12 Best Kitchen Shoes in 2022, According to Chefs & Waiters
After reviewing 42 pairs of shoes, the best kitchen shoes are the Dansko Jacksons (men) and Skechers RelaxedFit Work Shoe (women).
Our team spoke to more than 40 chefs, hobbyists, and caterers. We tested and reviewed loafers, sneakers, clogs, and mules. We looked for qualities like spill-resistance, comfort, and grip.
Keep reading to find the most supportive, breathable, comfortable shoes for your cooking or serving!
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Table of Contents
Best All-around Shoes (Men)
These might be loafers, but they have an athletic sole and footbed. The molded foam (EVA) midsole provides shock absorption and energy return. The removable, triple-density EVA footbed comes with arch (TPU) and heel stabilizers to minimize sore feet and injuries.
Our testers report that walking in these Danskos felt like walking on air. Their orthotic features support the medial arch, preventing foot fatigue and discomfort. Reviewers confirm this, reporting that the Danskos feel comfortable even if you’re on your feet all day.
The shoe has a relaxed fit and a wide toe box so there’s room for an insole. If you need extra support, you can insert custom orthotics.
The leather upper is easy to clean and gorgeous to look at. It is water-resistant and supple enough to keep your toes safe. The leather is easy to care for with a simple polish. Despite being comfortable, the shoe looks good enough for front-of-house work.
These shoes have a slip-resistant outsole that holds up on oil and water. We tested them on smooth, wet surfaces in-store and can confirm they grip well.
Some customers have reported issues with sizing, so we would suggest ordering half size up. Note that the back heel is loose on purpose – the shoe is supposed to slip slightly.
- Provides shock absorption
- Prevents foot fatigue
- Water-resistant leather
- Slip-resistant outsole
- Issues with sizing
Best All-around Shoes (Women)
These Skechers performed the best out of all the women’s shoes we tested. They’re our #1 overall choice for women.
The outsole is flexible nitrile rubber. It’s bouncy enough to cushion your foot and flexible enough to let it move freely. It has an athletic shape with flex grooves and excellent grip. It feels like a sneaker outsole, comfortable and practical for long shifts on your feet.
As Skechers shoes, these lean more towards walking comfort. They have a quality memory foam midsole and an asymmetric toe box. The former provides extra cushioning, the latter – wiggle room.
This wiggle room, combined with the shoe’s RelaxedFit design, makes for a roomy fit. You can move your foot freely, improving the foot’s range of motion and posture. This is a shoe you can wear all day long without ever feeling constrained or limited by it.
The beautiful leather upper is easy to clean and will keep your toes safe. The shoe may not be suitable for front-of-house work in fancier restaurants. Other than that it’s perfect for serving, catering, back-of-house work, and home cooking.
Some customers advise to get these Skechers half a size up, although for most they were true to size.
- Provides excellent grip
- Improves the foot’s range of motion
Best Shoes for Home Cooking Indoors (Men)
This chef clog is our favorite for home cooking. Inexpensive, easy to clean, and with patented slip resistance tech. They’re safe, slip-proof, comfy and easy to slip in and out of in seconds. A solid choice for the home.
The VANGELOs sport an ultra-light foam body (EVA). This provides cushioning and molds to your foot over time. Our testers commend it highly; reviewers suggest it’s comfortable to wear for hours. We rate the foam’s overall feel and foot support highly.
The toe box is wide and asymmetrical, so the clogs are easy to walk and stand in. They let the foot move freely and naturally and never chafe or constrain your feet. This also means your feet are well ventilated, preventing sweating and foot odor.
The VANGELOs are easy to clean inside and out. They even come with removable and washable insoles! And when those wear out, you can get new insoles, again and again, helping these clogs serve you for years.
The outsole is a combination of nano-ceramic and rubber. It felt grippier than most other non-slip soles in our test. The materials used are even resistant to hot oil, which is exactly what we need in a kitchen.
