Knives

Ultimate Guide to Kitchen and Cooking Knives

a chef’s knife on a wooden cutting board along with bread and cherry tomatoes

The best way to feel comfortable in your kitchen is to know your cookware intimately. And there is not a single tool in the kitchen that is more beloved or important than the kitchen knife. However, due to a wide range of kitchen knives available in the market, you might get confused about which one to buy.

To help you pick the best out of the rest, we have put together this guide that will take you through the types of kitchen knives, things to consider, our top picks, and some tips. So, let’s get started.

Types of Kitchen Knives

  1. Small Paring Knife

This one is a great all-rounder. It features a smooth and sharp blade that is ideal for chopping, slicing, andprecision work, such as slicing herbs and hulling strawberries. You can also use it to peel vegetables or scrape seeds out of vanilla pods.

  1. Chef’s Knife

A chef’s knife is decent-sized, mostly 8 to 10 inches in length. Its blade is well rounded towards the end, making it an excellent choice for rock chopping, and straight at its edge, making it perfect for tap chopping.

If you are looking for a knife that can help you prepare veggies for various dishes and do a lot more tasks, then you can go for this one.

  1. Carving Knife

As the name suggests, a carving knife is used for carving meat on or off the bone. It is equipped with a long, sharp blade that will do most of the hard work for you without much effort. You can use it to carve up your Sunday lunch’s roast chicken or lamb.

  1. Bread Knife

This one makes another important tool to include in your knife kit. It features a long, serrated blade that stays sharp on its own, which means you don’t need to worry about maintaining it. It glides across bread effortlessly. In addition to cutting bread, you can also use it for several other purposes. For example, serving your guests with hunks of sourdough, roughly chopping chocolate, and sawing into the pineapple.

A bread knife is available in various sizes and shapes to choose from. It comes in a blade size ranging from 7 inches to 10 inches in both straight and curved shapes.

  1. Utility Knife

This one makes a great everyday use knife. With its sharp, smooth, and precise blade, you can use it for peeling, fine slicing, and chopping. A utility knife is super versatile, which means you can easily switch between fruits and veggies of various sizes without worrying about going low on performance.

You can’t just slice through cherry tomatoes with a smooth-bladed knife as conveniently as you can with a serrated utility kitchen knife. In fact, a utility knife is known for slicing through harsh outer edgescleanlywithout destroying the food’s more delicate insides.

  1. Cleaver Knife

You can easily distinguish a classic cleaver knife by its heavy, thick, rectangular blade. It is used to break down the meat. In addition to this, you can use its sharp tip the same way you would use your regular knife to slice through the flesh, then force the blade to tap down at the heel. Doing this, you can conveniently break through bone.

A cleaver knife is made for heavy-duty kitchen tasks, including hacking, mincing, chopping, and cleaving.

  1. Boning Knife

A boning knife is a powerful kitchen tool that is used for deboning meat and fish. It features a sturdy, stiff blade having a sharp point, which makes precision boning much less difficult than if you were to use a regular kitchen knife.

This type of kitchen knife is specially designed to separate proteins from bones and muscles, as well as for carving and trimming. Boning knives are available in various blade sizes, ranging from 3 to 8 inches in length.

  1. Steak Knife

The serrated edge of the steak knife helps in creating smooth sawing action so you can slice through your favorite juicy steak and other meats effortlessly.

  1. Fillet Knife

As the name suggests, this type of knife is specially designed for skinning and filleting fish. It is known for its high degrees of precision. Its long narrow, supple and flexible blade makesa perfect choice for trimming the fat from tenderloin to deboning salmon.

  1. Crinkle-Cut Knife

If you want to create a retro edge on fruits and veggies, then you will love using this knife with a crinkled blade.

  1. Santoku Knife

This one is a Japanese-designed knife that is known for its multi-purpose functionality and sharp edges. It has a unique, patterned blade, with a cleaver-like shape.

Types of Material

A kitchen or cooking knife comes in a variety of blade types, made of different materials. You can choose the one that line up well with your requirements, and of course, budget. Following are the materials that a kitchen knife can be made of:

  • High Carbon (HC) Steel

A knife made of high carbon steel is generally more expensive than the stainless steel ones. However, with the extra amount, you also get extra features. For example, high carbon is easier to hone, and the blade remains sharp and holds its edge for quite a long time. By investing some extra money, you will have peace of mind when it comes to its maintenance.

