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Luke Gulyaev
Luke Gulyaev

Cooking Chef's Knives Types

As the king in the kitchen, the chef's knife also more or less decides which sharpening device you should use. Ideally, your sharpener should be compatible with all of your knives; however, when the knives come from different collections, the sharpener should at least work on the material, grind, and edge angle of the chef's knives. Read our buying guide and reviews of best knife sharpeners to learn how to get the right one.

cooking chef's knives types

This guide breaks down the 5 types of kitchen knives and their uses that every home chef should have! Stocking your kitchen utensils? Read on! Kitchen Knife Guide Types of Kitchen Knives Uses of Kitchen Knives Cooking Tips Kitchen Tips Beginner Cook

If you're willing to make an investment in a knife in your arsenal, this is where to do it. Of all the knives you own, McDermott recommends spending the most on your chef's knife and suggests a price of about $100 for a high-quality chef's knife. "Remember that knives are heirlooms," he says. "And the good ones should last forever."

Choose blades that are full tang (one full piece of metal with the two handle pieces pinned to the sides) versus half-tang (a piece of metal that extends the full length of the knife, but only part of the width, or does not extend the length of the knife and is instead glued into the handle). Full-tang knives are more balanced, sturdier, and longer-lasting than half-tang models. Our test kitchen also generally prefers forged chef's knives, which are made from a single piece of forged steel, heated and pounded into the desired shape. The other option is a stamped blade, which is cut out of a large sheet of steel and is usually lighter, a quality considered undesirable in a chef's knife.

Serrated knives may be most commonly associated with slicing bread, which is why they are also called bread knives. But according to McDermott, the toothed blade can take on almost any job not suited to the straight blade of a chef's knife.

While a honing steel isn't a knife, it's still an essential tool for your knife block. A honing steel is designed to keep your knives at their peak sharpness for as long as possible. "A honing steel is likely the second most important tool in the kitchen after a chef's knife," McDermott says. Running your knife along a steel realigns the teeth (or fibers) on the blade, which leads to a sharper edge and thus a cleaner cut. Knives should be honed every time you use them, but because honing doesn't actually sharpen the blade, McDermott suggests home cooks have their knives professionally sharpened once a year.

Now that you know what types of knives you need to have in your kitchen, you should test them out before you purchase them. The Chopping Block's Knife Skills and Knife Skills Plus classes give you the opportunity to "test drive" these knives so that you know which brand feels most comfortable for you. You'll notice in the pictures here that the knives you see are not all of the same brand. That's totally okay, and why we don't recommend purchasing knife sets. You may find you like one knife line for a particular type of knife and a different brand for another. Each knife's weight, blade, handle and fit will differ.

Chef's knives come in various lengths of 6, 8, 10, and 12 inches. The smaller sized knives are typically referred to as mini chef's knives while the longer lengths are known as traditional chef's knives. The heft, weight and balance of this knife allow it to be used for heavy duty work with thicker cuts of vegetables, fruits and meats. The length of the knife you purchase is significant. The longer the knife, the heavier and more difficult it will be to handle. Small handed cooks should choose shorter blades while large handed cooks will prefer longer blades.

Electric Knife - There are also electric knives available, which are used for slicing, carving and cutting. The electric knife consists of two very sharp, thin blades that move independently in a back and forth motion to slice or carve through many different types of food.

When you purchase a knife we recommend getting familiar with the types of steel available and choosing one that suits the expectations you have for a knife. We made an overview of the most common types of steel used for kitchen knives.

The corrosion resistance is, overall, good, VG10 steel, however, is more sensitive to pit corrosion than types of steel with a lower carbon content. The moment you find a speck of rust you need to polish/grind it, to prevent the corrosion from spreading. Regularly sharpening the edge prevents corrosion which can lead to chipping. Never put VG10 steel knives in the dishwasher and never leave them to soak in the sink. Softer types of steel are a little more forgiving in this respect.

Sandvik is a producer of different stainless types of steel. The most famous type of steel is 12C27. This type of steel is used for the popular Morakniv knives, but also Opinel and Laguiole and Aubrac have been using this type of steel for years. All because this type of steel is easy to modify and it retains its sharpness well. It is not the hardest type of steel around, also making it easier to sharpen.

