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All Types of Kitchen Knives You Need to Know About

Welcome, all aspiring chefs and people who got here by complete accident. Knowing your kitchen knives is the mark of a professional chef, as well as an assassin. No matter which of these statuses you’re trying to achieve, it’s about time you for you to discover all types of kitchen knives.

Not only will this make your work in the kitchen a lot more accessible, but it will also bless you with complete confidence when shopping for kitchen tools. For example, this will ensure you won’t buy a filleting knife to cut your filet mignon and that you don’t refer to a salmon knife as a “katana.” 

I’ll cover all types of kitchen knives you may encounter and help you recognize them, pick the best quality ones, and use them for their God-granted purposes only. You will also find some neat tricks for caring for your knives at the end of this article and a rough guide on which of these you actually need in your kitchen. 

Let’s begin – I don’t want to keep you on edge. 

Multi-purpose knives

Chef’s knife

Chef's knife
Source: spy

Starting with something easy, let’s talk about the classic chef’s knife for a second. You will find this knife in most kitchens due to its versatility. It has a long, broad blade with a straight edge. The blade’s widest part is the one closest to the heel, from which it tapers into a fine point. 

It is meant to be rocked back and forth on the cutting board, allowing you to chop and dice many vegetables at once. Due to its broad blade, it can sustain a lot of pressure, which makes it perfect for cutting harder foods, such as potatoes and parsnips. 

Santoku

Santoku

Santoku bocho translates into “three uses,” which refer to mincing, dicing, and slicing. These are a fancier version of the classic chef’s knives but feature a slighter curve of the edge with a sharp tip. This is due to their turned-down spine, which is called a sheep’s foot blade. 

They are the kids of the traditional Japanese vegetable knife, which has a rectangular blade, and so they are great at creating thin slices. The indents on the sides of the blade make it easier to release each slice. You can use them for vegetables, meat, seafood, or cheese. 

Gyuto

Gyuto

Gyuto knives are the edgier version of the Western chef’s knife. They are just as versatile but perform their best work with meat. In fact, “gyuto” translates to “cow sword.”

They feature the same broad heel of a chef’s knife, with an edge that is generally straight. It is intended to be used in a slicing motion rather than back-and-forth rocking, but it works very well either way. Its blade is typically thinner and lighter than that of a Western chef’s knife, with its balance point a bit closer to the tip. 

Utility knife

Utility knife

A utility knife is the pocket version of a chef’s knife. They look exactly the same, with the utility knife being a bit smaller and slimmer. Some even have a sharper tip, which tapers toward the spine for really intricate work. You can use this type of knife for cutting and dicing smaller fruit and veggies or for creating visual details on your food. 

It is an excellent precision instrument that works perfectly for all jobs that your chef’s knife is too big to handle. Ever had a tomato rose? You can do that with a utility knife.  

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Meat knives

Cleaver | Butcher’s knife | Cimeter steak knife

Cleaver | Butcher’s knife | Cimeter steak knife

Cleavers are the tools you need when you work with a lot of meat or when directing a horror flick. They have a flat, rectangular blade, and they come in a lot of sizes to accommodate many different uses. Their large, heavy designs make it easy to cut through raw meat and even bones. This is why they are the best tool for chopping up the meat into cooking portions. And this is also why they are called butcher’s knives. 

Boning knife

Boning knife
Source: cutleryandmore

Boning knives are not as helpful during the butchering process, but they are invaluable for your traditional kitchen. They feature a long, slim blade that ends into a sharp tip. The blade is usually somewhat rigid, although you can find more flexible options for more delicate meats. 

It is supposed to help you cut through smaller bones and cartilage, detach the meat from its bones and trim away your cut before cooking. 

Carving knife

Carving knife
Source: robbreport

Carving knives are more niche but absolutely vital if you take pride in your beef roasts. However, they have a long, straight, narrow blade that ends in a rounded point – so they are probably not great for assassins. 

They come in handy after cooking large cuts of beef, pork, or even turkey, and they make carving slices very easy. The blade features long indents on each side, so each slice is quickly released. They are a great addition to your collection if you love slow-cooked roasts, but they can sometimes make vegans uncomfortable. 

Vegetable knives

Nakiri

Nakiri

A Nakiri looks like a smaller meat cleaver, but it is used mainly for vegetables. In fact, “nakiri” literally translates to “veggie cutter.” The straight blade allows you to employ a lot of pressure, so you can use it for chopping the hardest vegetables with a lot of ease. 