  • Stainless Steel

Most of the knives you will see in the market are made of low-carbon stainless steel. Although it is resistant to staining, rusting, and pitting, it needs to be honed more often than other blades for maintaining a sharp cutting edge.

  • Ceramic

Ceramic blades are made of high-purity zirconium oxide. They are hard as a diamond and exceptionally lightweights for more control. Blades made of this material retain their edge way longer than the ones made of stainless steel.

  • Titanium

To make this type of blade, generally different materials are blended with titanium, such as ceramic or silver. This is done to create an extremely lightweight, durable knife.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Kitchen Knife

  • Full Tang

Full tang is where the blade of the knife extends all the way into the handle for more strength, control, and balance. If you are looking for a high-performance knife, then you should always make sure to go for a full tang. However, if you don’t have a high budget, you can opt for a half tang blade. This one extends partway along the blade and provides good performance too.

  • Cost

If you spend most of your time in the kitchen cooking mouthwatering dishes and understand that the right knife helps a lot, you will know that it is worth paying a little extra for a high-quality knife. We are not saying that you should go out of your budget to buy one, but look for a decent knife within it.

For a decent chef’s knife or Santoku knife, you might have to spend a bit more because the one that stays sharp and delivers quality performance will come at a cost. On the other hand, for most other types of knives, you don’t need to spend a lot of money because they probably won’t be used as frequently.

  • Construction

Knives are made in two different ways: stamped and forged. The latter is created when extreme heat is applied to a piece of steel and then molded into the desired shape. Forged knives are considered to be of more high quality and costly than the stamped knives. This process creates a more robust blade that is way less prone to bending over time.

Stamped knives, unlike forged ones, are made with a machine by punching out a piece of steel. Their edge is sharpened after they are created. While stamped knives aren’t considered as amazing as forged knives, there are lots of quality stamped knives available that certainly provide bang for the buck.

  • Sharpness

A dull knife is of no use when you want to achieve premium results. The best kitchen knives come sharp out of the box and stay sharp for quite a long time. Therefore, one of the important points that you should consider before buying a knife is how sharp it is and how often it needs a tune-up.

Although a knife’s sharpness doesn’t determine how well it works, it definitely influences how safe it is to use. While you may think that a knife with a super sharp blade is quite dangerous, the opposite is actually true. The sharper the knife, the safer it is. Yes, you might hurt yourself if you get a cut with a super sharp knife, but you are more likely to do some real damage if you’re struggling to cut something with a dull blade.

When you are buying a blade online or even in a store, it will be hard to judge its sharpness without putting it to test. But don’t worry, reviews and feedbacks are your best bet here. You can read the user feedbacks of the knife you are interested in to know how well it works.

  • Weight

Apart from construction and sharpness, weight is a big part of the equation when it comes to finding the right kitchen knife. Especially when looking for a perfect chef’s knife or Santoku knife, you want to ensure how comfortable it is to use – in terms of weight and grip. There is no ideal weight that suits everyone when it comes to kitchen knives because it can vary according to personal preference.

If you are a newbie, you might want to do a little bit of experimenting to check out what works best for you. Some people find lightweight knives to be better while others may appreciate the heft of a heavier one. Therefore, it all comes down to your personal preference.

  • Balance

A perfect kitchen knife offers a perfect balance. The balance of a knife depends on its weight to determine how comfortable you’ll feel using it. If the weight falls too much on the handle or the blade, then you might have to apply more effort while chopping.

Once again, reviews are your best friend here.

Here are some more features that you should look for:

  • A smooth heel to the blade.
  • A blade equipped with a high-quality bolster.
  • A sturdy handle to ensure more control and a comfortable grip.

Extras:

Product
Visual
Where to Buy

Wusthof WU4066/09 CLASSIC Paring Knife, One Size, Black, Stainless Steel

ZYLISS Paring Knife with Sheath Cover, 3.5-Inch Stainless Steel Blade, Green

Victorinox Swiss Army Cutlery Fibrox Pro Santoku Knife, Granton Edge, 7-Inch

Mac Knife MTH-80 Professional Hollow Edge Chef's Knife, 8 Inch, Silver

Shun Classic 8” Chef’s Knife with VG-MAX Cutting Core and Ebony PakkaWood Handle; All-Purpose Blade for a Full Range of Cutting Tasks with Curved Blade for Easy Cuts; Cutlery Handcrafted in Japan

 

Our Top Picks

1. Wusthof WU4066/09 CLASSIC Paring Knife

Looking for a top-notch paring knife? Go for this one by Wusthof. Its forged blade is made of high carbon stainless steel for more accurate performance and long life. Precision Edge Technology (PEtec) is used in this knife to provide you 20% sharper cutting power with twice the edge retention. Indeed, an excellent choice for mincing shallots, onions, and herbs as well as cutting and peeling veggies.

