Knives are one of the oldest tools known to mankind, surviving their purpose as an eating utensil, weapon, and even hunting tool. Today, knives are a part of every kitchen, and depending on how often you cook in your household and what your favorite foods are – you might need to supply some different types of knives.
Every knife has its own purpose, features, sizes, materials, and cleaning instructions. You should choose your knives carefully, to not dull them by using them wrong, and get the best cuts of that certain food that you are looking to prepare. This guide will help you dive into the world of knives and choose the exact ones you need for your day-to-day imaginary cooking show.
This short, thin blade has one purpose: to make it easy for you to take the meat off the bone and easily manipulate your cuts around it as well. There are different types of boning knives, dedicated to the type of meat and bone you are removing from it – and from there, it depends on the size and proportions of the knife to determine the bone it is used for.
It is usually a bit rigid, and not flexible – you need it to be stable so you can cut around the bone with ease. Boning knives are usually made from stainless steel but it does come in other strong materials. The blade can be up to five or six inches long, depending on the type of boning knife you are looking for.
Cutting around the bone with a boning knife is as easy as ever!
Slicing bread can be pretty satisfying with the right knife in your hands. A bread-cutting knife is usually quite long and very serrated. It also needs to be thin so the bread cuts easily and doesn’t get squished during the process. Apart from being long, serrated, and thin – bread knives should be sharp, so you don’t have to press down with cutting.
Simply moving it back and forth on top of the bread without any pressure should result in the perfect slice of bread, and that is the exact purpose of a bread knife. It can ease the plating process after cutting, giving it another plus.
Using any other knife type to cut the bread can result in a lot of breadcrumbs, uneven cuts, and bread that is ruined due to the pressure used.
Butter knives are definitely the star of the show of any breakfast, and we all love them. Not only are they the safest type of knife to use, since they can’t virtually cut anything, but they are used to spread soft foods and bread, dinner rolls, and more. They are small in size, and very blunt, so they can serve their purpose as best as possible.
They come in many different sizes, patterns, and styles. Some are a bit serrated, or completely flat and usually come with your entire kitchenware set as a complete match. Butter knives are usually about four inches long, and made out of stainless steel making them the perfect tool for spreading jams, cream cheese, honey, and anything you could possibly think of! Definitely invest in some good old butter knives!
Butterknives are an essential in every kitchen.
If you are someone who loves making a huge Thanksgiving spread, you will definitely need to invest in one of these. Carving knives are the best tools to use when you are serving a large piece of meat like roast chicken or turkey and cutting it at the table. You can find mechanical carving knives which are pretty standard, and if you want to show off some more – you can even find electrical ones that cut through the meat with absolute ease.
They are usually quite long and very serrated, so they can make cuts through the meat fibers and make clean cuts while at it. You don’t usually have to apply any pressure when using a carving knife, using it as a bread knife – going back and forth over the meat is usually enough for the perfect cut.
Show off your carving skills at the dinner table!
Cheese knives are amazing contraptions that serve to cut both hard and soft kinds of cheese like there’s no tomorrow. Coming in various sizes, designs, and patterns, cheese knives are very unique. They usually have extremely thin blades for easy cutting, and sometimes feature a forked tip that easily lifts up pieces of cheese after cutting. Cheese knives also cut through dried-out cheeses with ease, no matter how hard it may be.
Coming in many sizes and lengths, you are able to find the cheese knife that suits your cooking style the most. Usually, the rule of thumb is that shorter knives are better for harder cheeses, while longer ones are used for all types of cheeses. Expect your cheese knife to be about five to six inches long, and made out of many different materials, you can quite literally pick and choose the exact cheese knife you will need in the future.
Chef’s or Cook’s Knife
A Chef’s knife is basically an all-purpose knife. It is an all-in-one experience that shouldn’t be taken lightly. These knives come in a large selection of sizes, lengths, designs, and more. They are used for absolutely everything: mincing, slicing, chopping, and dicing!
Usually, they are seen in longer versions, but there are also shorter chef’s knives that also serve the purpose well. However, chefs usually prefer longer blades as it allows more items to be cut at once as opposed to shorter ones.
Depending on the knife’s weight, design type, and balance, it is used for light-duty actions like cutting up fruits and vegetables, and some can even be used to work through thick cuts of meat depending on their durability. The larger the knife, the heavier it is – so don’t go overboard if you need this knife type for some everyday cooking. A medium or short chef’s knife will also get the job done quite well.
If you are in the kitchen all day every day – invest in a great chef’s knife!