But don’t let its rugged looks fool you. This versatile knife can also be used for precision work, like mincing garlic and chopping herbs. So, if you don’t usually cook meat, this is probably the knife you need. Not to mention, you’ll look really cool handling it. 

Usuba

usuba
Source: globalkitchenjapan

Usuba is the knife to use if you want to manifest a career as a professional Japanese chef. Their blade is rectangular, only a lot longer and narrower than a Nakiri blade (“usuba” means “thin blade”). This allows the chef to cut perfect slices of vegetables without the risk of cracking them. For this, it is mainly used for foods that are served raw. Its thin and sharp blade produces slices with very little cell damage, minimizing discoloration and change in flavor. 

Paring knife

paring knife

Paring knives are typically 3-4 inches long, and they are used for preparing small fruit and veggies. Their size allows for easy precision work, so they are great for creating intricacies and preparing garnishes. 

They are also great for small peel jobs and removing outer layers from veggies and fruit. In fact, to pare means to cut away the outer surface. Plus, due to its small size, you can use this knife for many tasks around the house. Just remember to put it back when you’re finished.  

Fish knives

Fillet knife

fillet knife
Source: fishermanstips

A fillet knife is the knife to have if you want to look like a ninja. They feature a trailing point blade and are made for slicing and skinning. A fillet knife is mainly used for skinning and deboning fish, but some have more rigid blades and can be used for delicate meat such as poultry. Their blades are long, narrow, and feature a very sharp point for easy puncturing. Their bevel is typically between 12 and 17 degrees, making for a razor-sharp edge. Needless to say, this is a knife you need to handle with precaution. 

Salmon knife

Salmon knife
Source: YouTube

Salmon knives have really long, narrow, and flexible blades. Typically, they end in a rounded tip, but some feature a sharp point for puncturing. They are used for slicing and skinning larger fish, preponderantly salmon. Their flexible blade allows cutting of very thin, even slices of fish, but they can also be used for sectioning cakes and pastries. 

Specialty knives

Bread knife | Cake knife

bread knie

I’ll give you a second to guess what a bread knife is generally used for. Come on; there are no wrong answers. These knives have a straight, serrated edge that makes cutting soft bread and cakes, well, a piece of cake. It is also the perfect tool for shaping and leveling cakes for decorating, and it earns its place in the kitchen when dealing with tougher crusts. 

You can recognize it by its specific shape, which looks like a Santoku knife with serrated teeth. 

Steak knife

A steak knife is what you use at the dinner table to cut through cooked meat. We’ve all seen this one, and I don’t want to waste any of your precious time by describing it. Instead, how about a fun fact? 

We have Cardinal Richelieu to thank for the steak knife. He was just done with dinner guests using the long, multi-purpose kitchen knives at the dinner table. Mostly because his guests used to pick their teeth with it. After his death, King Louis XIV made it illegal to use pointed knives, which brought us the blunt-tipped steak knife we know and love today. 

Tomato knife

Can’t go a day without a thinly sliced tomato? Boy, do I have something in store for you. A tomato knife is a small, serrated knife that was engineered to perfection for slicing through tomatoes. Many of them feature forked tips that allow you to lift and move the slices after cutting. Its teeth make it easy to cut through the skin with minimal pressure, and its blades are perfectly proportioned for their use. What I mean is that they are tomato-sized. 

Fluting knife

A fluting knife is more handle than knife, with a blade that typically ranges between 2 and 4 inches. It is a lot wider at the heel, then tapers into a very sharp point. It actually looks like a shorter, smaller version of a paring knife. And, coincidentally, they are used for the same purpose. You can use a fluting knife for delicate peeling and creating small, intricate garnishes. 

Trimming knife

A trimming knife is a sleeker version of a fluting knife. It has a small, 2 to 3 inches long blade, but it is a lot more narrow and curved, reminiscent of a boning knife. It is generally used for trimming away excess fat, creating pockets in meats for stuffing, as well as everything else a fluting knife can do. 

Cheese knife

Lastly, cheese knives come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but if you ever saw a tomato knife, you’ll have a deja vu with this one. It features a long, narrow blade that usually ends in a forked tip. You probably have the same number of cheese knife varieties as you have actual cheese types. Chisel knives, spreaders, cheese cleavers, soft cheese knives, parm knives, the possibilities are endless. And, to be honest, you can only use them for cheese plates. So you will only need one if you’re feeling exceptionally bourgeois. 

