Ah, the kitchen knife. Truly one of the most underrated elements in any successful culinary venture, but with so many types of kitchen knives to choose from, how on earth are you supposed to know what each one is for?
Whether you’re an experienced home cook or a newly hired line chef at a five-star restaurant, having the right knife for the job can make all the difference and make your life easier.
But with so many different types of kitchen knives available to choose from, each designed for specific tasks and with particular cuts in mind… how do you know which knife will best help you tackle your favorite dishes?
Well… stop worrying and get your shit together because, by this post’s end, you’ll receive a Ph.D. in kitchen knife types to show off to all your imaginary friends. (Disclaimer: The Ph.D. doesn’t exist, but if you REALLY want one – email us, and we’ll see what we can do)
To quote Mr. T, enough “Jibber Jabber,” buckle up, sharpen those blades (metaphorically speaking), and let’s get slicing and go over the types of kitchen knives!
Why Having The Right Knife Is Important
The right kitchen knife is integral, not just because it’s the closest thing most of us have to a superpower. Sure, slicing through anything like butter without actually using butter makes your food prep faster, but having the right knife can also seriously up your presentation game.
A sharp and well-balanced knife can transform everyday ingredients into a delicious masterpiece worthy of a five-star restaurant or an Instagram post, at least!
A well-designed sharp knife can make cutting and slicing much easier and more efficient, reducing the time and effort required to prepare ingredients. Cause who wants to sit there for hours crying while cutting onions?
Different knives are designed for different tasks, and using the right blade for the job can help you achieve more precise and consistent results. A chef’s knife is great for chopping vegetables, while a paring knife is better suited for peeling and coring – but you knew that already, right? Please say yes.
A good quality knife that is properly maintained and sharpened is less likely to slip or catch while in use, which reduces the risk of injury while working in the kitchen. And we know you love your fingers.
Using a comfortable and well-balanced knife in your hand can make cutting less tiring and more enjoyable. Who doesn’t want to be comfy? Seriously. It’s 2023.
Using the right knife can also impact the appearance of your dishes, allowing you to create more visually appealing and impressive meals. Unless you’re making food for yourself, you can make shit look ugly.
What did we learn? Having the right knife for the job is essential for any cook or chef. Good. Thankfully we won’t have to get it tattooed on your arm. Moving along now.
The West vs. The East
If you’ve ever been stuck in the adult aisle at a grocery store, you know that kitchen knives can be confusing. Especially when you factor in East vs. West – and I’m not talking Chuck Norris vs. Bruce Lee.
There are Western-style kitchen knives, and there are Japanese Knife Types.
These two types of knives have some major differences – and it’s not just their distinct aesthetics.
The main difference between Western Style Knives and Japanese Style Knives is their blade construction and design. Western-style knives typically have heavier, thicker blades with curved edges, making them well-suited for chopping and heavy-duty tasks. On the other hand, Japanese knives have thinner, lighter blades with a straighter edge, allowing for more precise cutting and slicing.
Must-Have Kitchen Knives For Every Self-Respecting Chef
Every cook worth their salt knows that kitchen knives are the foundation of a well-stocked, functional kitchen. And a kitchen drawer should always have the essential kitchen knives.
Not only will they make a cook’s life so much easier, but having them will also add an air of sophistication to any culinary act.
What exactly makes up the” essential knife set?”
The Chefs Knife or Gyuto Knife
Wüsthof Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
An essential and adaptable tool that both amateur cooks and professional chefs alike value. Crafted from a singular piece of high-carbon stainless steel, this German-manufactured kitchen essential exhibits outstanding durability, strength, and precision, meeting the most stringent quality criteria.
According to a survey conducted in the United States, consumers were asked about their preferred cutlery products for purchase within the next 12 months. The results indicated that 47.8% of respondents were most inclined to purchase a chef’s knife if they were to make a cutlery purchase during that period.
Sure, there are a lot of other knives in the kitchen drawer, but this is the Swiss Army Knife of blades – you can do everything with it. When thinking about a chef’s knife, try thinking about Popeye without his can of spinach – yeah, not going to happen.
So no matter if you have just one or a collection of knives in your kitchen, remember the most important one: The Chefs Knife or Gyuto knife!
- A Chefs Knife or Gyuto Knife typically ranges from 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm) in length.
The Paring knife or Petty Knife
WÜSTHOF Classic 3.5″ Paring Knife
A small yet mighty knife, offering exceptional control and maneuverability for intricate tasks like peeling, trimming, and shaping fruits and vegetables.