We would advise you to buy half to one size up to make sure you get the best fit. Vangelo’s slip-resistant clogs for men are also a perfect choice for medium to wide-width feet.
- Prevents sweating
- Issues with sizing
Best Shoes for Home Cooking Indoors (Women)
This Alegria’s model is inexpensive and seriously comfy. It has a padded collar that’s comfortable and secure on-foot. The elastic gore panel makes the shoe easy to put on and take off, which is great when you have busy (or dirty) hands.
The footbed is ergonomically designed to fit the natural contour of your feet. This feature makes all the difference when you spend hours on your feet. The footbed is removable (easy cleaning) with arch support. You can insert custom orthotics for even more support.
The build of the shoe is light, lighter than other clogs. Our reviewers commented on how comfortable they felt, even when worn for many hours on end.
These clogs are slip-resistant and also a joy to look at as they come in many jolly colors. So, while they might not be suitable for every restaurant, they can certainly be enjoyed at home.
With a leather upper, lining, and insole, these shoes are stain-resistant and easy to clean. The insoles are also removable. This means less odors and more foot hygiene. You can also replace them when they wear out, making this a pair of clogs that will be with you for years to come.
- Slip-resistant and stain-resistant
Best for Catering (Men)
These Keen Utility Men’s shoes are what we might call “an athletic clog”. This means they combine a good fit, cushioned support and spill-proof qualities.
According to our testers, these shoes offer incredible arch support. The stability shank means they last a while, improve your gait and keep you injury-free. Catering comes with a lot of mileage, so this feature made these Keens stand out for our reviewers.
The elastic panel and the compression-molded EVA midsole cushions your feet. Reviewers have used the words “like walking on air” which is perfect for a day spent standing, walking, and running around.
The two-part construction keeps the heel locked and supported while letting your feet breathe. The combination of recycled polyurethane, cork, and memory foam contours and cushions your feet. It also molds to your feet over time.
The Keen Utility Men’s PTC Slip-ON II-M are both oil- and slip-resistant with a deep tread and a non-marking outsole. The leather upper is easy to clean, as well as waterproof and stain-resistant.
The footbed is removable and the inner lining is also leather. Cleaning and condition these Keens regularly and they will serve you, scuff and dirt-free, for years.
- Offers arch support
- Oil- and slip-resistant
- Waterproof and stain-resistant
Best for Catering (Women)
These shoes are sporty and comfortable. The footbed is removable and contoured. The midsole is EVA foam giving you durability, comfort and support.
The padded collar is comfortable. The lining in these moccasins is mesh, providing breathability and feeling soft on the feet.
The molded arch shank makes the sole supportive and stable. The outsoles have strong traction inside and outside the kitchen. The deep sole treads goes all the way to the toe box for extra grip and toe protection.
This Merrell shoe has removable insoles you can wash or replace when they wear out. You can also wear custom orthotics if you need some extra support.
The leather upper is spill-free and beautiful. It is easy to clean and care for. Just apply some leather cleaner and conditioner regularly and it should last for years.
According to customers’ reviews, the Merrell Women’s Encore Nova 4 Moccasins are light but sturdy and durable.
- Provides extra grip
- Provides toe protection
Best Back-of-house Shoes Unisex (Best Value)
These crocs were designed with food service in mind. The footbed has excellent cushioning and keeps the clogs light, giving you support and comfort. The adjustable heel strap keeps the shoe firm on foot.
The LiteRide foam insoles are light, supple, and durable. According to our testers, they’re perfect for walking walk in. The foam outsole has a soft feel to it and is light on the feet.
The upper is open spill-proof. The open back makes these Crocs breathable. The forefoot area is thicker, protecting your toes from spills and injuries.
The shoe’s roomy fit means you can use your custom inserts for extra support and comfort. The toe box is asymmetrical, allowing for extra wiggle room and comfort while walking and standing.
