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Butter Knife Vs Dinner Knife – What Are the Differences?

Table serving-knife, fork in hands

The difference between a butter knife and a dinner knife is important for some and inconsequential for others.

Some use both interchangeably, while others really try to pay attention to the cutlery they use but still get butter knives and dinner knives confused. You often find both on the dinner table, and beside each other at that.

Despite how you feel about butter and dinner knives, each one does have its own purpose. If you want to start using each type of knife for its specific use, keep reading.

What is a Butter Knife?

A butter knife is small and relatively dull. It often has a rounded tip as it generally isn’t used for cutting, but some also feature a pointed tip. Rounded butter knives look like the flatware knives that come in a cutlery set, except they are typically much smaller and serve just one purpose.

The purpose of a butter knife is its namesake: to spread butter. This is why some people don’t acknowledge it as a knife, instead calling it a butter spreader. When it’s used at the dinner table, it’s placed next to the butter and is shared by guests to cut and spread butter onto their bread.

Butter knives have been a staple at the dinner table for centuries and are often included in valuable silverware collections. Although you can argue that any knife can be used for the purpose of spreading butter, a butter knife gets the job done smoothly, efficiently, and safely.

Knife with butter

Butter Knives to try

If you’re looking for a new butter knife to add to your collection, here are some great options:

Stainless-Steel Butter Spreader

For a simple butter knife that gets the job done, try this set of four stainless steel butter spreaders.

These knives aren’t serrated, as their primary purpose is to spread room-temperature butter.

What’s more, these spreaders aren’t just useful for butter. You can also use them for cheese, and with a set of four, they’re perfect for a wine and cheese platter.

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Stainless Steel 3-in-1 Butter Spreader Knife

This 3-in-1 butter spreader is an innovative butter knife that makes spreading butter easy, whether it’s room temperature or cold.

This stainless steel knife can be used as a butter spreader as well as a butter curler. Instead of tearing cold butter into pieces, use the side of the knife with the small slotted holes to make it easier to spread.

You never have to worry about forgetting to take out the butter again!

What is a Dinner Knife?

A dinner knife is the long utensil that’s often included in a flatware cutlery set and usually found in place settings. American dinner knives are 9 ¼ inches long, and European ones are 9 ¾ inches.

Unlike butter knives, dinner knives aren’t completely dull. They are slightly serrated for ease of cutting, although their use is limited to cutting soft, cooked foods.

A dinner knife can be used for a variety of tasks. Most commonly, during dinner time, knives are used to cut up the food on your plate or push your food around. Everyone at the table has their own dinner knife and keeps it until the end of their meal.

Dinner knives to try

Although dinner knives often come in flatware cutlery sets, you can also purchase sets of just dinner knives if you need to replace lost ones.

Hiware 12-piece Good Stainless Steel Dinner Knives

This set of high-quality stainless steel dinner knives is durable and made for long-term use.

They are carefully weighted to be able to sit comfortably in your hand, no matter how you hold your knife.

With a classic, unassuming look, these dinner knives are easy to integrate into your flatware collection for stunning place settings.

Mikasa Satin Loft 18/10 Stainless Steel 65-Piece Flatware Serving Utensil Set

If you tend to have large dinner parties, you need to ensure you have enough flatware for each of your guests, including dinner knives.

This 65-piece stainless steel flatware set from Mikasa comes with dinner knives as well as several other serving utensils, including:

  • Dinner forks
  • Salad forks
  • Dinner spoons
  • Tea spoons

This sleek cutlery features a distinctly curved handle and wide square tip for additional elegance. This set is also perfect for everyday use, which, considering the versatility of the dinner knives, is very plausible.

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Butter Knife Vs. Dinner Knife

Butter knives and dinner knives are both easy to use for their specific purpose. One of the main differences between a butter knife and a dinner knife is the serrated edge of a dinner knife that makes it easy to cut through foods.

However, that doesn’t mean that you should forgo using a butter knife. Despite the versatility of a dinner knife, it isn’t the most suitable tool for spreading butter. Butter knives are shorter and wider, which makes them more suitable to hold and spread the butter. Some butter knives even lack the serrated edge, as it isn’t necessary for the function of a butter knife.

Final Thoughts

To ensure you fully understand the differences between butter knives and dinner knives, here’s a quick recap:

  • Butter knives are typically dull and only used to cut and spread butter on bread at the dinner table.
  • Dinner knives are used for a variety of tasks at the dinner table, most commonly to cut food on your plate.

The differences between a butter knife and a dinner knife may seem inconsequential, but each of these utensils serves a purpose and works best for that intended use. So, if you only own either one of them, your best bet is to add to your collection.

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Angelica Williams

Growing up on a farm helped Angelica learn almost everything there is to know about fruits and vegetables–how to wash and store them, how to keep them fresh, and how to prepare them. This farmer’s daughter also knows the secrets to the best ways to prepare and serve delicious, balanced meals for large, hungry families on a budget.

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