The Three Kitchen Knives Every Cook Needs and the Four You Want in Your Drawer
- By Tom Jackson
- Dec 19, 2022
Kitchen knives are an important everyday tool for every cook, and having different types of knives can make your cooking more efficient and enjoyable. But which knives do the most good? Here's a list of seven knives--the three you need plus four you should have in your drawer--we think will make you a better cook and help you have a better time along the way.
THE THREE YOU NEED
1. Chef's Knife
Every kitchen needs a good chef's knife, and if you have one "serious" kitchen knife at home, it's most likely one of these. Chef's knives are the one knife all others are compared to, typified by a wide 8 to 10-inch sharp blade for protein slicing, a broad heel for tackling thicker foods and a curved edge for rocking back and forth to chop veggies or mince herbs. We like the Victorinox 8 inch Chef's Knife for its sharp, stamped blade and slip resistant handle. For the more professional-minded, the best chef's knife is the Wusthof Classic 8" Chef's Knife.
2. Boning Knife
When removing meat from around tough joints, ligaments and bones, a boning knife is what you need. With its narrow, curved blade, the Shun Classic 6" Boning/Fillet Knife is perfect for making precise cuts, getting into every nook and cranny and carving out every last piece of meat. You'll be surprised how much more you get out of your bone-in proteins with a knife like this, not to mention how good it looks on your cutting board.
3. Utility Knife
Shorter and thinner than a chef's knife but longer than a paring knife, utility knives serve as an ideal middle man between those two kitchen regulars. Perfect for peeling, dicing or coring fruits and any other delicate task, these stainless steel knives can be serrated like the Shun Sora 5.5" Utility Knife or straight edged like the Wusthof Classic 4.5" Utility Knife.
THE FOUR IN THE DRAWER
4. Santoku Knife
Santoku knives are Japanese style knives characterized by wide blades and pointed tips. Compared to a heavier Western style knife (referred to generally as German knives), Japanese knives are known for their lighter weight and thinner blades. They're especially suited for paper thin slices. The Shun Sora 7" Hollow Ground Santoku is easy to maneuver and features indentations to keep food from sticking to the blade. Fun fact: Santoku means "three benefits" in Japanese, signifying chopping, dicing and mincing.
5. Carving Knife
Also called a slicing knife, carving knives specialize in cutting meat into thin, uniform portions. A staple of the holiday dinner table, carving knives are known for their considerable length (longer carving knives are often easier to handle than shorter ones), narrow width and slim blade. The Victorinox 10.25" Granton Edge Slicer is a solid budget option and the Wusthof Classic 10" Super Slicer is the perfect pro-level choice.
6. Paring Knife
Paring knives are short, sweet and to the point. Typically 3 to 4 inches, what they lack in length they make up for in precision. Built like a smaller chef's knife, paring knives excel at intricate cutting tasks as opposed to the heavy duty jobs a chef's knife can handle. The Shun Premier 4" Paring Knife in particular is easy to maneuver and control in tight spaces.
7. Poultry Shears
The final knife you need in your drawer is actually two knives put together. The All Things Barbecue Poultry Shears have a 4" stainless steel sharp edge and a comfortable, slip resistant handle. The curved blade is specially designed to snip through bones, making breaking down chickens and turkeys a breeze.
What each of these knives have in common is they are a joy to use. When you can cut correctly and cleanly, you can work longer with less fatigue and your food will be more uniform and refined. Adding any or all of them to your knife collection will help you stay sharp in the kitchen for years to come.
Keep those knives sharp!
Some of our favorite knife accessories