Kitchen knives are essential in the kitchen. You will never see a kitchen without a knife. Technically, the words “kitchen” and “knife” are inseparable. You can’t proceed in food preparation without knives.
Cutting meat, slicing vegetables, and dicing herbs are part of everyday cooking. These tasks will not be possible without the power of knives. That’s why you need to understand the parts, uses, and types of knives, and know the best knife to use for your kitchen tasks.
Anatomy of a Kitchen Knife
To effectively use a knife, you should understand every part of a knife to utilize the function of its parts properly.
- Edge: This is very important when cutting. It is the sharpened side of the knife’s blade. To avoid accidents while cutting, you should keep your knife’s edge sharp.
- Heel: The end portion of the blade. Usually, the heel is used in cutting meat or
vegetables. This is especially needed when you cut thick meats requiring greater energy.
- Handle: The part that you hold. The comfort and safety of the user relies on this part. It’s also known as the knife’s scales.
- Bolster: The part found between the heel and the handle. It maintains the balance of the knife to prevent it from slipping. It is commonly found on forged knives.
- Tip: Mostly, this is responsible for cutting, filleting, and separating the meat. It is located in the front quarter of the blade.
- Point: This is the tip of the knife used for piercing goods.
- Spine: It is found on the opposite side of the edge. It’s the unsharpened side of the blade.
- Tang: The tang provides balance. This is the extended part of the blade that goes into the handle. There are two types of tang: often cheaper, a sub-tang or half-tang knife is better for the budget. But, for durability and quality, full tang blades work better.
- Butt: Located at the end of the handle.
Types of Kitchen Knives
Now that you know the different parts of the knife, you should also be aware of the different types of kitchen knives there are. This will give you a better idea of what you’re lacking in your kitchen, and the kinds of knives you should invest in.
A restaurant’s kitchen or any food establishment (and even a home kitchen) will not be complete without a chef’s knife. This kitchen chef knife comes in different sizes but is usually around 8–10 inches long.
It is a must-have in every kitchen because of its versatility and very useful functions. With its wide blade, you can efficiently chop meat, slice herbs, and mince vegetables. It’s an all-around knife and a chef’s right hand in the kitchen.
A utility knife can be your everyday knife from all the kitchen knives out there. Generally, a utility knife is 6 inches long, slightly longer than paring knives, yet narrower than chef’s knives.
Dubbed as the “knife of all trades,” it’s ideal for everyday kitchen tasks. This multitask knife can precisely cut mid-sized vegetables and meat. It also works in slicing fruits and vegetables, poultry meat, and even sandwiches.
At first glance, this knife looks more like a saw than a typical knife. This knife works well for any type of bread. Since it has serrated blades, it’s well-suited for cutting and slicing through the crisp crusts of bread.
They are also typically long; between 7–10 inches in length. More than just bread, a bread knife can also be used for cakes or other pastries, as well as larger fruit (e.g., melons), tomatoes, or even for breaking the chocolate into tinier pieces.
A paring knife might be small with its 2.25–4.5 inches of length, but it offers a lot of function for food preparation. Its small size is very efficient in peeling and chopping fruits and vegetables, deveining shrimp, slicing cheese, and removing seeds. You can also choose from a straight or a serrated paring knife.
This knife effectively separates meat without wasting large amounts. It has different sizes and styles, depending on the type of meat you are slicing. It also has a flexible blade that taps to a pointed tip. This knife can be used for connective tissues and joints. You can also use this in filleting and skinning fish.
A carving knife has longer blades and is thinner than a chef’s knife. Its thinner carve gives more precise slices of meat. It also prevents food from sticking, being the best knife for cooked meats like turkey, ham, pork, or roast beef. It works best when slicing sirloin roasts into thin slices or pork tenderloin into thicker slices.
Cleavers are cooking knives, and are known for being the largest knives in the kitchen. Though big in size, they have rectangular-shaped, thin, and lightweight blades, making them versatile in kitchen tasks. Such tasks are chopping vegetables, crushing herbs, and slicing meat. You can purchase this knife in different styles and sizes based on your needs and comfort levels.
These knives are specifically made to cut through dense, sticky, and hard cheeses. With its holes, it reduces the surface contact of the cheese to the knife. It’s important to sharpen these regularly; harder cheeses need a sharper knife.
Similar to a chef’s knife, santoku knives are known for their versatile functions. Their straight blades can be used to chop, slice, and dice herbs, vegetables, and meats. Additionally, their sharp, straight edges and pointed tips are useful for cutting and slicing fish.
Best Knife Blade Material
Knowing the type and material of a knife’s blade is important in picking kitchen knives that suit your needs. Your knife’s durability, strength, and efficiency will depend on the blade. Here are some of the pros and cons of each material.
This is the most commercially popular material for a knife. Its base comprises carbon and iron, with added chromium, giving it a shiny look free from rust and corrosion. This material is known for being durable and rust-resistant. On the other hand, the steel quality will depend on the supplier since it is widely available and popular in the market, and many suppliers sell low-quality stainless steel.
Carbon Steel Blades
Durability and strength are the main features of this material. Since it’s made up of carbon and iron without chromium, it has efficient performance in cutting and slicing through tough meats and vegetables. It’s also highly preferred for cleavers since this type of knife is widely used in slicing large meats. However, the absence of chromium makes this knife prone to rust and corrosion.
