As this is the go-to all purpose knife used for most slicing and dicing of fruits, vegetables, meats and fish, most chefs and knife experts recommend spending more money on a chef knife than any of the others.
Your chef’s knife should be:
- a minimum of 8-10 inches
- balanced in weight between blade and handle
Avoid using your chef’s knife for:
- butchering and carving poultry
- removing skin of large veggies
- any cutting that requires attention to detail
A paring knife is used for delicate work that a chef’s knife is too large to accomplish. It’s best for slicing and mincing smaller items like strawberries, garlic or shallots.
Your paring knife should be:
- about 3.5 inches long
- a metal blade for longer lasting cut
Avoid using your paring knife for:
- hard veggies like carrots
- anything where you have to force the cut
The bread or serrated knife rounds out the top three must haves. It’s used for slicing delicate breads and produce like tomatoes. It is very helpful on food that has a waxy smooth surface (i.e.watermelon) because the knife will be less likely to slip like a chef or paring knife would.
Your bread knife should be:
- about 6 inches
- replaced when it becomes dull
Avoid using your bread knife for:
- smaller items like fresh herbs, garlic or berries
Now that you’ve got your knives make sure you take care of them!
Proper knife care is essential to both lifespan and safety. A dull knife can be dangerous because as you exert more force to cut, there is more chance for a slip-causing injury. Make sure you do the following and you will keep your knives in top shape.
Keep Your Knives Sharp
- Use a honing steel for straight edged knives to re-align the blade after each use. “The key is to anchor the steel perpendicular to your counter top and slice both sides of the knife across it at a 22-degree angle.”
- Avoid the dishwasher for cleaning. Knives and cutting boards should be cleaned immediately after use with soap and hot water. The force of water in the dishwasher will dull the blade and the heat could warp the handle.
- Take your knives to a professional sharpener. To keep your blades in top working condition, send them away once a year to have the blade reshaped.
Once you have the right equipment and you know how to keep them in good repair you can feel confident in your chopping, slicing and mincing abilities. And if you need a visual aid to tell which knife is which, check out this clever chopping board on Pinterest:
(UPDATE: This was a sale item at Pop Chart Lab, but unfortunately we have learned it is now out of stock.)
For more helpful information and resources check out the following sources:
What’s your favorite knife? Submit a comment below and share with you us your trusty tools!