Types of Kitchen Knives and What They are Used for

With so many types of knives and even more sizes for each one, you have to know what kind of knives to use for different tasks to prevent potential injury and improve cooking efficiency.

With a variety of kinds of knives to choose from, it could be a hard decision to select the right knife you need.

Not all kinds of the knife are made equal, the right knife is specially designed for doing the specific cutting task, in this way, it does improve your cutting performance, but is also good for safety.

You may confuse about what types of knives you really need?

In a bid to help you select the right knife easier, here are some infographics and a breakdown of major types of knives, and what each knife is for to help you decide whether you actually need it.

Types of knives

There are probably more than 10 different types of kitchen knives, some of them are multi-functional, others dedicated for one specific use. Some knives you must have in your kitchen to meet your daily cutting needs, and there are still some nice to have knives to make your kitchen life better.

What’s more, there are some knife accessaries you need to serve your food prep work.

Here’s a quick list about types of knife and its uses, hope it can help you.

Type of kitchen knifeSizeUses
Chef’s knife6 to 12Mincing, cutting meat and chopping vegetables
Paring knife3 to 4Peeling, mincing and detailed cutting, Garnishing
Santoku knife5 to 8Slicing, dicing, mincing
Bread knife7 to 14Slice bread, cakes and other soft and crunchy baked foods
Utility knife4 to 7Slicing and chopping small to midsize vegetables and cuts of meat
Boning knife3 to 8Made to separate meat from their accompanying bones
Steak knife4 to 7Used at the dinner table for cooked food
Cleaver knife5 to 8Designed for heavy-duty tasks like chopping through chicken bones
Nakiri knife7Help to process veggies quickly and easily
Carving knife7 to 14Cut the meat into thin slices, including large pieces of cooked meat.
Mincing knifeMincing fresh herbs
Cheese knifeStop cheese sticking

Let’s see some popular kitchen knives in our daily knives first.

Must-Have: Popular Types of Blades in Your Kitchen

1. Chef’s knife

Type of kitchen knife - Chef's knife

You can know from the meaning of the name, chef’s knife is one of the most commonly used kitchen knives. The size of a chef’s knife ranges from 6-inch to 12-inch. 8″ chef knife is the choice of most people.

Chef’s knife always features a broad blade that tapers upward to a point, allows users to rock back and forth for fast mincing. The versatile chef knife can handle nearly 95% of cutting tasks such as cutting meat, chopping, and slicing vegetables.

Good weight and balance chef knife can let you slice, dice, and julienne foods more quickly during food prep for busy meal service.

The more comfortable you feel with the weight and balance, the more quickly you’ll be able to slice, dice, and julienne vegetables during prep for busy meal service.

2. Paring knife

Type of kitchen knives - paring knife

A paring knife is basically a mini-sized chef’s knife, better for a smaller-scale task that requires more precision.

It is typically 3 to 4 inches, 3.5″ paring knives are the most popular choice.

Paring knives are perfect for peeling, mincing, and detailed cutting. For example, it can do an ideal job on detail work like working with small or tender vegetables and fruit – ginger, strawberries, garlic, shallots to create garnishes for your food and drinks. Due to its lightweight, don’t use it for any hard items such as carrots. to avoid injury.

You may know the shape of paring knives’ tips is different on market. According to different shapes of the tip, here are some common styles of paring knives, that is the spear point, sheep’s foot, and bird’s beak.

3. Santoku knife

type of kitchen knives - santoku knife

The Santoku knife is a Japanese version of the Western-style chef’s knife. It has a shorter blade and thinner edge than a chef knife, used for more precision work,and love by some cooks who prefer a smaller, lighter blade.

Santoku stands for “three virtues” in Japanese, that is slicing, dicing, mincing. you can do 90% cutting tasks with it. For example, use it for chopping vegetables, slicing cooked meats, even taking apart a chicken.
It features a flat edge and a sheep foot-shaped curved angle, available in 5 to 8 inches.7 ” Santoku knife is the most frequent choice.

The blade of the Santoku knife is flat, which doesn’t allow rock motion on the cutting board. Thus, it is less suited for mince herbs, but a better choice for skinny slices of vegetables.