A clam knife is quite self-explanatory. You use it to open a clam or oyster up and get all the good stuff inside. It usually comes with a curved blade so it is easy to jam into the shell and open it up. It is also easier to twist the blade once inserted and pry apart the shell with ease.
Coming with short blades, short-to-long handles, and sharp edges, clam knives are very popular among seafood eaters simply because they make this type of action very easy. Depending on your preferences, you can find clam knives with a large variety of handles, longer ones are usually more popular as they are easier to use than short ones.
Butcher Knife / Cleaver
A butcher knife is used for many different purposes. From punding, chopping, shredding, and crushing a lot of different ingredients, it has two sides. One is a blunt, flat side of the knife, which is used to pulverize meat – and the other is a rounded sharp blade that chips through hard materials such as bones, or other ingredients like vegetables.
Rigid, wide blades at the bottom and edges that are sharp are what make a butcher knife so great. They are almost always made out of stainless steel, and most are about seven inches in length without the handle. Some even have flat blades that can be used to crush garlic or seeds with ease.
If you like eating and preparing meat – a butcher knife is perfect for your kitchen.
Designed to cut through the most packed sandwiches, deli knives feature an offset blade that will keep your knife off the countertops and chopping boards while you are actually cutting the sandwich. You can use the entire length of a deli knife to cut the sandwich and is usually a very hefty tool in everyday cooking.
There are tons of different sizes, lengths, and designs of deli knives, so you can choose which one works best for you. The serration of deli knives is usually a bit rounded, so it doesn’t pick your sandwich apart during the cutting. They are usually about eight inches long, making them a convenient tool to work with and very simple to grasp when you first purchase them.
Typically eight inches long and featuring a very narrow blade that either has a pointed or rounded tip – dessert knives are one every baker should have in their homes. Slicing through hard desserts might require the pointed tip of a dessert knife, but soft desserts simply call for rounded ones.
You should know that these knives usually do not come in typical kitchenware sets, as they are usually used during formal settings and special occasions. Depending on how often you make desserts and what your needs are, there are many different sizes and designs of dessert knives for you to choose from.
For everyone with a sweet tooth – dessert knives will have an impactful role in your life.
If you are someone who already has the clam knife in their cart – you should hear about the devein knife. If you love eating shrimp and want to eat them as easily as ever, devein knives will most likely save your day. The veins that you usually remove from your shrimp are what devein knives are used to remove them with.
Cut through the shrimp length-wise and push the devein knife through the entire shrimp before removing its shell and vein at the same time. No effort, no mess, just enjoyment. The many different shapes and styles of the deveining knife, and depending on how fast and simple you want your shrimp cleaning process to be – you can purchase many different kinds. They are usually about three inches long.
This would be a more everyday version of a chef’s knife. You will always find a dinner knife in your kitchen set, and use it on a regular during both formal and informal settings. It is long and thin, making it perfect for cutting food, and cutting while you are pushing it into your fork. Usually, it represents the same thing for lunch and dinner as the butter knife represents during breakfast, and it is much easier to use because it can actually cut and do all the work at the same time.
Mostly used in a sushi-lovers kitchen, filleting knives are used for filleting fish easily. The blade is thin and flexible, allowing the user to move it along the backbone of the fish and make easy and clean cuts. The flexibility of the filleting knife is great for moving around the boney areas of the fish and making sure that the cut is even and bone-free.
There are many varieties of filleting knives that can be found depending on the type of fish you work with the most. They are usually quite large and can be found up to eleven inches in length. That can help you cut all types and sizes of fish without a hassle.
Filleting knives are more and more popular each year!
Frozen Food Knife
If you are someone who meal preps or simply freezes a lot of foods, you will need a frozen food knife. If you’ve ever tried to cut through frozen food with a smooth knife, you will know exactly why this knife is coarse and saw-toothed.
This type of blade will cut through anything and everything, even metal surfaces – so make sure to be careful when you are around one of these knives and how you are using them. Whether you are looking for a long blade or a slightly less serrated one, you will be able to easily find the blade you need because these knives come in many different varieties.
Granton Edge Knife
This blade features small grooves or dimples that are identical across the entire blade. The purpose of these dimples is to allow air to pass through while you are cutting something, making sure that the material or ingredient doesn’t stick to the knife while it’s doing its work.
It is usually used to slice meats like salmon, turkey, chicken, etc. You can use it to chop herbs, slice fruit, and even bread as it is usually sharp enough to simply slice everything in half perfectly.