The Crocs Bistro clogs are fully molded, which makes them easy to clean with soap and water. They’re also slip-resistant, keeping you steady on your feet with the Crocs Lock slip-resistant treads.
- Spill-proof upper
Best Back-of-house Shoes Unisex (Best Premium)
These Birkenstocks are exactly what you expect them to be: sturdy, comfortable and light. The Original Birkenstock cork footbed supports the foot and distributes weight. By improving foot posture, it reduces foot fatigue.
The cork molds to your feet over time, becoming more comfortable with age. The outsoles are non-slip. The adjustable heel and secondary front buckle keeps these clogs nice and tight on-foot.
The toe box is nice and wide. So is the shoe’s base and forefoot area. These clogs are comfortable to walk, stand and cook in. The leather upper is very soft, and these clogs will have you looking very stylish.!
Some customers suggest getting a size down, as they tend to be a bit loose.
- Supports the foot
- Reduces foot fatigue
- Non-slip outsoles
- Tends to be a bit loose
Best Front-of-house Shoes (Men)
According to the company, this kitchen work shoe has beaten the “industry average for comfort and cushioning” in independent lab testing. We second that! Their build is light and flexible, and the midsole moves with your foot for extra comfort.
The high-rebound midsole also distributes weight, reduces foot pressure and absorbs shock. The footbed is made out of memory foam. Together with the anti-compression insole, it gives the shoe a cushioned, comfy feel.
Dr. Scholl’s Shoes Men’s Harrington II are breathable, with moisture-wicking lining and odor control. This means you can wear them all day and your feet will be nice and fresh when you get off work.
The rubber sole of these shoes is oil- and slip-resistant, even on vinyl tiles. They don’t mark, either. The leather upper is easy to clean and looks presentable when cared for properly.
- Light and flexible build
- Anti-compression insole
- Oil- and slip-resistant sole
- Provides odor control
Best Front-of-house Shoes (Women)
Doc Martens are known for their comfortable, durable shoes. These classic Mary Janes are no exception. They’re supportive, with a memory foam footbed that cushions your feet. The toe box is roomier than it looks, giving you plenty of wiggle room.
The upper is made out of industrial, full-grain leather. This leather is spill-resistant, stylish and easy to care for. Just use a damp cloth and polish them from time to time.
The shoes are slip- and spill-resistant. They sport a patented slip-resistant outsole. This outsole dissipates fluid on impact, giving you strong grip on slippery surfaces.
When ordering, gear towards half a size down to make sure you enjoy the best fit.
- Slip- and spill-resistant
- Memory foam footbed
- Full-grain leather
- Issues with sizing
Best for Outdoor Kitchens/Patios/Verandas (Men)
The Men’s M3850s are highly stable, with an EVA arch-supporting midsole. The insole is perforated EVA with a heel cushion, and our testers loved how comfortable it felt. The footbed is removable and washable so you can use custom orthotics if you’d like.
The rubber outsole is slip-resistant, with good traction on kitchen and outdoor surfaces. According to our reviewers, the slip-proof sole holds up well indoors and outdoors.
The upper is machine washable. You can choose between leather or suede for this model. Both are water-repellant, which makes the shoe stain-resistant and durable for outdoor kitchen work.
The Propéts come with a stretchable neoprene collar, coming on and off easily. They’re available in 4 different widths – Medium, Wide, Extra Wide, and Double Wide. This helps achieve the best fit possible, and ensures the model is stable on your feet.
- Available in 4 different widths
Best for Outdoor Kitchens/Patios/Verandas (Women)
These Propét Women’s TravelActiv Slide shoes look and feel like a sneaker. The upper is waterproof and stain-resistant mesh. It’s easy to clean with a wet cloth, though you may have to use soda on oil stains.
The Travel Activ may have the best cushioning of all the models we tried for this article. The midsole is supportive and cushioned; the insole is orthotic. The latter is also removable, so you can use your custom orthotics for even more stability and comfort.
