There’s nothing worse than having the wrong knife when you’re trying to prepare something in the kitchen. Try cutting a chicken leg with a pairing knife, or peeling an apple with a clever and I’m sure you’ll get the picture. There’s just nothing like holding a quality knife in your hand that’s made specifically for what you’re doing with it.
But with all of the different types of knives available, brands, and don’t get us started on ceramic knives, it can get confusing what’s the proper knife for each job. So we decided to write the ultimate guide on which knives to use and when. Read on to become a knife expert. Your culinary creations will thank you.
Most Common Kitchen Knives
Selecting the right kitchen knife for a specific task is essential for a wide range of cooking jobs. A basic set of knives can cover most needs, and typically include a Chef’s or Santoku knife, paring knife, bread knife, utility knife and serrated knives. Each type of knife is best suited to particular tasks due to its unique shape, weight distribution, edge retention, and so on.
Knowing which one to use and when can help you do the cutting that needs to be done more safely and efficiently.
A paring knife is perfect for smaller tasks such as trimming away fat when preparing meat or cutting small fruit into slices.
For larger jobs such as slicing through large hunks of meat or melon, a larger utility knife like a chef’s knife is more suitable.
For chopping, mincing and dicing, a cleaver will prove useful due to its sturdy shape and weight.
If the job at hand involves carving or making intricate cuts on softer foods, then a narrow-bladed fillet knife is much better suited than the other varieties.
Each kind of knife has its own distinct features that allow them to excel at different tasks within the kitchen which is why understand all of the different types of knives is so important.
Chef / Santoku Knife
Chef or Santoku knifes are used for slicing, dicing and chopping food and no kitchen is complete without one. They are the best type of knife to use when you need to cut something into small pieces like dicing onions and peppers for a sauce. They have a special shape and weight that makes them a joy to hold in your hand and are well balanced for ease of use. Quality knives use a special steel that helps them stay sharp longer so they can do the job better. Check out some of our favorite value Chef knives here.
Think of a pairing knife as a min chef’s knife like I wrote about above. It’s basically the same shape, only smaller which makes these knives perfect for smaller jobs like peeling fruits, vegetables, and other things that need more precise cutting.
A bread knife is used primarily for cutting bread, hence their name. Their teeth are serated and act like a ‘saw’ when cutting. Perfect for cutting bread and other types of cakes and pasteries. In a pinch, they can also be used to carve meats and ‘saw’ large tougher food items.
This is the on ‘go-to’ knife that all commercial kitchens have, and for a reason. These knives are bigger than a pairing knife, yet smaller than a chef’s knife which makes them easy to handle and adequate for a lot of smaller and medium size cutting jobs. Their blades are also thinner than a chef’s knife so they are easier to handle for those of you with smaller hands.
Serrated knives are special knives used for cutting things like bread and tomatoes. A typical bread knife is a type of serrated knife. Small steak knives are also considered serrated knives and do a great job of cutting through steak and other tough meats and food items.
Choosing the Right Knife for the Job
Having the right knife for the job really will make your life easier in the kitchen, not to mention safer. Most knife accidents happen because the user was using a knife not matched by the task they were performing. Like using a pairing knife to cut a chicken leg, a job a pairing knife was not at all designed to do. If you’re looking to quarter a chicken, a chef’s knife is in order; but perhaps to cut the leg, a boning knife or cleaver could be more effective. So each knife really is designed for specific tasks in the kitchen.
A chef’s knife is a versatile tool made for general slicing and mincing tasks, while a boning knife is used for more intricate work such as removing bones from fish or poultry. Furthermore, some knives—such as the santoku—are able to perform multiple tasks without sacrificing effectiveness. To choose the right knife, it’s important to think about what kind of cuts you need to make and how sharp you need your edge to be. Additionally, consider having more than one type of knife on-hand so that specific tasks can be completed with greater efficiency.
This type of knife is perfect for tasks like cutting thick slices of bread or slicing through a crunchy crust without squishing the ingredients inside. You can also use it to make sandwiches, toast, or even croutons! They are usually longer knives and always have a serated blade that saws through bread with ease.
A paring knife is a small, sharp knife that is perfect for smaller tasks such as trimming away fat when preparing meat or cutting small fruit into slices. You can also use it to peel vegetables or fruits, make sandwiches, or even cut intricate designs into foods. This small knife is lightweight and has a sharp thin blade and can easily be used by most people.
