With so many kitchen knives available to choose from, it can be confusing for home cooks to determine which knife is best for which task. This guide will provide an introduction to 16 types of kitchen knives and their uses, helping to simplify the selection process. 

From chef’s knives to serrated utility knives, each type of knife is designed with a specific purpose in mind. With this knowledge, home chefs can make informed decisions when purchasing a new kitchen knife or replacing an old one.

Types of Kitchen Knives

types of kitchen knives

1. Chef’s Knife

A chef’s knife is an indispensable tool for any kitchen. It is designed to tackle a wide variety of tasks and is characterized by its large, sharp blade that tapers from the handle towards a sharp tip. Generally, chef’s knives will measure 8-10 inches in length and feature a curved belly, making them ideal for a rocking motion when dicing vegetables and mincing herbs.

Compared to another type of kitchen knife, such as a paring knife, the chef’s knife is larger and has more weight behind it which allows it to easily break through tougher ingredients like bones or vegetable skin with ease. The versatility of such a tool makes it an essential part of a properly equipped kitchen.

2. Santoku Knife

A Santoku knife is a type of kitchen knife usually made from stainless steel. Its blade typically has a curved surface on the edge and one flat side, and its handle has an ergonomic design for improved grip, often with dimples.

This makes it well-suited for slicing through food quickly, especially vegetables. It also works best for chopping in a rocking motion. Compared to a chef’s knife, a Santoku traditionally has more of an all-purpose shape intended for tasks ranging from slicing and dicing to mincing and crushing ingredients such as garlic or ginger.

It additionally requires less force due to its sharpness and cutting angle notes sharper than those of chef’s knives – making it especially useful in preparing delicate ingredients like fish or sushi.

3. Utility Knife

A utility knife is a versatile kitchen tool designed for many cutting tasks, from slicing vegetables to opening boxes and packages. This type of knife is smaller than an average chef’s knife but typically has a wider blade with serrated edges which allow it to tackle multiple types of jobs. It also tends to be lighter and more maneuverable than other knives in the kitchen, making it ideal for smaller tasks like peeling fruit or mincing herbs.

As a general rule, utility knives should not be used to chop through hard materials such as bone. In comparison to a paring knife, a utility knife is sturdier and can take on tougher tasks while still maintaining its precision. Paring knives are best reserved for more delicate choices such as trimming vegetables or de-seeding fruits.

4. Kitchen Shears

Kitchen shears main purpose is to cut through chicken bones or other tough material that may not be as easily cut by another kitchen knife. They can also be used for cutting herbs, making them an extremely useful item for any aspiring chef. Kitchen shears come in a variety of designs, from serrated blades to fine-toothed options, but the most important aspect of choosing the right pair is to make sure they’re comfortable and strong enough for your needs.

It is clear that the function of kitchen shears is much broader than a traditional chef’s knife. While a chef’s knife is best suited for cutting food down into smaller pieces, kitchen shears boast alternative uses like cutting up packages of frozen foods or trimming fat off cuts of meat which makes them invaluable in a busy, professional kitchen.

5. Boning Knife

A boning knife is a thin and flexible knife that is essential for precise cutting tasks. Its long, narrow blade with a pointed tip allows for precise slicing and trimming of meat including fish, poultry, and other types of meat.

Unlike the bulky butcher’s knife, which can be used for harder jobs such as splitting through bones or cutting joints, the boning knife is specifically designed for making fine cuts on the smooth surfaces of meats.

Additionally, its sharp edges enable you to make gentle and precise curved cuts close to the bone without leaving too much meat behind. The finesse offered by the boning knife makes it suitable for intricate preparation tasks like neatly cutting away connective tissue from muscles or slicing delicate fillets.

6. Bread Knife

A bread knife is a kitchen utensil used for cutting bread, cakes, and other items that are difficult to slice with a standard chef’s knife. It features a long, serrated blade that helps ensure smooth slicing and prevents excessive crushing of the food.

This type of knife is designed to help prevent fussiness while cutting, making it ideal for bakery-style dishes or presentation-focused foods. Compared to a paring knife, which is ideal for small tasks like peeling an apple or slicing mushrooms, a bread knife will effectively cut larger items without putting undue strain on the user’s hands.

In addition, its zigzag teeth create less internal resistance than the smooth surface of an ordinary kitchen knife blade.

Check out our guide on the best budget kitchen knives.

7. Cleaver Knife

A cleaver is a heavy-duty kitchen tool that looks somewhat like an axe. It has a rectangular, short blade with a sharp edge and a solid handle. Cleavers are usually heavier than chef’s knives and can be used to cut through hard vegetables and bones.

While both types of knives can mince vegetables and slice fish, the bigger size of the cleaver gives it an advantage when dealing with tough objects such as should bones or dense vegetables. Because of its weight and robustness, the cleaver can also be used as a scraper in some cases.

However, although cleavers are brilliantly versatile they require more skill to wield than a chef’s knife due to their weight and sturdiness making them ideal for experienced cooks or professional chefs.

8. Paring Knife

A paring knife is a small kitchen tool most commonly used for cutting and peeling fruits and vegetables. It typically has a blade length of two to four inches, making it perfect for detailed or intricate tasks that require precision.

