Types of Knives

Types of Knives

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Last weeks #TuedayTips we covered Knife Skills, which covers knife cuts. It is important to be consistent with your cuts not only for the look but also for the consistency of how the dish is cooked. While I do recommend the knives below for kids, especially toddlers through 1st to 2nd grade, it is ultimately up to your comfort level as a parent on what your child can try. Safety always comes first.

For older kids, and you adults who are still learning, well there a lot to learn about knives. It is not just about learning how to cut and keeping it consistent but also the proper tools for the occasion. Look, we all have that one knife we all gravitate to for those simple things like cutting vegetables, right? Trust me I am just as guilty. However Certain knives are meant for specific foods because they are the best tool. Below I posted a basic graphic but there are far more knives than this.

Types of Knives

So we will break down into which knives are used for what. I want to add that both Matthew and My favorite is the Santoku Knife due to how versatile it is.

Chef knife – has a long, broad blade with a straight edge. It is widest across the heel, tapering up to a finely pointed tip. A great all-rounder, a chef knife is one of the most versatile knives in the kitchen, perfect for everyday dicing and mincing tasks.

Utility Knife – similar shape to a chef knife, but smaller and slimmer. Some utility knives also have a sharp tip which tapers up towards the spine, to allow for more intricate work. A utility knife is good for chopping smaller foods and vegetables, like shallots. It shares many of the qualities of a chef knife, but it can be a useful tool when working with smaller food items, as the utility knife allows for more precise cutting work. 

Pairing Knife – has a short, slim, evenly sized blade with a pointed tip. It tends to be light, to allow for easy handling during delicate work. The small but mighty paring knife is used to cut, chop and slice fruits and vegetables, but they can also be used for a multitude of other kitchen tasks. Despite their small size, paring knives will make light work of harder foods, like potatoes, while still being maneuverable enough to carry out delicate tasks like peeling, trimming, and removing seeds from fruit and veg.

Bread Knife – has a long, evenly sized blade, with a sharp serrated edge — like a saw. This sort of knife is designed for use on softer items. The long blade and sharp serrated edge of a bread knife makes it the perfect tool for sawing through all sorts of different breads, including crusty bread, baguettes, bagels and bread rolls. This is because the grooved edge allows the chef to cut through softer textures without crushing them out of shape. Bread knives can also be used to slice cakes with soft, fluffy textures, as they can cut through them without knocking the air out of the sponge or damaging the overall shape.

Carving Knife – is a long, slim knife, tapering to a sharp point. Sometimes called a slicing knife, a carving knife is one of the longest kitchen knives in the kitchen. Its narrow width means that it produces less drag as it cuts through food, allowing it to create cleaner, more uniform slices. When it comes to serving meats like poultry, pork, lamb or beef, a carving knife is the best tool for the job, as it will produce thin, neat, evenly sized slices. It can also be used to tackle larger fruits and vegetables, such as melons or courgettes, which can be tough to slice through using smaller or broader knives.

Cleaver/Butcher Knife -have a flat, rectangular-shaped blade. They come in a variety of sizes, depending on their intended use. They’re one of the broadest, heaviest knives, and sometimes feature a hole near the spine of the blade so they can be hung up when not in use. A cleaver is used to chop up raw meat, either as part of the butchery process or to divide it into smaller portions before cooking. The large, heavy design means that it can even cut through bone, making it one of the best knives for raw meat prep. Given its bulky size, this sort of knife is generally only used on raw meat, rather than cooked food. The broad, flat, heavy surface of cleavers can also come in handy for crushing garlic cloves or ginger against a chopping board.

Boning Knife – is a slim blade with a very sharp edge, usually tapering upwards to a fine pointed tip. It’s fairly short (usually only around six inches) and is usually rigidly constructed, although more flexible blades are available for delicate meat. A boning knife is the best knife for cutting meat bones and trimming cartilage to create the perfect joint or cut before cooking. The pointed tip and slim blade make it a great choice for cutting around the bone without ruining the surrounding flesh.

Fileting Knife –  is a long, slim knife with a flexible blade. It has a very sharp edge and a finely pointed tip for piercing through skin, and to allow for intricate bone-removal work. It has a similar appearance to a boning knife, but the blade is thinner and more flexible. The slim, flexible blade is perfect for removing bones without damaging the delicate flesh of the fish. They differ from other knives in that they’re often used to cut through food horizontally, rather than vertically — this allows chefs to cut around the backbone of whole fish to create perfect fillets.

Salmon Knife – have a very long, flexible blade with a double edge, and are designed to fillet larger fish. Salmon knives are slim and sharp to allow for precise filleting and skin removal, and many designs also have indentations along the side of the blade. A salmon knife is used to slice, fillet and remove the skin from larger fish, like salmon. They’re slender enough to fit between the skin and flesh without damaging the delicate fish, allowing the chef to create clean, tidy fillets. Because they can be used to create precise fillets, they’re very effective at minimising waste. Many salmon knives also have dimpling or indentations along the surface of the blade, which reduces drag during cutting and helps to stop the raw fish from sticking to the metal.

Santoku Knife –  originally called santoku bocho knives, meaning ‘three uses’ —are great for precise cutting, dicing and mincing. One of the most popular types of kitchen knives in their native Japan, santoku knives have long, slightly tapered blades with a drop point to allow for more precise, intricate cutting work. They usually have dimpling along the blade to prevent food from sticking to the metal. The sharp, straight edges and drop-point tips of santoku knives make them an effective tool for cutting fish. They’re particularly useful when preparing sushi or other raw fish, as the dimpling on the flat side of the blade helps to stop delicate items from sticking to the metal. The large, broad blade can also be used to scoop up and transport chopped food after cutting. Their usefulness isn’t just limited to fish, though: santoku knives also make light work of vegetables. Another great all-rounder, they make an effective alternative to chef or utility knives.

Tomato Knives – is usually about 6–7 inches in length, and they’re designed to be lightweight and easy to handle. Tomato knives have a rounded blade with a sharp, serrated edge. Tomato knives are designed for cutting and slicing tomatoes, which require a specialised cutting tool owing to their delicate skin and soft, fleshy centres. The serrated edge of the knife cuts cleanly through the skin without crushing the soft interior, allowing the chef to create neat, even slices or segments. As tomatoes cutting, many tomato knives are specially designed with textured plastic or rubber handles to help provide better grip during cutting work.

Peeling Knife – has a short, rigid, and slightly curved blade. It will usually have a straight, extremely sharp edge. A peeling knife is primarily used to peel vegetables, potatoes and fruit, and it’s also sharp enough to easily slice through tough skins. They have a rigid blade and sturdy, ergonomic handles, both of which help prevent the knife from slipping during peeling work, making the process much safer.

Let us know which knife you gravitate to the most down in the comments.

I'm the mom to Matthew, which we run and own Matthew's Kitchen. I'm 27 and studying to be a pastry chef. I love to cook and bake but my passion is in the pastry arts. Matthew is a 5 year old who began cooking when he was 1. Through the years he has not only gained valuable skills but has grown his palette. Together we want to share our passion for food with you and your family
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