Every home cook will agree that a kitchen knife can make or break a dish, so it’s important to have the right one handy for the task. Whether you’re chopping vegetables for a mirepoix or deboning a chicken for a stew, the right knife can make your life a lot easier and cause your dish to turn out even better than imagined.
However, with so many types of knife blades out there, it can be difficult to figure out the right knife for your task. Using the wrong knife can have disastrous results for your final dish. It can even be dangerous and cause you to hurt yourself in the process.
If you’re wanting to learn the different types of knife blades and what to use them for, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to discover the different knife blades that you’ll encounter in a chef’s kitchen and how to use them to create the perfect dishes.
Types of Knife Blades: The Basics
Despite how simple they look, there are a lot of components to a knife. There are several components of the blade alone. So, before jumping into the different types of knife blades, it’s important to understand what makes up a kitchen knife blade.
Let’s talk about the two main factors that affect the effectiveness of a kitchen knife blade: the material and the blade edge.
Typically, most types of knife blades are made out of stainless steel. This is because stainless steel provides the durability and sharpness required of knives to continuously do their job.
Another popular material for knife blades is carbon steel, which is a steel alloy made with carbon and iron. These knives often have more strength than stainless steel knives and retain their sharpness for longer.
The edge is a very important characteristic of kitchen knives. Essentially, this is what makes the blade sharp.
There are several types of knife blade edges, including:
- Straight edge – most common edge found on everyday knives.
- Serrated edge – a blade with sharpened grooves and ridges ideal for tougher foods or bread.
- Scalloped edge – hollow dimples along the side, which prevents food from sticking to the surface. It’s great for wet foods, such as raw fish.
7 Types of Knife Blades You Should Know
The large variety of knife blades means there are several different types of knives, all with different purposes. Knowing each type ensures you’ll use the right knife for the right task, resulting in a perfect meal every time.
To help you become a knife expert, here are seven types of knife blades you should know, and what you should be using them for.
Let’s start with the knife that, without a doubt, you’ll find in every chef’s kitchen. In fact, if you could only ever buy one knife, it’d be a chef’s knife.
A chef’s knife is the most versatile knife you can have as it can be used for a variety of cutting tasks. For this reason, chef knife blades come in different sizes and shapes. However, the blade is generally wide at the bolster and narrows down to the tip, where you’ll also find a slight curve. This allows it to rock back and forth on a cutting board.
A knife with this type of blade can be used to cut almost anything, from tough meats to hard vegetables. Cutting tasks that you can accomplish with a chef’s knife include:
Chef’s knives come in a variety of prices, ranging from $20 to a few hundred dollars. This WÜSTHOF Classic 8-inch Chef’s Knife is a mid-range knife from a renowned company. Forged from high-carbon steel, this chef’s knife features triple-riveted handles for optimal comfort, meaning you can use it to prepare your favorite dish from beginning to end.
Next on our list of types of knife blades, we have the paring knife.
If the chef’s knife is your #1, then the paring knife should be your #2. Paring knives are much smaller than chef’s knives, with blades ranging from 2 ¼ inches to 4 ½ inches. But they can be just as useful, especially when it comes to small ingredients or cutting that requires more detail. That’s because these knives offer more dexterity and better control over what you’re cutting.
Types of cutting tasks paring knives are ideal for include:
- Peeling vegetables
- Pitting cherries
- Decorative designs on fruits
This 4-inch paring knife from HENCKELS is made from high-quality German steel and is built to last. It offers a seamless transition from blade to handle, as well as precise cutting thanks to its satin-finished blade. What’s more is that this knife is dishwasher safe, which makes clean-up a breeze.
Utility knives are essentially a mix between a chef’s knife and a paring knife. The same can be said for its use: it shares similar qualities, and its blade is a similar shape to a chef’s knife, although smaller and slimmer. Plus, its use is similar to that of a paring knife.
A utility knife is another handy utensil to have in your kitchen. It can be used to cut a variety of different small foods with fine precision. In general, utility knives are most used for initial food prep, so it is often the first knife you use when cooking a meal.
