Your Ultimate Guide to Kitchen Knives [2021]

These days not knowing how to cook is simply unacceptable. Similar to saying not knowing how to navigate the internet. You should feel relaxed and comfortable in your kitchen when you try to cook up hearty meals for yourself and your family. And there’s no single tool that’s more important or beloved than a kitchen knife to help you achieve that goal.

Your kitchen warrants different types of kitchen knives to prepare a variety of foods. Each type of blade has a specific purpose, and we’re here to guide you about each one. Remember though, reading this article won’t make you a kitchen knife expert. But it surely will elevate your knowledge. Our ultimate guide to kitchen knives will absolutely sharpen your skills (no pun intended!) in your kitchen.

A little History

If you want to know about kitchen knives, there’s no better beginning to glance through the history of it. But, we promise, we won’t bore you out. Just the parts you should know! So, let’s begin!

The development of steel in Medieval Europe had become so advanced compared to thousands of years ago that by then. But the use of knives as a utensil for cutting food was not in wide practice just yet. Only the wealthy people used knives as an eating utensil and as a weapon for self-defense. It is being assumed that during the early 17th century the first real kitchen and table knives came into existence. The craftsman was an unknown individual who might just want to diversify his wares and boost his sales.

During the reign of the French king Louis XIV, kitchen and table knives with blunt tips and single blades were popularized. Soon it became widespread not only in France but also in the rest of Europe. The popularity and advent of four-tined curved dining forks also reduced the need for sharp-tipped knives. By the 20th century, table knives had become modernized due to the advancements in stainless steel. New developments in metallurgy and other related fields had led to the improvement of different types of knife blades, which come in a variety of forms, specific usages, and profiles. You can even find kitchen knives in different materials such as ceramic, titanium, and plastic too! So, you can now obviously wonder about the types of different kitchen knives and how can you use them in your kitchen.

Different Types of Kitchen Knives

You will see various types of knives are on the market, among them finding the one that suits your needs can be tricky. Without knowledge, it’s easy to buy a selection of specialist knives you will hardly ever going to use — which means you will end up with an array of unused knives languishing at the back of your utensil drawer.

The naming conventions for knives can be also seriously confusing, with many cutting tools having multiple names for the same style. To help you make sense of it all, we’ve built a guide to every type of knife and its uses, including advice on which one is best for different kitchen tasks. There are basically four types of kitchen knives and they each have their own subgroups as shown below:

Groups and sub-groups of Kitchen Knives:

1. Chef Knives:

1.1. Chef knife:

A chef’s knife, also known as a cook’s knife, is a knife used in preparing foods. The chef’s knife was originally designed and used to slice and disjoint large cuts of beef. Today it is a general-utility knife for most cooks.

Type: Multipurpose knife.

Size: A Chef’s knife generally has a blade 20 centimeters (8 inches) in length and 3.8 cm (1 12 inches) in width, but individual models can range from 15 to 36 centimeters (6 to 14 inches) in length.

Uses: The Chef’s knife is designed to perform well at many differing kitchen tasks. It can be used for chopping and slicing vegetables, slicing meat and mincing, and disjointing large meat cuts.

Warnings: Avoid cutting on extra-hard surfaces such as ceramic and glass cutting boards and plates. It will quickly dull the blade of a knife. Remember to hold the knife where the handle meets metal with your index finger and thumb. Then, wrap the rest of your fingers around the handle to have the best comfort while using a chef knife.

Verdict: It’s a necessity to have a good, sharp chef’s knife in your collection of different types of kitchen knives.

1.2. Paring knife:

A paring knife is a petite knife. Many chefs regard it as the second most important knife to own besides a chef’s knife, although not everyone agrees.

Type: Meant for very specific tasks.

Size: Paring knives are usually 6 to 10 cm (2½ to 4 inches) long.

