20 Essential Types of Kitchen Knives and Their Uses
Knives are probably the most crucial utensil to have in your kitchen. You can prepare practically any food with them – from chopping vegetables for a salad, cutting fruits for a smoothie, slicing bread to make a sandwich, butchering meat, or opening an oyster before eating it.
Knives are so useful and versatile I doubt any kitchen could function properly without them. But knives come in many shapes and sizes. So before you go and equip your kitchen with knives – you should know what to go for first.
Top 20 Types of Kitchen Knives That You Should Have
In this guide, we review 20 of the essential types of knives to have in your kitchen. If you want to be well-prepared when equipping your kitchen – then reading this guide will help you a lot!
1. Chef's Knife
A chef’s knife is the most practical utensil you can have in your kitchen. And you don’t need to be a chef to use one.
It usually goes from 8 to 12 inches depending on its focus. People who use it to cut small stuff don’t need more than just a few inches, but chefs or people who like to cut tons of meats may need a larger model.
Sometimes also referred to as a French knife, a Chef’s knife typically has a triangular blade with a curve that helps to move back and forth to cut things more effectively.
It can be used to chop stuff but also to simply slice through any food, going from vegetables to fruits, meats, and more.
A 12-inches chef’s knife works for almost anything while keeping the edge sharp for a long time – especially high-end models made of titanium or similar materials.
From carving a turkey to slicing cake, cutting ribs, or even just chopping onions – it is a multi-tasking knife that does everything without fault. Having one of these will undoubtedly make your kitchen experience better.
If you're looking for a good chef's knife, try this one from J.A. Henckels International.
2. Santoku Knife
Everyone loves a fancy name, and Santoku is probably one of the fanciest for knives that you’ll hear. But it is not purely for beauty purposes, it is named like this because of its exceptional versatility.
In Japanese, Santoku means “Three Virtues.” This comes from the fact that this knife works really well for mincing, slicing, and chopping – the three significant kitchen knife uses.
It does all of this thanks to the thin edge. This thin blade helps to achieve superior precision, so you can cut anything without any shortcoming.
Typically found in either 5 or 8 inches, you can get the one you prefer depending on your needs. Whatever the design, though, the blade is always flat. This improves the mincing and slicing experience. And of course, it makes chopping a piece of cake.
Overall, this knife still does almost everything related to cutting. From prepping meats to piecing fruits or chopping veggies, a Santoku knife can deliver precision and versatility with the smoothest cutting experience.
If you don't have a santoku knife, click here to buy one on Amazon.
3. Decorating Knife
When it comes to cutting fruits, vegetables, or desserts while leaving a shape behind – then a decorating knife is the instrument to use.
This knife has a patterned blade that cuts through almost anything effectively. The pattern is usually a “zig-zag,” which leaves an uneven effect on the food.
It is usually used for decorating things like cakes and similar desserts. Other people use them for carrots, zucchinis, and other vegetables. Thanks to the shape of the edges, it is more useful for appearance than for effectiveness.
Get yourself a decorating knife on Amazon today.
4. Serrated Bread Knife
Slicing a loaf of bread is not easy when you don’t have the right knife. Just try to get a piece of bread with a Santoku knife, and you’ll be closer to cutting yourself than slicing your loaf.
That’s why it is always useful to have a serrated bread knife close. There’s no better option for cutting soft bread than one of these.
Due to the serrated blades, cutting through fluffy foods with tough skins is easier. So, it won’t only work for bread, but for anything similar like turkeys, tomatoes, plantains, and even cakes.
These are also pretty long when compared to other models. The traditional bread knife doesn’t go below 14 inches. This can be handy for long foods, but may also be a problem for small ones.
Overall, this knife is essential if you are a heavy bread eater. No other option will cut through types of food as effectively as this one.
Don't have a serrated bread knife? Click here to buy one on Amazon.
When it comes to chopping meats and bones, nothing compares to the effectiveness of a cleaver.
It is probably the biggest knife you will find. You can even say it is closer to being an axe than a real knife. But this is because its job is to do what other smaller types of knives can´t – chop bones, cartilage, and frozen foods.
A cleaver is often very heavy too, with a massive blade that doesn’t have much of an edge but it is still sharp enough to cut meats. You will find one of these with no less than 10 inches.
The only issue with a cleaver is that most people really don’t need it. With a large Chef’s knife or a Santoku, you can do the same thing a cleaver does. However, if you are someone who’s regularly prepping meats and boning chickens, then this will be a perfect knife to have.
Want to buy a cleaver? We'd suggest this one on Amazon.
6. Butcher Knife
This is a combination of a French and a Santoku knife but specially designed to work with raw meats.
It usually has a curved blade that helps to go through meats more easily. That’s where it gets its name.
Whether it is slicing red meats, cutting chickens, or slicing fat – this is the ideal option.
The design of the knife typically comes with Granton edges, adding extra slicing smoothness that prevents any tearing or shredding while using. Especially for preparing meats, you will find a butcher knife an almost perfect addition to your kitchen.
