Many people agree that a knife is the most important tool in the kitchen. It can be used for just about anything during meal prep, including chopping onions, cutting vegetables, slicing bread, and opening oysters.
That said, not all knives are made the same. There exist different types of kitchen knives for each kitchen task.
Let’s dig in.
The different types of kitchen knives and their uses
The right type of knife will give confidence in the kitchen while ensuring ease and precision with each cut. If you don’t know what type of knife to use, this article will help you find the right style of knife for each kitchen task and what you must have in your knife set.
Also known as a cook’s knife, this is the most important blade in the kitchen. This kitchen knife is the do-everything workhorse and can be found in almost every kitchen around the world. Chef’s knives are typically about 8 inches long and made from a combination of stainless steel and carbon steel.
They have a prominent point and a sloping curve with a sharp edge. This design is optimized for rocking motion cutting technique, where the knife is rocked back and forth from tip to heel. The item you intend to cut is always in the middle and there’s a different part of the knife in contact with the cutting board with each cutting movement.
If you are looking to buy a chef’s knife, make sure it’s made from one solid metal (full tang) and fully forged. These types of knives are far more durable and long-lasting than cheaper options that are partially tanged. Chefs’ knives are great for slicing bread, peeling fruits, and cleaving bones.
The santoku knife is one of the most popular Japanese knives in the Western kitchen. If you prefer a smaller, lighter blade, a Santoku knife is a great choice for your cutting needs. Similar to a western-style chef’s knife, a Santoku knife is a multipurpose blade and an all-rounder that can be used for slicing, dicing and mincing.
The santoku knife is used for both fine and quick mincing of meat, fish, and vegetables. It has a flat blade that works well in an up-and-down rocking motion just like the chef’s knife. However, santoku knives are lighter and smaller. They are characterized by a single edge that gradually curves towards the tip. This makes santoku knives easy to use for slicing and dicing, which is why santoku knives are often called multi-purpose santoku knives.
Santoku knives are manufactured from stainless steel, carbon steel, and high-carbon steel. Carbon steel santoku knives have higher levels of durability and can be sharpened on both sides.
A boning knife is used to separate meat from the bone, cutting up meat and filleting fish. Some smaller boning knives can be used for peeling and trimming vegetables instead of a paring knife. A boning knife is typically 3 ½ to 7 inches in length with an edge that tapers from the handle to the tip of the blade.
A boning knife is used less for slicing and more for cutting between muscle fibers and removing meat from bones, especially where a saw would be impractical or ungainly.
A bread knife also referred to as a serrated bread knife, is a flat-edged bread knife that has teeth along the entire edge of the blade. Bread knives are used to cut bread without crushing or squishing it.
A bread knife measures between 7 and 10 inches long and belongs to the longer spectrum of kitchen knives. In terms of design, a bread knife has a rounded tip and serrated teeth along the entire cutting edge of the blade used for catching bread bits while cutting.
A cleaver knife, also known as a butcher’s knife, is an often short-bladed knife with a large straight blade designed for cutting through meat and bone. The original cleavers were made from forged carbon steel in varying weights depending on the duties they would be expected to perform. Modern cleavers are often made from stamped stainless steel or some other alloy, with handles made from wood, plastic, or horn.
A paring knife is a small, bladed knife that is used for peeling and other small or delicate work. Paring knives are usually between 4 and 7 inches long. The design of the paring knife has not changed significantly since its invention.
The blade usually extends from the handle at a slight angle which increases the control the user has during use. It is suited for paring, peeling, and other small tasks where more control is needed than a larger chef’s knife or a utility knife can provide.
Steak knives are sometimes called steak slicers, carving knives, or carvers and can be approximately 8 ¼ to 9 inches in length in length. They are usually made of high-grade stainless steel, have a wooden handle, and feature rivets to hold the blade. They typically have a sharp point and a serrated edge to cut through different types of meat like pork, lamb and steak.
A fillet knife is a type of knife with a thin sharp blade used to fillet fish. Filleting knives are usually six inches (15 cm) to eleven inches (28 cm) long and taper to a very sharp, fine tip. A fillet knife is very similar to a boning knife, except filleting knives are longer and less rigid than boning knives.
A utility knife has many names including box cutter, razor blade, carpet knife, and Stanley knife. A utility knife is a small knife with a plain edge blade that is ideal for utility or general-purpose use.
It is different from other knives because of the retractable blade which makes it more portable. It is perfect for trimming, slicing, and filleting owing to its narrow blade which is suitable for handling such tasks. However, it is not great for large slicing or chopping.