Uses: The paring knife is made for peeling fruits and vegetables. Slicing a single garlic clove or shallot. Perform controlled and detailed cutting, such as cutting shapes or vents into dough or scoring patterns and designs on the surfaces of food, removing the ribs from a jalapeño, or coring an apple.

Warnings: Always avoid using paring knives to cut hard vegetables, like carrots, celery root, or parsnips. As it is a smaller knife, it does not carry enough weight to easily slice through the foods.

Verdict: One of the few that a home cook will probably need.

1.3. Utility knife:

A utility knife is a similar shape to a chef knife, but smaller and slimmer. Some utility knives ensure more intricate work by making a sharp tip that tapers up towards the spine.

Type: Multipurpose knife.

Size: A small-sized lightweight knife, which usually has a blade that is 10 to 18 centimeters (4 to 7 inches) long.

Uses: An all-purpose knife used for cutting vegetables and fruits, and carving poultry. Sometimes can be referred to as the “sandwich knife”, its rigid long blade is shaped like a chef’s knife but narrower, and it can be either plain or serrated.

Warnings: It is best to hand wash the blade to eliminate harsh detergents from repeatedly hitting against the blade to stop making it dull over time.

Verdict: If your cook’s knife is a little too big for the job, your second best option is to reach for the utility knife.

1.4. Bread knife:

A Bread knife is used for cutting bread and is one of many kitchen knives used by home and professional cooks.

Type: Used for a specific task as in this case cutting bread.

Size: The Bread knives are usually made from 15 to 25 cm (6 to 10 inches).

Uses: The perfect tool for sawing through all kinds of bread, including crusty bagels, bread, bread rolls, and baguettes. The grooved edge allows cutting through softer textures without crushing the bread out of shape. The knife can also be used to slice cakes with soft, fluffy textures. Because they can cut through them without knocking the air out of the sponge or damaging the actual shape. A bread knife can also be used as a cake leveler.

Warnings: As bread knives feature serrated edges, it can be tricky to sharpen them all by yourself. It’s quite common for serrated blades to be single-beveled (sharpened on one side only). This fact makes sharpening even trickier for a novice. So, be sure to familiarize yourself with the specifications of your knife as they can vary depending on the brand.

Verdict: Every kitchen needs one.

2. Meat Knives:

2.1. Carving knife:

A carving knife is a long and slim knife; tapering to a point. Also called a slicing knife, it is one of the longest kitchen knives in the kitchen. Its shaped narrow width means that it can produce less drag while it cuts through food, which allows it to create cleaner, uniform slices.

Type: When it comes to serving meats like pork, poultry, lamb, or beef, a carving knife is the best tool for the job, capable of producing neat, thin, evenly sized slices.

Size: The carving knife is a large knife between 20 cm to 38 cm (8 to 15 inches). This knife is much thinner than a chef’s knife, particularly at the.

Uses: A carving knife is generally used to carve thin uniform slices from cooked poultry like chicken or turkey, and also to slice large roasts of meat. It can sometimes be used for filleting a large fish. Slicing Thanksgiving turkey or Sunday roast is the easiest way to envision the use of a carving knife.

Warnings: Make sure that your carving knife is long enough so that you will not need to slice your meat back and forth. Also, ensure that it’s longer than the item you want to slice. It must be checked for sharpness before you use it. The sharpness of the carving knife will help you make thinner meat slices.

Verdict: It’s nice to bring a big sharp knife out with your big bird during Thanksgiving or other joyous occasions. But frankly, the job of a carving knife can also be done by a chef’s knife or a utility knife. So, it’s not in the essentials on the list of different types of kitchen knives you need to have. 

2.2. Butcher / Cleaver knife:

The Cleaver is a heavy, ax-like knife used for about the past one million years to cut through animal bone and meat; but in these days the cleaver, generally made of iron or carbon steel, remains a requisite tool of the butcher and a common kitchen uses.

