Kitchen Talk: A Guide to the Different Types of Knives and Their Uses

Do you know the purpose of a cleaver, or why you’d pick a serrated knife over a chef’s knife? Do you tend to grab the same knife no matter what you’re doing?

With the influx of high-tech innovations, more people grow up not knowing about the different types of knives and their uses than ever before.

The problem with this is that using knives outside of their intended purpose leads to blunt edges and warped blades. You’ll end up needing replacement knives more often than you and your budget might like.

Want to learn the differences between all the knives? Listed down below are all of the knives you’ll ever need, so keep reading to find out more!

Chef’s Knife

Although there are many types of knives out there, there are only a few that are essential to any kitchen. The chef’s knife is one of the most important and most versatile.

The blade is a wedged shape, coming to a point at the end, allowing you to anchor the knife on the cutting board as you chop your food. The long blade makes it intimidating to novice chefs, but it’s far safer to use a sharp and large blade than a blunt one.

Although a chef’s knife has a variety of uses, you shouldn’t use it for butchering purposes or opening any kind of packaging.

A chef’s knife is perfect for slicing, chopping, and dicing anything from vegetables and fruits to meat and fish.

Steak Knife

Of all the knives in this list, this is perhaps the most common and easiest to understand. We often use these knives as cutlery, though the knife has other uses besides cutting through cooked steaks. It’s also great for cutting up the more delicate varieties of vegetables.

Modern steak knives often come with a serrated edge to aid in the slicing of meats, which is where this thin blade excels.

A steak knife is perfect for slicing and cutting cooked meats, or slicing up delicate vegetables and salads.

Paring Knife

With a small blade and a sharp pointed tip, a paring knife is great for any activity that requires finesse.

It’s a good sidekick to the chef’s knife. Any time you feel your chef’s knife is too large for the job, grab a paring knife. Its similar shape and smaller size make it easy to use for delicate jobs or smaller-sized foods.

A paring knife is perfect for peeling vegetables and fruits, slicing small pieces of softer food, or mincing ginger and garlic.

Serrated Knife

Although it’s one of the more intimidating knives, a long serrated blade is a must-have for a balanced kitchen.

This knife’s most common purpose goes hand-in-hand with its other common name: bread knife. If you’ve ever tried to cut through a loaf of bread and ended up squashing it instead, then it’s time to find yourself a serrated knife. The long but thin blade and serrated edge make it a breeze to slice through any kind of bread product.

It’s also great for gripping and slicing through slippery surfaces, such as tomatoes or peppers. If the blade is thick enough, it’s even able to slice through melons with no problem.

This knife works best when used with a sawing motion so that the teeth of the blade have ample space to grip and cut through the material.

A serrated knife is perfect for slicing bread of all types, slicing slippery or waxy foods, or carving through melons.

Santoku Knife

Although a santoku knife looks similar to a chef’s knife at first glance, it has a straighter and shorter blade. Instead of anchoring the point and chopping at the food, a santoku knife requires a more precise touch. You’ll need to use up and down motions to get the best cuts from this knife.

The shape of the blade makes it easier to get very thin slices, which is why many Japanese chefs love it for making things like sushi. The holes along the flat of the blade make it so that food doesn’t stick to the side as much, allowing for quicker chopping sessions.

A santoku knife is perfect for getting thin and precise cuts of vegetables and fruits or slicing through sticky fruits and meats.

Boning Knife

This curved blade often comes with a bit of flexibility, which aids in its primary purpose of removing meat from bones. The extra bit of flexibility makes it easier to follow along the curves of the meat’s bones, while still retaining a sharp edge. A stiffer boning knife works well when the bones you’re working with don’t have any kind of curve to them.

Despite its name, it’s important to remember that a boning knife isn’t meant to cut through bone, only the meat going around the bone.

A boning knife is perfect for separating all types of meat and fish from its bones.


If you’re looking to hack your way through bones and thick cuts of meat, then this is the knife you need in your kitchen. It has a strong and thick blade paired with a hefty weight that lets you chop right through all sorts of foods.

It doesn’t work well to slice through anything since you need to use the weight of the blade to get the most out of the knife. A cleaver works best when you raise it above the food and give it a good and careful whack.

A cleaver is perfect for chopping through bones, joints, thick meat, pumpkins, and squashes.

Knowing the Different Types of Knives and Their Uses Makes You a More Confident Chef

With the help of this list, you’ll have no trouble knowing which knife is the right one for the job. Using the right knife at the right time not only makes cooking easier but also extends the life of your knives.

So, instead of grabbing any knife out of the drawer next time, use your newfound knowledge of the different types of knives and their uses. It’ll make a huge difference in your kitchen and your cooking.

If you’re looking for even more tips to improve your culinary skills, don’t forget to check out the rest of our cooking section!