Kitchen Knives: Which Knife To Use When

Navigating your way around kitchen knives can be intimidating at first, but with this guide you’ll learn how to handle your cutlery like a pro. While right now, you may have a knife or two that you use for almost every kitchen task, there is no one all-purpose knife. This is why it’s so important to learn the different uses for each type of kitchen knife, because using the right tool for the job really does make all the difference in the ease and agility in which you perform kitchen cutting tasks.



Carving Knife

This knife will have a long blade that will be helpful in carving and slicing meats. Their thin blades provide clean precise cuts when used in a sawing motion. These knives should never be used to chop food items.




Large Filet Knife

This knife is specifically designed to remove the bones of fish with ease. The blade is flexible, long, and thin coming to a sharp point at the end. The flexibility of this knife is the most important feature as it allows the knife to maneuver between the fish and the skin easily.



Bread & Bagel Knife

A bread and bagel knife has a long, thick, flat, serrated blade that is used to easily cut through loaves of bread. Avoid cutting fruits and vegetables with this knife because its serrations are too deep and large to work effectively on those food items.


Chef’s Knife

This useful tool is a necessity for you knife collection. It is one of the most used knives in the kitchen because it is one of the most useful and versatile of the bunch. Its broad, curved blade can be used to perform a variety of tasks from, slice fruits and vegetables to mincing herbs. For an inexperienced chef it is recommended to begin working with a short blade to gain better control over the knife and gradually work your way up to the faster to use long blades.



Saw Knife (Tomato Knife)

This knife is similar to a bread knife in that it has a long, flat, serrated blade that is best used to cut in a back and forth sawing motion. This knife also includes a forked tip to help move and maneuver sliced food. It is also much shorter than a traditional bread knife because it is most often used in the cutting of delicate foods such as tomatoes.


Boning Knife

Although boning knives do come in a few different shapes and sizes depending on your specific needs, their general usefulness is to remove meat from bones. It is also often used to cut fish and poultry. The curves, widths, and stiffness of the blades will vary depending on the knife’s specific deboning function.


Cleaver Knife

A thick-spined, wide-bladed knife the cleaver is most often used to cut through the bones of meat and poultry. Its weight is perfect for chopping tough foods and crushing garlic or seeds. It should not be used for slicing as the blade is too thick and heavy to make clean cuts.



Sportsman Knife

This is a must have knife for hunters as it has been specially designed to quickly and easily stick and skin small and medium game to prepare them for cooking. The thick blade is extremely sharp, and stiff insuring that it will safely pierce the skin and comfortably cut through the meat of your most recent hunting conquest.



Santoku Knife

This is a japanese all purpose knife that is smaller than both the cleaver and the chef’s knife but performs the duties of both. It minces, dices and slices through fruits, vegetables, and meats, although it should not be used on any bones, leave that heavy duty work for the cleaver.



Cheese Knife

Cheese Knives are generally made with short, wide blades to easily cut through both soft and hard cheeses. Some cheese knives will also have perforated holes in their blades to keep the cheeses from sticking to the blades during slicing. While they can be used in the kitchen during food preparation they are most often found on cheese plates as a tool to slice the cheese as needed.


Utility Knife

The utility knife is a mid sized multipurpose knife which is larger than a paring knife but smaller than a chef’s knife, and more versatile than both. There are both serrated and straight edge utility knives to choose from and are often used for cutting large vegetables and sandwich meats.



Paring Knife

There are a few different style paring knives but their basic function is to pare and peel fruits and vegetables. A basic paring knife can get the majority of these jobs done, but if you’re looking to peel something delicate like a tomato you’ll want to invest in a wavy edge paring knife, which has been designed specifically to handle the soft interiors of certain fruits and vegetables.


Garnish Knife

Any professional chef will tell you that no dish is complete without the garnish. A garnish knife is basically a knife that has a completely wavy cutting edge. It is most often used to make crinkle cut pickles for garnishes, although it can be used to cut most fruits and vegetables for professional looking appetizer options.



Electric Knife

Electric knives are usually battery powered and have a sharp serrated edge that moves quickly in a back and forth sawing motion to quickly and effortlessly cut through full turkeys, hams, chickens, and other large chunks of meats. They are most often used in carving turkeys and quickly slicing meat used for sandwiches. While they are not an everyday kitchen knife, they are convenient to have in your arsenal.


(Bonus) Steak Knife

These knives come in both serrated and straight edge options and their thickness will vary by brand. They are most commonly used to cut cooked meat or poultry during dinner, and very rarely are they used in the food preparation stage.

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