If you’re looking for a utility knife you can trust to get the job right, try the Mercer Culinary M20405 Genesis 5-Inch Utility Knife, which offers a comfortable and safe Santoprene handle along with a high-carbon forged-steel German blade. The blade is also stain-resistant and avoids corrosion and discoloration, so you can be sure to have this knife for years to come.
A slicing knife is distinguished by its long, straight blade and rounded tip that makes it easy to slice through food.
If this knife’s blade seems familiar, you’ve probably seen it in action at your local deli. It’s typically used to slice cooked meats such as ham and turkey.
For even easier slicing, these knife blades often come with Granton edges, creating tiny air pockets between the food and the blade to enhance the knife’s carving performance.
For the ultimate slicing knife, try the Victorinox-Swiss-Army- 47645 Cutlery Fibrox Pro Slicing Knife from the legendary knife company Victorinox. Featuring a Granton blade with a long narrow shape and a razor-sharp edge, this knife allows you to slice with precision, ensuring that you get the perfect cut of meat every time.
Next up, we have cleavers, which possess one of the largest types of knife blades.
A cleaver is one of the easiest knives to identify, largely in part to its large, wide, and long rectangular blade. You often see a hole on the edge of a cleaver, which is used to hang them up when they’re not in use.
Cleavers are primarily used for cutting raw meat, which is why they’re also known as butcher knives. This is because the design makes it easy to cut through meat bone.
Although the blade of a cleaver is wide, it’s also quite thin and lightweight. Depending on the size, their flat design makes cleavers useful for cutting tasks such as crushing garlic or ginger.
This 7-inch cleaver from Kyuoku’s Samarai series features a blade made from high-carbon steel for great edge retention and optimal performance. It’s ergonomically designed to reduce fatigue and pain when you cut and to ensure safety and comfort. But be careful, this particular blade is quite sharp!
A nakiri knife is often mistaken for a cleaver, but it has the exact opposite use.
Despite their similar shape, these Japanese knives have blades that are generally small and slimmer than a cleaver, and they have a very sharp, hollow-ground edge.
Nakiri knives are only meant to cut vegetables. What makes these knives unique is that the straight edge of the blade makes it possible to cut straight through without rocking back and forth, as you do with a chef’s knife.
Nakiri knives are commonly used to cut tomatoes or shred cabbage and lettuce. To make the most out of its unique blade, use nakiri knives to cut through hard, large vegetables, such as:
- Sweet potato
Dalstrong is known for great-quality chef knives, so it makes sense to give this beautiful 7-inch vegetable knife a try. Made from high-carbon steel, this knife is tempered and stain-resistant. Its blade design provides heft, and the G10 handle is triple riveted with a grip that ensures comfort and maneuverability. The flat profile and square tip not only make cutting easier, but they also help you pick up your chopped pieces when you’re done.
Last but not least is the boning knife.
As the name suggests, boning knives are used for cutting meat bones. You can also use them to trim your meat to achieve a more desirable and final cut.
The blade of this knife is unique in that it’s slim and tapers upward to a fine-pointed tip. The edge of the blade is usually very sharp in order to easily cut through bone without excessive effort.
Other than cutting through bone, you can also use the boning knife to trim or cut through cartilage. Since these knives are so light, they’re easy to maneuver and cut with precision, ensuring that you get the perfect cut without ruining your meat.
The good news is that you don’t have to fork out a lot of money to get a good-quality boning knife. This Mercer Culinary Millennia Black Handle Boning Knife provides sharpness and precision to get the job done, all for under $20. The ergonomic handle features textured finger tips for slip resistance and comfort, while the Japanese steel allows for rapid knife sharpening so you’re never left with a dull blade for long.
There’s no underestimating the power of a good, sharp knife. But it’s just as important to ensure that you also use the right knife for the task at hand.
With so many different types of knife blades, it can be difficult to keep up with which knife is for what. However, as long as you remember these core blades, you’ll have a solid foundation for choosing the right knife. You don’t need to have all that are on this list, but at the very least, you should have a chef’s knife!