With just the right kitchen knife, any kitchen task can make all the difference. Whether it’s just a simple job like slicing tomatoes and more intricate tasks such as boning a salmon, or something else entirely – there is always a “best” knife for the job. But with so many different types of kitchen knives, how do you know which one is best? That’s why we’ve put together this ultimate guide on kitchen knives so that you’ll find the right blade type for every cooking task you may ever come across.
Here’s 10 of the most popular types of kitchen knives and their practical functions.
The chef’s knife is an absolute must-have in any home kitchen. It’s the quintessential workhorse of any professional chef for very obvious reasons. It slices and dices, chops and minces, and will remain a loyal go-to knife for nearly any kitchen task. And though it typically features an 8 to 10-inch blade that is balanced in several ways depending on how you hold it, using a chef knife is as versatile as the food and ingredients that give it such praise.
You’ll want to look for a chef knife that offers a comfortable handle as well as high-quality stainless steel construction. Weight shouldn’t be so much of a concern unless you simply prefer lighter versions over heavier forged brands. It merely depends on the amount of usage that makes it more comfortable for you.
Also See: Best Practice Usage Tips
Next up is the Santoku Knife, which translates to “three virtues” in Japanese – meaning it’s both versatile and efficient when it comes to chopping, mincing, and dicing. This style typically features a shorter blade that’s only 5 to 7 inches in length with a slightly taller handle distance to the blade. This makes it easier to chop through dense veggies or thick cuts of meat. If you’re a stickler for presentation, a Santoku knife is an absolute must.
These blades generally don’t require sharpening as often (as other types of blades) due to less wear and tear or contact with dense food and cartilage. And, if you love Asian cuisine but don’t want to spend hours cutting and prepping ingredients, then a Santoku knife should definitely be in your arsenal.
See: Santoku VS Chef
A paring knife also has a much-deserved spot on this list due to its precision capabilities. If there ever was one type of knife where size really matters, a paring knife is an all-in-one weapon of choice. Ideally, it only offers a 4-inch or shorter blade that’s perfect for maximum control during delicate tasks. This includes peeling fruit, removing apple cores, or tiny tasks including precision mincing.
These tiny blades usually have pointy blade tips which allow them to get into tight spots without damaging what they cut into. If you’ve ever owned a small pocket knife, this style blade will do lots of minor tasks that normal-sized blades can’t handle so easily.
Of all the tasks that require you to debone or trim meat proteins like a whole chicken or raw fish, then you know how valuable a boning knife is. These knives have slender blades and were designed specifically with these tasks in mind. With some versions, they may even feature special tang features close to the heel which make them easier to maneuver when working around bones or stubborn fat deposits.
If you love artisan baking and baked goods, then go ahead and invest in a bread knife. After all, who wants uneven slices when serving your guest’s homemade loaves and culinary baked treats? These specially designed blades easily cut through thick oven-baked crusts without tearing apart softer inner layers. Thanks to their long serrated edges, these fearsome-looking knives are useful for evenly slicing thin and dense bread like bagels and rye bread.
The best ones are made from high-carbon stainless steel since these tend not to dull so much over those cheaper alternatives at the Dollar Store.
We’re not talking about those handy Swiss Army knives unless utility knives are the answer to a blade that’s an all-purpose tool you’ll go to all the time. When you need something slightly bigger than an everyday paring knife, but still need something small enough for easy handling- this is your best bet. It further gives you expert control during food-prepping tasks like slicing mini sandwiches or putting together charcuterie board delights.
This blade features a fair medium length that gives your 4 to 6 inches to yield nearly any kind of cutting duties. And though it provides you with plenty of versatility without going overboard using a chef knife, it is practical enough for subtle everyday kitchen tasks. You’ll also find that they’re available in carbon steel or stainless steel varieties depending on your preference. Either way, both knife types should be hand washed and dried after they are used to prevent rusting.
The ultimate chopping blade that has become synonymous with any butcher shop visit or perhaps a horror-themed video game is the Meat Cleaver. It’s traditionally used for heavy-duty jobs such as splitting and chopping apart bones yet delicate enough for crushing garlic cloves. If the Iron Chef can use it, then it’s time for you to reach for a cleaver. Despite the blade having a mighty intimidating-looking appearance, this thicker blade is meant for heavy chopping blows.
In actuality, a cleaver is designed to be quite precise for delicate cuts and movements due to its weight. This type of careful cutting technique is very common in Asian cooking and does require practice that can really impress dinner guests. So if you’re daring enough, then go ahead and get yourself one. Be sure to look for carbon steel versions since these will last many years if you take good care of them after every use.
If a meat cleaver has a little brother, then a Chinese Chef’s Knife (also called a vegetable cleaver) is what you’ll love as an all-around chopping knife. It’s essentially taking everything great about meat cleavers, but adding a slightly curved edge rather than a straight blade. Its design is ideal for doing precise vegetable chopping duties while keeping your fingers safe from harm’s way at the same time.
The shorter blade also makes them easier to handle than a large cleaver but allows ample room to hold it comfortably in your hand while you’re cutting food. Keep in mind that chopping dense veggies will wear down the blade’s edge faster, so this style of cleaver does need frequent sharpening depending on what you’re chopping. And there are many styles to choose from, so select one that is made from quality steel so it will last you a lifetime.
One of the strangest-looking knives in your kitchen will obviously be a fillet knife. Yet if you’re an aspiring chef that loves preparing whole meats, you can’t live without one. It’s very handy for preparing fish fillets or ultimately removing the bones from chicken. It makes delicate work from slicing pork cutlets to even slicing veggies and fruits. The biggest difference between fillet knives and other kitchen knives is their lack of weight.
This makes them an ideal tool for handling decorative and delicate tasks where precision is paramount. When you’re choosing one, opt for high-quality stainless steel models with comfortable grip handles. These are the ones that will last for years if you take care of them correctly.
The only folks who don’t use steak knives these days probably won’t be interested in buying steak in general. But if you’re a dedicated meat eater, you’ll definitely need a prime steak knife. The blades are more-often stainless steel that’s been hardened using special forging techniques. This gives you a strong blade that holds its edge longer for making delicate cuts through cooked steaks.
Most steak knives are slightly longer than a chef knife and obviously more slender for achieving tender cuts. If you have any knife on this list, this is a great presentation knife that makes any meaty dinner feel special.
All in all, having the right kitchen knife for the job is going to be incredibly important for ensuring that your food preparation goes as smoothly and quickly. With these 10 essential knife types, it’s time to start building your personal collection that needs to be within your reach the next time you’re doing anything in the kitchen.