A slicing knife is an essential kitchen tool for any cook. It looks much like a carving knife, but the blade is longer and thinner with a pointed or curved tip that allows you to cut clean slices without tearing or shredding. Slicing knives are typically 8-14 inches (20cm-35cm) in length.
Chefs and knife fanatics use slicing knives to make thin cuts of meats, fruits, and vegetables. You can also use a slicing knife to cut delicate pastries and pies. The blades are extremely sharp, allowing for very thin, precise slices through soft foods, including tomatoes, salami, and bread.
This article will take you through all you need to know about slicing knife uses, including the different types, how to choose one, and how to care for the knife. We’ll also discuss how a slicing knife compares with other kitchen knives.
What is a slicing knife?
A slicing knife is a long, thin knife with a pointed or curved tip and a narrow blade. The long and straight edge allows you to cut thin slices without tearing or shredding. Its blade is flexible and lightweight, allowing for easier and delicate work.
While most slicing knives are extremely sharp, you might not want to use yours for cutting through bone or tougher foods. Slicing knives are ideal for soft foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and bread. For tougher foods, use a utility knife or a cleaver.
Uses of a slicing knife
At the height of summer, when fruits and vegetables are in season, a good slicing knife is all you need for light work of fruit salads or crudité platters. You can also use a slicing knife to cut delicate pastries and pies. The key is to use a long, thin blade that glides through the food easily without tearing it apart.
Slicing knife uses range from cutting slices of cooked meats to fried eggs to complimenting your freshly baked pies. The knife’s narrow blade also makes it easier to cut smaller foods into uniform pieces. For example, if you’re preparing scalloped potatoes or potato casseroles, a slicing knife can slice the potatoes paper-thin and help layer them in the pan for a perfect presentation.
Below are some other common uses of slicing knives you might encounter in the kitchen.
- Cutting slices of cooked meats, including roast beef or ham
- Pieces delicate pastries or pies
- Layer scalloped potatoes in a baking dish
- Thinly slice salami for sandwiches
- Thinly slice vegetables to layer on platters (like crudités)
- Cutting small foods into uniform pieces, such as scallops or cucumbers
- Cutting cured meats, such as salami and prosciutto
How to properly use a slicing knife
There are different types of slicing knives designed for use with different foods. A slicing knife with a straight-edge blade is ideal for cutting through meats and other dense foods.
A slicing blade can either be flat or feature fluted edges. The flat blade is ideal for ham, cheese, or bread because it has a large surface area. The dimples on a fluted slicer knife allow air pockets between the food and the knife that help the knife slice through the food with ease. A fluted slicer knife is ideal for slicing through cold meats and smoked salmon.
Follow these steps to use a slicing knife properly:
- Set up your workstation by laying out your food. A cutting board is a must when using a slicing knife. If you’re cutting delicate food like a cake, use a pan with sides or place it on a baking sheet.
- Position the food, so you have enough room to move your arm without knocking anything over.
- When slicing, hold the handle of the knife firmly and use your dominant hand to maintain control. Slice the food with steady and even strokes, keeping your fingertips curled under so you don’t hurt yourself if your knife slips.
- Slice through the entire length of the food so that you can get even and consistent slices.
- To avoid tearing up your food, apply light pressure. If you feel like the knife is sticking, then you’re applying too much pressure.
How to choose a slicing knife
While you can use a carving knife to do some of the tasks listed above, only a slicing knife will give you those clean cuts. It’s important to select a high-quality knife that is well balanced and designed for the task at hand.
You must consider your needs before choosing a slicing knife. Take into account the food you’ll be cutting and whether or not it will require an especially sharp blade. A good rule of thumb is to use a slicing knife for soft foods like tomatoes, bread, and meats.
Below are crucial things you need to consider when choosing a slicing knife.
Types of slicing knives
While slicing knives are long, thin knives with a pointed or curved tip and flexible blades, the type you choose will depend on your exact needs.
The three main types are:
- Salmon slicer
- Ham slicer
- Japanese slicing knives
A salmon slicer is the type of knife you need if you plan to roast or bake a whole salmon or fillet it for serving. This type of knife works because the blade is extremely flexible and thin. A sharp tip allows the blade to glide through the fish without tearing apart the flesh.
As the name suggests, a salmon slicer is an ideal knife for slicing whole, baked, or poached salmon into thin, even slices. However, you can use the salmon slicer for slicing or portioning other types of soft-cooked foods.
The knife features a hollow ground and flexible blade with a rounded tip. The ideal length for a salmon slicer is about 11.8 inches.
A ham slicer is a good choice if you plan to slice ham, cured meats, or cooked poultry. Its long blade makes it easy for the knife to cut through the food without ripping it apart. The ham slicer is also ideal for cutting slices of cheese, melons, and cooked meats.
A ham slicer features a long, narrow blade that starts at the tip of the knife and tapers down to the handle. You can usually find blades ranging from about 9 inches to 13 inches in length. The ideal ham slicer features a stainless steel blade with a sharp tip or rounded tip and has enough heft to slice meat or cheese without taking too much off the top.
