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The Different Types of Kitchen Knives and What They’re Used for

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While the types of kitchen knives may vary, they all serve a unique purpose. Each knife in a kitchen knife set can be used for different types of cutting needs and is designed to do so with optimum efficiency.

As we mention in our home essentials checklist, you need a good collection of knives when you are starting out; knowing which knives do what can help a lot. This post will go through various types of kitchen knives that will help you find the perfect knife set for your needs!

types of kitchen knives

The Must-Have Kitchen Knives

Chef Knife

chef knife

Chef’s knives are usually the first type of kitchen knife a cook will buy, as it’s perfect for most types of cooking tasks.

The chef’s knife is a kitchen essential. Sometimes called the “cook’s knife,” this multi-purpose blade can be used to chop, mince, and slice meat with ease thanks to its broad blade that tapers upward into a point. The chef’s knife is a versatile tool and comes in various sizes ranging from six inches up to 14 inches long, so you’ll never have trouble finding one suited for your needs. 

What is a chef knife used for?

A chef knife is used for chopping, slicing, and dicing. Chef’s knives are also used for preparing food before cooking it, such as boning poultry or trimming meat off the bone. They are an essential part of every professional knife set. 

The chef knife has a curved blade and allows it to rock back and forwards on a chopping board. This can make chopping and mincing your vegetables a lot easier. Chef’s knives are typically stainless steel knives, though other materials can be used for the blade, as we will discuss more later in the article.

Best of all, we’ve gathered the best chef knives in several areas so you can find one that fits your budget. 


Paring Knife

Paring Knife

A paring knife is a small kitchen knife typically between two inches and four inches. Paring knives have a straight blade with a pointed tip that makes them perfect for small tasks such as peeling fruit, deveining shrimp, or chopping vegetables.

Paring knives are also used for tasks that require precision, such as coring an apple or cutting the brown skin from a lemon.

What is a Paring Knife Used For?

So what is a paring knife used for? The small but mighty paring knife is perfect for cutting, micing, and slicing fruits and vegetables. Paring knives can also be used to peel potatoes or remove the seeds from fruit like an apple. In addition, the smaller size of paring knife blades makes them easy to maneuver around finer tasks without being too heavy-handed with delicate food items that are hard on a larger blade in one hand.


Bread knife

bread knife

A bread knife is a kitchen knife with a serrated edge, typically seven to ten inches long. It’s designed to cut through tough types of food that regular knives cannot, such as crusty loaves of bread or stale baguettes.

The serrated blade has saw-like teeth on one side, which allow it to slash through the tough outer surface without compressing the inside too much. The other side can be smooth to not tear at the bread as you slice it.

What is a bread knife used for?

These types of serrated blades are used to slice bread evenly without crushing them or tearing the crust apart (which is just a sin to do a fresh loaf of bread). . A bread knife is also sometimes called an all-purpose utility knife because it has a serrated edge that can be used for many types of cutting tasks, including slicing tough vegetables and meats.

A bread knife is used for slicing bread and cutting hard types of foods, such as cheese, hardened brown sugar clumps in a bag, or the crusty top layer of a loaf of bread. The serrated edge can also be used to cut soft types of food items that are difficult to slice with other types of knives because they don’t require the knife to be sharpened often.


Steak Knife

Amazon Basics 8-Piece Kitchen Steak Knife Set, Black

Steak knives are types of knives that have been designed exclusively to slice types of meat, poultry, or other types of foods.

There are two types that you should be aware of serrated steak knives and non-serrated steak knives. Non-serrated steak knives can be used on cooked and raw types of foods, just like a regular kitchen knife.

What is a steak knife used for?

The types of food that the serrated blade is typically used on are cooked meats and items like tomatoes, breads, and soft types of cheese. It’s best to avoid using this type of blade on foods like raw meats or vegetables because it can cause them to tear apart easier. So think of them more as a dinner knife rather than a prepping knife.


Shopping for your kitchen? Make sure to get our Kitchen Essentials List . It has over 200 items for your kitchen, from the appliances right down to the toothpicks.


