Types of Kitchen Knives: Complete Home Cook's Guide
Ask a chef about their favorite types of kitchen knives and you’re bound to hear a love poem to cutlery. It’s only natural; more than any other items in their culinary toolbox, knives become extensions of the chefs themselves.
The right types of kitchen knives can make easy work out of the most difficult tasks. And there are different types of kitchen knives for every cooking chore imaginable. If you’re a budding chef still learning your way around the kitchen, what are the most useful types of kitchen knives to have on hand? And if you’re a more seasoned chef looking to step up your slicing game, which types of cooking knives should you add to your collection?
We’ve gathered some facts about the most important types of kitchen knives for the home cook to have on hand and how each can be most useful to you.
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- Chef’s Knife
- Utility Knife
- Serrated Knife
- Bread Knife
- Boning Knife
- Paring Knife
- Mezzaluna Knife
Cleavers have been used in some form or another since prehistoric times, sometimes in the shape of larger hatchets. While this sturdy kitchen champ may look like a medieval weapon, of the various types of kitchen knives on the market, it’s the most useful tool for chopping through tricky tissue and small bones when conquering tough cuts of meat.
Its flat, rectangular blade can also split a head of lettuce or cabbage with ease. Depending on the size of the cleaver, it can come in handy when slicing smaller vegetables as well.
2. Chef’s Knife
Chef’s knives are great multipurpose types of kitchen knives, perfect for cutting through a wide variety of ingredients. It can manage slicing cucumbers, celery and carrots in thin julienne strips as handily as splitting a chicken or carving a turkey. And the sharply pointed tip and rounded blade make it one of the best kitchen knives for rocking when chopping herbs and soft-leaf vegetables or mincing garlic.
3. Utility Knife
When it comes to generally helpful types of kitchen knives, you can’t go wrong with a utility knife. It’s the most well-rounded of all the types of kitchen knives you’ll encounter. Its long, thin blade is narrower than a chef’s knife, which makes it a great slicer for fruits and vegetables, herbs, fish and more tender cuts of meat. It’s also a great choice for slicing meats to serve and makes a beautiful accent for a formal serving platter.
4. Serrated Knife
Serrated blades date back to the Stone Age, when prehistoric humans would carve out helpful grooves on blades of flint. The characteristic teeth of serrated blades make these types of kitchen knives uniquely suited for breaking through produce with tough skin and delicate inner flesh such as tomatoes. They’re also handy for sawing through tougher rinds on fruits such as squash and melons. Serrated knives are available in varying lengths and with different levels of serration, depending on your needs.
5. Bread Knife
Though their blades may vary in length and width, a proper bread knife is really a heavy-duty version of a serrated knife. They generally have longer teeth that allow a chef to saw through the tough crust on just about any baked loaf without mashing down the fluffy interior.
These types of kitchen knives are also available in a distinctive fiddle bow shape, a hacksaw-style design with space between the handle and the blade that makes for equal, even slices every time.
6. Boning Knife
Although cleavers, chef’s knives and utility knives can cover a lot of territory when it comes to cutting meat, the shape of this specialty blade is perfectly suited for fileting fish and poultry. The long, thin blade also allows you to reach deep beneath the surface and maneuver easily around fleshy curves and bony contours to remove the skin from game animals.
Be ready to have two of these types of kitchen knives in your collection; while a flexible arched blade works well for fish and chicken, a stiffer blade will work better for pork and beef.
7. Paring Knife
Generally the smallest of all the types of kitchen knives, a paring knife is a workhorse when it comes to your peeling needs. Because of its slight stature, it’s as perfect for getting under the soft skin of peaches and plums as it is for tearing away tougher apple and mango skins.
It’s also fantastic for creating decorative garnishes that require fine detail. It can even remove veins from shrimp with surgical precision and strip pith and membranes from citrus fruits without damaging the pulp.
8. Mezzaluna Knife
This type of kitchen knife is sure to be a conversation piece! An exciting novelty among the types of kitchen knives you’ll have on hand, a mezzaluna is a semi-circular specialty blade with a blunt handle on either end made for rocking back and forth easily when chopping herbs and vegetables, or when slicing through flatbreads or pizza crust. Fun fact: Its name is Italian for “crescent moon,” which perfectly describes its shape.
Your knives will end up being the most prized tools in your kitchen, maybe even handed down to the next generation of chefs in the family. So it’s important that you assemble a collection of knives that suit your particular needs. Think of selecting different types of knives as an investment in your culinary legacy.
For even more ways to elevate your kitchen, check out chef-recommended cookware in the Cozymeal Shop.
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