knives.
The traditional Japanese edge is complemented with a heavily Western influenced handle. This is purely handcrafted Mahogany handle that ergonomically welds to the full tang of the knife for a firm and seamless usage. It’s a triple riveted handle, and therefore highly unlikely to break or crack even on rough usage.
The Dalstrong Phantom Series Nakiri is a story of form and function. It sports a more lightweight and nimble design than other Dalstrong series, and uses a single piece of Japanese AUS-8 steel. These knives look stealthy and gorgeous which will surely make you want to use them more. The company markets this product as mercilessly sharp, and rightly so. Its edge is carefully honed to 13-15° and then nitrogen cooled for unmatched hardness and flexibility.
This knife’s hand-polished black Spanish Pakkawood handle offers great control while adding to the aesthetics. We also liked the way the D-shaped handle ensures a firm grip and convenience while using for extended periods. The blade sits at the usual 58 HRC, and we can back its strength and edge retention capabilities after having thrown everything we possibly could at it. Apart from that, the blade’s flat shape is even good for food transfer without having to worry about it chipping or breaking.
Unfortunately, the D-shaped handle is more suited to right-handed users. So if you are left-handed, your best bet will be to look somewhere else. Besides that, you are getting one of the most luxurious looking knives without having to spend a luxurious amount of money. You also get a perfect-fit Saya style sheath and the trust of Dalstrong with its lifetime warranty.
If you believe you could do just fine with a cheap knife, we still have got you covered. The TUO Vegetable Nakiri knife costs many times less than some other products on this list, but for the money, it’s quite amazing. It uses German X50CrMov15 stainless steel, which is among the best core materials you’ll find, and makes the blade easy to maintain. The knife has a full tang construction, which is one of the first things that impressed us.
The handle is made out of composite high-density Pakkawood that fuses perfectly with the full tang of the knife. It does feel solid and comfortable when cutting veggies, meat or fruits. We believe the gentle curves and perfect length plays a key part in that. The blade itself doesn’t feature any fancy Damascus textures or indentations like the more expensive knives do, but it’s sharp, well-crafted and does its job well.
The TUO 6.5” Nakiri Knife is probably a steal in terms of price-to-quality. It looks great, is well-balanced and easy-to-clean. TUO also provides lifetime warranty on all their cutlery products which is surprising considering the prices of those. Unless the fact that it’s made in China bothers you, this is a no-brainer for the best nakiri knife on a budget.
If you want all the performance of an expensive chef’s knife but the cost stops you from getting one, Kai’s 6.5” Stainless Steel Nakiri might be for you. This nakiri knife is good news for all our left-handed readers as it’s designed for ambidextrous use. The blade is made from Daido 1K6 high-carbon steel, allowing you to make quick work of all your vegetables. The premium material also allows it to have enhanced edge retention and corrosion resistance.
As with any typical Japanese Nakiri, this blade is double beveled. Additionally, it has been bead blasted for a smooth and attractive finish. The handle is made from polypropylene, which is sturdy enough but at the end of the day it can’t compete with the steel handles on the expensive knives. The handle itself doesn’t feature any curves or grooves for your fingers to curl around, but we found it to be comfortable and we didn’t encounter any signs of slipping or sticking.
The knife comes very sharp out of the box, but you will have to perform regular sharpening/honing to ensure optimum performance down the line. For that to be in order, you must first know to identify instances that require honing as opposed to sharpening. As it’s not dishwasher safe, you’ll have to perform hand cleaning. In the end, if you’re just a beginner chef, it might not make sense to invest a lot of money on a high-end knife, and in that case the Kai Wasabi 6.5” is the best nakiri knife for you.
The Dalstrong Gladiator series uses German Steel, unlike Japanese AUS cores on the Phantom and Shogun series knives. This is among the softest steels Dalstrong uses for their cutlery at a hardness of 55+ HRC, and allows the knives to be thicker and heavier to prevent chipping. The Gladiator Series 6” vegetable knives are robust, durable, easily sharpened and are also larger to provide more knuckle clearance while chopping.
The long and even edge is hand-sharpened to a 14-16 degree angle, which is among the larger angles you’ll find on a nakiri. The softer steel coupled with an incredibly sharp blade edge makes it perfect for both beginners and professional chefs. This nakiri has a smooth and flat blade which is tempered for extra durability and is also stain and rust resistant. We found it to be great for chopping everything from vegetables to cantaloupe or even pork loin. The black Pakkawood handle is extremely comfortable for large and small hands alike.
Dalstrong provides a BPA sheath with this model, but you won’t find any belt clip on that. Nonetheless, it fits the blade perfectly and does the job of protecting the knife. And did we mention it comes in a premium packaging as well, so it’s great as a gift to someone.
The Kotobuki Teruhisa is one of the cheapest knives on this list and is great if you want an affordable multi-purpose knife for your kitchen. This Japanese nakiri has a more rounded curve at the tip, which makes it resemble a santoku knife in some respects. This also gives it a greater rocking ability thus improving the versatility you get with this one.
No doubt it’s great for chopping, slicing and dicing veggies, but the tapered shape makes it suitable for tasks like removing fish skin, boning chicken and more. Although the blade comes reasonably sharp out of the box, it’s not the hardest steel, and will dull out if you use it on a harder board. We suggest using it on a bamboo or wood cutting board with regular honing to ensure the blade stays sharp.