Additional Types of Kitchen Knives

Utility Knife

HENCKELS Solution Utility Knife, 6-inch, Black/Stainless Steel

As the name suggests, a utility knife is a general-purpose kitchen knife that can be used for many types of tasks in and out of the kitchen. The blade ranges from 4 to 7 inches long; the size you use is dependent on individual preferences. This knife is in the chef’s knife family. 

Utility Knives can be either serrated or straight-edged with a pointed tip and a curved blade that is sharp on the inside edge, making it perfect for slicing cakes or pies where you want to cut all the way through without crushing them.

The blade of this type of kitchen knife derives its name from its versatility as it can be used for cutting vegetables and fruits and slicing bread. 

What is a Utility Knife Used For?

Utility knives are commonly used for prepping produce before cooking and in the kitchen to cut larger items that shorter blades cannot reach (such as meat bones or whole chickens).

The most common use for this type of knife is trimming meat off the bone if you do not have a boning knife or fillet knife. However, it can also be used for slicing and dicing vegetables or chopping herbs.


Santoku Knife

Victorinox Fibrox Pro Santoku Knife, 6.7 inches, Black

A Santoku knife is a general-purpose kitchen knife. It originated from Japan and is designed to be an all-around cutting tool for foods that need precision rather than brute strength, such as vegetables, meat, and fish. The blade of the Santoku typically ranges from six inches to seven inches.

This is a traditional Japanese-style chef’s knife with an angled blade, which makes it versatile for chopping or slicing vegetables and meat.

What is a Santoku knife used for?

Santoku knives are known as vegetable knives. Santoku knives are perfect for chopping, slicing, dicing, and mincing vegetables as well as meats. Santoku knives are also suitable for slicing meat and skinning poultry, as well as trimming the fat. Santoku-style blades are typically thicker than most Western chefs’ knife blades.

Santoku Knives are excellent knives to use when food needs to be cut quickly as they have a straight edge with no curve on the blade – this makes them easier to control and less dangerous than more traditional blades.

Read more in our Santoku vs. Chef knife comparison.


Carving knife

MAIRICO Ultra Sharp Premium 11-inch Stainless Steel Carving Knife - Ergonomic Design - Best for Slicing Roasts, Meats, Fruits and Vegetables

A carving knife is a long blade with a tapered point used to slice or carve the meat into thin slices and carve meats from the bone. Carving knives typically have either a straight edge or serrated blade, depending on the preference of the person using them.

When do you use a carving knife?

A carving knife is typically used for slicing through cooked roasts and other types of large cuts of meat, cartilage-like turkey wings, goose joints, and pork chops near the end of their roast cooking time.

You can also get electric carving knives, here are the best.


Tomato knife

Wusthof CLASSIC Tomato Knife, One Size, Black, Stainless Steel

Tomato knives are typically five to six-inch blades with a double-pointed tip at one end, making them perfect for slicing small tomatoes without smashing the inside. The other side is sharpened, which helps when you’re trying to slice off every bit from the cored tomato or making simple swirls into some guacamole. Tomato knives also usually have an ergonomic non-slip handle, so you don’t lose grip during use.

When do you use a tomato knife?

Tomato knives can be used for cutting tomatoes. These knives come in different shapes and sizes, depending on your needs. Some tomato knives have a curved blade that allows them to cut through thicker skin with ease, or they may have serrated edges that can make quick work of the thin skin found on most varieties of tomatoes.


Cleaver Knife or Butcher Knife

Zwilling  J.A. Henckels Twin Signature Chinese Chef Knife, Chinese Cleaver Knife, Vegtable Cleaver, 7-Inch, Stainless Steel, Black

A butcher knife, or meat cleaver, is an extremely sharp kitchen knife with a short, wide blade and is used for hacking through meat, poultry, or bones. The rectangular-shaped blade is usually six to twelve inches long.

The beveled edge blade of butcher knives is typically a long, straight, and narrow-bladed knife that has been designed to allow cooks to slice through big slabs of meat with ease.


What types of food does the butcher knife cut?

A cleaver is a kitchen knife designed to cut through thick types of food, such as bone-in meats.  A butcher’s knife can be used in several types of food preparation, including removing or cutting through the bones from a chicken or cutting up raw meat.

This is a knife that you can wait to buy, but for some hunters and cooks who prep their own meat, it’s a must-have.