Stainless steel, also called corrosion resistant steel, is a collective name for all types of steel that are comprised of up to 1.2% carbon and at least 11% chromium. Because of the addition of chromium the chances of rust are reduced. As mentioned before the addition of chromium does affect the hardness of the steel. To make sure this type of steel can still be used on knives, elements such as vanadium, molybdenum, titanium, nitrogen or silicon are added. As such the steel is harder and more wear and tear resistant.

A carbon steel kitchen knife and the maintenance included is not for everyone. That is why choosing stainless steel is not a bad choice. Today there are types of stainless steel that are harder and more wear and tear resistant than certain types of carbon steel. Stainless steel kitchen knives are easier to maintain, but they can rust. Read more about why stainless steel can rust here.

Damascus steel is not really a type of steel, but it has grown in popularity and it is used for kitchen knives more and more often. Damascus steel is often comprised of two types of different steel with a different carbon percentage. These two types of steel are alternately forged together. After forging the blade, it is etched. Steel with a high carbon content will then turn dark. The steel with a low carbon percentage stays light in terms of colour. You are left with a nice contrast, clearly seeing all layers. Read more about damascus steel here.

For everyday cooking, versatility is paramount. You need a set of knives that can handle the day-to-day tasks of meal prep, whilst still providing ample support for the occasional special dish and seasonal food items.

Choosing the right knives can be a challenge, especially for those new to cooking. Although some kitchen knives are created for a singular purpose, many are versatile. This can cause confusion among aspiring chefs and budding cooks alike.

Unsurprisingly, given the name, this is likely the style of chef's knife you're most accustomed to if you group up in one of the Americas or Europe -- ya know, the West. Historically, Germany has done the bulk of high-end knife-making so you may have heard these referred to as "German-style" knives.

Western chef's knives generally have a lot of heft and a thicker blade with a gradual curve that lends itself to a rocking cut. Both the weight and blade shape make a German or Western blade ideal for those more laborious tasks like rough chopping, dicing, and hacking at harder, dense vegetables.

Whether or not you spring for both a Western and Japanese knife to have in your arsenal depends largely on the type of cooking you do, and how precise you want to be with your cuts. I didn't know the key differences between these two knife styles until not long ago and was mostly getting along fine with just a standard Western blade. Having learned more about the two knives, including how and when to use them, they almost feel like different kitchen tools to me now. I've grown accustomed to having both.

In 2017, we gathered a testing panel of seasoned cooking pros and curious home cooks in our test kitchen to chop, slice, dice, julienne, chiffonade, and mince with the 15 knives we collected. The panel included Wirecutter staff members as well as Sam Sifton, an assistant managing editor at The New York Times and founding editor of New York Times Cooking.

People that are new to Japanese knives and even some more experienced users often have questions about what makes Japanese different and how the various knife shapes can be used. What follows is our simple guide on the most common knife types and their specific uses.

The Sujihiki (lit. muscle pulling, meaning muscle or tendon cutter) is the Japanese adaptation of western-style slicers. These knives are made thinner and shorter than chef's knives, nakiri and santoku in order to minimize friction while slicing meat and fish. Some chefs will use this style of knife to prepare sashimi and sushi in lieu of a yanagi-ba for its favorable maintenance requirements versus single bevel knives.

The word 'petty' is colloquialized from the French word 'petit' and among knives refers to a relatively broad set of utility-oriented knife shapes and sizes. These knives will commonly take the profile of a smaller chef's knife or gyuto and are ideal for small, detailed tasks such as fine brunoise, mince and chiffonade and peeling. There is no hard-defined rule of what defines a petty versus a paring or a chef's knife but generally these will be considerably shorter (from spine to edge) than a chef's knife/santoku/nakiri as well as shorter (from handle to tip) than a slicer. A good size range would be from about 100-210mm and up to roughly 30mm tall. Some will group petty knives and paring knives together, but we think a meaningful distinction can be made between the two. Generally a paring knife will be considerably shorter so as to perform paring tasks in-hand more nimbly. A good guideline while searching for a paring knife is to hold the knife in your dominant hand and extend your dominant thumb; you will want your thumb to reach and ideally extend beyond the tip very slightly so that you can take full advantage of the tip for more detailed paring work. This is not to say that you cannot pare with a longer knife and it will depends larger on your comfort level.


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