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How Many Kitchen Knives Do You Need?

From weird names to complicated, odd-looking blades, the world of kitchen knives can be confusing at times. How many kitchen knives do you need? 

The optimal number of kitchen knives for any home cook is 4. These knives include a chef’s knife, bread knife, carving/slicing knife, and a paring knife. A sharpener is also necessary to keep your knives’ blades sharp and effective.

But there are so many more kitchen knives to choose from? Yes, we will take you through the entire list of kitchen knives in this article, giving you an overview of each one’s functions and uses.

And if you’re looking to buy a new set of kitchen knives, then we’ve got our bonus section at the end of this article, where we will give you our top 5 pics for kitchen knife sets for you to pick from.

Which Kitchen Knives Are Most Important?

As I’ve just mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are five essential, must-have knives any home cook needs in their kitchen, which are:

  1. Chef’s Knife – Used for cutting, chopping, slicing, and dicing fruit, vegetables, meat, and more.
  2. Bread Knife – Used for cakes and bread.
  3. Carving/Slicing Knife – Flexible and long, essential for carving or slicing cooked meat like roasts.
  4. Paring Knife – Perfect for handling the smaller tasks that is tricky for a chef’s knife to get to.

Finally, a sharpener is technically not a knife, of course, but an absolute must-have for any home cook to keep all your knives in tip-top shape and sharp as they can be.

There are so many more knives that didn’t cut (pun intended) on our list of essential knives that chefs and home cooks use daily as part of their cooking arsenal. So let’s look at all the types of kitchen knives and their uses.

14 Different Types Of Kitchen Knives

If you’ve ever felt intimidated by the multitude of options for kitchen knives or even wondered what you would need and use them all for, we’ve got you covered.

Here is our breakdown of the most common kitchen knives along with their functions:

1. Chef’s Knife

When it comes to kitchen knives, the chef’s knife is the absolute king of the kitchen. This 6-12 inch knife is any chef’s workhorse and can be seen as an extension, almost like an extra limb.

The chef’s knife can be used to cut almost anything from meat to chicken to vegetables, and the long blade with an upward curving tip at the end makes it perfect for chopping and dicing just about anything. The chef’s knife is a must-have in any kitchen.

2. Santoku Knife

The santoku knife is a Japanese-style knife that sometimes replaces the chef’s knife. It typically has a shorter, thinner knife than the chef’s knife and has a smaller, lighter blade with the top of the blade’s tip curving downward.

Like the chef’s knife, the santoku knife can be used to cut, chop, slice and dice pretty much anything in the kitchen with precision, thanks to the blade’s dimples or Granton edge, which prevents meat and other foods from sticking to it.

3. Bread Knife

The bread knife is typically between 7 – 10 inches long with “teeth” along the straight, serrated blade, turning it into a less sharp saw.

This makes it perfect for cutting (or sawing) cakes and bread without pushing too hard down on it, but it can also be used to cut seafood, poultry, and meat. I would consider a bread knife as another critical item for any kitchen.

4. Carving/Slicing Knife

The carving or slicing knife is typically around  8 – 10 inches long with a rounded tip and carves or slices of cooked meats. Perfect for carving roasts, and if roasts are not a regular thing for you, this is the knife you’ll see around thanksgiving time to cut that beautiful brown turkey.

The blade is narrow but long, making it very flexible and easier to carve any size roast with its swaying motion.

5. Utility Knife

This 4–7 inches long narrow blade, small tip knife is perfect for any food that might be too small for your chef’s knife to get to.

The utility knife is excellent for filleting, trimming, and getting thinner cuts. However, don’t try to cut, chop, slice, or dice any oversized items; you’ll need your good old trusting chef’s knife for those.

6. Boning Knife

Now you’ll notice that some of the knives’ names give it away as to what they would typically be used for, and the boning knife, as the name suggests, would be used for cutting up meat, separating the meat from bones, or filleting fish. Depending on their size, they can sometimes be used for trimming vegetables.

The blade is usually thinner than a carving knife, around 3 – 8 inches long, flexible like the carving knife. However, you get semi-flexible and stiff variations, with the stiff blade being the most popular.