Here are two types of Santoku knives: One is with a standard edge. Another one is with small indentations on the blade to make it easier for food to slide off with minimal tearing.

4. Bread knife

type of kitchen knives - bread knife

Bread knife always comes with a serrated edge, made to slice bread, cakes, and other soft and crunchy baked foods. A serrated bread knife can gently slice through a fluffy loaf without tearing it. Other than bread, sometimes it is also used for meat, poultry, and seafood, and veggies such as watermelons.

Available in 7 to 14 inches, if it is long enough, it will be helpful for slicing holiday roasts and carving a turkey. Many people choose 10″ and 8″ bread knives,unless you need to cut large chunks of food frequently, these two choices are enough for you.

5. Steak knife

type of kitchen knives - steak knife

If not own a good steak knife set, the enjoyment of your delicious meaty dish could be diluted.
Steak knives are not for the cook, but for eating. It is used at the dinner table for cooked food such as steak, chicken, and fish.
It typically has two types: Non-serrated steak knives and serrated steak knives. Serrated steak knives can stay sharp for a longer time without honing or sharpening but are difficult to sharpen. However, straight-edged steak knives are easier to sharpen. Damascus steak knife is the high-end knife set to serve your guest.

If you love serving steak dinner, you must own a steak knife set.

6. Cleaver knife

type of kitchen knives - cleaver knife

Meat cleaver also called “butcher knife”, is a bulky and heavy knife, designed for heavy-duty tasks like chopping through chicken bones.

Generally, a cleaver knife features a full tang handle, a thick spine, and an extremely wide blade with little or no belly to offer immense weight, help provide the tremendous force needed to chop through bones, meat, and hard thick foods such as squash or pumpkin in a chopping motion.

If you usually get the meat that has been cut well in the supermarket, then you don’t need to own a meat cleaver.

But, If you have to handle some heavy task in your kitchen, a butcher knife is a must-have knife to make things better.

7. Kitchen shears

Type of kitchen knives - kitchen shears

Though shears are not technically a type of knife, it is helpful in the daily kitchen.

The strong and sharp blade of a kitchen shear is suitable for snipping herbs, slicing or dicing veggies, preparing shrimp, octopus, and sectioning chicken. It is also good for cut parchment papers and tin foils, slicing pizza, open canned and jarred goods like jarred chilies. It is a good tool for bottle openers or nutcrackers.

The kitchen shear is a great addition to your kitchen.

Nice to Have knives

1. Utility knife

Utility knives are larger than paring knives but not quite as large as chef knives. They’re suitable for slicing and chopping small to midsize vegetables and cuts of meat. The narrow blade and small tip allow more flexible cutting, such as thinner slicing, trimming, and filleting small items.

The length of the utility knife ranges from 4 to 7 inches, the edge of the utility knife could be either straight or serrated.

If you already own or plan to buy the paring knife or slicing knife, then, you don’t need to get a utility knife.

2. Boning knife

A boning knife is one with a flexible narrow thin blade that tapers to a pointed tip, made to separate meat from their accompanying bones and slice through tough connective tissues and joints. Furthermore, it is a better choice to use it to remove the skin from fish as it helps to easily separate the flesh.

Boning knives are typically about 3 to 8 inches in length,6″boning knives with a stiff blade is popular among home cooks.

Finally, if you won’t usually debone the meat, then you can don’t have a boning knife. But, if you are a cutlery school student or a pro chef in a restaurant, it is better to have one.

3. Nakiri knife

Nakiri also called “vegetable knife”, is a Japanese-style knife, designed for enhancing your veg chopping experiences wonderfully.

It features a thin and wide straight blade and squared-off tips, allows it to cut long vegetables such as carrots and eggplants, cucumber, etc. with it, you can slice veggies quickly and easily.

If you often tackle vegetables in the daily meal, the Nakiri knife could be a good choice for you.

4. Cheese knife

A cheese knife typically has holes in the blade to stop cheese sticking and to make serving a whole lot easier. The hole can reduce the cheese’s surface contact with the blade,and reduce sticking. If you like cheese, you can choose one cheese knife set to be your partner.