Kitchen Shears

I know shears are not considered knives by any means. But they do cut through food, and this is a comprehensive guide. They differ from regular scissors through their pivot point, which is further away from the handles and closer to the beginning of their short blades. Typically, they come with one or both serrated blades, and they are used to snipping herbs, cutting food packages, and breaking down poultry. 

What are the different knife features?

Think about some obscure use for a kitchen knife. Something you don’t imagine yourself ever needing. Well, someone probably thought about that first, and they probably also designed a knife for it. It’s pretty much impossible to analyze all the different knife features that you can find on the market, but here are some of the most common ones. 

Parts of a knife – Source: Food Fire Friends

The blade is the part of the knife that is used for cutting. It is made of metal and usually continues into the handle. The extension is called a tang, and you will find full tang and partial tang knives. 

The edge of a knife is the sharp, beveled side of the blade that you use for cutting. Next to the handle, it will have a small, dull section called a ricasso. It then continues into the sharpened edge, up until the point. The curve leading to the tip of the blade is called the belly. 

The spine is the other side of the blade, which remains unsharpened. 

The handle is the part where you grip the knife. It is made of various materials, such as plastic or rubber. You’ll find many types of handles that promote adherence, comfort, precision, etc. 

The guard of a knife is located between the blade and the handle, with its main purpose being to prevent your hand from slipping onto the blade. 

How to take care of your kitchen knives?

Sharpening

To keep your knives working their best, you will need to sharpen them regularly. Different types of knives come with different sharpening requirements, but all of them will require a bit of freshening up, once in a while. 

There are many methods you can use for sharpening your knives, ranging from completely automated methods to painfully time-consuming (and satisfying) manual ones. Usually, you can make do with hand-held sharpening devices, but an electrical sharpener might be your saving grace if you have an extensive collection. 

If you want to get fancy with it, you can use a whetstone. This will allow you complete control over the result, but you’ll need to get over the steep learning curve. 

Generally, sharpening your tools every 1-2 months is advisable. You can preserve your knives in top condition by honing them every few days. 

Cleaning

It’s generally a bad idea to clean your knives in the washing machine. You should strive to wash and immediately dry your knives manually, after every use. Depending on the material, some other precautions might be necessary, such as using mineral oil or wax to avoid stains and corrosion. 

Yet, for the average knife, washing them with soapy, lukewarm water will generally do the trick. Just make sure to never leave them in the sink. Knives don’t need soaking, don’t cheat. Finish your chores. 

Storing

Proper storage is vital to ensure your knives will serve you well for a really long time. You don’t want to leave them floating in a drawer, somewhere, as that’s the fastest way to damage the blades. And the easiest way to cut yourself. 

Invest in a knife block or wooden drawer support that will keep your knives nicely tucked in and ready for the next meal. 

Alternatively, you can get a magnetic strip to mount on your wall. This allows you to quickly see what available knives you have. And if you want to get really fancy, how about a knife roll? Guaranteed to turn some heads. 

What knives do you actually need?

Even if you’re not wildly passionate about cooking, it’s really easy to start wanting to collect knives. I mean, if you didn’t need a different knife for any possible task you can do in a kitchen, then why do they make all of these knives? 

In fact, I was really close to buying some extras just by writing this article. It’s a serious disease. But, in reality, you don’t need all of these types of cooking knives. In fact, you could make do with just a few of them. 

In an attempt to save your wallet, I’ve made a table with the absolute necessities, along with some different kitchen knives that you might want to have around. You probably won’t notice not having them, but when you do, they might inspire you to try new things. 

Must-havesNice-to-haves
• Multi-purpose knife
• Paring knife
• Boning knife
• Kitchen shears
• Honing steel
• Meat cleaver
• Utility knife
• Serrated knife

Final word

If you only take one thing from this article, it should be that you should probably steer clear of kitchen knives sets. They usually come with many options you don’t really need, and we all know that simplicity is the way to go in the kitchen. 

There are so many knife designs and uses out there, and you should carefully consider which ones you truly need, according to your cooking style. Are you a vegan? You’ll love a Nakiri. Are you a meat lover? Then you should get a cleaver, and maybe a carving knife. 

Are you looking to impress your guests with homemade radish flowers, just like those you get in fancy Asian restaurants? Look for a fluting knife. 

Either way, try your best to keep your collection small and perfect for your daily uses. This will ensure you do your best work, save money for good-quality tools and also keep your space clean and clutter-free. 

But, in the end, I know just how fun collecting knives can be. It inspires you to try new dishes, gives you confidence and makes you feel safe in the case of psychopathic murderers entering the house. So, don’t let anyone shame you for your passion.

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