Damascus Steel Blades
This type of blade was made during the medieval era in Damascus, and has a long history. It is known for its durability and sharpness. Its beauty is also exceptional: full of elegance and strength. It is not widely used by many, so modern designs with this material can be expensive.
These blades are lightweight due to their hardened zirconium dioxide content. Since the material is lightweight, chefs usually prefer this type of knife blade. Plus, this material can be styled, patterned, and colored with stylish designs. Yet, this blade may break or crack easily. Handling it properly and with lots of care is a must.
Best Kitchen Knives
With all the features outlined above, you must have some idea of the type of kitchen knife your kitchen is lacking. Below are our recommendations for the best kitchen knives you can easily buy.
Kitchen Home Original 8-Inch Multi-Purpose Chef Knife
This knife is durable and flexible since it is made up of stainless steel. With this knife, you won’t need to put a lot of effort into having precise cuts of meat. Its metal blade has ten holes in the edge to reduce sticking and friction.
Its stainless steel works well in cutting delicate foods like raw fish and cheese as well. It is versatile in its function as it can perfectly cut meats like chicken and beef, and even fruits and vegetables. Finally, it can also be used to mince herbs with its rocker blade design.
For your comfort and safety, its ergonomic handle and lightweight can help in reducing hand fatigue.
Victorinox Fibrox Pro Knife
This is the best knife for professionals and even for home chefs. With its trustworthy Swiss quality, you know that it provides versatility and durability, making this knife a kitchen essential. Made up of stainless steel, it can easily cut and prepare meat and vegetables.
Its 7–9 inches, the razor-sharp knife blade can also be used for mincing, dicing, and slicing. There is no need to worry about its weight since it is very comfortable and easy to handle.
Wusthof 1040100120 Classic 8-Inch Chef's Knife
This knife is proven by its name. Wusthof was founded in Solingen, Germany, 200 years ago. Its history means that this product meets only the strictest of standards. This knife has an 8-inch long blade, 5 inches long handle, and weighs 8.5 oz—the perfect dimensions for a knife of this caliber. The handle is synthetic, making it easy to handle and easy to clean.
This Wusthof chef’s knife is known for its wide range of functions, from chopping, slicing, mincing, and dicing. This knife works well with large meats, fish, and even vegetables and herbs. That’s why professionals and home cooks alike recommend this knife.
Shun Classic 8” Chef’s Knife
“Shun” means a food’s peak ripeness. Shun is marked by its Japanese roots and is known for excellent blade-making practices. Its excellent blade is made up of VG-MAX steel, which is composed of extra tungsten, more chromium, and additional cobalt and carbon. These materials make this knife extremely sharp, rust-resistant, and durable. Its handle is made up of ebony pakkawood, a water-resistant and easy-to-clean material.
Global Santoku 7-Inch Chef's Knife
If you are looking for a very sharp knife, this Global santoku knife is what you need. This knife is known for its sharpness and excellent performance in cutting and slicing meat. Its blade has hollow notches along the edge, preventing food from sticking.
Most of your day-to-day kitchen tasks are workable with this knife. For example, a surprising ability of this knife (and a testament of its sharpness) is its ability to cut through chicken bones.
Mercer Culinary Genesis 6-Inch Chef's Knife
This chef’s knife is known for its strength and multiple functions. Its high carbon steel can resist corrosion, rust, and discoloration. It also has excellent balance with its full tang, which runs along the entire length of the knife. The taper-ground edge of this knife provides easy honing, stability, and long-lasting sharpness. It also has efficient cutting and chopping functions. For your comfort, the santoprene handle of this knife is a good choice.
J.A. Henckels International Classic Chef Knife
This knife is made in Spain, while its blade is manufactured in Germany. Its durability is undeniable with its high-quality German stainless steel, which works well for precise cutting. Plus, its long-lasting sharpness can be used for chopping, slicing, and mincing. Its 4.72-inch ergonomic handle provides balance and comfort.
This knife is one of the top choices for a chef’s knife, all around the world. Its durability, multipurpose blade, and comfortable handle can be used for a variety of kitchen tasks.
How to Sharpen Kitchen Knives
No matter what knife you end up choosing, you’ll need to sharpen it eventually. Sharpening your knife as needed allows you to get the most out of your blade; a dull knife will give you terrible cuts, and even be unsafe in some circumstances. Here are some pointers to remember in sharpening a knife.
- There are a lot of ways to sharpen a knife. To sharpen a knife yourself, you’ll need specific tools like sharpening stones, sharpening steels, or electric and handheld sharpeners.
- Depending on the knife you’re sharpening, you’ll need to choose the most appropriate type of sharpening tool.
- Take note that electric and handheld sharpeners like whetstone are easier to use for perfectly honing a knife.
- In using sharpeners, run the knife through multiple times depending on the sharpness you need.
Wrap It Up!
There are many types of kitchen knives, and each serves a specific purpose in the kitchen. In choosing the type of knife to purchase, you’ll need to know what you’ll be using it for to choose the perfect knife for your needs. It’s also important to know every part of the knife and how they work to maximize its function. Finally, no matter which knife you choose, proper knife care is essential to maintain the sharpness and efficiency of the knife throughout the years.
So, what are you waiting for? Check your drawers, and complete your set of kitchen knives now!