There are many different types of kitchen knives you need. Each of them has one or more specific purposes. There are cooking knives and table knives, like butter knives, and cheese knives.
Choosing the right knife for each task can save you plenty of time and effort in the kitchen. But if you’re a home cook and haven’t gone to culinary school, sometimes purchasing knives or knowing which ones to use can be difficult.
Let’s be honest, do you know the difference between a chef’s knife and a cook’s knife? Or how about a chef’s knife and a santoku? Probably not, and that’s ok. We all start somewhere. And though you might think a knife is just a knife, having a basic understanding can help make you faster and more efficient in the kitchen. And who doesn’t want that?
Keep reading to learn more about the different types of kitchen knives. From the parts of a knife to the essential knives you must add to your collection, to the knives that will make your life easier.
Different Parts of a Knife
The different parts of a knife are the blade, bolster, butt, handle, and tang. Understanding the uses of each part can help improve your knife skills. Below I explain each of these parts.
Blades make up the main body of the knife. They are usually made of steel. But other materials, like ceramic knives, have gained popularity in recent years. A blade has five parts, which are:
- The Edge. The knife’s edge is the part of the knife used for cutting. A sharp edge improves the functionality of a knife and prevents accidents.
- The Heel. The heel is the lower blade edge that’s next to the handle. It is useful for quick and coarse cuts that require a lot of strength.
- The Point. This part is the pointed tip at the end of the blade. It is useful for piercing or scoring.
- The Spine. The spine is the dull side of the blade opposite the edge. Its thickness provides strength and stability to the knife.
- The Tip. The tip of the knife is the front part of the edge, close to the point. It is perfect for delicate tasks, such as fine chopping and cutting thin slices.
The bolster of a knife is the part that divides the blade and the handle. It prevents your fingers from slipping to the blade. Choosing a knife with a bolster is often a personal choice, as not all knives have one. It can, however, be a safer choice when it comes to knives. But again, it depends on your level of knife skills.
The butt of a knife is the part at the end of the handle. It is useful for tenderizing or grinding meat and other produce. You probably never thought to use it in that way. But when you think of it, it makes sense. It’s pretty much a built-in meat tenderizer.
The handle is the part of the knife you hold when using it. It can be made from two pieces held together or from a single, molded piece. Most handles have an ergonomic design that makes the knife feel like an extension of your hand.
The tang is the section that connects the blade to the handle. It provides balance and stability when holding the knife. High-quality knives have a full tang that runs from the point of the blade to the butt of the knife.
Types of Blades
We can classify blades based on the material they’re made of, whether it’s steel, ceramic, or titanium. Steel is a great option for amateur home cooks. Carbon steel is strong but prone to stains, while stainless steel is more durable.
We can also classify blades based on their form and shape. Below you’ll find a list of the most common types of blades and their uses:
- Flat ground blades. This type of blade can be found in chef’s knives. It has a straight edge that’s flat on both sides. This makes it great for many tasks, such as cutting meat, dicing vegetables, and chopping nuts.
- Serrated blades. A bread knife is the most common example of this type of blade. Its long blade and serrated edge are great for slicing food with a hard exterior and a soft interior.
- Hollow ground blades. These thin blades are concave on both sides. They’re useful for fine and delicate cuts. Japanese knives, such as a nakiri knife, often have this kind of blade.
- Scalloped edge. This type of blade has hollow dimples along its side. This prevents food from sticking to the surface of the knife. A santoku knife is a great example of this sort of blade.
Forged Versus Stamped Knives
There are two main methods for making knives: forging and stamping. Forged blades are made from a single piece of steel that’s hammered into shape. Stamped knives are made by cutting a large sheet of steel with a stamping machine.
The main differences between forged and stamped knives are their price and design. Making a forged knife takes more time and effort. This makes these types of kitchen knives more expensive than stamped knives.
Forged knives have a full tang and a bolster, while stamped knives have smaller tangs and no bolster. Because of this, forged blades have more strength and stability. Although stamped knives are thinner and easier to handle.
Must Have Types of Kitchen Knives
Both amateur home cooks and seasoned professionals need a collection of high-quality knives. With the right knives, you can become a better and more confident cook. Keep reading to learn which of the five types of kitchen knives you must have.
A cook’s knife is perfect for many tasks, from preparing nuwave chicken wings to chopping nuts. Its curved, wide blade is ideal for making cuts with ease and precision. And its broad heel is perfect for heavy-duty chopping.
Paring knives have short, thin blades and a pointed tip. They are light, so they are great for delicate tasks such as slicing, peeling, and trimming.
Serrated knives, also called bread knives, have a long, saw-like, serrated blade edge. They’re perfect for slicing all kinds of bread, like baguettes or Irish soda bread and cakes. They are also great for cutting products such as tomatoes, peppers, and watermelon.