Type: A cleaver is a cleaver in name only; it’s not meant to smash bones. Instead, it can be used to do all of the basic cutting tasks like chopping, mincing, slicing, and dicing.

Size:  The average length of the blade is between 15 and 20 cm (6 to 8 inches).

Uses: A cleaver knife is primarily used for cutting through soft or thin bones and sinew. It can be used to separate ribs or chop through the bird’s thin bones. A cleaver can also be used in the preparation of hard vegetables, such as squash, as a thin slicing blade can cause shattering of the vegetable.

Warnings: The cleavers are not used for cutting through solid, hard, and thick bones.

Verdict: Definitely one of the must-haves kitchen knives names if you don’t have one right now for your kitchen.

2.3. Boning knife:

A boning knife is a slim blade with an extremely sharp edge, usually tapering upwards to a fine pointed tip. It’s a pretty short knife and is usually constructed rigidly. Although more flexible blades are available for delicate cuts of meat.

Type: A boning knife is used for detaching the bone from the meat.

Size: Boning knives have a blade length of 12 to 15 cm (5 to 6 inches). Although some will reach up to 9 inches.

Uses: It is used for boning cuts of fish, meat, and poultry, and removing skin from fish and meat.

Warnings: After using your boning knife, be sure to wash it immediately with warm, soapy water using a soft cloth to remove debris. Then wipe it with a dry towel. Make sure the knife is completely dry before putting it back in its place.

Verdict: A boning knife is not an essential knife to have, like air conditioning — it doesn’t change how you get there, it just makes you a little more comfortable along the way.

3. Fish Knives:

3.1. Salmon knife:

Salmon knives are designed solely for cutting thin slices of fish and are popularly used when cutting smoked salmon.

Type: A salmon knife has an extensive, flexible blade with a double edge. It is slim and sharp to allow for precise filleting and skin removal. Many designs also have indentations along the side of the blade.

Size: A flexible blade that is about 30 cm (about 12 inches) long and especially narrow.

Uses: A salmon knife is used to slice, fillet, and remove the skin from larger fish, like salmon.

Warnings: Salmons have bones and skin, so this is a very useful knife to have if you are put to the task.

Verdict: An essential kitchen knife to have especially if you love your catch of the day.

3.2. Filleting knife:

A fillet knife is a kitchen knife used for filleting. It gives the user good control and aids in filleting. It’s a flexible member of the boning knife family.

Type: The slim, flexible blade of a filleting knife is perfect for removing bones without damaging the delicate flesh of a fish. They are used to cut through food horizontally, rather than vertically. It allows cooks to cut around the backbone of whole fish to create perfect fillets.

Size: Fillet knife blades are usually 15 to 28 cm (6 to 11 inches) long.

Uses: Primary task of this knife is to efficiently clean a fish. You can easily remove any internal organs and gills with a fillet knife.

Warnings: You have to make sure to clean your knife with water or alcohol to prevent bacteria from contracting the flesh of the fish before using it.

Verdict: The flexible blade of the knife allows a clean and accurate cut, thus limiting waste when filleting your favorite fish or scallops in the kitchen. In the list of the necessary kitchen knife names for you to make a fast, efficient home cook.

4. Vegetable Knives:

4.1. Santoku knife:

The Santoku bōchō, Japanese for “three virtues”/ “three uses”, is an all-purpose kitchen knife originated from Japan.

Type: The santoku knife has evolved from the traditional Japanese vegetable knife which has a rectangular blade.

Size: Its blade is generally 13 to 20 cm (5 to 8 inches) long, has a flat edge, and a sheepsfoot shaped blade that curves down to an angle approaching 60 degrees at the point.

Uses: Cutting fine slices of vegetables, scooping food off a cutting board (as it is a wide blade), mincing herbs and meat, slicing fruits, cheese, and nuts, cutting meat and seafood.

Warnings: Avoid cutting or breaking any bones with a santoku knife. Santoku is not geared for cutting bones and you will chip the edges if you do so.