But no, it’s a multi-use tool that can transform any ingredient into something ready to be cooked. Trust us. We know what we’re talking about. Paring knives are heavily relied upon by professional cooks and those who need to get the job done quickly yet effectively.
Plus, they will only take up a little room in your kitchen drawer!
- A Paring knife or Petty Knife typically ranges from 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm) in length.
The Bread Knife / Pankiri Knife
WÜSTHOF Classic 8″ Bread Knife
Boasting a serrated edge that effortlessly glides through crusty pieces of bread, allowing for clean and precise slices without crushing or tearing the delicate texture.
If you ever find yourself stuck in a situation where you must elegantly and gracefully slice through thick-crusted bread, then the bread knife or pankiri in Japan is here to help!
While a bread knife may not remind us of graceful baking endeavors. that honor goes to its much more attractive cousin, the spatula. But what the bread knife lacks in looks, it more than makes up for utility – no longer will your loaves endure the indignity of being crushed while being cut.
Bread Knives are just awesome. Its serrated edge and sturdy handle will easily cut through even the toughest crusts, leaving its inner contents deliciously intact. And unlike regular knives, it won’t get too crumby when slicing through the crunchy exteriors.
- A Bread Knife or Pankiri Knife typically ranges from 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm) in length.
Other Common Knives That Can Help
The Cleaver Knife
Wüsthof Classic 9″ Cleaver
A heavyweight workhorse, perfect for heavy-duty tasks such as breaking down bones and cutting through tough cuts of meat with its thick, sturdy blade.
The cleaver knife is a kitchen staple and an essential tool for every home cook. But just because it can hack through anything, you don’t have to be afraid of it in your hands!
It’s surprisingly simple to get the hang of and is actually quite comforting when you need a bit of stress relief – take out any frustrations with the end of a carrot!
That said, the versatility of this knife should be noticed – whether it’s chopping, slicing, dicing, or mincing, nothing compares to having the right implement in hand.
- A Cleaver Knife typically ranges from 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) in length.
The Carving Knife
WÜSTHOF Classic 9″ Hollow Edge Carving Knife
Specifically designed for carving and slicing roasted meats, delivering clean and thin slices that enhance the presentation and ensure an enjoyable dining experience.
Carving a turkey at the Thanksgiving table is an art, and the tool of every great artist is their signature brush, or in this case, carving knife.
If you think about it, a carving knife has to do a lot of heavy lifting throughout its career – from slicing through tough ham joints to delicately filleting that Christmas Turkey; it’s a true hero in the kitchen.
But watch out – this bad boy isn’t to be messed with because it can cause major injury if used improperly! All jokes aside, though, having the right carving knife is essential for any culinary masterpiece, so save some extra room in your drawer.
- A Carving Knife typically ranges from 8 to 14 inches (20 to 35 cm) in length.
The Utility Knife
WÜSTHOF Classic 6″ Utility Knife
Serves as a versatile and all-purpose tool, ideal for slicing, dicing, and trimming a wide range of ingredients, including fruits, vegetables, and smaller cuts of meat.
On the surface, it may seem like a traditional kitchen knife isn’t much fun, but a utility knife makes up for its lack of flair with reliability and form. These all-purpose utensils are indispensable for everyday kitchen tasks, from prepping veggies to slicing cheese for your kid’s lunch.
While those flashy chef knives may look nice sitting on the countertop, utility knives are the most underrated heroes in the kitchen – they don’t get enough credit!
- A Utility Knife typically ranges from 4 to 7 inches (10 to 18 cm) in length.
The Boning Knife
WÜSTHOF Classic 6″ Boning Knife
A specialized knife, featuring a thin and flexible blade that excels at removing bones from poultry, meat, and fish, allowing for precise and efficient deboning.
Are you looking for the perfect kitchen essential to make meat prepping a breeze? Look no further than the boning knife! A boning knife’s narrow blade means that you can easily maneuver around bones with ease, and its sharpness means snippets of your fingers won’t be making it into the mix.
Plus, by adding a boning knife to your collection, you can finally up your brunch game: impress your friends while they’re busily hollandaising; you’ll already be halfway through de-boning that leftover turkey.
Both solid or flexible blades are available but ultimately comes down to personal preference and the type of meat you’ll be working with.
