How to Use Different Types of Knives

Preparing food in the right way is the key to a perfectly cooked meal. Doing so is easier, faster, and safer when you have the right tools, such as a knife. But a knife is not just a knife – there several types of knives on the market. With that in mind, finding a suitable type of knife for your needs can be a bit tricky.

Without the proper knowledge, it’s all too easy to purchase a set of specialty knives, only to use them rarely. This means you’d end up with unused knives left in the dust at the back of your utensil drawer.

If you want to find the best-quality knife that will perfectly suit your needs, it helps to have a basic knowledge of a knife’s different parts. You can read about it here, where the parts and features are explained in detail, including what function each of them serves.

Forged knife and stamped knife – what is the difference?

Before we get to the different types of knives and how to use them, it also helps to distinguish between forged knives and stamped knives, for additional inputs for your knife-buying guide:

  1. Forged knife – is a type of knife that has been forged from a single piece of metal.
  2. Stamped knife – is a type of knife made of a single sheet of steel that has been cut into the shape of a blade (somewhat like a cookie-cutter). It is added with a handle and then hardened, sharpened and polished.

If you want to choose a knife that will last for a long time, it’s better to go for the forged knife. Because it has undergone heating and hammering to form a shape of a blade, a forged knife is less flexible compared to the stamped knife; thus, it is stronger and more stable and will endure frequent uses. The only significant drawback is the price. A forged knife doesn’t come cheap, but it’s definitely worth the investment.

What are the different types of knives and how to use them?

Here we compare different types of knives and their applications:

Product
Visual
Where to Buy

Chef’s knife

Utility knife

Paring knife

Bread knife

Carving knife

Cleaver knife

Boning knife

Santoku knife

 

chef’s knife

1. Chef’s knife

Also known as a cook’s knife, it consists of a long, broad blade with a straight edge. It is the widest across the heel and tapering upward to the point.

How is it used?

A chef’s knife is considered the most versatile knife. It can be used for nearly every task, such as:

  • Mincing
  • Slicing
  • Dicing
  • Cutting thicker or harder foods (such as onions, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, etc.)
  • Slicing raw meat, poultry and any kinds of fish and some types of seafood
  • Disjointing some cuts of meats
  • Chopping nuts
  • Crushing garlic

How is it not used?

  • Peeling, especially smaller produce
  • Carving cooked meat
  • Cleaving meat bones
  • Slicing bread

kitchen knife

2. Utility knife

A utility knife is somewhat similar to a chef’s knife, only smaller and slimmer. It usually measures four to seven inches long. Some utility knives have a sharp tip that tapers up towards the spine, allowing it for more intricate cuts.

How is it used?

  • Chopping small to medium-sized items
  • Paring certain types of fruits and vegetables
  • Filleting
  • Slicing meats, fish, chicken and produce into thinner pieces
  • Serrated types are ideal for slicing bread and sandwiches

How is it not used?

  • Cutting larger cuts of meat or larger and harder produce.

paring knife

3. Paring knife

A paring knife consists of a short, thin and very sharp blade and a pointed tip. It tends to feel light, allowing for easy handling. It is available in both forged and stamped, as well as straight and serrated blades.

How is it used?

  • Main function – paring or peeling fruits and vegetables
  • Doing small and intricate work, such as de-veining a shrimp, removing seeds, coring and hulling fruits, cutting produce into small garnishes, and many others
  • Trimming excess fat with great precision
  • Slicing
  • Dicing

How is it not used?

  • Cutting and slicing raw meat
  • Carving cooked meat
  • Cutting harder produce

ikea bread knife

4. Bread knife

A bread knife consists of a long and even-sized blade. The blades are always serrated, which is designed to cut and slice softer items. That’s why you should use a bread knife in a way that you use a saw.

How is it used?

  • Main function – cutting and slicing bread, cakes, sweets, and pastries without crushing them.
  • Cutting meat, poultry, and seafood
  • Cutting and slicing softer fruits and vegetables
  • Breaking a large bar of chocolate into smaller pieces

How is it not used?

  • General cutting, dicing, slicing and chopping tasks.

carving knife with forks

5. Carving knife

A carving knife is a large, long, and slim knife. It is made narrow for more precise cuts. Its length can vary (between 20 to 38 centimeters long), allowing for slicing through wider pieces. A carving knife is thinner than a chef’s knife, particularly at the spine, which allows for more precise and cleaner cuts. Some carving knives may have indentations on the sides of the blade for an easier release with each slice.

How is it used?

  • Main function – carving or cutting thin slices of cooked meat (such as ham and roasts) and cooked poultry.
  • Can be used for cutting larger produce.

How is it not used?

  • General cutting, chopping, slicing and dicing tasks.

a Chinese cleaver knife and a Western cleaver knife

6. Cleaver knife

Also known as a butcher’s knife, a cleaver knife consists of a large, rectangular blade, a thick spine, and little or no belly. It is the heaviest of all knives. It is most often found in butcher shops and restaurants preparing their own meat.

How is it used?

  • Splitting the meat from the bone, usually beef, pork, poultry, and other thick types of meat;
  • Cutting through thicker and harder items (such as pumpkin or squash) in a chopping motion;
  • The wide and heavy blade can be used to beating, tenderizing and pulverizing meat, fish, and poultry, as well as crushing garlic;
  • Can be used for chopping and dicing.

How is it not used?

  • Slicing small or delicate pieces of meat, fish, or poultry;
  • Slicing and cutting bread, cakes, pastries, and other smaller and softer items.

a boning knife

7. Boning knife

A boning knife consists of an extremely narrow blade that can be flexible, semi-flexible, or stiff. For home cooks, they should choose a boning knife with a stiff blade as it makes more enhanced, precise cuts. It is sometimes called a filleting knife.

How is it used?

  • De-boning cuts of meat, fish, and poultry;
  • Cutting through the meat’s connecting tissues and joints;
  • Separating the skin from meat and fish;
  • Can be used as a substitute for a paring knife.

How is it not used?

  • General cutting, chopping, slicing, and dicing tasks.
  • Slicing bread, cakes, and pastries.

santoku knife

 

8. Santoku knife

Santoku is a popular knife in Japan that has found its way into professional and home kitchens in the West. It is usually flat-ground and consists of an edge that’s straighter than a chef’s knife. The thin blades allow for much finer and more delicate cuts than you would get with a chef’s knife. It typically features small indentations or “dimples” along the blade, allowing easier release of the food with each slice. Its drop-point tip is designed for easier and cleaner cuts of fish, making this knife useful when preparing sushi or sashimi. The wide blade is also used for crushing garlic and for scooping up and transporting food after cutting.

Like the chef’s knife, the Santoku knife is an all-around kitchen tool. Anyone with smaller hands who find a chef’s knife unwieldy can feel more at ease when using a Santoku knife.

How is it used?

  • Cutting meat, poultry, and fish
  • Dicing
  • Slicing
  • Disjointing some certain cuts of meat
  • Chopping
  • Mincing
  • Crushing garlic

How is it not used?

  • Peeling, especially smaller produce
  • Carving cooked meat
  • Cleaving meat bones
  • Slicing bread