A kitchen knife is one of the most basic and important tools you should have in your kitchen. With so many types of knives for cooking out there, making the best choice for your kitchen can be overwhelming.
Even though each type of knife has something unique to offer, some of them can be used for multiple purposes very effectively. Choosing what knives to have should depend on how you prepare your food.
Thus, it’s important that you know the different types of knives and their uses so you can decide which ones to have in your kitchen.
Stamped vs. Forged Knives
|STAMPED KNIFE||FORGED KNIFE|
|Thin blade||Thick blade|
|More economical||More expensive|
|More frequent sharpening needed||Less frequent sharpening needed|
|No bolster||With bolster|
|May have a full or partial tang||With full tang|
|More flexible||Less flexible|
|Less durable||More durable|
|Less balanced||More balanced|
Knives are constructed either by stamping or forging.
The blade of a stamped knife is cut from a sheet of steel which is then tempered, sharpened and finished. It is generally lighter and thinner than a forged knife. Since less steel is used in its production, it’s also relatively cheaper.
Due to its characteristics, you may need to use a more downward force and cutting motion when handling a stamped knife. It may also require a more regular sharpening because of its thinner edge.
On the other hand, a forged knife is made from a single piece of steel which is heated to a very high temperature. In this process, the metal’s molecular structure is rearranged. This results into a knife that’s easier to maintain and a cutting edge that stays sharper for much longer.
In most cases, a forged knife has a bolster which is a thick band of steel between the heel and the handle. It helps balance the knife and prevents your hand from slipping across the blade. This also protects your fingers from getting cut. A forged knife also features a full tang. A tang is a part of the blade that extends into the handle. A knife with a full tang is less likely to break at the handle and is more well-balanced making it easier to maneuver.
Different Types Of Kitchen Knives And Their Uses
|Type of Knife||Length||Uses|
|Chef's Knife||6” to 14”||Mincing, cutting meat and chopping vegetables||Read More|
|Paring Knife||2.5” to 4”||Peeling, deveining, garnishing, slicing, and mincing||Read More|
|Boning Knife||3” to 8”||Flexible blade: shaping, denuding, and seaming, boning|
Semi-flexible blade: jointing
Stiff blade: boning beef and pork
|Bread Knife||7” to 10”||Slicing bread, fruits, and vegetables||Read More|
|Slicing Knife||8” to 14”||Slicing or carving meat and poultry||Read More|
|Utility Knife||4” to 7”||Slicing tomatoes or bagels, cutting lettuces and cabbages||Read More|
|Cleaver Knife||6” to 12”||Splitting meat, dicing vegetables, cutting bones||Read More|
|Santoku Knife||6” to 7”||Slicing, dicing, and mincing||Read More|
|Steak Knife||4” to 5”||Cutting meat, fish and salad, spreading butter||Read More|
|Nakiri Bocho Knife||5” to 6”||Cutting vegetables||Read More|
|Fillet Knife||4” to 9”||Filleting fish||Read More|
|Kitchen Shears||Snipping herbs, slicing and dicing vegetables, opening bottles, cracking nuts||Read More|
MUST-HAVE: POPULAR TYPES OF KITCHEN KNIVES
It’s nice to have a complete set of knife that you can occasionally use. But is it necessary? I don’t think so.
Instead of buying a complete set of knives, you can get by your day-to-day cooking with just 5 knives.
The chef’s knife, paring knife, boning knife, bread knife and slicing knife are the ones that are often used in most professional kitchens and I recommend that you have them in your kitchen too.
Also called a “cook’s knife”, the chef’s knife is one of the most important and commonly used knives in the kitchen. Its size ranges from 6 to 14 inches. It typically has a broad blade that tapers upward to a point. This allows the knife to rock back and forth for fast mincing. This multi-purpose knife is also suitable for a wide range of tasks. You can use it for cutting meat, chopping, and slicing vegetable.
Check out this article for the best ceramic chef’s knife.
The paring knife comes second after the chef’s knife when it comes to versatility. It is perfect for intricate works such as peeling fruits or vegetables, deveining shrimps, or creating delicate garnishes. Its length is usually between 2 1/2 to 4 inches.
While it’s great for slicing or mincing many fruits and vegetables, a paring knife should not be used for cutting harder vegetables like carrots which requires a heavier blade.
The boning knife is designed to separate meat from bones. With a length between 3 to 8 inches, its blade can either be flexible, semi-flexible or stiff.
People confuse boning knives and fillet knives because of their appearance. To make the most out of these knives, you should know the difference between them.