Boning knives have a slim and flexible blade with a sharp edge and a pointed tip. This makes them perfect for cutting fish, meat, and poultry. They are also great for deboning meat and cutting through cartilage.
This type of knife has a long blade, which can be serrated or straight, and a sharp tip. As its name suggests, steak knives are great for cutting cooked meat, from a burger to an air-fried rib eye steak. They’re so versatile that a steak knife set is an essential addition to any cutlery collection.
Nice-to-Have Types of Kitchen Knives
If you are looking for other types of kitchen knives to add to your collection, we’ve got you covered! Below we list five nice-to-have kitchen knives experienced cooks should get.
- Utility knife. Utility knives are a smaller and slimmer version of a chef’s knife. They are great for chopping small fruits and vegetables with speed and precision.
- Butcher knife. Also called a cleaver knife, this type of knife is bulky and heavy. This makes it perfect for cutting through bone and meat.
- Carving knife. Also known as a slicing knife, this knife is perfect for cutting cooked meat, such as poultry, pork, and beef. Its long slim blade can cut thin slices with ease.
- Fillet knife. A filet knife produces delicate and thin cuts. Its long, flexible blade makes it ideal for cutting and cleaning fish.
- Japanese Knives. These types of kitchen knives are light and thin. They’re perfect for tasks that require precision, from filleting to peeling vegetables.
How to keep your Knives Sharp
A sharp knife will help you prepare food like a pro. But knives get duller with each use. Keep reading to learn what you can do to keep your knives sharp.
Choose the Right Cutting Board
The best materials for cutting boards are wood, plastic, and polyethylene. These surfaces keep knives in good condition. Because of this, learning how to care for your cutting boards is key to keeping your knives sharp.
Use Proper Cutting Techniques
Not knowing how to properly use a knife will shorten its lifespan and can lead to injuries. Learning basic knife skills will keep your knives sharp and will save you time in the kitchen.
Hand-wash Your Knives
Throwing your knives in the dishwasher might seem like a great way to keep them clean. But this can dull your knife’s blades. It’s better to take the time to wash your knives by hand.
Store Your Knives Properly
Storing your knives incorrectly can wear or damage them. There are plenty of storage alternatives that can prevent this. Some examples are knife blocks, magnetic racks, and knife cases.
Japanese vs German Knives
When you’re in the market for choosing a knife or knives, most of the durable and quality types of chicken knives you come across are either Japanese or German knives. But what’s the difference?
The main difference between Japanese knives and German Knives are:
- Type of steel
But what exactly does this all mean? Typically Japanese knives have a sharper angle, are more lightweight and are typically harder. According to Taylor Erkkinen who founded the Brooklyn Kitchen, “Japanese cooking is more particular and careful.”
Having harder steel means you can get a sharper edge. So it makes sense that chefs making precise cuts would need a sharper knife. With that said, for most home cooks this really won’t matter. (Myself included).
When it comes to German knives, however, are built for their heartiness, which aligns with German cooking. Since German knives are thicker, they are better for all around utility cooking and won’t easily chip.
A few popular types of Japanese knives you might not be familiar with include:
Popular Types of Japanese Knives
- A santoku knife is similar to a chef’s knife and is considered an all-purpose knife. It has a straightedge and a pointy tip.
- Unlike the all-purpose use of a santoku, a nakiri knife is designed specifically for cutting vegetables. It also has a straightedge, but has a rounded tip.
Nowadays, the gap between the difference between Japanese and German knives is rapidly closing. When purchasing any type of knife, it’s good to read reviews. But we also recommend going into a specialty cooking or restaurant store and speaking to someone. When in doubt, they can ask you the needed questions and point you in the right direction.
Below is a chart describing the exact differences between Japanese and German Knives
|German Knives||Japanese Knives|
|Angle||20 – 22 degrees||12 – 15 degrees|
|Shape||Curved edge||Straight edge|
|Thickness||Thicker||Thinner (can be free of bolster)|
|Type of Steel||Soft (56 – 58 on Rockwell scale)||Hard (60 – 61 on Rockwell scale)|
Sharpen Your Knives Once a Week
If you want a sharp knife, the best thing you can do is to sharpen it yourself. Learning how to keep knives sharp is very simple. Some tools you can use are sharpening stones, honing steels, and electric sharpeners.
If you enjoy cooking, you should think about investing in a set of good-quality knives. To recap: Kitchen knives that every home cook should have are a chef’s knife, paring knife, bread knife, and steak knife. Other knives that are nice to have are a utility knife, a butcher knife, a carving knife, and a few Japanese knives.
It is crucial that you understand the different types of kitchen knives there are and how to care for them. Get to know your knives by cleaning and sharpening your knives weekly. Trust us, it will make a difference.
Have questions or suggestions? Leave them in the comments below. And until next time: Stay salty, and sweet 😉