Do you ever dream of being able to whip up a masterpiece in the kitchen? Have you seen all these Rachael Rays and Cat Coras rocking up the kitchen on TV and think to yourself… “If only I could do that”? Well, as dedicated chefs, they all started with 1 thing: A passion for creating gourmet meals.
The one thing that separates someone like them from the average cook in the kitchen is… Knowledge. These ladies know the how-to on getting it done in the kitchen.
They know that having the right tools to get the job done is critical to their success. There are 4 essential knives for any kitchen, but it’s not unusual for them to have over a dozen different knives in the kitchen to be able to whip up any recipe.
Once you learn the different styles of knives and know exactly what they’re used for, you’ll be able to craft the most beautiful, aromatic (and appetizing) meals.
10 Different Types Of Kitchen Knives And What They’re Used For
If you’re willing to invest in your ability to cook, it will serve you for your entire life…but remember… When you begin to advance in your ability to cook up a delicious meal any day of the week, your friends and family will never want to leave your home when you’re in the kitchen. Seriously. But if you think you can handle that, keep reading.
Using a knife that’s been crafted specifically for each task in the kitchen will make your life a whole lot easier. It will save you a ton of time (and a ton of frustration) when you’re able to use the right knife for the right job. It will make envisioning the finished meal a simple task when you start with the right knife and learn how to care for your knives.
Most people (even if they aren’t avid cooks) use three different knives on average in the kitchen. So if you consider yourself determined, and are looking to invest in a brand new kitchen knife set, you can learn to use a bigger array of styles that will make your life in the kitchen much easier.
1. The Chef’s Knife
This is your bread and butter…though it should not be used to butter your bread. The chef’s knife is your ultimate tool. It is 8-10 inches long, with a broad blade. The best way to use this blade is whatever job needs to be done. It’s actually meant to rock back and forth on the cutting board.
Before moving on to any other knife, you need to master this knife. You will be using it for over 80% of your tasks so it is crucial to practice with it every day. It is used for anything from chopping vegetables, slicing tomatoes, and cutting meat.
2. The Paring Knife
Once you have your chef’s knife on point, you’re going to want to grab onto your paring knife. The paring knife is the ultimate sidekick to your chef’s knife. It’s essentially the Robin to your Batman.
Where it’s challenging to cut smaller vegetables, and do more intricate cutting, the paring knife comes in handy. It’s the perfect knife for cutting anything too small for the chef’s knife, and adding extra detail to your cuisine.
3. The Serrated Knife
The serrated knife is your bread knife. But… did you know you can use it for a variety of other tasks? Ideally, you should be using it to cut cakes, meat, seafood, and poultry.
Remember, when using the serrated knife, don’t apply too much pressure downwards, but rather use a sawing motion to cut through your ingredients. It’s designed with little alligator-like teeth so you can saw through bread or other items without squishing them.
4. The Boning Knife
If you plan on cutting any meats, then you’re going to love this knife. As the name suggests, it’s the perfect little tool for trimming the meat off the bone. It’s thin and flexible and is perfect for gliding right along the bone.
It’s also great for cutting through joints and cartilage. Vegetarians can use it too – a smaller boning knife can be used instead of a paring knife for peeling and trimming your vegetables.
5. The Santoku Knife
The Santoku knife is the Japanese chef’s knife. In Japanese, Santoku means “three virtues”. These three virtues are referring to slicing, dicing, and mincing.
It’s a flat blade and isn’t meant to rock back and forth like the chef’s knife. This blade is thinner and shorter than the chef’s knife but can be used as a replacement if you are wanting something a bit lighter.
6. The Kitchen Shears
It’s not a knife… They aren’t scissors… They’re shears. These shears are perfect for snipping up your herbs and cutting different veggies (think carrots or asparagus).
When your countertops are taken up, it’s a quick and easy way to cut some green onions into a dish.
7. The Cleaver
Yes, this is the coolest looking knife in the kitchen. If you ever want to impress your friends, pull this one out and start chopping meat and bones. The cleaver is the heaviest, bulkiest knife in your kitchen. It’s your tank.
It has a thick spine with a fortified blade, allowing you to cut through meat and bones with a single chop. It’s also great for cutting thicker vegetables like pumpkin and squash.
8. The Nakiri Bocho Knife
The Nakiri Bocho is another Japanese knife used for vegetables. It is a very thin, squared off blade that’s used to chop, rather than rock back and forth.
It’s most ideal when you are wanting your vegetables cut super thin. It’s great for adding some flair to your cuisine with vegetable designs. It’s great for cutting super thin veggies like carrots, daikon, and cucumber for salads.
9. The Fillet Knife
You may have mistaken this knife for the boning knife, but there are subtle differences between the two knives. While the boning knife is used for removing the meat from the bones, it has a thicker blade that has more force.
The fillet knife is for cutting thin slices of fish and therefore it’s usually a bit longer, thinner, and more flexible. You can technically substitute one knife for the other, but having both options will make your job much easier in the kitchen.
10. The Honing Steel
This is the ultimate companion to your knife set. The honing steel is essential for maintaining your blades. While it doesn’t actually sharpen your blade, it will make your knives cut much easier.
Honing your blades adjusts the tiny teeth on the blade and realigns them to the proper shape. To hone your blades, slide each side of your knife from end to end on the steel for about 15-30 seconds before using your knife.
Yes… you should be honing your blades before each use to properly maintain it. A little extra time in the kitchen to maintain your knives will allow you to use them for decades, rather than years.
P.S. You should make sure you get your knives professionally sharpened once a year (or more depending on how much you use them).