Even if you don’t work in a kitchen environment for a living, you more than likely spend a great deal of time in the kitchen – washing dishes, preparing meals and tidying up. If you have a large family, you may find yourself spending more time in your kitchen than other areas of the house!
Our favorite kitchen shoe to throw on for any kitchen duty is the Birkenstock Professional Unisex Slip Resistant Work Shoe. We can’t go past the convenience of being able to throw them into the dishwasher, and find that they are comfortable and long-lasting, offering the best value for money on our list.
Professional chef or regular, at-home cook, if you’re on your feet in the kitchen for any period, it’s important to ensure you are comfortable and safe. A big part of this is choosing the right footwear.
The kitchen environment requires special consideration when it comes to footwear, particularly if you plan to be in there regularly or for long periods.
Our best kitchen shoe guide explores exactly what to look for when purchasing footwear, and shows you five of the best options available for any need.
Top 5: Best Shoes For Kitchen Work
Conditions in a professional kitchen are fast-paced, results-oriented, and slippery. But you don’t have to be a top chef or a waiter in a busy restaurant to experience the benefits of a great pair of shoes for use in the kitchen.
Grease, soapy water, and spills on tiled or linoleum floors can lead to dangerous conditions in any kitchen environment, not to mention the chance of hot liquid or sharp kitchen tools falling onto your feet!
Of course, working in a restaurant or cooking a hearty meal also means being on your feet for hours, so you’ll need a supportive, comfortable shoe.
- Should you buy a clog-style shoe or slip-ons?
- Do you have to sacrifice comfort for safety and style for convenience?
In this guide, we will explore what makes a great shoe for working in a kitchen, whether at home or in a professional capacity, so you can enjoy your time in the kitchen for as long as you choose.
1. Birkenstock Professional Unisex Slip Resistant Work Shoe
Birkenstocks are a famed name when it comes to a good, reliable work shoe. Worn and appreciated by people who are on their feet all day – like nurses and restaurant workers – these professional work shoes are up there as one of our top picks.
Made from polyurethane, this shoe values function over form; it is not the most stylish of shoes, but if you’re only wearing it in your own kitchen, does it really matter?
These unisex shoes provide a 1.5-inch heel, which is important to give your foot a layer of cushioning between the tender sole and the harsh, unforgiving floor of your kitchen.
The outer sole is lined with a pattern to prevent slipping.
The best part of these shoes is that they are dishwasher safe! Working in a busy kitchen, it’s far too easy to drop all manner of liquids and solids over your feet.
Instead of being careful and trying to avoid this, what a relief to be able to remove the insole and throw the whole shoe into the dishwasher whenever you want!
The Birkenstock Unisex Profi Work Shoe needs a bit of time to contour to your foot. It’s not a shoe that you will put on and instantly feel like you’re walking on a cloud. In fact, you’ll most likely find that you have a period of discomfort to begin with.
However, if you persist in wearing in these shoes gradually and push through the teething period – which usually takes around two weeks – your feet will mold to the sole and you should find them rather heavenly to wear.
Wearing these kitchen shoes can drastically reduce both foot and back pain.
Many users find it difficult to match the correct foot size without trying a pair first; we recommended ordering down at least one size, as they tend to run big.
They are great for wider feet, but if your feet are narrower than average, you might struggle to find a pair to fit snugly enough.
People with high arches find the support great, but if you tend to more of a flat foot, you may find the design uncomfortable.
All in all, the Birkenstocks are a thoughtfully designed shoe which are easy to slip on and off quickly, are sturdy and long lasting, and provide a great slip-free sole which should suit most kitchen users.
2. Dansko Women’s Professional Tooled Clog
The Dansko Women’s Professional Tooled Clog is a slight improvement – style-wise – over the Birkenstock, purely because of the rather pretty design features across the surface.
As helpful as this can be if you are concerned about having ugly shoes, it doesn’t impact the comfort or practicality of the shoe in any way.
As opposed to the synthetic material of the Birkenstock, these Dansko shoes are made of leather, with a synthetic sole.
The heel is quite pronounced at 2 inches, while the overall platform is around 0.75 inches.
As with the Birkenstock shoe, there is strong arch support, which is great for some but can cause issues for flat-footed wearers.
You will need to wear these shoes in for a few hours a day to begin with; the material feels quite stiff and can be painful until it starts to mold to your feet, particularly across the bridge.
There is good grip on the bottom and plenty of room for the toes.
These shoes do feel a bit heavier than the Birkenstocks, so bear that in mind if you plan to be spending extra time in the kitchen; any extra weight will add to the stress on your feet.
You may also find that the design of this shoe provides very little ankle support, and with the higher platform and heel, you might get a lot of ankle roll and further injury. If you have weak ankles, consider the Townforst Women’s Slip Ons or Emeril Lagasse shoes for men.
Sizing can be tricky with Dansko shoes; if you have the option, go to a store and get professionally fitted before placing your order.
The Dansko is a quality shoe, but when measured up against the similarly-styled but cheaper Birkenstock, we feel it is a slightly inferior choice. It can’t be thrown in the dishwasher, and the materials are slightly less forgiving and comfortable.
However, if you’re attracted to the pretty design and prefer the look of this shoe, you should find them comfortable and easy enough to gently wipe down at the end of the day.
3. Dansko Men’s Pro XP Mule
This is the men’s version of the above product; it lacks the pretty design of the women’s, instead, favoring a plain, sleek and basic look.
Also made from leather and featuring a synthetic sole, this men’s mule has a 1-inch platform and 2-inch heel.