Boning Knife

Wüsthof Classic Curved Boning Knife, 6-Inch, black (1040134516)

A boning knife is a knife that has a narrow, sharp blade and is typically used for cutting meat off the bone. Their blades range from 5 to 6.5 inches in length.

The thin blades of a boning knife can also be used to remove bones from raw poultry with ease as it has a more flexible blade than others on the list.

The boning knife often features a curved edge on one side of the blade which helps it glide through large slabs of meat easily while preventing them from tearing apart as they are cut.

Boning Knife types:

Boning knives come in two types, with either a curved or straight blade. Straight-edged boning knives are typically used for bone removal and cutting meat off the bones.

Curved-edge is usually preferred because it helps make slicing through large slabs of meat easier while preventing them from tearing apart as they are cut. However, if you have a lot of bone-in meat then a flexible boning knife is a must as you will get much more meat from your cuts.


Fish Knives

Fillet knife

Wüsthof Classic IKON Fillet Knife, 7-Inch, black (1040333818)

A fillet knife is a kitchen utensil that has been designed to make it easy to trim and peel off meat from the bone, mainly types of fish like salmon, tuna, or tilapia.

The types of knives typically range from four inches to nine inches. The blade is thin and flexible so that cooks can easily trim off meat without crushing it as they go along. This type of knife also has a pointed edge which makes peeling the skin away from the meat easy.

What types of food does the fillet knife cut?

A fillet knife is used for peeling away meat from a bone, and it can also be used to make thin slices in types of cooked meats such as chicken or steak that are too difficult to slice using other types of knives. More often it’s used on fish to prepare the meat for frying or cooking. 


Salmon knife

WÜSTHOF Model , Gourmet 11 Inch Salmon Slicer Knife, Hollow Edge | Precise Laser Cut High-Carbon Stainless Steel German Made

Salmon knives are one of the most popular types of knives for raw fish preparation and are typically used to cut Salmon filets from a Salmon. Salmon knives have long, sharp blades which allow cooks to use them with ease when it comes time to prepare fresh salmon fillets.

What is a salmon knife used for?

A salmon knife is used for removing Salmon filets from the Salmon. This type of knife can also be used for stripping and peeling away Salmon skin, but this is a task that really should only be left to someone who knows what they are doing (aka not me).

Salmon knives have long blades, making it easy to cut through large slabs of Salmon fillets without worrying about any tearing or shredding happening on the blade as you go along.

If you eat a lot of salmon, this is a very useful type of knife for your kitchen.


Oyster Knife

Victorinox 7.6399.3-X1 Oyster Knife 2-3/4-Inch Hooked Tip New Haven Style Blade, Red SuperGrip Handle

Oyster knives have a narrow blade ideal for use in shucking Oysters and Mussels. Oyster knives are often single-edge blades that come to a narrow point which works well for removing Oysters from their shell. They also tend to be lighter weight than other kitchen cutlery – perfect for the unique needs they provide.

While Oysters can be prepared with any type of knife, Oyster Knives help provide the perfect balance between delicacy and efficiency in preparation.


Nakiri Knife

Wusthof Classic 7-Inch Nakiri Knife with Hollow Edge,

The Nakiri is a Japanese-style knife, straight blade and one of the most popular knife types for cutting vegetables. Its thin blade will definitely make quick work out of preparing greens, and it’s versatile enough to be used in other tasks as well!

What types of food does a nakiri knife cut?

The flat blade of the Nakiri knife is most commonly used for slicing and chopping vegetables. It’s one of the best vegetable knives you can get.

The challenge with the Nakiri knife is that you don’t use it the same way you would a chef knife.  When using a chef knife or even santoku you would use a rocking motion, but with a Nakiri knife, you go up and down. Which takes a bit of getting used to but makes much nicer cuts of your vegetables.

See the best Nakiri knives here and learn more about these great vegetable knives.


Peeling knife

WÜSTHOF Gourmet Two and a Quarter Inch Peeling Knife | 2 1/4" German Peeling Knife | Precise Laser Cut High Carbon Stainless Steel Trimming Knife – Model 4030-7

A peeling knife is a knife that’s used to peel vegetables and fruit. Peeling knives has a sharp blade, so it can easily cut through the skin of most fruits or vegetables without damaging their flesh. Peeling knives are also good for slicing off pieces from an apple, pear, or other firm fruit type.