7. Paring Knife

This “baby chef’s knife” is perfect for cutting and peeling all kinds of vegetables and fruits and is excellent for trimming meat and fat with immaculate precision.

The 2 – 4 inch blade usually comes with a few pointed tips, including a spear point, sheep’s foot, or bird’s beak. The paring knife is on the must-haves list in any kitchen to complement your chef’s knife with the smaller tasks.

8. Kitchen Shears

Kitchen shears are a robust and thick-bladed pair of scissors used. Now, if you’re wondering what a pair of scissors is doing on our kitchen knives list, it’s because kitchen shears are extremely useful in replacing knives to fulfill specific tasks.

9. Cleaver Knife

The biggest, bulkiest, worst blade in the kitchen, the cleaver knife, can do the same as your chef’s knife can do. It’s also designed to hack through tough meats and bones that your other knives could never dream of getting through.

It has an extensive blade, making it great for squashing and crushing things like garlic, chopping through thick vegetables like squash or pumpkin, or pulverizing meat, chicken, or fish.

Although this is not a must-have on our kitchen knives list, it’s fun to own if you have the extra cash to spend.

10. Steak Knife

Like a boning or carving knife, the name gives this one away. The steak knife, or table knife, is used as part of your table cutlery for cutting cooked meat in particular.

Steak knives typically come with three-blade edges – serrated, semi-serrated, and non-serrated. They can also usually go for a long time without needing sharpening, depending on the kind of edge and the amount of use.

11. Fillet Knife

The fillet knife is designed to cut thinner fish slices with its thin, long, flexible blade. Aside from that, the fillet knife is very similar to the boning knife and is often used interchangeably. Boning knives tend to have a bit thicker blade and be more durable.

12. Nakiri Bocho

The 2nd Japanese-style knife on our list, the Nakiri Bocho, has a long, thin, straight, wide blade with a squared-off tip. It’s typically used for cutting, chopping, slicing, and dicing vegetables, and because of its long blade, it’s perfect for longer veggies like eggplant, cucumber, or carrot.

13. Tourné knife

The tourne knife takes the prize for the most bird-like of all the knives on our list and has a short, curved, bird’s beak-like blade. This is mainly used for removing skin or peeling fruits and veggies but can also help impress guests with some round goodies like football-shaped foods etc.

14. Sharpener

I would consider a sharpener another must-have item on this list. Although it’s not technically a knife, it gives back the life in your knives and therefore deserves to be there.

You get many different sharpeners like manual and electric ones or sharpening stones. Manual and electric sharpeners are more beginner-friendly, whereas sharpening stones require more practice.

Whetstones are a favorite type of stone for this purpose, but if you’re new to sharpening knives, a decent manual sharpener will do the job just fine for now. Sharpeners can be used to sharpen just about anything from your steak knives, chef’s knives, paring knives, cleavers to even your new favorite pizza-cutting kitchen shears

Best Kitchen Knife Sets

Here are our picks for the best and coolest-looking knife set that you should own:

Zwilling Pro 7-Piece Knife Block Set

kitchen knife set

This knife set not only has a collection of high-quality, sharp, durable blades that you will probably never have to replace, but it also’s very ergonomic and looks and feels great.

If you’re in the market for a knife set to last you a lifetime, this is the perfect set to own.

Dalstrong 5-Piece Shadow Series Knife Block Set

kitchen knife set dalstrong

One of the slickest-looking knife sets you can buy is this dark, stealth-fighter-jet-looking masterpiece. It has tons of great features, which you can check here on Amazon, but it’s on our list cause it’s one of the coolest-looking sets around.

Mercer Culinary Genesis 6-Piece Forged Knife Block Set

kitchen knife set mercer

Another excellent quality yet awesome-looking knife set that we highly recommend.

Once again, you want some amazing features from your knife set, but it is its looks that got it onto our list.

Next Steps

And there you have it. The complete guide to all the kitchen knives you would ever need, along with each one’s ins and outs and the shortlist of the four essential kitchen knives you should own.

So if you don’t already own a good-quality kitchen knife set, now is as good a time as any to get started.

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