Top Features:

  • Full tang
  • Features full bolster and finger guard
  • Has a highly-durable polyoxymethylene (POM) handle
  • Blade made of High Carbon Stainless Steel
  • Tempered to 58⁰ Rockwell

2. ZYLISS Paring Knife with Sheath Cover

This one is another paring knife made of stainless steel. If you don’t want anything fancy but a simple knife that can be used to do almost all sorts of jobs in the kitchen, you are looking at the right thing. It is perfect for cutting, slicing and peeling fruits and vegetables.

Top Features:

  • Has a High-carbon stainless steel blade
  • Long-lasting
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Ergonomic handle with soft-touch rubber grip
  • Backed by a 5-year warranty
  • Comes with a matching sheath cover.

3. Victorinox Swiss Army Cutlery Fibrox Pro Santoku Knife

Want an all-purpose knife that excels at slicing and dicing? This Swiss Army Santoku knife by Victorinox is an excellent choice to opt for. It is lightweight and has a 6.7 inches long blade that provides fantastic balance.

Top Features:

  • Handle made from thermoplastic elastomers for better grip and comfort.
  • Has a fluted edge
  • Made according to the strict National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) standards
  • Made of high-quality European steel
  • Features a flat spine that provides extra power so you can slice through hard-skinned items like butter.

4. Mac Knife MTH-80 Professional Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife

Mac, a Japanese brand, is known for its premium, high-quality knives. Professional chefs swear by its performance and the output it provides. For people who don’t have big hands, this hollow edge chef’s knife is perfect for them. The blade features dimples that glide through sticky foods like apples, tomatoes, and summer squash like butter.

Top Features:

  • PakkaWood Handle
  • 5mm Thick Blade
  • Lightweight and Has a Length of 12.63 Inches
  • Super Sharp and well balanced

5. Shun Classic 8” Chef’s Knife

Shun is another popular Japanese brand in the U.S.A that is well-known for its top-notch line of knives. Although this chef’s knife by Shun has a Damascus design on the blade, don’t let it fool you as it offers much more than that. Enveloped between 32 layers of swirly-patterned softer steel, lies a thin, hard core that creates a sharp edge. In addition to that, it has a full tang that goes along with the full length of the handle.

All in all, if you are looking for a quality knife that doesn’t crack, break, or disappoint you in the long run, you can consider getting your hands on this one.

Top Features:

  • Available in four different blade sizes
  • A perfect blend of VG-MAX steel, tungsten, chromium, cobalt, and carbon for top-notch performance.
  • Handle made of ebony PakkaWood for easy cleaning and comfortable grip
  • Handcrafted in Japan
  • The blade consists of 69 total layers

Some Knife Tips and Advice

Now, you must be familiar with the various types of blades and knives available in the market, and things to look for in a kitchen knife. When you buy the one that perfectly aligns with your requirements, you will find the following tips and advice helpful:

  • Always use sharp knives because blunt ones are dangerous as you will need to put more pressure down on the blade, which means you’re more likely to slip.
  • If your chopper board doesn’t have rubber feet, you should place a damp cloth underneath it, so it doesn’t slip and cause any damage.
  • Store all your knives in a knife block. This will eliminate the risk of cutting yourself on a rogue blade when you are trying to reach into a drawer.
  • If your knives get blunt over time, don’t risk by using them anyway. Instead, ask your local butcher that if he offers knife sharpening services. Otherwise, it is best to buy your own knife sharpening tool.

Final Thoughts

If you haven’t used a professional, high-quality knife before, then get ready to feel a big difference. A quality kitchen knife doesn’t just make your food prep faster but also enhances your overall performance in the kitchen. If you like cooking delicious food, then investing in a tool like a premium kitchen knife will be well worth your time and money.

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