Peelers typically have a straight edge with rounded tips – these features make peels easier because they don’t need much effort to get under the tough outer layer.


Kitchen Shears

Wusthof Come-Apart Kitchen Shears, Black (5558-1) Kitchen shears typically have a sharp point on the inside of one blade to use for piercing types of types soft types foods and then can be used to cut, slice, or chop them. The two blades of kitchen shears are not connected at the base like types of scissors but are offset and connected by a pivot so that they open when they are squeezed together. This makes cleaning them a lot easier. 

Utility shears can be used for light cutting tasks, such as trimming away types types types stringy types types types pieces from artichokes or flowers from fresh herbs. It can also be used to cut through raw chicken bones when preparing a raw chicken. 


Knife Sharpener

A knife sharpener is a tool that is used to sharpen knives (thank you captain obvious right?). Knife sharpeners are typically made of metal or ceramic and can be found in manual or electric models. Knife edges get dull over time from cutting through tough foods like meat and vegetables and need constant maintenance with a knife sharpener.

The other kind of knife sharpener is honing steel, which realigns the knife blade. Honing steel blades are typically made of metal and can be found in manual or electric models, but they don’t actually sharpen a dull edge like sharpening stones do. Knife edges get uneven from constant contact with countertops and other hard surfaces, so honing steels help correct that problem before it leads to cutting problems later on down the line.

To keep your knives sharp, you can get a honing steel, a knife sharpener, or a set of self-sharpening knives (here are the best ones).


Types of Knives 

There are two ways to make knife blades, stamped and forged. The types of stamped knives have blades made from a sheet that is cut and folded into shapes. You can read more on the differences between Stamped and Forged knives here, but here are the basics.

Forged Knives

WÜSTHOF CLASSIC IKON 8 Inch Chef’s Knife | Full-Tang Half Bolster 8" Cook’s Knife | Precision Forged High-Carbon Stainless Steel German Made Chef’s Knife – Model ,Black

Forged types of knife blades start as a solid piece of metal, which is heated and hammered to make it thinner; the blade stays in its original size but becomes more flexible because each side has been pounded thin. They are more expensive than stamped knives. 

Stamped Knives

Farberware Stamped Stainless Steel Cutlery Set, 12-piece, Assorted

Stamped types of knives are usually less expensive than types of forged blades. They are also easier to produce, and types of knives that are stamped have blades made from a sheet that is cut and folded into shape.


Types of Knife Blades

There are two types of knife blades are:

– Straight blades

– Curved blades

The types of food that the straight blade is viewed to be good for include types of fruits like tomatoes or types of vegetables like carrots. The types of food types that the curved blade is viewed to be good for include types of meat, poultry, and so on.

A knife’s blade can curve in different ways; when we talk about curved knives, there are three types – single-edged, double-edged, and half-belly types. The types of curves you need depend on the types of food items and tasks you will use them for.

You can go here to learn all about the different parts of a knife.


Single-edged curved

Single-edged curved knives have a blade that curves off to one side of the knife, which allows them to be used for cutting through types of meat like poultry or fish without damaging it too much; these types of knives are also called ‘fish filleting’ knives because they are often used for types of meat that are filled with bones.

Examples of a single-edged curved knife are a fillet knife, a sashimi knife, and a bird’s beak paring knife.


Double-edged curved

Double-edged curved knives have a blade that curves off to both sides at the same time, which makes it easier for cooks to cut through types of food like tomatoes or other types of vegetables; these types of knives are also called ‘tomato’ blades because they are designed to cut through types of food that have a lot of ridges.

Examples of a double edge curved knife are the Chef’s knife and the Fillet Knife.


Half-Belly Curved

Half-belly curved knives have blades that curve off in one direction and then curves back in the other; these types of knives are also called ‘single bevel’ types because they can only be used with one side or edge at a time.

Some examples of a Half-belly curved knife are the Nakiri and the Yanagiba.


