Knives are an essential part of any kitchen. Without them, you’ll have a heck of a time trying to chop, slice and dice your way to the perfect meal. But how many knives do you really need, and which ones should you get? Here are the best kitchen knives for your arsenal:
1. Chef’s Knife
If you’re going to buy only one knife, this is it. The classic chef’s knife is known as European-style, but knife-makers today are creating fusion knives that blend French, German and Japanese styles. These blends can be super sharp and very versatile. Some blades even have divots on the sides (also known as Santoku style) to help vegetables slide off the surface. Chef’s knives have long, tapered blades that range from 6 to 12 inches in length.
When to use it: This knife is your kitchen workhorse and your go-to knife for most cooking tasks, such as mincing garlic cloves, chopping or dicing onions and peppers, and thinly slicing tomatoes or potatoes. Chef’s knives can even be used for breaking down larger items like whole chickens.
2. Paring Knife
Paring knives are small, versatile blades that allow you to cut with precision. They look like mini chef’s knives, with small, pointed tips and a blade that curves ever so slightly. They usually run 3 or 4 inches in length.
When to use it: This knife is well-suited for cutting that requires a little dexterity. It is most commonly used for peeling apples or potatoes, but is also a fine choice for julienning small vegetables, deveining shrimp and segmenting citrus.
3. Serrated or Bread Knife
These blades are so widely known for cutting bread that some brands actually call them bread knives. The blade is long and flat, with little to no taper or curve. The blade consists of sharp, jagged teeth that easily cut through hard foods with soft interiors. They can run 5 to 12 inches in length.
When to use it: Use the serrated knife for any cutting task that will benefit from a sawing motion, like slicing baguettes or other crusty bread. These knives can also be used for cutting produce with soft flesh (like tomatoes) or fruits with hard exteriors (like pineapples).
4. Fillet or Boning Knife
The blade of this type of knife is much thinner than those of other styles. The thinness makes the knife very sharp and most ideal for cutting raw meats. The knives can be called by either name, but a fillet knife always has a flexible blade whereas a boning knife can be either stiff or flexible. These knives are not designed to cut through bones, but rather around the bones. They are usually about 6 inches in length and feature long, tapered blades that sometimes curve dramatically.
When to use it: These knives are perfect for breaking down whole chickens or deboning bone-in pork or beef. The ones with flexible blades are well-suited to remove the skin from fish fillets. This type of knife is really helpful if you cut a lot of raw meat, fish or other bone-in proteins. If you don’t plan to cook a lot of meat, you may be able to skip this purchase and use a chef’s knife instead.
Once you have all of your blades, look into buying a honing steel and a sharpening stone. If you buy a knife kit, a steel is usually included in the set. The steel will keep knives as sharp as possible, and the stone can be used when a knife is too dull to sharpen with the steel.
With these need-to-know knife tips, you’ll be slicing and dicing your way to awesome cuisine in no time.