A chef knife is a versatile tool and one of the most reached for knives in the kitchen. This is because it can be used to chop vegetables, mince herbs, slice meat or fish, cut fruit into pieces, and more. It really is the all around blade and every kitchen should at least have one. It’s important to be careful when using this type of knife since it is very sharp!
A boning knife is used for more intricate work such as removing bones from fish or poultry. Butchers will often use their boning knife to trim fat and even separate ribs from each other. The blades of these knives are designed to get between meat and bone and start off at the tip as a thin blade while gradually getting taller towards the handle. This allows them to be used for a variety of different meats.
C leavers are the ‘big boys’ of the knife family. They’re heavy and big and meant to cut right through bones and the hardest of foods like coconuts. A great cleaver will be heavy in your hand and the added weight gives you more chopping power.
A fillet knife is a narrow-bladed knife that is perfect for getting between bone and flesh of any type of meat. And due to the thinness of the blade, you can do quite intricate work. That’s why they’re used for small jobs like deboning and filleting fish. In a pinch, they also do well for jobs that a pairing knife would do like peeling fruit or cutting designs into fruits and vegetables.
What is the best type of knife to use in the kitchen?
The best type of knife is the knife that was designed specifically for the job you’re doing at the moment. So if you’re trying to butcher a pig, it’s safe to say a pairing knife isn’t going to ‘cut it’. You’d need a cleaver since butchering meat is exactly what a cleaver was designed to do. But you wouldn’t want a cleaver if you’re trying to fillet a fish. The size and weight is far to awkward for such fine cutting. That’s why the much lighter and thinner boning knife is perfect for filleting. Because it was designed to fillet. Each knife has it’s own place in the kitchen. It just depends on what your cutting.
What are some tips for caring for kitchen knives?
It’s important to keep your kitchen knives stored safely away from heat and moisture when not in use. The best way is to use a wooden knife holder. Wood is what you should always use for both holders and cutting boards. Plastic causes a knife blade to get dull far faster than wood. Even your cutting boards should be made of wood if you want your blades to stay sharper longer.
Honing your kitchen knives with a sharpening steel regularly will help maintain their sharpness over time. I always hone each side ten times before I use any of my knives. This habit makes sure my knife is always sharp and ready to cut.
When washing your kitchen knives, always do so by hand with a mild dishwashing detergent – avoiding extreme water temperatures and abrasive materials like scouring pads or steel wool – to preserve their quality condition for years to come.
How do I sharpen my kitchen knives?
Sharpening your kitchen knives regularly using a sharpening steel is necessary to keep them in top quality condition and prevent them from becoming unnecessarily worn out over time. To use a sharpening steel correctly, hold it securely in one hand while holding the edge of the blade against it at an angle of approximately 20 degrees with the other hand – then draw the blade down along the length of the steel multiple times on both sides until the desired level of sharpness has been achieved. See more on manual knife sharpening methods here.
What are some common mistakes when using kitchen knives?
Common mistakes made when using kitchen knives include applying too much pressure on the blade while cutting, forcing the knife through food instead of using a gentle sawing motion, and failing to sharpen your knives regularly. Be familiar with the various knife grips and basic types of cuts. Additionally, it’s important to use the right type of knife for each task – a chef’s knife may be suitable for general slicing and dicing tasks, but they won’t have the precision required to carve or fillet delicate foods. Trying to cut through bones or other hard materials with a dull blade can also cause damage to both the blade and your fingers if you put too much force into it. To maximize safety and efficiency in the kitchen, make sure that your knives are always stored securely in a knife block or drawer away from moisture, regularly honed with a sharpening steel, and hand washed with mild detergent without exposure to extreme temperatures or abrasive materials.
What is the difference between a chef knife and a utility knife?
Both of these knives are essential tools for any kitchen, but they are designed for different tasks. Chef knives are designed for general slicing, chopping, and dicing tasks due to their special shape and weight. They can even be used for intricate work such as removing bones from fish or poultry with precision, as well as making precise cuts on softer foods. In contrast, utility knives are shorter and lighter in weight than chef knives. They are ideal for slicing through soft fruits like tomatoes, as well as other delicate produce that needs to be cut without crushing it. Utility knives are also great when you want to cut smaller portions of food since they give you more control than a chef knife.
Is it okay to use scissors for cutting food in the kitchen?
