Kiritsuke Vs Santoku: Which Knife Would Fit You Better?

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The Santoku would be a better pick for home cooks as this is a versatile knife that can be used for various tasks like cutting meat and slicing fruits and vegetables. In comparison, the traditional single-beveled Kiritsuke is difficult to use, wielded only by top chefs.

Japanese knives can be classified into two kinds: traditional ones which are often single beveled and task-specific and modern ones which are patterned on the more versatile western-style blades.

The Kiritsuke is under the former while the Santoku is of the latter.

Kiritsuke Santoku
Origin Japan Japan
Category Traditional Modern
Function For fish prep, primarily All-rounder

Slicer, Chopper, Mincer, etc.

Kinds of Food to Cut Fish

Can be used on vegetables and meat

Meat, Fish, Fresh Produce

 

Blade Profile Slightly narrow and long,

with reverse tanto tip

High heel

Straight belly

Straight spine that slopes down

to form a sheep’s foot tip

Handle Form Round, Octagonal Round, Octagonal, Flat/Straight

Here are their other salient features:

Overview Of The Kiritsuke

The chances are that you haven’t heard too much about the Kiritsuke.

And that’s perfectly fine, as this is one of the LEAST popular Japanese blades on the market.

But don’t be fooled by its popularity.

This is one of the most beautiful and functional knives that you can have in your arsenal.

In fact, many chefs have dubbed this knife “the coolest knife in the kitchen”.

One of the premier features of a kiritsuke is the length of its blade.

A standard kiritsuke will have a blade between 8 and 10 inches long.

It’s longer than most Western chef knives, which will allow you to use it for a wide variety of cutting and slicing tasks.

Most of the time, the blades will be made of high-carbon stainless steel, with an average hardness rating of HRC60+.

This is a typical feature of most Japanese knives, so you will have a very sharp edge designed to last you a long time.

This knife is primarily designed to cut and slice large vegetables, but it can also be used for meat and other ingredients.

It has a flat blade, meaning it isn’t ideal for rocking-chop methods.

Instead, you have to lift the knife when slicing.

Another premier feature of this knife is that it is beautifully crafted, with some larger versions actually looking like swords!

Overview Of The Santoku

The Santoku is probably one of the most popular Japanese knives out there.

Many different brands have their own version of this, and it is one of the “easier” knives that you can find in the West.

Basically, a Santoku is a general-purpose kitchen knife with similar applications to a chef knife.

Just like the Gyuto, the Santoku is largely considered a direct rival of the chef knife and could be a very useful pick for your kitchen.

It is a bit smaller than a chef knife, typically having a blade 6 to 7 inches long, but it also has a thinner blade.

Since it has a thin blade, slicing through ingredients can be much easier when using a Santoku.

The Santoku is a Japanese knife, so expect the blade to be flat and not ideal for rocking-chop motions.

However, since you have to lift the blade whenever you use it, it makes the knife ideal for chopping, slicing, mincing, and dicing ingredients such as meat, fish, vegetables, and even fruit!

And since it is one of the most popular Japanese knives out there, many Santoku models merge Western and Japanese designs.

So don’t be surprised if you find a Santoku with a Western handle or a slightly curved blade.

Kiritsuke Vs. Santoku – Which Is The Better Pick?

So, now that you know these blades’ general features and purposes, it’s time to compare them head-to-head.

In this section, we’ll be looking at the features and uses of these knives so you can determine which would be the right fit for your kitchen.

Design

The first thing to inspect when comparing these two blades is their overall design.

If you look at a Kiritsuke, you’ll notice that it’s much flatter than a Santoku.

Another major difference is the tip, as a Kiritsuke has a more pointed tip than a Santoku.

While a Santoku will largely resemble any standard chef knife, a Kiritsuke is more unique.

So, if you’ve been looking for a unique blade to add to your collection, then the Kiritsuke might be more suited for you.

But if all you need is a standard all-around tool for your kitchen, then a Santoku would do just fine.

Blade

Since both of these knives are Japanese, you can expect a very sharp edge on the blade.

Japanese knives tend to have thinner blades than Western ones, with Japanese models sharpened to an 11-13 degree angle.

This would mean that both of these knives will be much sharper than an average Western blade.

On top of that, both a Santoku and Kiritsuke have relatively flat blades.

And as we mentioned earlier, this makes them unideal for a rocking-chop motion. Instead, chefs and cooks will have to lift the blade every time they make a cut.

However, since a Santoku is more popular, there are many models out there that can be considered a “fusion” of Japanese and Western designs.

These blades will have a slight curve to them, allowing users to utilize a rocking-chop motion, which could make a huge difference for many chefs.

Another thing to pay attention to is that many Japanese knives are single-beveled, especially the traditional ones.

This means that only one side is sharpened, so if you’re right-handed, you have to get a right-handed knife and vice versa.

There are some models out there that are double-beveled, but you’re more likely to find a double-beveled Santoku than a Kiritsuke.

A Santoku will usually have scallops in the blade to reduce friction, making it easier to use and reducing the risk of food sticking to the knife.

Kiritsuke models, on the other hand, don’t have these scallops, but if you use the proper technique, you won’t have to worry about ingredients sticking to the blade anyway.

Uses

While these knives are very different from each other, they are used for similar tasks.

They are both designed as all-around kitchen knives so that you can use both of them on a variety of ingredients.

However, since a Kiritsuke is generally larger and longer than a Santoku, it makes it more fit for cutting up large ingredients.

And if you need to make precision cuts and need a lot of control, then a Santoku would be your best bet since they are smaller, and first-time users can have a bit more control.

But, as we mentioned earlier, both blades can be used for slicing, dicing, chopping, and mincing a wide variety of ingredients.

So, if you prefer larger blades, a Kiritsuke would be the ideal pick, and if you prefer smaller blades, then a Santoku would be the right pick for you.

Pros And Cons Of A Kiritsuke

Pros:

  • Boasts a unique and beautiful design
  • Ideal for chopping large vegetables and other large ingredients
  • The long blade is ideal for chefs
  • Usually made with high-carbon steel that can retain an edge for a long time
  • Will be very, very sharp

Cons:

  • These knives tend to be expensive
  • The flat blade can take some getting used to

Pros And Cons Of A Santoku

Pros:

  • Easy to handle and fit for a variety of tasks
  • Easier to find than a Kiritsuke
  • The blade has scallops  to reduce friction
  • Best for slicing, chopping, and peeling fruits and vegetables
  • The 7” blade can help save on space

Cons:

  • It may not be large enough for some chefs
  • More prone to chips and cracks

Conclusion – Which Is The Best Choice For You?

At the end of the day, the right pick for you will depend on your own needs and preferences.

Take a look at your kitchen and see what kinds of knives you already have and what is missing.

From there, it will be easier to figure out whether you need a large Kiritsuke or a smaller Santoku.

Either way, whichever you choose, you’ll be getting a very sharp, functional, and well-crafted blade designed to accomplish a variety of kitchen tasks.

And as long as you’re satisfied with your choice, then you definitely have chosen the right knife for you.

Last Updated on September 2, 2021

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My name is Andy Wang, and I'm a retired chef. I used to work at the City Vineyard restaurant in NYC. I also had a culinary degree from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. And this blog is where I share my love for knives and cooking with people like you.