There are three knives that every home cook should have in the kitchen — the chef knife for slicing and chopping, the paring knife for precision tasks and the serrated bread knife for cutting through crusty breads and sandwiches.
In this post, we’ll go over each type of knife in detail, tell you why you don’t need to spend a lot of dough buying them and how to keep them in tip-top shape.
The chef knife – perfect for slicing and chopping
A great chef’s knife makes meal preparation a breeze, and can even help you prepare food with more safety and efficiency. If you’ve never used a high quality chef’s knife, then your food prep is taking longer than it should!
A chef knife can be used for slicing and chopping vegetables, fruits, meat, poultry and fish. A good chef knife will have a sharp blade that is able to easily cut through food.
How long should a chef knife be?
You can buy chef knives that are six to fourteen inches long. Bigger isn’t always better though. When shopping for a chef knife, it’s important to consider finding the size that you can best handle.
If you have smaller hands, a 6 to 8 inch knife might be a good place to start. Larger hands you can try an 8 to 10 inch knife. I have both an 8 inch and a 10 inch knife and usually grab the 8 inch knife. That’s also because I don’t have a lot of cooking surface in my kitchen so it’s easier to maneuver.
The weight and the balance of the knife is important too. A heavier knife will cut through ingredients more quickly but the weight might cause fatigue if you have a lot of chopping to do.
If you can, get your hands on a couple of knives before you make a purchase decision. This is going to be your go-to knife so it should be comfortable.
It’s also important to find a chef knife that is made from high-quality materials. The blade should be made from stainless steel and the handle should be made from a durable material, such as wood or plastic.
How much should you pay for a chef knife?
It’s easy to go crazy and spend a lot of money on chef knives. Hey, if you have some gift cards burning a hole in your pocket then treat yo self to a WÜSTHOF. I won’t lie, they are beautiful looking knives.
However, there are some budget-friendly options available if you’re not willing or able to spend that much money. Here’s one you can buy for around $30 bucks.
Chop and slice with comfort and safety using our 8-inch Cook’s Knife, specifically designed for those who want the most from their professional cutlery. As part of our Dexter-Russell Sani Safe Collection, this indispensable, all-purpose knife withstands both high and low temperatures and features a textured handle that is safely secured to our proprietary, stain-free, high carbon steel blade with an impenetrable seal. It’s perfect for commercial use and for use in your home kitchen.
And this one is around 50 dollars.
A great all-rounder. The Fibrox Carving Knife from the professional line of knives by Victorinox is prized by home cooks and professional chefs alike for its comfortable, non-slip, ergonomic handle and for the optimal weight and balance its extra wide blade delivers.
How do I take care of my chef knife?
Wash and dry the blade after each use, store the knife in a safe place when not in use and buy a knife sharpener. Do each of these and the chef knife should last you for years.
Should I buy a Santoku knife?
Whether you should buy a Santoku knife depends on your specific kitchen needs and preferences. Santoku knives are a type of Japanese chef knife that are designed for a wide range of kitchen tasks, particularly for slicing, dicing, and chopping vegetables. They are typically shorter and lighter than chef’s knives and have a straight edge that makes them ideal for slicing and chopping vegetables.
Santoku knives are a great option for those who prefer a more precise and controlled cutting motion. They are also well-suited for those who prefer a shorter and lighter knife that is easy to maneuver. Additionally, the flat tip of a Santoku knife is perfect for slicing and dicing, so if you frequently need to do those tasks it’s a great option.
However, if you find yourself doing a lot of heavy-duty tasks, like cutting through meats or crushing garlic, a chef’s knife may be a better choice as they are typically larger and have a curved edge which makes them more suitable for those tasks.
The paring knife – precision tasks done right
The paring knife is a smaller, more precise version of the chef knife. It is ideal for tasks such as slicing tomatoes, onions and other vegetables. The blade on a paring knife is thinner and shorter than a chef knife, making it perfect for precision tasks.
Like the chef knife, you should find one that fits comfortably in your hand. The blade should be made from stainless steel and the handle should be made from a durable material, such as wood or plastic.
I own this little green guy. It cost me $10 and works great. I can sharpen it but if it is damaged, I’ll just toss it out.
This pairing high-carbon stainless steel knife has a short blade that provides maximum. The knife offers an ergonomic handle with a soft touch rubber grip that’s easy to hold, even when hands are wet.
The serrated bread knife – the ideal way to cut through crusty breads and sandwiches
The serrated bread knife is perfect for cutting through crusty breads and sandwiches. The blade is curved and has a series of small sharp teeth that are able to easily slice through bread crust without damaging the soft interior of the loaf.
The reason you don’t want to spend a lot on a serrated knife is that you really can’t sharpen them. Well, that’s a lie, you can but it’s a pain and you need special equipment. Don’t believe me? Watch this.
I have a serrated knife that is at least ten years old. I don’t think I spent a lot on it and if it ever becomes too dull to use I’ll just buy a new one.
Here’s a serrated knife that is an amazing value at $15.99.
The Henckels Dynamic collection is made from high-quality stainless steel, with fine-edge blades and ergonomic handles. This 8″ Bread Knife features a serrated edge so you could cut through bread effortlessly and evenly.
How should I store my knives?
Be sure to store your knives in a safe place when not in use. Knives should be stored in a knife block, on a magnetic strip or in a sheath. Never store your knives in a drawer, as they can easily get damaged that way.
Knife blocks usually come with a set and might not fit your knives if you go with different brands. I’d recommend something like this which doesn’t have pre-cut slots but instead uses metal bristles.
This knife holder users metal rods in order to accommodate any knives in your collection.
Can I put my knives in the dishwasher?
I mean you can, but then I got to call this guy …
Kitchen knives should never be put in the dishwasher. The high heat and detergents can damage the blade and make the knife difficult to use. It’s important to wash and dry your knives by hand after each use.
I realized this the hard way. I used to run my knives through the dishwasher. Eventually I started to notice some pit corrosion and rust spots on my chef knife.
If you must must must do it, make sure you own a knife sharpener.
So there you go, three essential knives that every home cook needs in the kitchen.
Owning the right knives can make a huge difference in the kitchen and you can buy them without spending a fortune. Every home cook should have a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a serrated knife. These three knives are versatile, essential tools that will make cooking at home more efficient and enjoyable.
Remember to keep them sharp, clean and store them properly for their longevity. With the right tools, you can master any recipe and become a pro in the kitchen.