It usually doesn’t go below 12 inches in size. But you may find some alternatives as little as 10 or 8 inches. The most common ones are large and thick enough to work in most butchering operations.
You could say it is like a French knife in size but with the thinness of the Santoku. People who appreciate cutting their meats smoothly will love having one of these
7. Slicing Knife
If you’ve ever been served meats in a fancy restaurant, you probably know what a slicing knife is.
It usually features a very long blade with a straight edge, ideal for cutting cooked meats in the smoothest of ways.
A slicing knife is similar to a butcher knife in many ways, but instead of having a curved blade, it has a straight one.
The tip of this model is rounded, too, which adds extra safety when cutting. Along with Granton edges, and its thin blade – a slicing knife makes sure that every cut is as perfect as possible, with as little of shredding, tearing, or chopping as possible.
You will find one of these going from 8 inches up to 14 inches in the largest models. Anything from roasted turkeys to sirloin steaks, smoked hams, and even ribs will be best cut with one of these slicing pieces.
If you love making fancy dinner parties or just prepare a nice meaty meal from time to time, then you’ll want to have a slicing knife in your kitchen.
Don't have a slicing knife? We'd suggest this one on Amazon.
8. Steak Knife
Now that we went over the butcher knife for preparing meats, and the slicing knife for cutting them once they’re cooked – it is time to meet the steak knife. This is the one you’ll use when it comes to eating your meats.
As its name says, this is the ideal small utensil that cuts through any type of meat smoothly. Whether it is chicken, red meat, pork, or fish – a steak knife is the way to go.
They are usually pretty small, going for 4 to 10 inches in the largest yet unusual models. If you tend to prepare lots of meats – then you’ll want a blade like this so you can eat them more easily.
Don't have a steak knife? Click here to buy one on Amazon.
9. Paring Knife
A paring knife is not the most practical to have. But due to the ability to cut wedges of vegetables and peel fruits easily, it may still be pretty handy to have around.
It is probably the most affordable in the whole list and the simplest. Its blade can be as small as just 3 to 5 inches, and it can be either scalloped or serrated depending on the model.
The tips on a paring blade are usually curved for safety. But some models have fine tips so they can go through fruit more quickly.
Overall, these are useful for people who are always preparing drinks and cutting small fruits or veggies consistently. It won’t be the most effective for its job, but the design saves a lot of effort and time that other larger models do not.
Don't have a paring knife? we'd suggest this one on Amazon.
10. Utility Knife
You could say that a utility knife is a combination of slicing and paring blades. But, it is not ideal for meats but for fruits and vegetables.
It is larger than a paring knife, going up to 8 inches in some models. And it has a serrated but flat edge that you’ll generally find on a slicing blade.
If you are usually preparing salads and need to cut tons of them daily, then a utility knife is the way to go. You will also find it useful for eating if you prefer, but it won’t go smoothly through meat as other models.
Still, it can be an excellent alternative to paring knives – or you can have both for better convenience.
11. Boning Knife
Despite having a name that refers to getting rid of bones in meats, it is actually a knife that helps to separate muscles from the bone and other tissues.
A boning knife is not really necessary to have in your kitchen. But if you are often preparing pork, lamb, or deer legs – then you’ll find one of these essential for getting the meat off the bones.
Having a boning knife in your kitchen can be pretty handy for special occasions like Christmas, where it is common to eat large pieces of meat. But otherwise, you may just skip it.
It can be large, or it can be small. Most of them are usually around 3 to 8 inches in length. Being too large can make it challenging to use, and being too little may leave a lot of meat to cut behind.
With the curved blade that looks like a hook, it helps to cut meat in specific places with more strength than with any other knife. Whether it is fat, beef, or cartilage – it usually goes through all of it.
If you’re going for one of these, you will not get much out of it unless you’re consistently preparing large meat legs and the like. Otherwise, you may just dismiss it.
12. Fillet Knife
When it comes to preparing fish – this is probably the only knife you need.
A fillet knife is probably the thinnest in the whole list, being around 8 inches in length, so it is easy to use. The focus of its thin blade is to separate the skin of the fish from the meat when it is fresh. You won’t find any other knife that does it like this one.
It is a unique alternative to ordinary knives if you are continually preparing fish. People who live close to lakes, rivers, or the ocean who eat lots of fish will find one of these essential.
A fillet knife also helps to get slices of fish more efficiently without any shredding, chopping, or messes when cutting. It is a smooth as you can imagine thanks to its thin & effective edge.
But if you aren’t a fish fan, you may overlook it. Otherwise, it can be a practical model that will make fish preparation a lot easier.
13. Trimming Knife
A trimming knife is the smallest kind on the whole list. Going up to 3 inches in the largest model, it is a perfect option for peeling fruits and vegetables but also for preparing decorations.
The design is close to a boning knife with a curved blade, but this one has a lot smaller size. This helps to work with small foods more easily.
They are mostly useful for chefs who like to decorate their dishes a lot. But it doesn’t mean that having one of these in your kitchen won’t be handy. In fact, you may learn how to use one and get the most out of it on special occasions.