- A Bongin Knife typically ranges from 5 to 7 inches (12.5 to 18 cm) in length.
The Peeling Knife
WÜSTHOF Classic 2.75″ Peeling Knife
A small and nimble knife designed specifically for peeling fruits and vegetables, ensuring precise and effortless peeling with its sharp and maneuverable blade.
A peeling knife is an essential kitchen tool, regardless of what others may tell you. It’s the only way to achieve perfectly peeled apples, carrots, and potatoes – but it can also provide a satisfying slice of zucchini or cucumber.
Some people view the occasional nicks along their vegetables as signs of defeat. But I see them as small victories, each slip-up adding character to what would otherwise have been a mundane task.
So next time you’re faced with a pile of produce, don’t be afraid to pick up your peeling knife and make some magic happen!
- A Peeling Knife typically ranges from 2.5 to 4 inches (6 to 10 cm) in length.
WÜSTHOF 13″ Poultry Shears Curved
A versatile addition to any kitchen, serving multiple purposes such as cutting herbs, trimming meats, opening packages, and performing various other tasks with their sturdy blades and built-in bottle opener.
Kitchen shears might not be considered a kitchen knife, but don’t get your panties in a twist. They can still cut through things with panache and flair. From snipping herbs to cutting paper-thin cheese slices, chopping crunchy celery sticks, or even cutting up a chicken into bite-sized pieces—all with a single snip! If you’ve ever wanted to cut through chicken bones like they were melting butter, kitchen shears are your tool.
Who knew kitchen shears could do so much? We all know that knives can be pretty handy for cutting various items, but it’s nice to know that kitchen shears can lend a hand.
Classic Japanese-Style Kitchen Knives
The Santoku knife
The Santoku knife is like that cool friend everyone wants to have. Need something chopped? Look no further! This versatile blade can make quick work of need-it-now summer salad prep, or the pizza your teenager has been drooling over all day.
With minimal storage requirements and a look that turns heads, having one of these bad boys in your kitchen will surely be the talk of the town (and maybe even garnish you a few jealous glances from your cooking buddies).
- A Santoku Knife typically ranges from 5 to 8 inches (12.5 to 20 cm) in length.
The Nakiri Knife
The nakiri knife is the daredevil of kitchen cutlery, headlining as the star of many a vegetable-chopping act. Its long, straight blade is perfect for executing precise cuts, and its super sharp edge demonstrates depths of skill that can put any other knife to shame.
Whether it’s stunting on radish rounds, flipping provolone slices, or melon-ball maneuvers, the nakiri knife always holds its own in the kitchen arena!
So if you’re looking for a dependable partner in the kitchen, pick up a nakiri – she’ll be sure to stick around through thick and thin – unlike your ex.
- A Nakiri Knife typically ranges from 6 to 7 inches (15 to 18 cm) in length.
The Kiritsuke Knife
If you love cooking, the kiritsuke knife should be your new BFF – or best French frying friend.
This traditional Japanese all-purpose knife has a sharp, narrow blade that is perfect for slicing and cutting. If that doesn’t sound fancy enough for you, don’t worry; with the kiritsuke knife in your kitchen arsenal, you can cut like an absolute pro.
Of course, it does take some practice to get there – but trust us, it’s worth it in the end!
- A Kiritsuke Knife Typically ranges from 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm) in length.
The Sashimi / Yanagiba Knife
A sashimi knife, also known as a Yanagiba, looks like a samurai sword, but instead of beheading enemies, it cuts food into neat and tiny slices.
It’s the star of the sushi/sashimi experience, slicing down its foes (tuna, salmon, or whatever else you may have picked to eat) with an ease that only a sharp blade can master.
While it looks like a lightsaber, this bad boy isn’t actually from outer space – but its ability to craft perfect sashimi and other similar dishes effortlessly will make any sushi connoisseur beam with culinary pride!
- A Sashimi Knife typically ranges from 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) in length.
The Sujihiki Knife
In the culinary world, the sujihiki knife is a highly sought-after tool. It’s well-known for its long, sleek shape, designed to create paper-thin slices of meat easily—that is if you know how to wield it!
As versatile as they come, this knife is also good for filleting fish, julienning vegetables, and cubing meats. With its sharp blade and precision weighting, you’ll surely have your food cut and ready to go quickly.
- A Sujihiki Knife typically ranges from 9 to 12 inches (23 to 30 cm) in length.
