Whether you’re preparing a turkey dinner for the family or slicing up some strawberries, knowing which knife to use for every occasion is crucial to mastering your triumph in the kitchen.
Getting equipped with the right knives is the key to success in the kitchen, and there are many types of kitchen knives available on the market. If you’re ever in the kitchen, having doubts, thinking, “What knife should I be using?” then this just what you need to read today.
4 Kitchen Knives That’ll Take Your Cooking To The Next Level
If you’re wanting to really master your kitchen skills and take your cooking to the next level, it all starts with the right knife. It’s also important to know how to care for your kitchen knives, this will ensure that they last you as long as possible.
In the following post, we have listed 4 essential knives that should be found in every kitchen knife set.
1. Chef’s Knife
If there is one single knife you must start within your kitchen, it is the chef’s knife.
A classic chef’s knife is the essential starting point for all your cooking needs. Coming in at 8-10 inches, it may seem intimidating at first, but it is the ultimate tool for your cooking needs.
The long edge adds versatility to the chef’s knife, making it easy to go from mincing a clove of garlic, to slicing a large tomato.
If you have a bigger blade, you’re able to depend on the knife, rather than your own strength to do the work.
It’s also much safer to work with a big blade (though it may seem more dangerous at first). The big blade gives you leverage and is much easier to slice through thicker vegetables and ingredients (so you don’t have risk putting too much pressure on the knife and having an accident).
When Should You Use a Chef’s Knife?
The simple answer is… Almost always.
My experience as a prep cook has taught me the importance and dependability of the chef’s knife. You can use it on at least 80% of your tasks (though I use it on closer to 90% of mine).
You can use it on slicing fruits, vegetables, meat, fish. It’s incredible for dicing up your ingredients in a heartbeat.
It can be used to turn a whole sprig of parsley, or cilantro into a beautiful herbal array in a matter of seconds. It’s important to note that there are some tasks that the chef’s knife should not be used for.
Don’t Use a Chef’s Knife On…
- Butchering poultry
- Carving Meat
- Removing the skin of large vegetables
The width of a chef’s knife allows for broad use, but there are certain tasks that will require a thinner (or shorter) blade.
How Much Should Does A Chef’s Knife Cost?
Because you will be using your chef’s knife the most, I recommend setting aside the biggest budget for it above all other knives.
If you’re wanting to make a small investment into a high-quality knife that will last for years, you should be willing to spend about $100 on one.
Knives are unlike many of the other appliances or household tools you will purchase. While many other items break down or wear out, a high-quality knife can last for decades, and a top of the line knife will last a lifetime.
Choose a blade that is full tang. This is a blade with one piece of metal (the actual blade part) that has 2 handle pieces connected on the end with a pin. I don’t recommend going with a half tang blade.
This is a blade that extends the full length of the knife but thins out near the handle, or extends halfway to the handle.
A full tang knife is more durable. It will be more sturdy, more balanced, and will last longer than a half-tang knife. A higher quality (but more expensive) knife you could buy is a forged knife.
This is an extremely durable knife made of steel, forged, heated, and then pounded by a hammer into a perfect shape. There are no extra parts. The whole knife is a single piece of steel.
The chef’s knife is your everyday tool. First, before any other knife, master this knife.
Learn the grip. Try it on all your vegetables. Get confident with it, then master this next knife…
2. Paring Knife
The second knife you’ll need to master is the paring knife. No, it’s not a “pear-ing knife” though you can obviously use it to cut pears.
This knife is the perfect little sidekick to the chef’s knife. When you need some work done with a bit more detail, and fine-tuning, this is the knife.
It’s a mini, but very powerful, a little version of the chef’s knife (and it’s much cheaper too).
The average size of the paring knife blade is 3.5 inches long which makes it perfect for the smaller items your chef’s knife is a bit too big to cut efficiently.
When Should You Use A Paring Knife?
The paring knife is most ideal for slicing up items that are just too small for a chef’s knife to do. It’s also great for hulling strawberries (removing the green stem), mincing garlic, or peeling various vegetables or fruits.