The Teruhisa has an unfinished Magnolia handle, which is rough to touch but is quite sturdy and water-resistant. Though it’s not full tang, we found it to be good enough for a cheap knife. You might have to oil it regularly for it to stay in optimum condition. In case you don’t like the rough texture, you can fix that easily with sanding and giving it a nice coat of polyurethane. If you’re just looking for an inexpensive and one-for-all knife, the Kotobuki seems a good option.
Regalia is receiving a lot of praise for their high Carbon Damascus line of knives. Their 6” Vegetable Nakiri is forged from premium Japanese AUS-10 steel with 66 layers of hammered Damascus steel. This gives it a beautiful wavy pattern while enhancing its corrosion and rust resistant capabilities. The AUS-10 super steel is incredibly durable and is hardened with a cryogenic nitrogen cooling process which gives it a solid 62+ HRC rating. This vegetable nakiri sports a military grade G10 handle with easy pinch-grip and a Roseta rivet, and will surely enhance the beauty of your kitchen.
Now let’s talk about the actual performance of this nakiri. It is full tang and features a flat and squared blade, which is ideal for push-cuts or transferring piles of veggies. The blade has excellent edge-retention and comes razor sharp out of the box with an 8-12 degrees angle. Its hammered finish definitely helps in reducing friction so veggies don’t stick on the surface. We also liked the fact that this knife is as balanced as we could have asked for.
We do think this nakiri is a great value, and if you’re willing to try something other than the usual Shuns, Wusthofs or Dalstrongs, the Regalia is a solid investment. It comes in a beautiful packaging as well, however we couldn’t find any blade guard for the knife. We also love the fact that they give lifetime warranty and an informative maintenance manual with this one.
Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Nakiri Knife
1. Blade Material
Blade material is the first and foremost thing you should look for. Typically, nakiri knives use stainless steel but the quality and longevity will be determined by the amount of carbon in the steel. Best nakiri knives are made from high Carbon steel which doesn’t need much maintenance, is easy to sharpen and has better edge retention. Nakiri knives forged from high carbon steel retain their edge and don’t chip even when sharpened with powerful electric knife sharpeners.
Low carbon steel is what the cheaper knives use; It’s softer, susceptible to corrosion and will require more maintenance and sharpening/honing to stay in a good condition. If you are looking for quality and longevity, you are better off sticking to high carbon steel knives. One way to ensure that your knife set be made from high-quality durable steel is to land on a brand that’s been in business for long and is seen as a reliable figure by many. Our top recommendations are Yoshihiro knives (authentic Japanese style knives made in Japan), Kamikoto knives (Japanese-style knives made from Honshu steel from the Honshu Island in Japan, manufactured in China), Cangshan knives (hybrid style designs made from German steel manufactured in China).
2. Handle Material and Ergonomics
The handle material and design vastly differ among the nakiri knives. It’s important that the handle is ergonomically shaped with proper contours or ridges for a firm and comfortable grip. Also make sure it is suited to be used with your primary hand, as some have ridges on one side. If you choose to go for a wooden handle, look for proper coating for anti-slip and moisture-resistant capabilities.
3. Blade Length
The blade length of a vegetable nakiri should be enough to cut most vegetables. We suggest having 6” or more but most nakiris come with at least a 5” blade. The products we have recommended above all have a 6 inch or more blade length.
4. Blade Finish – Plain vs. Damascus
Apart from blade material, its finish is important as well. Vegetables tend to stick to the blade surface in case of plain knives while knives made with high-end Damascus steel have indents running along the blade length giving them a wavy design. Good nakiri knives will have a hammered finish to reduce drag so food doesn’t stick to the blade while cutting. The Damascus pattern not only provides anti-sticking and rust-resistant properties, but also looks beautiful.
Nakiri knives usually have double-bevel blades, this means that they have inclined surfaces on both sides of the blades. A single-bevel knife is more sharp, delicate and requires honing on only one side, but is also harder to use. Double-beveled knives require honing on both sides and are great for beginners as they are easier to use for a wide variety of tasks. There’s a lot more to the ‘single vs double beveled knives‘ discussion for anyone that’s new to it. It’s advisable to learn their major differences so that you make the right choice per your experience and expertise.
Just because a knife is more expensive doesn’t mean it’s better than all the cheaper knives. To get the most value out of your purchase, pay close attention to all of the factors above and whether the brand offers lifetime warranty. A good high-carbon Nakiri will cost you somewhere between $100 to $200, and will typically last much longer than low carbon knives. You will find numerous customer reviews for all the products above, which might be a good indication if something is reliable or not.
If price still stays a concern for you, we’ve reviewed a separate line of inexpensive yet tough knives that you may use here. Refer this guide to browse the best ginsu knives.
7. Sharpening/Honing Options
Blades lose their sharpness over time and require regular sharpening for optimum performance. Depending on the origin, manufacturing method and materials used, it may or may not be suitable to hone the knife with a sharpening steel. This must be considered in order to ensure longevity of the knife. Harder steels should generally be sharpened using whetstones after cleaning them properly. Sharpening angle is important too: harder steels can be angled to 15 degrees while softer would require at least 20 degrees, and you should aim for as thin as you can without causing failure.
The Best Nakiri Knife – Verdict
Finding the ideal Nakiri knife shouldn’t be difficult now that you know what the top-selling and most popular products are. Some of our favourite ones among all are the Shun Classic, Wusthof Classic and Dalstrong series nakiris due to their professional and reliable performance. But we have covered some great affordable options as well that are must have for every kitchen.
Many chefs nowadays prefer having a good Nakiri knife for all vegetable cutting and chopping tasks, and it’s easy to see why. Once you get used to the speed and precision of using them, you won’t regret it.