The uses of a paring knife may include finely chopping vegetables, coring fruits, slicing garlic, deveining shrimp, or hulling strawberries. Compared to other small kitchen knives, such as a boning knife or utility knife, the paring knife lacks rigidity but makes up for it in nimble maneuvering; this makes it suitable for cutting more delicate items that the other knives might not be able to handle so easily.

9. Steak Knife

A steak knife is a specialized type of kitchen knife designed for use in cutting steaks. It is similar to a dinner or table knife but typically has a serrated edge so it is better suited to slicing through tougher cuts of meat without tearing or shredding the food.

The blade of a steak knife is usually heavier, thicker, and tougher than a dinner/table knife, making it easier to penetrate the tough exterior of cooked meats and carve easily.

In comparison to other knives such as butter knives or paring knives, steak knives have the added benefit of being constructed with ultra-sharp edges that retain their sharpness longer due to the hardness of the material used in their construction. This makes them more adept at dealing with food items that require precision cutting, such as steak.

10. Nakiri Knife

A Nakiri knife is a Japanese style of knife that is uniquely shaped with a thin, straight edge and a squared-off tip. It makes quick work of slicing vegetables, making it perfect for preparing vegetable-heavy dishes like salads and stir-fries.

As opposed to the heaviness of a cleaver, the Nakiri is light and agile; and its thin blade easily glides through many ingredients. This type of knife also allows you to slice vegetables in straight slices without having to move them around on the cutting board.

The shape of the Nakiri allows the user to turn it sideways and rock it when chopping tougher vegetables or leafy greens, making it much quicker than using other knives.

11. Fillet Knife

A fillet knife is a special knife designed for precise cutting and slicing, usually of raw fish. This type of knife has a thin extremely sharp blade that is shaped to conform to the contours of the fillet being cut, allowing for delicate and intricate cutting.

This makes it ideal for slicing and boning meat as well as filleting fish. Fillet knives are sharper than regular kitchen knives due to their thinner design, meaning they can make more precise and neater cuts while also making them safer than thicker kitchen knives which require more force when chopping food items.

The main difference between a fillet knife and other types of knives is its extra-long narrow blade profile which gives it an advantage when it comes to precision cutting tasks such as those necessary in butchering meats or filleting fish.

12. Tomato Knife

A tomato knife is a special type of kitchen knife designed for cutting soft, delicate fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes. It typically has a serrated blade that helps to keep the skin of the tomato intact while slicing; often, there is a slight curve to the blade to help slices maintain their shape.

Additionally, tomato knives are usually relatively short in length, allowing for easy maneuvering around ingredients in small bowls or dishes. Compared to a standard chef’s knife, which is used for larger and harder chopping tasks, a tomato knife is sharper and more precise with its cuts, so that the result is not an unsightly mess but rather clean slices with edges that leave little residue behind.

13. Trimming Knife

A trimming knife is a specialized kitchen tool used for cutting, slicing, and trimming the fat off of various portions of meat. It is usually smaller in size than a standard chef’s knife with a short, straight blade.

Its small shape makes it ideal for getting into those tight corners and hard-to-reach spaces when deboning poultry or cleaning up fatty areas on the edges of steaks and other cuts. Additionally, most trimming knives feature a pointed tip that can be used to carefully remove bones from meat without damaging the flesh nearby.

This contrasts with a boning knife which typically has an even more tapered blade for easier maneuvering along bones during more intricate preparation tasks. Ultimately, both knives are equally useful in the kitchen depending on the specific task at hand – for general trimming work, a trimming knife offers a concise & precise solution.

14. Carving Knife

A carving knife is a sharp knife with a long, thin blade used for slicing meats, poultry, and fish. It is also suitable for cutting hard vegetables such as potatoes and squash or hard fruits like melons.

These knives are designed to cut delicate slices of food without crushing the fibers. Carving knives typically have curved blades to allow them to make long, smooth strokes when slicing roasts or other large pieces of meat. Compared to trimming knives, carving knives feature longer and narrower blades which give them an advantage in producing very thin cuts of meat or vegetables that retain their shape.

They are also more inclined towards precision since they enable chefs to remove fat deposits, gristle, and sinews with greater accuracy than a trimmer could provide.

15. Butcher’s Knife

A butcher’s knife is a large, sharp kitchen knife often used for carving and cutting roasts and other large pieces of meat. Its blade is longer than a chef’s knife, usually between 6 to 14 inches in length. The blade of a butcher’s knife also tends to be thicker and heavier than that of a chef’s.

Both knives are essential to any kitchen as they can be used for many similar tasks such as chopping or slicing food, but the bigger size of the butcher’s knife makes it better suited to handle large cuts of meat or portions of tough meats.

16. Cheese Knife

A cheese knife is a specialized tool designed to cut and serve cheeses. It generally consists of a sharp, narrow blade with a rounded end so the user can make uniform cuts without accidentally cutting into the plate below. Additionally, some varieties feature a forked tip useful for lifting slices of cheese onto crackers or plates without dropping them.

A cheese knife is distinct from a paring knife in that its blade is typically much longer than that of the latter and its profile is more curved than straight.

While paring knives are best used for tasks such as peeling fruit or deseeding vegetables, their short blades are not suitable for slicing cheese, making the use of a cheese knife essential for mastering the art of serving various types of cheese.

In Summary

Understanding the differences between these knives and knowing which ones to use can help make the cooking process much easier. If you’re short on space and want to see which knives are essential for your kitchen, check out this article.