The kitchen knife is one of the most important tools in the kitchen. There are various types of kitchen knives in the market and they are designed for different purposes, including chopping and mincing onions and garlic, peel and cutting fruits and vegetables, butchering, slicing, and carving slices of meat, and slicing through bread.
This article will summarize some of the most useful kitchen knives that you should know. We will describe the knife in detail including their shape and size and what they are best used for. At the end of this guide, you will be able to recognize the knives in the kitchen, call their name out, and purchase the right one for your kitchen task.
1. Chef Knives
Chef knives are also known as cook’s knife is a versatile cutting tool used for a variety of food preparation and cutting tasks. Chef knives come in different sizes; however, the most common and popular family chef knife is about 8 inches long (20 cm). The shape of the chef knife is generally a wider blade from the bolster that tapers to the tip and slightly curves to the point of the knife. If you are going to own just one knife, the chef knife is your choice because this multipurpose knife can perform many kitchen tasks including chopping, mincing, slicing meat and vegetables.
2. Utility Knives
Utility knives are generally shorter than chef knives and longer than paring knives. The utility knife is good for cutting and chopping smaller-sized vegetables, like shallots and chili. It is a smaller version of a chef knife and it works best with smaller food items. With a relatively smaller blade, the utility knife allows for more precise cutting work, an ideal tool for food preparation. The utility knife blades can range between 4-7 inches long (10-18 cm). 5 inches (13 cm) knife blade generally works the best for a utility knife.
3. Paring Knives
Paring knives are small but extremely useful when dealing with small ingredients. Paring knife blades range from 3-4 inches long (8-10 cm) and it has a sharp pointed tip. The small size of the paring knife makes it easy to maneuver with, especially peeling or trimming fruits or vegetables in the air. It is very useful for ingredients preparation, including peeling and cutting vegetables, deveining prawns, slicing cheese, and other precise cutting jobs.
There are at least 3 types of paring knives available in the market:
Classic/Spear Point Paring Knives
Also known as the “classic paring knife”, the spear point paring knife has a spear-like blade with a curved end that makes the sharp point of the knife. It is designed for small and precise tasks like cutting, carving, and creating garnishes for decoration.
Bird’s Beak Paring Knives
Bird’s beak paring knife is also known as “curved paring knife” or tourné knife, it has a concave blade that curves downwards at the tip of the knife, similar to the shape of a bird’s beak. Bird’s beak paring knives are best for peeling rounded fruits and creating garnishes. It is mostly used by professionals who need precise carving or garnishes work, other than that it is less common to see a bird’s beak paring knife at home.
Sheep’s Foot Paring Knives
The sheep’s foot paring knife, also known as “flat paring knife” has a flat blade edge and a rounded spine near the tip of the knife. The flat blade edge of the sheep’s foot paring knife makes it perfect for chopping and cutting fruits and vegetables into julienne strips or dices.
Cleavers are large compared to other kitchen knives and usually have a rectangular-shaped blade. Other than regular cutting and slicing, the cleaver has a tough edge that is capable of chopping off large chunks of vegetables, bones, thick meat, and dense cartilage. All these are accomplished by the thicker, softer, and tougher steel of the cleaver’s blade which allows one to blow it hard against the chopping board. The broad rectangular blade is often used for crushing ingredients like garlic. Cleavers are popular in many Asian countries both in the restaurant and at home.
5. Butcher Knives
Butcher knives are designed and used primarily for butchering which includes splitting, stripping, and cutting meat. A butcher knife blade is usually long for slicing long pieces of meat. The curve of the butcher knife blade is good for getting under skins, bones, and cartilage. Butcher knives are durable, thick, sharp, and heavy-duty and these properties make them the best tool for chopping and breaking down large pieces of meat and bones. Some butcher knives have Granton edges that allow easy meat slicing without tearing or shredding the meat.
6. Slicing Knives
Slicing knives have long, thin blades with rounded tips which are designed for slicing cooked and smoked meat. The rounded tip of a slicer is to prevent accidental piercing of the meat which results in the release of precious juices from the meat. The blade of a slicing knife is typically 8-14 inches (20-36 cm) long and often features Granton edges which allow easy slicing without tearing the meat. Slicing knives are used for slicing and carving thin slices of meat (usually boneless cuts), such as beef, chicken, pork, fish, and sometimes also for preparing fruits and vegetables.
7. Carving Knives
Carving knives have long, narrow and thin blades with pointed tips. The tip of a carving knife is curved and pointed so that it is easier to maneuver around bones and cartilages when you are carving meats. The blade of a carving knife is usually narrow so that it minimizes friction as you cut the meat. The carving knife is typically 8-14 inches (20-36 cm) long which allows it to carve through the cut of meat in one slice. Carving knives can be used for carving both bone-in cuts and boneless cuts. It is often used to slice and carve the roasted turkey, chicken, and ham during holiday seasons.
8. Boning Knives
Boning knives have narrow and thin blades with pointed tips that are extremely efficient in cutting around bones and cartilage. Traditional boning knives’ blade is around 5-6 inches (13-15 cm) long, although some could reach 9 inches long (23 cm). The cutting edge of the boning knife is usually straight from the heel and curving upwards to the sharp tip. It is used to separate meat from the bones precisely, reducing the amount of wasted meat left behind sticking with the bones. Some boning knife blades are made flexible for easier maneuverability.
9. Bread Knives
Bread knives have a long straight serrated blade that ranges between 6-10 inches (15-15 cm). The serrated blades of the bread knives can easily cut through the crispy crust without pressing or crushing the soft bread. Some bread knives have offset handles that ensure the chef’s knuckles from touching the cutting board when the blade cuts all the way through the bread.
Here you go! These are the most common and useful knives that you see in the kitchen.
Not sure how to sharpen your knife? Check out our article that explains how you should sharpen your kitchen knife.