The Deba Knife
Ah, the trusty deba knife. It’s like a superhero – tougher than nails, able to chop through anything that stands in its way, and never backing down from an intimidating challenge.
With a single swoop, this Japanese kitchen treasure can tackle any daunting task: slicing through the extra-thick tuna steaks, cutting one more sushi roll for an especially hungry customer, or even being used as makeshift raclette for a fondue extravaganza.
Hail to thee, deba knife! May your blade never dull, and may your butt remain forever sharp! Is there anything this unsung hero of the culinary world can’t do?
- A Deba Knife typically ranges from 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) in length.
The Usuba Knife
To the noob, an usuba knife may not look like much – just another kitchen utensil used to chop vegetables. But if you’ve ever had the pleasure of using one, you’d know that it’s so much more.
This thin and precise Japanese blade is a work of art, making perfect and efficient cuts with every stroke! It takes true expertise to master the art of working with this knife, but your meals will never be the same again when you do.
- An Usuba Knife typically ranges from 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) in length.
Cutting Edge Conclusion
No matter your skill level in the kitchen, it’s essential to kit yourself out with a solid set of blades!
With more than 17 different types available and each perfectly suited for specific tasks, having the right knife can make all the difference when producing delicious dishes.
Choose wisely; invest in quality knives that will last through wear and tear – then you’ll surely slice up success every time!
What the FAQ
What Types Of Metal Are Used In Kitchen Knives
Kitchen knives can be made from various metals, but the most common types of metal used are high-carbon stainless steel, carbon steel, and stainless steel. If the knife you want to buy doesn’t even say what type of steel it has – do yourself a favor and run!
- High-carbon stainless steel
- Carbon steel
- Stainless steel
Ultimately, the type of metal used in a kitchen knife will depend on the manufacturer’s preferences, intended use, and the buyer’s budget.
What Are The Basic Knife Cuts?
As a beginner chef, there are a few basic knife cuts that you should start with before moving on to more intricate cuts. Here are the first types of knife cuts a chef should learn:
Cutting food into even, thin pieces. This is one of the simplest and most common knife cuts and is used for a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and meats.
Cutting food into small, uniform cubes. This is another basic knife cut used in many recipes for ingredients like onions, carrots, and potatoes.
Cutting food into thin, matchstick-like strips. This cut is often used for vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, and peppers and is commonly used in stir-fry dishes.
Cutting food into small pieces, usually finer than a dice. This is a good cut for ingredients like garlic, ginger, and herbs.
By mastering these basic knife cuts, you will have a solid foundation for more advanced techniques and can confidently tackle a wide range of recipes.
What Is The Most Versatile Kitchen Knife?
The most versatile kitchen knife is typically considered the Chef’s Knife or Gyuto. This type of knife is a multi-purpose tool that can handle a large range of tasks in the kitchen, from chopping and slicing to mincing and dicing.
A typical chef’s knife has an 8 to 10 inches long blade and a curved edge that allows for a rocking motion while cutting. The blade is wide enough to scoop chopped ingredients and transfer them to a pan or bowl.
With its versatility and functionality, a chef’s knife is essential for any home cook or professional chef.
How Do I Maintain My Kitchen Knives?
Proper knife maintenance includes regular sharpening, honing, and cleaning—store knives on a magnetic strip or a designated knife block to protect the blade from damage.
For more information, you can read our extensive guide on kitchen knife care.
Do I Need To Spend A Lot Of Money On Kitchen Knives?
While high-end knives can be expensive… REALLY EXPENSIVE, depending how far down the rabbit hole you look
You can actually save money (in the long run) by investing in a high-quality knife from the get-go.
Look for knives with a full tang, a comfortable grip, and a sharp blade, and consider investing in a sharpening tool to maintain the edge over time.
Are Steak Knives Considered Kitchen Knives?
While steak knives are certainly considered kitchen knives, in our books, they’re in a category all their own. While other knives come in handy for many food items, the steak knife reigns supreme when it comes to steak. Duh!
Okay, they can handle hamburgers too, but you want something sharp and stylish enough to cut through those tender morsels without breaking a sweat.
Are there more than 19 types of kitchen knives?
You bet Bob’s your uncle there are. In fact, there are over 30 types of kitchen knives that are commonly used in various cooking and culinary tasks. This list is not exhaustive, and there may be variations and sub-types within each category of the knife as well.
But don’t worry; we have covered the majority of the ones 90% of chefs will come across in their life.