Japanese slicing knives
The Japanese slicing knife is like a cross between a traditional slicer and a ham slicer. Like the ham slicer, it has a long, narrow blade with a sharp tip suitable for cutting thin slices of meats and cheeses. However, its flexible blade also gives you better control when using the knife to cut sushi rolls or other foods.
The Japanese version of the slicing knife, the sujihiki, features a grind that resembles a bevel and is produced with both sides of the blade tapering evenly from the spine to the cutting edge. The ideal length of the blade is about 10 to 14 inches.
The ideal material for a slicing knife is stainless steel. Stainless steel is a good choice because it’s corrosion-resistant, and has the ability to hold its edge well. Slicing knives need to be flexible enough to move through food without tearing it apart. The stainless steel material ensures that the knife’s blade is strong yet flexible enough to slice through food without the risk of breaking.
Other knife essentials
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While most people may ignore the kitchen knife handle, it’s a crucial part of the slicing knife. It determines how easy the knife is to use. A handle should provide a secure grip, so you don’t have to worry about slippage. Plus, it should feel comfortable in your hand so you won’t get tired when slicing for long periods.
The ideal handle material for a slicing knife is wood. You should also check to see which type of handle feels the most comfortable in your hand. It should be easy to contour to the shape of your hand while providing a secure grip.
When it comes to slicing knives, the blade design is crucial. Some slicing knives feature a rounded or pointed tip, but the most common blade design is a straight edge. A sharp tip helps you glide the knife through food without tearing it apart while a straight edge blade gives you better control.
The ideal blade design should be thin so you can slice foods with minimal pressure. The blade should be flexible but not too flexible to where it feels flimsy in your hand when slicing. A flexible blade ensures that the knife will cut through food smoothly without tearing or ripping apart the flesh.
The prices of a slicing knife range between $13 low to $130 high. A good slicing knife should be affordable enough to fit your budget but not so cheap that it won’t provide you with a good value. Factors that affect the pricing of slicing knives include the handle type, knife length, and design material.
Slicing knife vs carving knife vs filleting knife
It may be hard to tell the difference between slicing knives, carving knives, and filleting knives. The main differences lie in the design, use, and features of the knife.
The table below should help you differentiate the three knives based on their size, features, and uses.
|Slicing knife||8 Inches – 14 inches (20cm -35 cm)||Rounded or pointed tip Straight edge blade Thin/narrower blades More flexible blade Longer blades||Cut thinner slices of fruits and roast vegetables.Slicing and carving thin slices of meat, ham, beef and fish.|
|Carving knife||8 inches – 10 inches (20cm – 25cm)||Features a ridged, thicker bladeCurved pointed tipLimited flexibility, but the ridged blade ensures more control.||Carving dense meats Slice large roasts of meat|
|Filleting knife||4 Inches – 9 inches ( 10cm -23cm)||Flat edgedShort and narrow blade Thin and relatively flexible||Skinning fish Deboning Filleting fish|
Upkeep a slicing knife
Proper knife maintenance is important to ensure that your slicing knife will last for a long time. Below are instructions on how to clean, store, sharpen your slicing knife.
Cleaning a slicing knife is easy. After you use your knife, wash it off with warm water and mild soap. Wipe it dry with a paper towel or kitchen cloth. It’s not advised to place a high-quality knife in a dishwasher.
The best way to sharpen a slicer knife is to use a whetstone. Follow the steps below to achieve effective results:
- Choose a whetstone that is appropriate for your slicer knife. The ideal grit level for a slicer knife is 3000 – 8000. If your slicer knife has chips and dents, start with a coarser grit level (below 1000).
- Soak the whetstone in water for 5-10 minutes. The wet surface provides a smooth glide while maintaining enough friction to sharpen the knife.
- Find the sharpening angle for your knife. The ideal sharpening angle is 22.5 degrees. Position your slicer knife so it’s perpendicular to the whetstone (90 degrees). Rotate halfway on either side of the blade to make a 45-degree angle. Go halfway again to achieve a 22.5-degree angle.
- Hold the handle with your dominant hand and place your other hand’s fingers on the spine of the knife.
- With steady and even strokes, apply pressure to the edge of the blade as you move it across your whetstone. Maintaining a 22.5-degree angle throughout your strokes should help you achieve the right sharpening angle.
- Repeat steps five 6-7 times on one side of the blade then change to the other side.
- Polish the edge of your blade with a fine-grit stone. The ideal grit level for polishing is 5000-8000. You can use a honing rod for regular touch-ups.
- Wipe off the stone residue with a damp, clean cloth and dry it thoroughly. Store your whetstone in a dry place.
The best knife storage solution for your slicing knife is to use a block or knife sheath. Other methods you should consider are a wall with a magnetic stripe or a drawer with a special knife insert.
Slicing knife uses include cutting thin slices of meat for roasts and slicing fruits and vegetables for salads. There are different types of slicing knives, each for designated uses. Choosing the best blade depends on the type of food you’re trying to cut. If your blade starts to dull, it’s best to have them sharpened professionally.
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