The flexible boning knives are used for shaping, denuding, and seaming. They are typically used by experienced butchers for boning roasts, whole hams, lamb legs, veal legs, and filleting fish.
Semi-flexible blades are ideal for jointing while stiff blades, which are most popular among home cooks, make the most precise cuts.
If you don’t usually bone meat, then you won’t need this knife in your kitchen.
A bread knife typically has a long thin blade measuring between 7 to 10 inches in length. They are primarily used for slicing bread, cakes, and other soft and crunchy baked goods because it allows you to saw through them without pushing down or squishing. Its serrated edge is also great for fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, watermelons, citrus, and peppers.
Even though serrated blades cut better than straight ones when dull, they are, difficult to sharpen and require a specialized piece of equipment.
Although it generally has a longer (8 to 14 inches) and narrower blade, a slicing knife functions similarly to a carving knife. It usually has a straight edge with a blunted or rounded tip. It also features kullenschliff (Swedish/German: “hill-sharpened”) or Granton edge (scalloped blades) to improve meat separation.
The slicer is designed to precisely cut smaller and thinner slices of meat. It is better suited for slicing ham, roasts, fish, or barbecued beef and pork and venison. Check out the best slicer knife in the market today and find out how useful they can be.
OTHER COMMON TYPES OF KITCHEN KNIVES
With a length between 4 to 7 inches, the utility knife can either have a straight or serrated edge .
The utility knife is ideal for slicing soft vegetables like tomatoes without tearing. It also does well in slicing bagels or cutting sandwich fixings such as lettuces and cabbages.
This knife is considered a cross between a paring knife and a slicing knife. So if you already have or plan to have the paring knife and slicing knife, you won’t need a utility knife.
The cleaver is a bulky and heavy knife with a sharply beveled edge.
It is used for splitting meat from its bone and chopping hard and thick vegetables like squash and pumpkin. The smaller cleavers can be used for quickly dicing vegetables and fruits.
Also called the “butcher’s knife”, this knife is used to cut through bones and usually found in butchers and restaurants preparing their own meat.
If you don’t prepare your own meat, you can get by without having this knife in your kitchen. However, if you think that this is a must in your kitchen, you should know what to look for when shopping for the best butcher knife.
Santoku is a Japanese term for “three uses” or “three virtues”. It refers to the three cutting tasks which the knife performs well: slicing, dicing, and mincing. This knife’s design is shorter, lighter and thinner than a traditional Western chef’s knife. It is also more hardened to compensate for its thinness. The blade is shaped with a flat edge and a sheepsfoot that curves in an angle. Its length is usually between 6 and 7 inches.
Compared to the chef’s knife, the santoku knife has limited “rocking travel”. In dicing an onion, a chef’s knife generally slices downward and then rocks the tip forward to complete a cut while the Santoku has a more single downward motion and lands from heel to tip.
Santoku knives sometimes sport a hollow edge. This allows them to cut through meat and other sticky materials faster, with more precision, and minimal tearing.
A Santoku knife has an almost similar function to a chef’s knife and has its other unique features too. So if you prefer a smaller and lighter blade. you can use this in place of your chef’s knife.
A steak knife usually comes with a thick, solid handle and a blade of 4 to 5 inches that is either serrated or straight. This knife is not only used for cutting meat, fish, and salads but also for spending butter.
If you love serving steak in your dining table, this knife is a must-have.
Nakiri bocho, a word that translates to “knife for cutting greens”, is a Japanese-style knife. It has a straight-edge blade that is angled from both sides. This knife is suitable for cutting all the way to the cutting board without the need for a horizontal pull or push.
The Nakiri Bocho’s thin blade will definitely make cutting greens easier. If you often prepare vegetables, you should consider adding this to your collection
The fillet knife is used for cutting thin fish slices. Compared to a boning knife which has a much thicker blade that is mainly used for separating meat from the bone, the blade of a fillet knife is much thinner.
Because of the subtle difference between a fillet knife and a boning knife, they can often be used interchangeably.
If you don’t often fillet fish, then you won’t need this in your kitchen.
Although not a knife, the kitchen shear has many useful functions for home cooks. Thus, it deserves to be included in the list.
A kitchen shear has a strong and sharp blade that can be helpful when snipping herbs, slicing and dicing vegetables, and sectioning chicken. You can also use this to cut parchment papers and tin foils.
Most kitchen shears have added features and can be used as bottle openers or nutcrackers.
The kitchen shear is a great choice if you are looking for a tool that can do more than just cutting, slicing or snipping.