We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are the Different Types of Kitchen Knives?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
DelightedCooking is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At DelightedCooking, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Contrary to what some of us may believe, kitchen knives are not divided into two basic types - sharp or dull. In reality, kitchen knives are to the kitchen what handsaws are to a woodworking shop. There are numerous types of kitchen knives, each with their own purpose and design. In the same way you wouldn't use a chainsaw to trim a picture frame, you wouldn't use a meat cleaver to peel potatoes, for instance. Each blade performs a specific task, so knowing the different types of kitchen knives can help a cook work more efficiently and safely.

One of the most common kitchen knives used today is called a chef's knife. A chef's knife is used for many of the most basic food preparations tasks in the kitchen. It can chop through most vegetables and fruits, slice through meats and cheeses, and create a fairly fine mince or dice.

Chef's knives are usually sold in different sizes, although the largest and smallest sizes still perform the same tasks well. The different sizes are used to match the size of the knife with the size of the user's hand. Larger chef's knives can be harder to control if you have smaller hands, so be sure to test the grip of any knife for comfort before you add it to your collection.

Another variety of kitchen knife is the carving knife. A carving knife is generally larger than a chef's knife, although their basic shapes can be similar. A carving knife can be very rigid or very flexible, depending on the type of meat it is designed to carve. Carving a large pot roast may require a very rigid blade, while carving pork or fish steaks may require more flexibility. A carving knife is often accompanied by a large two-pronged tool called a carving fork.

On the smaller end of the kitchen knives spectrum is the paring knife. A paring knife's blade is rarely more than four inches long (about 10 cm), making it ideal for peeling and coring fruits and vegetables. A paring knife is also used to create special garnishes and other decorative elements. A paring knife's blade should be kept very sharp to prevent accidents. A dull paring knife can cause the user to place too much pressure on the blade, leading to slips and cuts.

Some kitchen knives are designed to prevent food preparation disasters. Many people find slicing through a loaf of bread to be an exercise in futility. This is why many cooks keep a long serrated knife on hand.

A serrated knife works much like a crosscut saw in woodworking. Instead of slicing through the hard crust and soft interior of a bread loaf, a serrated knife's blade makes a series of short saw cuts instead. Without the serrations, a regular knife blade would slide smoothly across the top of the crust without penetrating it. Some fibrous vegetables and fruits also benefit from a serrated knife's crosscutting design.

For removing bones from meats, many cooks uses narrow-bladed kitchen knives called boning knives. A boning knife is usually larger than a paring knife, with a rigid blade that tapers off to a point. It is used to carve out any remaining bones in red meats or to completely debone a whole chicken. A boning knife's narrow blade allows the user to cut around bones without excessive waste. A cousin to the boning knife, called a filet knife, is much more flexible and allows the user to remove skin from fish.

One of the largest kitchen knives is the cleaver. A cleaver has a very heavy, thick blade for cutting through the thickest portions of meat or bones. Despite its imposing size, however, it can also be used for fine chopping and dicing. Cooks can also use the flat side of a cleaver to crush garlic cloves, whole spices or seeds. A cleaver's flat blade can also be used to transfer chopped ingredients to the cooking area.

Other kitchen knives are more specialized, but they all serve a purpose. An oyster knife can penetrate the hard shell of oysters and clams and slice through the tendons holding the sections together. A deveining knife has a small, thin blade designed to remove the gritty vein found in raw shrimp, while simultaneously slicing through the shell. Other specialty knives help process grapefruits, slice through hard cheeses, open clam shells, and even carve steam holes for chestnuts.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to DelightedCooking, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By wesley91 — On Jul 04, 2010

@cmsmith10: Since you mentioned the importance of sharpening your knives, I decided to add that how you hold the knife is of equal importance. Always protect your fingers. Hold your knife and apply it to the food you are cutting against a curled fist of fingers. This will make sure that your fingers are held towards the palm and away from the blade. If you are skinning fish, keep your fingers on the underside of the fish or flat on top of the fish.

By cmsmith10 — On Jul 04, 2010

I thought I would just mention that it is very important to ensure that your knives are properly sharpened. I had a couple of stitches due to my dull blade slipping while trying to cut a tomato. A tomato! Of all things!

By DocZ — On Jul 07, 2009

I've often read that the only knife you really need in a kitchen is a chef's knife. The others are helpful, but not really necessary.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to DelightedCooking, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide...
Learn more
DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.