5. Mincing knife

A mincing knife always has a half-moon or crescent-shaped blade. Work it backwards and forwards over your fresh vegetables or herbs to chop them pronto by hold the knife in both hands.

6. Carving knife

When it comes to serving meats like poultry, pork, lamb, or beef, a carving knife is a perfect tool for a clean, precise cut.

Its thin blade is good for produce thin, neat, evenly sized slices, its indentations on the side of the blade can release each slice easier. The length is usually 7 to15 inches, long enough to carve the turkey, ham, pork, or a beef roast and cut larger fruits and vegetables, such as pumpkin or courgettes.

If you like to garnish foods or usually hold a BBQ party at home, then you can consider having a carving knife.

7. Fillet knife

The fillet knife looks similar to the boning knife.

The distinctions are small, unless you’re an expert in sashimi or chicken boning, you couldn’t find the differences.

The fillet knife is typically thinner, longer, and more flexible to cut thin fish slices. Boning knife, meanwhile, is thicker to separate meat from bones and can endure more force.

If you need to fillet fish often, you can consider it.

Knife Accessory

1. Knife bag or knife block

Many families don’t just own one piece of knife, thus a knife bag or knife block is necessary. Because just place the knives scattered in the kitchen is dangerous.
But, with knife bag or knife block can keep your knives organized in it and be safe and save space in your kitchen.

2. Knife Sharpener

If you want your knife to keep sharp longer, you need to resharpen it regularly. The knife sharpener is good for stainless steel knives. Hold your knife at a fixed angle, then drawn down the knife in one direction repeated times until it becomes sharp again.
When it comes to high-quality Damascus steel knives, you’d better use a high-grind whetstone.

Related post: How to sharpen knives with whetstone

3. Honing steel

Honing steel is another tool to keep the knife sharp, it looks like a long metal rod to correct a blade’s edge after use.

The different parts of a knife: Anatomy of a kitchen knife

After knowing the types of knives, you have a basic knowledge of knives. But, how to find the best knife for a particular task, you also need to figure out the different parts of a single knife and its uses.

We take a versatile chef knife as an example to show the different features of different parts of a knife.

The different parts of a knife Anatomy of a kitchen knife

Bolster: The bolster is the raised area between the blade and the handle for providing extra weight to help balance the knife.it is also can protect fingers from injury during cutting foods

Point: Hand finished to a fine point at the end of the knife blade, used for piercing the surface of the food.

Blade: It is the important part of the knife for cutting food items. The blade materials could be stainless steel, carbon steel, high-carbon stainless steel, Damascus steel, ceramic, titanium, etc.

Edge: How finely the edge is ground has a great influence on the sharpness of the knife. The quality of the edge depends on the quality of steel. High-quality steel can let the edge sharper and hold an edge longer. Generally, the edge could be serrated-edge and straight-edge.

Tip: The tip is the front part of the knife’s edge, suitable for precision cutting work.

Spine: The spine is the upper side of the blade, is important for weight distribution. Usually, a cleaver knife has a thicker spine to make the blade stronger for heavy tough tasks.

Heel: The heel is the widest part of the blade, the underside of the blade. if you need to cut through tougher foods, you can press more pressure on the heel to help you finish work.

Tang: Actually, the tang is also the part of the blade, used for connecting the blade with the handle while offer balance, weight, stability, and strength to the knife.

Normally, a full-tang knife is better than a half-tang knife.

Handle: The knife handle is the part of the knife gripped by the chef during cutting work. It can be made from a variety of materials such as wood, epoxy resin, stabilized wood, G10,Marketa, metal, etc. The shape of the handle is usually designed ergonomically for a great grip feeling.

Handle rivets: Some knives have rivets or screws on the handle for sturdy.

Butt: The bottom of a knife handle, used for fixing the handle.

Conclusion

Knowing types of kitchen knives and their use is the foundation for chefs, whether you are an amateur or pro chef. This helps you find the right knives for your kitchen and help with your enjoying journey in the culinary world.

Are there any other kinds of knives that you think should be on the list? and which type of knife you like best, please let us know in the comment below.

Evan Riddle
I'm a cooking enthusiast, I enjoy making different dishes when I'm free. I've tried different recipes. And this blog is where I share my opinion on kitchen knives and cooking ideas.

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