The slip-resistance in the Propét Women’s TravelActiv Slide Sneakers is moderate. It does well on outdoor surfaces but not on smooth, slippery ones. Be careful not to wear these in indoor kitchens with wet floors.
The lacing system of the Propét Women’s TravelActiv Slide Sneaker is easy, making the shoe easy to remove. This is a sturdy, comfortable shoe that’s good for outdoor (and dry indoor) surfaces. It’s durable and washable, making it a good choice for patios, verandas, etc.
- Waterproof upper
- Stain-resistant mesh
- The best cushioning
- Easy lacing system
- Moderate slip-resistance
Buying Guide - What to Look for When Buying Best Kitchen Shoes
Many restaurants demand their employees wear shoes with a non-slip sole that complies with OSHA safety standards. If you work in a venue, you have to look for shoes that have that.
If you’re cooking elsewhere, you still want your shoes to be slip-resistant. Liquids spill, things get messy and you don’t want to trip over or fall down. You also want to feel stable when you’re moving around; nobody wants to slide around sharp knives and boiling pans.
There are two main reasons to look for spill-proof shoes.
First, you don’t want anything hot getting on your feet. It’s not uncommon for people working in kitchens to get serious burns and we want to avoid that.
Second, having food and other substances getting inside your shoe is unhygienic and nasty. It can make shoes sticky and gross.
So we need shoes that are spill-proof. This means closed clogs, waterproof mesh, or spill-proof leather and suede. The messier the environment you’re working in, the more protection you need. Some industry professionals go so far as to suggest wellies!
Easy to Clean
Like we mention above, cooking gets messy. If you want to keep your shoes clean and in good condition, they need to be easy to clean.
Spill-proof, water-resistant uppers are usually easy to clean. There are, however, some notable exceptions. For example, mesh shoes can be spill-proof but very difficult to clean.
Ideally, look for shoes you can clean with just wet wipes. If this is impossible, look for machine-washable models and get two pairs. That way you can wear one while washing and drying the other.
If your shoes have no ventilation, your feet will quickly get hot and sweaty. This feels yucky, makes your feet slide around inside the shoe and can lead to blisters. That’s why we want a woven mesh upper, an open clog, or perforated suede and leather.
On the inside, we want a ventilated footbed, breathable padding and moisture-wicking wherever possible. Any other features that improve breathability, like a wide ankle collar, are also good.
Foot Support and Cushioning
Cooking, especially for hours on end, will tire your feet out. When that happens, your feet go flat. Your ankles and knees take over some of their work, giving you bad posture.
According to our team doctors, this leads to pain, discomfort and even long-term joint problems. That’s why we want plenty of support and cushioning in our shoe.
Support will keep our feet well-aligned and give them a healthy posture. It’ll keep our knees, hips and back aligned too. If your feet are problematic to begin with, e.g. because of plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, etc, support becomes especially important.
Cushioning will reduce striking and standing impact. It’ll make being upright easier on the body, and prevent you from getting quite tired in the first place. The one thing we don’t want is mushy, extra-soft soles; if your feet sink deep into your shoes, that’s too much cushioning.
Style is another important feature for kitchen shoes. If you work in a restaurant, you’ll need to match its dress code. This is especially important for front-of-house work, but also in back-of-house jobs.
Most chef shoes come in black. Some restaurants will allow blues and browns, even whites. If you’re working front-of-house and spend most of your time with customers, you won’t have the option to wear casual clogs or mules.
If you’re catering or cooking at home, you can be a little more flexible.
Our top pick for men is the Dansko Jackson. has the roomy fit of a clog, the sole of an athletic shoe and the upper of a dress shoe. It provides the perfect combination of comfort, support and style.
For women, we like the Skechers RelaxedFit model. It’s stylish, with a best-in-class athletic outsole and and an easy-to-clean upper. It’s also great value-for-money.
For our other top choices, check out the rest of the page above!
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