Scissors can be used to cut some types of food in the kitchen, however they are not as safe or effective as using a knife. Scissors don’t provide quite the same level of control and precision that knives do when slicing or dicing food, and they have a tendency to squish softer foods like tomatoes or mushrooms. Furthermore, because scissors can’t be easily honed or sharpened like a blade, their cutting performance gradually diminishes over time if not replaced regularly. Therefore, for most home cooks it is usually best to stick with using dedicated kitchen knives instead of scissors for most types of tasks. That said, there may be certain tasks where using scissors is more efficient than using a knife – such as removing thicker stems from herbs or snipping delicate greens like chives.
Are stainless steel knives suitable for all tasks in the kitchen?
Yes, stainless steel knives can be used for practically anything in the home kitchen. They’re a great medium cost knife and are designed to be corrosion and rust free for the life of the blade. They also stay sharp for a time and are easily honed and sharpened when they need it. And they are also more affordable than the top quality blades used in professional kitchens.
These types of knives are made from high-carbon steel, another type of steel, but a much higher tinsel strength than normal stainless. This type of stainless knife keeps its sharpness the longest. They are also usually heavier and sturdier than the slightly less expensive stainless knives made for every day kitchens, but they also cost a lot more. So if you want the best stainless knives, then buy the high-carbon stainless steel variety. They will cost more, but they’ll last a lifetime.
What type of knife should be used to cut through bones?
The best type of knife for cutting through bones is a heavy cleaver. Cleavers are large, heavy knives designed specifically to cut through bone and are used by butchers around the world. The heavy weight makes it easier to get through tough cartilage or bone through repeated chopping. And although the blades are usually not as sharp as some other smaller, thinner knives, the shear force they come into contact with the bone is enough to do the job quickly and safely.
Are ceramic knives sharper than metal knives?
Generally speaking, ceramic knives are known to be sharper than metal knives. Ceramic blades are made from zirconia, a type of extremely hard and durable material which is much harder than steel. This makes them capable of having razor-sharp edges that stay that way for much longer periods of time when compared to metal blades.
Ceramic has no grain structure which means it can be honed to even sharper edges more easily and consistently than metal. Additionally, because ceramic does not corrode like other metals, these blades do not require maintaining as often – giving them an edge over metal when it comes to maintenance.
However, it should be noted that ceramic blades can be brittle and prone to chipping or breakage if used on hard objects such as bones or frozen foods. Things like cutting through bone or carving large portions of meat are often too much for this type of knife. They are far better suited for smaller kitchen duty.
So, it is important to consider the specific task at hand when deciding whether a ceramic blade is suitable for the job or not in order to get the best performance out of your knife. See more here about our findings when it comes to ceramic knives.
Is a Santoku knife good for slicing vegetables?
A: Yes, a Santoku knife is an excellent choice for slicing and cutting vegetables. Santoku knives are typically characterized by their flat blades that are slightly curved in the middle and end with a sharp tip. This design gives them the perfect balance between precision and versatility which allows them to cut through vegetables quickly and effectively.
Santoku knives also tend to have thinner blades than traditional chef’s knives, giving them greater agility when making fine cuts on delicate produce such as tomatoes or cucumbers. Furthermore, these knives feature hollow-ground indentations on the blade that help release food from the blade after each cut so items don’t stick and tear apart easily while being sliced. This makes them particularly efficient and suitable for use in preparing salads or stir fry dishes.
All in all, a Santoku knife is an ideal choice for any task involving vegetable cutting due to its versatility, precision, lightweight construction and ease of use – making it essential tool in any aspiring chef’s kitchen!
What is the difference between a paring knife and a utility knife?
The main difference between a paring knife and a utility knife lies in their respective sizes, designs and intended uses. Paring knives are small and lightweight, with blades that are typically about three to four inches long and are meant for smaller jobs than a utility knife.
Pairing knives feature pointed tips that enable them to make precise, intricate cuts, making them ideal for peeling fruits and vegetables, de-seeding peppers or mincing herbs. They also have short handles designed to be easy to maneuver while providing maximum control.
By contrast, utility knives are larger than paring knives and usually measure five to seven inches in length. Their blades are straight with sharp points at the end which makes them suitable for cutting through tougher materials such as meat or poultry bones.
Additionally, they generally have wider blades with serrated edges which allows them to cut through thick items or even frozen foods with ease. Furthermore, their longer handles provide better hand leverage to facilitate slicing larger objects without having to apply too much pressure on the blade itself.
All in all, these two types of kitchen knives have different purposes – the paring knife offers greater precision whereas the utility knife is more suited for tough jobs due to its size and blade design.