Related: How to Dispose of Old Knives Properly


Japanese vs. German Knives

A common debate is whether it’s worth investing in better knives such as Japanese knives or German knives. Both are renowned for their quality, and you can get most of the versatile knives in this post in either steel.

There are many things to consider like blade edge, handle material, and what kind of blade shape you prefer. But if you are choosing between Japanese steel and German steel, you are picking from two of the best. For all the details on these two knives, see our post on Japanese vs. German Knives here.


Knife Blade Materials

There are a variety of Knife Blade Materials that are utilized for kitchen knives. Some Knife Blade Materials have better benefits than others, and this can typically be found in the Knife Blades prices.

Knife blade materials should always be considered when purchasing Kitchen Knives because it will affect how frequently you need to sharpen them and maintain their durability against corrosion.


Stainless steel blades

Stainless steel blades in kitchen knives are the most common and very popular kitchen knife blade materials. They are made from steel with a chromium content of at least 13%. However, stainless blades are often more expensive, and the knife will be heavier than stainless.

Stainless is resistant to rust, but it can still corrode through contact with acidic foods (e.g., tomatoes) or chemicals like bleach that include chlorine compounds such as sodium hypochlorite.”

Blades made from stainless steel usually have better sharpness retention because they resist dulling from exposure to air and water vapor quite well compared with carbon steels due to the higher levels of chromium in their composition, which also provides them with a more uniform hardness.


Carbon steel blades

Carbon steel blades are another type of blade material that is utilized in kitchen knives. Carbon steel blades are considered to have a sharp, long-lasting edge and can also be less expensive than some of the other types.

This knife blade material has one downside though: Carbon steel blades require more frequent care, so they don’t get corroded or rust. As a result, carbon Steel Blades offer many benefits but may not be as durable as some others, such as Stainless Steel Blades, which are typically higher quality for the price point and do not need care as Carbon Steel does.


Damascus steel blades

If you are looking for beautiful-looking kitchen knives, you may want to consider the Damascus steel blades because Damascus Steel has a unique pattern and is one of the most expensive knife blade materials.

Damascus steel blades are very attractive, but they can be difficult to maintain, which means that Damascus blades need more care than other types such as Stainless Steel or Carbon, this type of blade material will require sharpening by hand with specialist tools every few months, so it doesn’t get too dull.

Damascus steel is not as resistant to rust and corrosion compared with Stainless Steel blades which is another downside of Damascus Blades.


Ceramic blade

Ceramic blades are hard, durable, and non-corrosive so they are excellent for chopping vegetables that may leave an unpleasant taste in food if exposed to metal that has been chemically treated.

Ceramic blades are hard, durable, non-corrosive, and light. They offer a sharp edge and good cuts while also being less expensive than some other types, such as High Carbon Steel, which typically come at a higher price point.

The drawback is that they can wear down over time because ceramics have a low hardness level when compared with steel or other alloys such as titanium.

The other downside is that they will break easily if dropped or slammed into hard surfaces such as marble countertops. Sharpening a ceramic knife also requires it to be sent out to a specialist. For more about them, you can read our buying guide in the best ceramic knives post.


Titanium blades

If you are looking for something, different Titanium blades are the way to go. Titanium is a metal that has very high strength and durability, which is why it’s great in knives. Titanium blades are more expensive than traditional steel, but they will last for many years without rusting or dulling with good care.

Titanium blades are not as flexible as other metals, so you have to be careful when using them on meat like ham or pork chops because if you apply too much pressure, the blade can snap off at the handle. 

Click here to see the Best Titanium knives to learn more about this metal.


What to do next when you know the different types of kitchen knives

There are a whole bunch of different types of kitchen knives out there. So naturally, you need to know what they do and which ones you should buy depending on the type of food you cook most often, so we have some recommendations for you!

For example, if your favorite dish is chopping vegetables or mincing herbs, then an 8-inch chef’s knife would be perfect for that task. If, instead, it’s cutting up meat or poultry with bones in them (like ribs) where a sawing motion is required more than slicing cuts, then get yourself a boning knife! 

The best thing to do when buying knives–if possible–is to invest in a set that has at least one each of the following options: paring knife, chef’s knife, serrated utility knife, boning knife, and breadknife.


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