Verdict: One of the tops of the line super-utility knife to have in your kitchen.

4.2. Nakiri knife:

Known as the Japanese vegetable knife, nakiri knife looks like smaller, slimmer versions of a cleaver. The knife is broad, rectangular-shaped, and it almost always has a hollow ground edge, which is extremely sharp.

Type: Nakiri knives are extremely good for chopping vegetables. Because of their straight edge and squared shape, you can use them to chop right through to the chopping board without requiring to rock the blade back and forth. You just have to bring the blade down in a single chopping motion.

Size: A standard nakiri blade’s length is around 15 to 17 cm (around 7 inches).

Uses: Nakiri knives one of the best tools for cutting up larger vegetables that are often difficult to cut, like sweet potatoes or butternut squash. The flat, deep blade makes them a great tool for shredding larger veggies like cabbages or lettuce too! The sharp edge helps to create very thin, even slices, so it’s useful if you like to add ribbons of vegetables to dishes as a garnish.

Warnings: Make sure to sharpen a nakiri knife as soon as the blade shows signs of brittleness. You should dry the knife thoroughly with a clean cloth and store it in a cool, dry place. Also, giving a hand wash immediately after each use with a soft sponge and mild detergent works pretty well. It is also recommended to use a wooden end grain board to preserve the sharpness of the blade.

Verdict: While many cooks are happy to prepare veggies using a chef knife or paring knife, we recommend you to invest in specially designed vegetable knives like Nakiri. It has been carefully crafted to help you chop up a lot of vegetables quickly, easily, and safely.

4.3. Tomato knife:

A tomato knife is a small serrated kitchen knife designed to slice through tomatoes.

Type:  The serrated edge of the blade allows the knife to penetrate the tomatoes’ skin quickly without crushing the flesh.

Size: The blade is generally about 15 to 18 cm (6 to 7 inches) in length, and they’re designed to be lightweight, easy to handle.

Uses:  The knife’s serrated edges cut cleanly through the skin without crushing the soft interior, allowing you to create neat, even slices or segments. As for cutting tomatoes, many tomato knives are specially crafted with textured rubber or plastic handles to help provide a better grip during cutting work. It can also be used to slice up soft fruits like nectarines, peaches, plums, and grapes.

Warnings: While serrated knives do tend to cut tomatoes better than a plain edge knife, beware, not all serrated knives will do the trick. So, a proper tomato knife is the best option in the kitchen. Also, you need to clean up your knife’s serrated edges to gain longevity.

Verdict: As mentioned above, you can replace a tomato knife with any other serrated edged knife from your kitchen but if you are having a hard time in the kitchen when it comes to cutting tomatoes go for one!

4.4. Peeling knife:

A peeling knife has a rigid, short, and slightly curved blade. It will usually have a straight, sharp edge.

Type: It has a rigid blade and sturdy, ergonomic handle, both of which help prevent the knife from slipping during peeling, making the process much safer.

Size: Blade length can be from 7 to 11 cm (3 to 4.5 inches).

Uses: Paring Knife is ideal for peeling, trimming, decorating, coring, and other detail work. Also, it is used for chopping small-sized foods, such as garlic cloves or ginger. The Peeling Knife is also can be used for slicing smaller fruits and vegetables with a round shape.

Warnings: Though the best peeling knife need not be an expensive one, you don’t want to purchase a knife that’s flimsy or has a blade that’s prone to detaching from the handle. Look for a high-quality finish for an affordable price.

Verdict: Every kitchen needs a peeling knife that’s for sure. You can use one to peel all kinds of different vegetables and fruits. A sharp peeling knife can help you peel just about anything!

Final Words

Thank you for reading the article. We have tried to cumulate all kitchen knife-related information in a single article for better comparison. Hope it’ll be helpful for you to choose and take care of your kitchen knives.

If you have anything to share with us, drop a comment!

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