If you consider yourself a serious home chef, then having the right tools for food preparation is essential. A key tool in the kitchen is a knife, but with all of the different types available, it can be difficult to know which one to choose.

Two popular knives are santokus and chef’s knives – but what exactly sets them apart, and how do you know which is right for you?

We’ll make sure you know the differences so that when you go to select your next kitchen knife, you have all of the information necessary to make an informed choice.

What Is A Santoku?

A Santoku is an all-purpose kitchen knife originating in Japan. It has a mild curve to the blade, allowing for an efficient slicing motion and a wide range of uses.

The pointed tip can be used to prepare delicate cuisine, while the flat blade can be used as a small chopping board.

These knives are usually between five and seven inches in length and have widely varying blade shapes. Typically they are made from stainless steel or high-carbon steel.

What Is A Chef Knife?

A chef knife is a popular tool for any avid cook. The blade can run anywhere from 8 to 14 inches long and includes an ergonomic handle that ensures comfortable, accurate cutting.

They are made from high-grade stainless steel that can be easily sharpened when it becomes dull over time.

Chef knives are designed to have balance, heft, sharpness, and maneuverability for precision cuts, so users can prepare their meals more quickly and precisely in the kitchen.

Santoku Vs. Chef Knife – Key Differences

Santoku and chef’s knives look quite similar, however, there are a few details that make them unique.

  • Weight: A Santoku is lighter in weight than a chef’s knife with a thinner blade.
  • Pointed tip: The santoku will usually have a low-pointed tip, whereas a standard chef’s knife will have a high-pointed tip.
  • Curve: A santoku blade is more gradual than that of a chef’s knife which tapers more toward its tip.

How To Use A Santoku

Unlike other knives, the Santoku blade has indentations along its length that help reduce friction when cutting softer foods. When using the santoku, the user should initially place the index finger on top of the spine to control its movement as it glides through food.

To create small cubes it is important to be aware of the pressure you place on the blade and use an appropriate technique such as using light pressure toward the board as you work.

There is a trial and error period with a santoku, but after a while, you will get the hang of it.

How To Use A Chef Knife

You should always be careful when using a chef’s knife. Ensure you use the proper technique in gripping the blade and handle.

The most commonly accepted method of cutting with a chef knife is a “pinch grip” which involves securing the blade using your index finger as it rests alongside the handle.

This provides more stability as you use also your middle finger for leverage against the bolster near the base of the spine. With a steady and secure hand position, you’ll be able to safely chop, slice or mince any ingredient quickly and without slip-ups.

When To Use Each Knife

There are a few different scenarios where you might want to use each type of knife.


A santoku is most useful for smaller tasks like mincing garlic and dicing vegetables. It’s great when you need to make really precise cuts and slices. The blade is also perfect to scoop food into a pan when needed.

Chef’s Knife

A chef’s knife excels at larger slicing and turning actions such as cutting through thicker pieces of meat or chopping herbs. The blade on a chef’s knife is much longer, thicker, and wider than a santoku which helps with these types of cuts.

How To Care For A Santoku

To get the most out of your Santoku and ensure its longevity, there are certain care steps you can take. Before use, be sure to choose a cutting board that won’t damage the blade’s edge.

After use, hand wash the knife with warm soapy water and dry it immediately – no dishwashers! Honing steel should also be used regularly to keep an edge on the blade.

It’s also best to store your santoku in a safe place where it won’t come into contact with other utensils that may dull or damage its surface.

Check out our guide on the best kitchen knives for under $100.

How To Care For A Chef Knife

The best maintenance tips for a chef’s knife are the same for a santoku.

It’s also a good idea to replace your chef’s knife periodically as the blade may become dull over time and not perform as efficiently as it once did.

Finally, you should always keep both types of knives sharpened with a knife sharpener.

How To Sharpen A Santoku

To sharpen a santoku, the best option is to use a whetstone. Start by soaking the stone in warm water for about 10 minutes before you begin, and then choose either an extra-fine or medium-grit side of the stone. The harder the steel, the finer the grit you should use.

Using light pressure and circular motions, gradually move your blade up and down on each side of the stone until it’s been sharpened to your desired level. Remember to keep both sides even when sharpening.

How To Sharpen A Chef’s Knife

Sharpening a chef knife is similar to sharpening a santoku but with some minor differences. First, you need honing steel that is specifically designed for thicker blades like those found on a chef’s knife.

After soaking your honing steel in water and drying it off, use a light grip to draw the blade up the surface of the steel with moderate pressure. Continue this motion on either side of the steel until you have achieved an even and sharp result.

Is A santoku Used For Cutting Meat?

Yes, a Santoku knife can be used for cutting meat. It is a versatile knife that is commonly used for slicing, dicing, and mincing a variety of ingredients, including meat. It is typically lighter and has a flatter edge, which makes it well-suited for cutting through dense meats and other tough ingredients.

Which Knife Should I Use?

It really depends on the type of tasks you’ll most frequently be doing. If you’re cutting larger cuts of meat then a chef’s knife might be more suited to your needs.

A santoku will be beneficial for cooks who need to be more precise in their food preparation and are commonly working with delicate ingredients.