Don’t Use a Paring Knife On…
- Celery Root
The paring knife isn’t heavy enough to be able to handle the harder vegetables, which means you would have to increase your pressure or grip on the knife.
If you find that you’re putting a lot of pressure on any of your knives, there’s one of two things wrong:
The blade is too dull (and needs a good sharpening) or it’s the wrong knife.
It can be dangerous applying extra pressure on any of your knives, as this can cause the knife to slip suddenly (and potentially lead to an unnecessary cut).
How Much Should Does A Paring Knife Cost?
The paring knife is the smallest knife in the kitchen which means…It costs less money! I recommend spending around $20 for a decent paring knife.
You should avoid choosing a ceramic paring knife. Choose a metal blade for a longer lifespan and more durability.
3. Serrated Knife
Now, I know what you’re thinking. This one is for bread! And you’re absolutely right. But…
Did you know that the serrated knife was made for so much more than just bread?
There are a variety of tasks in the kitchen that you will be handled with much more ease (and much quicker) by checking out everything it can be used for below.
When Should You Use A Serrated Knife?
A serrated knife is one of the handiest tools in your kitchen. Coming it at an average length of 6 inches, it’s very useful for slicing fruits and vegetables with waxy exteriors.
It’s most ideal for tomatoes, watermelons, peppers, citrus, and pineapples.
Pro baking tip: Serrated knives are also ideal for cutting your cake layers.
And of course… serrated knives are good for bread too. But you already knew that.
Serrated knives should always be used in a sawing motion. Let the blade do the work. Don’t force the knife down with pressure (especially with bread) as it can compromise what you are cutting.
Instead, slowly rock the knife back and forth, allowing the teeth to grip the surface and make its way through to the bottom.
Don’t Use a Serrated Knife On…
- Fresh Herbs
How Much Should Does A Serrated Knife Cost?
I recommend spending about $40 on a durable serrated knife.
Like the chef’s knife and a paring knife, picking up a knife with a high-quality steel blade is worth the investment if it means it will last for years.
The serrated knife is usually the knife that lasts the longest as it is used less frequently, and less forcefully (since you won’t be chopping with it).
When buying your own serrated knife, make sure you consider the size of the teeth. You will want teeth that are not too small (inefficient for “sawing” your items) and not too big (which will shred the interior of a loaf of bread).
4. Boning Knife
This knife is pretty self-explanatory for what it does, though it does require a bit more practice to really master it.
The boning knife is a thin, specifically shaped knife made exactly for what the name implies… taking the meat off the bones.
It’s a 5-6” blade on average which makes it versatile in cutting up and boning nearly any meat, fish, or poultry you are cooking for the day.
While most knives are made to cut straight, this knife was made to move along the bone. It’s flexible, durable, and can move with the meat you are working with which makes it perfect for ribs and joints.
The boning knife should never be used to cut through the bones but only around the bones. The most ideal boning knife can bend perfectly to cut the meat from the bone while at the same time carry the strength to slice through any cartilage or joints.
When Should You Use A Boning Knife?
You can use the boning knife for most tasks related to red meat, fish, and poultry.
It is the best knife in the kitchen if you need to strip the meat off the bones. It is also perfect for cutting through any tendons, joints, and cartilage.
You can also use the boning knife to remove the skin from a piece of salmon.
Don’t Use a Boning Knife On…
Anything that’s not meat;
If you’re vegan, you won’t be needing this knife and will save yourself a few dollars.
How Much Should Does A Boning Knife Cost?
To get a good boning knife to add to your tool belt in the kitchen, I recommend spending about $30. If you think you’ll be working with a lot of meat (especially those that still have the bones in), it is better to invest a bit more.
A tip for the boning knife: If you practice with this knife enough, you can actually save yourself a ton of money by buying “non-boneless” meats and boning them yourself from now on. It would make it well worth spending a bit extra on a higher-quality knife.