But overall, this is a knife you can ignore, as long as you aren’t someone who loves to decorate their food.
14. Fluting Knife
When it comes to peeling fruits and vegetables, a fluting knife is the way to go. Having a handle that is usually larger than its blade – the fluting knife helps to get exceptional precision when peeling.
You won’t find the blades of this model to be larger than 4 inches. It is usually very light and easy to use, as well. Sadly, the straight edge and pointy tip can be a little dangerous – yet it offers additional uses that similar knives do not.
For example, chopping herbs and other small veggies is a piece of cake with this type of knife. So, it can be easily an excellent choice for your kitchen equipment if that’s something you do regularly.
15. Peeling Knife
While you can peel most of your veggies with a fluting, paring or trimming knife – nothing compares to this one for sure.
Having a clear name, you can be sure it leaves no space for peeling inefficiencies. Mainly because it has the perfect rounded blade with a thin edge that gets rid of skin as no other knife does.
You can peel fruits and vegetables up to twice as fast with one of these than with any other model. Even when it is no larger than 5 inches, it covers a larger surface than its alternatives for peeling, which makes it ideal to have on your kitchen.
Its curved design also helps to reduce risk when using and improves the effectiveness and ease of the peeling. If you are often skinning fruits and veggies, then this is the knife you’ll want.
16. Cheese Knife
Again, its name leaves no space for doubts as for what this knife does. If you are a cheese enthusiast, this will probably match your kitchen needs like a giant gem on a wedding ring.
The ability of this knife to cut through without crumbling, sticking or shredding will make the overall slicing process of the cheese almost as enjoyable as eating it.
But of course, there are different types of cheese knives. Some of them come with a cleaver-like design that cuts hard cheese like no other. These models can go over 10 inches in size.
Other models look more like small machetes, but with holes in a thin blade that deliver a smooth cutting experience with soft cheeses. These typically don’t go over 10 inches in size.
There are many variations between these two. But you’ll always know they are cheese knives because of how thin they are.
17. Tomato Knife
What separates a tomato knife from other kinds is the double tip of the blade. This design helps to get through the skin and pulp of the tomato to get all of the juice out like no other.
The pointy tip also helps to skin the fruit easily. And what’s even better, this tip helps to transport tomato slices from one point to the other without damaging the cutting board, the slices, or getting your hands dirty.
You can also use tomato knives for many other fruits or vegetables if needed. But overall, they were mainly made for tomatoes.
Italian chefs love these knives. And if you are someone who tends to use lots of tomatoes, citrus fruits, or any vegetable in slices – then this is the perfect knife for your kitchen.
It usually measures between 5 to 8 inches. You may also find smaller models for users who like practicality and portability.
18. Mincing Knife
While many people don’t consider this a knife, it is actually among the most useful you can get. Also known as a Mezzaluna, there’s no better knife for mincing vegetables.
Everyone knows how annoying it can be to use a large or curved knife to mince onions. But with a mincing knife, this becomes a gratifying activity that demands little to no effort or time from your part.
The blade tends to be curved but outwards. It looks like a protactor, with the flat part boasting a handle and the curved part used for cutting.
It is usually small, but you may also find really large options that go up to 15 inches in length with two handles for easy use.
If you need to cut veggies and herbs in small fine pieces, then no other knife will offer such a great result.
19. Oyster Knives
Having oyster knives in your kitchen won’t make it more practical every day. But for those days where having a different type of dinner seems like an excellent choice, then having one or two oyster knives can save you a lot of effort.
One of these mostly helps to open oysters. And once they are opened, it helps to get the meat out of the shell more easily.
The blade tends to be really dull for that, but thin enough to fit inside the small shell orifices. It tends to be really strong as well, so it isn’t necessarily cheap. As for size, it tends to be about 3 to 5 inches depending on the size of the oysters.
You will find hundreds of types out there with different designs, but they will always have the same purpose – so it won’t differ much no matter the shape or size.
If you are an oyster enthusiast, then this knife is a must-have.
20. Kitchen Shears
Finally, something that you undoubtedly need to have in your kitchen is a pair of sears.
They are literally scissors but for kitchen use. Whether it is cutting herbs or snapping veggies, skinning chicken or getting through ribs – the right pair of sears can help you like no other knife can.
They are straightforward to use and come in a wide array of designs and sizes. Some are useful for cutting with two blades which add extra precision. But others come with an anvil-like cutting head and a blade, ideal for achieving superior cutting force.
Getting one of these is undoubtedly an excellent option for anyone looking for extra cutting performance. The ease of use and exceptional results don’t have an equal in the knife world.
Equip Your Kitchen with Knives Today!
Whether you’re installing a new kitchen or just want to add all the utensils you’re missing – the different types of knives in this list will offer everything you need.
So stop searching for knife sets that don’t offer half of what you need. Instead, follow this guide and get only the ones that you’ll get the most from. Start gearing up your kitchen with knives now!