Why every kitchen should have these 5 types of knives.


When it comes to the kitchen, there are some knives unquestionably that are essential for any cook. What are those knives? And why do we need them? Would you not do everything solely with one good knife?

If you are interested in checking out the best knives, you can find them here.

The five must-have knives that every home cook should have are the chef’s knife, paring knife, bread knife, carving knife, and a boning knife. Any other knife added to this list is considered a luxury. They can make your job more comfortable in the kitchen but are not a necessity.

When it comes to the kitchen, most home cooks go for a set of knives. Maybe they just want an easy fix and go for the set that gives them all they need. Well, in most cases, it actually does, so you may think they have made a good purchase.

But that’s actually not the case at all. All of these sets have one thing in common. They all have knives you probably will rarely use. Why? Well, there are several reasons for this. Most of the time, people are too lazy to switch from one blade to another or are simply not used to work with so many knives.

You might have been in that situation yourself (I know I did), standing there in the store, you ask yourself if you really need this set, but then went on thinking like, since they are being sold as a set, there must be a good reason.

So, I probably need all of them? Wrong! This is what they want you to think. In fact, they even have those video commercials right next to it, where they show you how all of them could be used and how convenient it is.

What they want is for you to buy more than you need, it’s that simple. So the next time you think about purchasing a knife set, ask yourself. Will you really be using all of them? In this article, I will share the only five knives you need with some buying tips that will help you along the way.

It matters to have the right knife.

Even though I will only tell you to have a maximum of 5 knives, this does not mean I don’t give the importance to have the right knife. There is a big difference between working with the right knife and working the wrong one.

Not alone would it be more dangerous, but it also divides a rough chop from a clean-cut and turns a 15-minute ordeal into a single, swift slice. The truth is 90% of all cooking tasks, and for 90% of all chefs, these five workhorse knives will serve you perfectly every time.

I’ll tell you a little secret – these are the same knives that are used in 90% of all professional kitchens too! The more you cut and slice and spend time in your kitchen, the more you will understand why it is crucial to have the right kitchen knife—even if you are an occasional cook or a complete novice.

Either way, it’s much better to buy everything separately instead of going for a knife set block, at least then you will have knives that address your needs. While it is true that you won’t need every knife available to prepare a good meal, you still will need a crucial few.

The versatile chef knife.

A staple in practically every kitchen, the all-purpose chef knife is the most crucial and one of the most used knives out there. A chef knife is a versatile option for everything from dicing vegetables to carving meat. However, it can handle a large variety of tasks.

It’s between six and ten inches long wide blade which translated to faster, easier slicing, its primarily used for chopping and also giving cutting leverage for even the smallest hands. There are two chef knives commonly used today, the classic French-style chef’s knife, which curves upward toward the tip and promotes for a slicing motion cut.

And the Japanese-style Santoku knife can with its bottom that curves upward through the entire length, which promotes more of a downward slice cut. Both of these knives have their advantages.

The chef knife is suited for more rocking on your cutting board style of usage, and the Santoku knife is suited for more finesse work. Depending on your style and type of food you prepare, both of these two chef knives are a must-have in your kitchen.

Best uses:

  • Cutting meat
  • Dicing vegetables
  • Disjointing some cuts
  • Slicing herbs
  • Chopping nuts

Should not be used for:

  • Cleaving meat bones
  • Carving dense meat
  • Slicing bread
  • Disjointing some cuts

The paring knife.

With it’s two to four inches long blade, the paring knife (not to be confused with a peeling knife) looks like the mini version of a chef knife. When it comes to precision and delicates tasks, it’s the perfect candidate to take over the job when larger knives fail.

Similar to the chef knife, the paring knife can be used for many tasks such as cutting vegetables, coring tomatoes, or even peeling. One should avoid using the paring knife for hard cuts like carrots or celery root, for example.

They are much more fragile, and you may have to use force to get these cuts, which leads to accidents. Forcing the cut is a signal that you aren’t using the right blade for the job, and it can be dangerous, too, causing the knife to slip. This knife is also ideal for (old enough) children to learn to cut with a knife.

Best uses:

  • Peeling and cutting small fruit and vegetables
  • Deseeding fruits
  • Deveining prawns
  • Cutting vegetables & herbs such as garlic

Should not be used for:

  • Slicing bread
  • Slicing meat and deboning meat
  • Cutting tougher vegetables, such as pumpkin or other squash

The bread knife (serrated knife).

The bread knife may be most commonly associated with Serrated knives, which is why they are also called bread knives. This knife, with a standard blade length of 6 inches, is particularly useful for foods with smooth surfaces, such as pineapples, tomatoes, citrus, watermelons, and peppers. They’re also ideal for carving cake layers.

