Types of Kitchen Knives and Their Uses (With Pictures)

* This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure here.*

There aren’t too many things tools in the kitchen more important than a chef’s knives.

When they work in the kitchen, chefs are constantly using a wide variety of different blades for prepping food.

And in your first couple of culinary classes, you’re probably going to have to learn how to use all the different kitchen knives.

Whether you’re a professional chef, amateur cook, or budding culinary student, it’s incredibly important to know how and when to use each blade in your arsenal.

That way, you know exactly what tool to use for each task, making your work in the kitchen much easier and more functional.

And to help you out as you discover the joys of the kitchen, we’ve created a comprehensive list and guide of all the different types of kitchen knives out there.

So, read on to learn more.

Forged Knives vs Stamped Knives

The first thing to know about the types of knives is how they are made.

With kitchen knives, they are made through a stamping or forging process.

Forged knives are forged from a single piece of steel which is then hammered, treated, and sharpened until it has a razor-sharp edge and is ready for the kitchen.

On the flip side, stamped kitchen knives are cut out of a large sheet of steel before being processed.

We highly recommend anyone looking for high-quality blades to opt for forged options as they are more balanced, sharper, and can last you a much longer time.

But if you need a quality blade on a budget, you can also try out a forged knife as they are generally cheaper.

Types of Kitchen Knives

When you walk into a professional kitchen, these are the knives you’re most likely to see;

Chef Knife

forschner victorinox fibrox chef's knife review

The chef knife is the most important tool in the kitchen.

It measures anywhere between 9-12 inches and is designed to be an all-around piece of kitchen cutlery.

It is one of the most versatile blades out there, you can use it for cutting meat, vegetables, and just about any other ingredient out there.

Western chef knives usually have a curved edge, that allows you to rock back and forth when chopping.

Some Japanese blades also have a slight curve, but many of them have a flat profile.

If you only plan on buying one kitchen blade, then we highly recommend getting this one as it is the most versatile blade on the market.

However, remember to get a sharp and durable blade that fits your hand just right for optimal performance.

Utility Knife

This blade is much smaller than the chef knife, only measuring in at around 4-7 inches.

These blades are designed to handle a variety of precise cutting tasks.

Since they are smaller, you can use it to do tasks that require more blade control.

These are also the ideal blades for cutting smaller vegetables and ingredients.

Paring Knife

Another kitchen essential you need to know about is the paring knife.

This tiny blade is designed to peel vegetables and fruits such as potatoes and apples.

They are typically very sharp and can easily glide through a wide variety of ingredients.

On top of peeling ingredients, you can also use this one to make small and precise cuts.

Despite being small tools, paring knives can cut through hard and tough ingredients with ease since they are made out of tough steel and have a very sharp edge.

Bread Knife

The bread knife is a very essential blade to have in the kitchen.

Many chefs and culinary experts will be quick to say that a serrated knife shouldn’t be overlooked in the kitchen.

And this is one of the most versatile serrated blades out there.

It is long with a jagged edge, which can cut through a lot of different ingredients.

As the name implies, this blade is mostly used for bread as it can easily cut through the crust and baked bread cleanly.

However, you can also use it for meats and other ingredients since it is long and sharp.

Carving Knife

The carving knife is long with a tapering point.

The blade is also very slim and slightly flexible which creates less drag when slicing through ingredients.

Carving knives are best used to create clean and even cuts on meat but can also be used for fruits and vegetables as well.

Another great use for carving knives is for cakes.

Large and broad knives typically have a hard time slicing through bread and cakes, but this one can do the job very well.

Butcher’s Knife

The butcher’s knife is also known as the cleaver and is a large and heavy blade used to cut meat.

Cleavers are flat and rectangular, which is why they easily stand out in a kitchen cutlery collection.

Chefs and butchers use this blade to cut up large chunks of heavy meat.

Since it’s a heavy blade, it can also cut through bone, which is why the cleaver is the go-to choice for meat processing.

There are many different versions of the cleaver such as the Chinese variation, which is used almost like a chef knife.

There’s also a Japanese version known as the nakiri, but it is much smaller and designed to cut small vegetables and fruits.

Boning Knife

The boning knife is a flexible, thin, and long blade designed to remove meat from the bone.

It’s also a great choice for trimming cartilage as the sharpness and flexibility make it very easy to slice through ingredients.

It is one of the most comfortable blades you will hold in your hand.

However, removing meat from the bone takes a lot of skill, so expect to make some mistakes your first couple of tries.

And since it has a pointed tip, this blade is great for slicing around the bone without ruining the meat and flesh.

Filleting Knife

A filleting knife is similar to a boning knife but is longer, slimmer, and more flexible.

These blades are best used for fish and other delicate meats that require intricate bone removal.

If you’re filleting a salmon or slicing up a nice piece of tuna, this one would be the perfect choice for the job.

Many chefs interchange the filleting knife and boning knife, as they are designed for similar purposes.

The filleting blade is thinner and more flexible, so it will be easier to use it for delicate ingredients.

However, since it’s so thin, it may not be able to handle a lot of the tougher ingredients out there.

Santoku

In the Japanese kitchen, the santoku is considered one of the most important blades.

The santoku is smaller than a chef’s knife but is used in a similar way.

Primarily, chefs use the santoku for slicing up different fruits and vegetables.

However, this blade is also tough enough to handle meat and other ingredients, which is why it’s a favorite amongst different chefs.

These blades are ideal if you find chef knives too large for your hands, and are some of the best blades you can use for fish, meat, and vegetables.

Steak Knives and Dinner Knives

Unlike the other blades we mentioned, steak knives and dinner knives aren’t used for prep.

A dinner knife is used at a place setting and diners typically use it to spread butter without scraping up crumbs.

Steak knives are sharper and usually serrated.

These blades are used to slice through cooked meat cleanly, making it easier to eat.

Steak knives and dinner knives usually come in large sets that allow you to serve food for multiple guests at a time.

What Knives Do I Need in My Kitchen?

If you ask experts, most of them will say you only need three knives in the kitchen.

Chefs recommend getting a chef’s knife, paring knife, and a serrated knife as starter sets.

For home use, a bread knife would work very well as a go-to serrated blade for any purpose.

These three blades can handle just about any kitchen task out there and would be a great way for you to start building your collection.

Of course, different tasks require different blades.

For most home cooks, these three knives are more than enough.

However, if you plan on butchering meat, filleting fish, and doing other delicate kitchen prep, then you might need some of the other knives we mentioned on our list.

Conclusion

And there you have it, a definitive list of the most common knives you’ll find in the kitchen.

Now, keep in mind that different chefs will have varied collections.

Some chefs might have more blades in their knife roll, while some won’t need that many specialized tools.

If you’re a home cook or budding culinary student, it’s very important to learn about all the different knives in the kitchen.

Remember, your knives are the most important kitchen tool, so you have to know how to utilize all the different blades to their full advantage.

And once you do that, you’ll find it much easier to work around the kitchen and prep your ingredients!

Last Updated on October 11, 2021

  1. Home
  2. »
  3. Knife Knowledge
  4. »
  5. Types of Kitchen Knives and Their Uses (With Pictures)

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.