Types of Knives

Choosing a kitchen knife can often be rather difficult. The usual question is which of the knives – brands, models, type of blade material – to buy. We’ll describe different types of knives to help you choose the needed cutlery utensils.

There are the utility or multi-purpose knives and specialized ones available on the market.

Utility knives are used for many purposes – for peeling, cutting, dicing or slicing foods. They can be manufactured of different shape and design, but more often they are shorter and narrower than chef’s knives which are also belong to this category. Usually the length of a blade varies from 5 to 8” or even up to 12”. The cutting edge is smooth.

Such knives are good for cutting bread, onions, salads and many other operations. Some cooks may prefer a single utility knife for all types of kitchen works, chef’s knife as an example.

Chef’s knives (or cook’s knives) and Japanese chef’s knife – Santoku – also belong to the utility types of knives. Chef’s or Santoku knives are among the standard knives of any cook.

Chef’s knife is used for any purpose in the kitchen. Usually it is wide bladed and its length can be 6 to 12”. A chef’s knife 12” long might not fit a cook with small hands.

Santoku knives are similar to chef’s knives, but have shorter and thinner blades.

The design of the blade can vary –

from a standard one to the granton edge (a hollow ground one to prevent food from sticking to the blade).

Sashimi knives are traditional Japanese knives for slicing or dicing fruits, vegetables, fish or meat. They are usually manufactured with 7 to 12” long thin blades with very sharp cutting edge. Such knives can also be equivalent to the utility knives.

Specialized knives are of a wide variety, but they can be classified into such types of knives as knives for steak, bread, cheese, for peeling and cutting fruits and vegetables, boning knives, fillet knives, cleavers, etc.

Butcher knives are used for stripping, splitting, cutting and chopping meat with a razor-sharp cutting edge. Usually their blade is 7 to 10” long.

Among other knives for cutting meat are carving knives and cleavers.

Kitchen cleavers are used to cut large lumps of meat, as well as frozen meat and bones.

These types of knives are usually 6-8” long, have a wide, thick,

durable and beveled blade to make the whole chopping process easy.

There is often a hole in the top corner of the blade to hang a cleaver on a hook.


Boning knives have a thin, short to medium, strong blade, often 5 to 6”.

They are used for removing meat from the bones.

It is easier to do this with a narrower blade than with a wider one.

Carving knives have a long, often 8 to 10” blade and is used for slicing cooked meat, poultry or ham. They are good for slicing roasted meat.

Carving and slicing types of knives differ in their flexibility. A slicing knife for fish will be more flexible than a carving knife for meat.

Slicing knives often have a serrated narrow blade, 10 to 12” long, with different tips which are often round ended.



Fillet knives have a long, thin and flexible blade, often 6 to 11” long for filleting fish or meat into thin slices, as well as for cutting fillet off.

It is easier to filleting with the longer blades.


Steak knives often have 4 to 6” blade of various width, but with a sharp tip to cut meat off the bones effectively. They are used for preparing meat dishes or for serving a table, so they are often sold in sets.

Paring knives are ceramic or steel types of knives with a short and narrow blade, often 3 to 5” long used for peeling or coring vegetables, fruits and other small bits of food. The design of the blade can be specific, for example curved like a bird’s beak or with a serrated cutting edge to make the peeling process easier.

Vegetable knives differ from others with their specific design of the blade which is often 5 to 7” long.

It’s wide as a cleaver, but thin and sharp.

They are good for cutting, chopping, slicing greens and vegetables.

Nakiri is Japanese knife-cleaver for vegetables, usually with 7” long, no-stick Granton-edge blade to release food easily from the blade.

This knife can also be used to chop and slice not only vegetables, but fruits and meat.

Vegetable cleavers should be well balanced to make the slicing or cutting process easy.


Tomato knives are made for cutting perfect tomato slices or food with a softer core. It’s like bread types of knives, but the blade is smaller and the tip can be forked ended to pick up tomato slices.

It is usually serrated and sharp, often 4 to 5” long.

Cheese knives can be manufactured in various designs to cut cheese with different texture. Such knives can be in the form of a spade for Parmesan cheese, or in the form of a spatula for soft cheese.

You can also meet cheese knives with open surface blades in order cheese not to stick to the blade and with a forked tip to lift the slices easily. Wide bladed cheese knives are used to cut hard cheeses and cheeses with rinds.

Bread knives have a long straight very sharp serrated blade, no shorter than 7”. It will let you cut bread without crumbs. If the blade is short, it will result in messy slices of bread.

Such knives are also good for cutting a watermelon or cakes.

Spreader knives are used for sandwiches for all spreads over bread, for example to butter toast or spread Peanut Butter on toast, for cheese, jams and more.

The blade is often 4 to 5” long and can have a serrated or plain edge without sharp point. Such types of knives are often sold in sets.

Dinner knives are used as cutlery utensils for table setting. They are used to cut cooked food, so the blade has moderate sharpness and ends with a round or blunt tip. Dinner knives are often sold in sets.

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