An amazing addition to your kitchen would be the Granton Edge knife.
This slightly curved blade to the side is used to cut up and serve grapefruit. Imagine it is a knife and a scooper at the same time, and you will know exactly what it looks like and how it is used. They come as double-side and single-side blades and have at least one edge that is serrated.
They are used to cut away the meat of the grapefruit from the skin and serve it with ease without having to make much of a mess. They are usually about eight inches long.
Ham Carving Knife
This sharp, flexible blade is used to carve ham and other meats. Usually from eight to twelve inches long, the ham cutting knife comes from the family of filleting knives and usually looks similar to boning knives.
It is used to cut extremely thin slices of hot and cold meat, and is usually smooth or dimpled, just like the Granton Edge Blade, depending on your preferences.
If you are looking for a blade to keep your clam knife company, an oyster knife will be the perfect companion. These short, sharp and pointed blades usually have a bent tip that is used to twist and crack open an oyster with no hassle at all.
They usually come in extremely short and small versions, but don’t let their size fool you. These knives are very strong and can resist a lot of tension and pressure.
Seafood lovers will adore the oyster knife.
Peeling, cutting, coring, and mincing all types of foods will be a blast with the paring knife. This small knife usually features a very sharp and smooth blade, perfect for cutting up everything and anything you might need on a daily basis.
A thin, curved blade is what makes the peeling knife so efficient and effective — and needed in everyone’s life. Peeling fruits and vegetables will be the easiest task in the world, and you can find a peeling knife in a variety of sizes, designs, and patterns.
A crowd favorite, Santoku Knives are amazing for dicing, slicing, and mincing anything that comes to mind. It is a very balanced knife that is similar to the chef’s knife, yes, but also thinner, much lighter, and shorter, making it ideal for using it in a non-professional setting.
They have dimpled edges that make the item easier to cut and resist the ingredient sticking to the knife. They are widely raved about in everyone’s kitchen, so before you purchase just about any all-purpose knife, take the time to consider the Santoku. It’s truly worth the hype.
A knife fan-favorite: The Santoku Knife.
If you eat steak quite often, investing in one of these will be a no-brainer. Steak knives are very sharp knives that are used to cut steak and various types of meat. The blades they feature are serrated, durable, and strong, meaning that they can easily cut through tough meats and withstand any type of damage during the process.
Tomato Slicing Knife
Using just about any knife to slice tomatoes is a big no. They are very squishy, and we don’t want to mess up the good parts by using something like a butterknife to cut – or rather ruin – a gorgeous tomato.
A tomato knife has a thin, serrated blade that features a sharp point, making it easy to slice a tomato perfectly every time you saw the blade through.
Dao Bao Knife
If you are looking for a different type of peeler that works just as well, the Dao Bao Knife is great for peeling, shredding, and slicing both vegetables and fruit.
What is one of the greatest parts of the Dao Bao Knife is that it is usually extremely sharp, and while you do need to use it with caution – it will make the world of chopping anything THAT much easier. It originates from Vietnam and can be found in many different sizes and designs.
If you love mushroom hunting and spending time in nature, you will need a mushroom knife to help you forage for them. You can find foldable and non-foldable mushroom knives, both great at what they do.
They usually feature a brush that can be used to clean your mushrooms before putting them in your bag or backpack so you can take them home somewhat clean. They are designed to have curved blades that are amazing at slicing even the most delicate of mushrooms and can be found in tons of styles and sizes.
Slicing mushrooms and other vegetables can be a breeze.
BONUS: Kitchen Shears
This lightweight, versatile kitchen tool comes in many different sizes, styles, and colors. The sharp blades which are scissor-like and usually made of stainless steel, are used to snip fine herbs and cut through different foods.
They serve many purposes in the kitchen and are a great tool to have on hand even when you need to cut open some packaging or cut up butcher’s twine for Thanksgiving. Keep in mind that they do need to be hand washed to avoid the blade getting dull.
There are a lot of knives out there for you to choose from. Depending on your needs, cooking style, and how often you spend time in the kitchen, you can find many different knives to make your life a lot easier. No matter which type of blade you end up spending your money on, if it serves its purpose well – it’s a great purchase!
The rule of thumb usually is that you need at least two types of general-use knives and one meat knife, and after that, it is completely up to you. We all have different needs, diets, and cooking habits, but do be sure that there is a knife for everything. From chopping, dicing, slicing, and filleting – knives are a lifesaver in the kitchen, and investing in a good quality knife is definitely a job well done.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.