There is a removable memory foam cushioned insole and a high toe box, so plenty of room to move around.
Working in a kitchen in enclosed shoes can lead to rather unpleasant foot odors at the end of the day, so Dansko have provided a leather sock liner for a bit of extra airflow to help with that issue.
Slip-wise, these shoes are fantastic and have great traction on even the sleekest and greasiest of surfaces.
As with all our clog-style shoes listed, you’ll need to factor in a gradual breaking-in period of around two weeks before you start to experience the full comfort and convenience; persist through the initial discomfort to get the benefits.
Some wearers have found this style tends to be a tad narrow across the top of the foot and can run a little too tight, so if you have a wider foot, this may not be the shoe for you.
One downside of leather is that it tends to scuff and mark easily, so although the Dansko shoe may last you a good amount of time, it will look well-used quite quickly.
Dansko clogs offer both men and women a well-cushioned interior, excellent arch support, and a lightweight yet slip-resistant sole.
Depending on your size requirements and color choices, these shoes can be expensive. However, they’re extremely long-lasting and offer terrific protection for your feet.
4. Townforst® Women’s Slip and Oil Resistant Jess Work Shoes (No Slip)
Moving away from clog-style shoes, Townforst offer a comfortable and stylish work shoe that look nice enough to be worn out of the kitchen with pride.
These slip-on shoes have cushioned insoles and are made from real leather with stitched accents.
The leather is much more flexible and resistant than in the Dansko clogs – it molds and moves with your feet and feels soft and comfortable. You won’t need a wearing-in period with this lightweight shoe.
This is a great option for the flat-footed people. Whereas the top three listed above have strong arch support which may cause discomfort for flat feet, these provide very little arch support. Those who need extra support can add their own inserts.
Townforst have gone all out to ensure the ultimate in slip-resistant technology. They use a special rubber compound that grips onto the microscopic texture of any floor surface and use a patented channeling tread pattern to push liquid away from the sole.
The one downside we’ve noticed is that due to lack of airflow, your feet (and the shoes) tend to get smelly pretty quickly.
With the light leather, you’re not going to get much protection if you drop sharp or heavy objects on your feet – but the trade-off is a super comfortable and light shoe.
We think these shoes are a top pick for the average home cook. They are so comfortable you’ll probably wear them all over the house, as well as out to the supermarket and maybe even to work.
They are truly non-slip and you’re much less likely to roll your ankle than if you choose to wear clogs.
Although not dish-washer proof like the Birkenstock clogs, they can be wiped down with a damp cloth for easy cleaning.
5. Emeril Lagasse Men’s Slip-Resistant Work Shoe
Emeril Lagasse offer a work shoe that has a lot more style than the average clog or mule – if that’s an important consideration for you.
These shoes look like an ankle boot, providing more ankle support for those who need it.
A feature we’re not such a fan of is the laces. When working in a hazardous environment like a kitchen, you may spill something hot and sticky onto your feet and want to get your shoes off in a real hurry to ease the pain. Laces will be a huge hindrance.
These men’s work shoes are made from leather with a rubber sole They are both oil and slip resistant.
The outer sole uses a grooved rubber pattern with a unique design to move liquid away from the shoe.
There is a memory foam insole for comfort and the shoe itself is very lightweight.
Although leather is known to absorb odors and liquids, Emeril Lagasse use a coating system that they claim repels liquid and stains.
They also implement specially treated linings to reduce foot odor – although, after a few months, these shoes, unfortunately, may start to smell quite potent, so we question if the lining is very long-lived.
Although these shoes do look a lot more attractive than the average work shoe and are something you’d quite happily wear outside of the kitchen, they don’t really seem to function over the long haul.
They start off comfortable and practical, but even with appropriate care and mild use, you may find your pair starting to fall apart within six months.
Caring For Your Shoes
If you spend your days walking across floors that may be wet, covered in a light film of grease, or scattered with food particles, you will need to build a cleaning regimen for your work shoes.
It’s a good idea to engage in this ritual at the start of the work week so you can work in safety and confidence all week long.
- First, monitor the tread cuts in your shoes. This can easily be done with a small, narrow-bladed screwdriver or other pointy (but not sharp) tool. You don’t want to cut your shoe tread or alter the pattern. Remove any food particles or debris you find.
- Secondly, add a squirt of dish soap to a shallow dish pan and add water to cover just the soles.
- Soak the soles of your kitchen shoes for 15 minutes, then give the shoe tread a quick brush with a stiff-bristled cleaning brush.
- Rinse away the soapy water and wipe down the soles with a paper towel.
- Set your shoes on a layer of paper towels and allow them to dry completely before your shift.
When selecting the right soap for this project, take care to avoid any products that contain bleach or offer any sort of whitening capabilities as you may accidentally discolor the shoe.
Wipe down the upper of your shoe with a damp cloth. Don’t use soap unless you have to, and review manufacturer recommendations to make sure you don’t use a product that will ruin the look of your shoe.
Once your shoes are clean, using a shoe spray or shoe powder can keep your shoes smelling fresh at work.
Any time you’re working on your feet, keeping them well-supported and adequately cushioned will protect your knees, hips, spine, and posture.
Kitchen work can be hard labor. Moving large platters of food, heavy tubs of dirty dishes and hot pots full of stock require a strong footing. From this sturdy base, you can accomplish what you need to do, protect your health and keep your co-workers or family safe.
If you’re after a reliable pair of shoes you can slip into quickly with the knowledge they’ll keep you sure-footed and comfortable for hours in the kitchen, consider purchasing our preferred design, the Birkenstock Professional Unisex Slip Resistant Work Shoe.