The serrated edge can grip and penetrate those smooth surfaces, while the flat side of a chef’s knife would slip and slide over the surface. Bottom line: It is much more than just bread. Serrated knives should solely be used for slicing, and never chopping, foods.

By making a sawing motion with the knife enables the teeth along the blade to grip and rip through ingredients, which is also why a serrated blade should not be used to slice smaller things such as garlic, fresh herbs, or berries.

Best uses:

  • Slicing bread
  • Cutting soft smaller vegetables.
  • Peeling pineapple
  • Torting a layer cake
  • Cutting ice cream sandwiches and frozen desserts
  • Slicing large sandwiches

Should not be used for:

  • Slicing meat and deboning meat
  • Precision tasks such as peeling and mincing.
  • Cutting anything touch and large.

The carving (slicing) knife.

If you wish to cut clean and precise, the slicing (carving knife) knife is your go-to knife. In fact, as its name suggests, it is made solely for carving, so it should be used as one. Compared to other knives, this is one of the longest kitchen knives in the kitchen.

It has a long and thin-bladed, straight-edge, and because of its shape, foods will much less likely stick to its surface when cutting. Typically between 8 and 15 inches, this knife is ideal to have when you need to carve a turkey, chicken, or beef roast.

Whether you wish to slice a sirloin roast into very thin slices or tenderloin into thick and juicy portions, a slicing knife is an ideal tool.

Best uses:

  • Slicing and carving thin and precise cuts of meat
  • Cutting and preparing Vegetables
  • Cutting and preparing fruitsalads

Should not be used for:

  • Small delicate tasks, such as mincing and peeling 
  • Cleaving meat bones 
  • Peeling pineapple

The boning knife.

With a pointed tip and at about 5–7 inches long blade, boning knives are different from other knives in one key trait — flexibility. Don’t let the name make you believe that this knife is made to cut through bones.

That is not the case at all (you would need a cleaver or butcher’s knife for that), but it’s instead to cut around the bones. What the boning knife does is separating the bones from red meat, fish, and poultry. Their thin, flexible blade is specifically designed to get right up next to the bone.

You could also use it to remove butterfly meat as well as skin and excess fat. Yes, I know you can technically do the same with a chef’s knife or even a paring knife, but you would leave a lot of flesh on the bones. If you know that the most flavorful bites reside there, I think you instead want to stick with a boning knife.

Best uses:

  • Separate meat from bones.
  • Removing Skin from Meat
  • Remove skin from the fish filet
  • Carving mangoes and separating the skin from the mango meat.
  • Picking out the core from apples and pears without crushing the fruit

Should not be used for:

  • Cut through bones
  • Cut bread

Buying tips:

The type of metal:

Logically the type of metal will change price and performance. So if you wish to have a typical Japanese knife which is made with high-end materials, you will need to pay a lot more.

Even though stainless steel is the cheapest, it has the draw-back of needing to be sharpened a lot more than carbon steel knives.

Carbon steel knives are harder compared to stainless steel, but they are much more expensive. However, they are much easier to keep it sharp and also stay longer sharp.

Damascus knife looks really lovely as it is marbled. This is due to the carbon steel core that is surrounded by sheets of soft and hard stainless steel, producing a knife that is not only strong but also razor-sharp.

Ceramic blade not so bad option

If you want something 10 times harder than carbon steel, but less heavy, go for Ceramic knives. They are very good at retaining their edge for a much longer time, so you would not need to sharpen them frequently. The only downside is that they are unfortunately more prone to chipping.

Think about your budget.

Victorinox is a good option. If you want a razor-sharp blade at a low price, these knives (from the same makers of the Swiss Army knife) are an ideal choice. Their handles are made from molded plastic, and you the selection between a wide range of sizes.

High-end knives:

Get yourself one made by Kai Shun. This Japanese series made from damascus steel and inspired by the traditional samurai sword making. Incredibly sharp with the unique wood-like branding on the blade, they look almost too nice to use!

A good all-rounder:

Signature from Robert Welch is probably your best option. This award-winning range of knives is the perfect choice if you want quality at a modest price. Looking at the design, you can tell how much thought has gone into the tactile handles to the form, durability, and edge of the blade. 

Conclusion.

Don’t get me wrong, if you do have any other knife that is specialized for specific tasks, or maybe you are more into different types of foods that need other types of knives. In that case, you should, without a doubt, use them.

But, I would not recommend buying anything else outside the ones I have mentioned. If you read through the article, you will notice that all the things that were written are things you are doing or most likely will do at some point, and with these five knives, you can perform any task in your kitchen.

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