Kitchen knives are perhaps the most useful tool in your culinary arsenal, but they can also be a fairly significant investment, so it’s important that your set contains the right knives for you, and that you’re not wasting money on ones which you’re never going to use.
Here are some of the various types of kitchen knife, some of which are absolute essentials, while others will only be used for more specialised tasks.
You should also check out this illustrated guide from Craftsy which will give you a better visual idea of the types of knives that are available.
Also known as a cook’s knife, this is the bread and butter of your knife collection and the one which you’ll be getting the most use out of.
It’s a large knife which can be used for a number of tasks, including preparing meat and vegetables, as well as finely chopping herbs.
This is probably the knife you’ll be getting the most use out of, so it’s ok to spend a little extra money on it, although they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, so be sure to find one which feels comfortable to use.
This much smaller knife is used for more intricate preparation (usually of vegetables, as the name suggests), such as taking the seeds out of peppers and chillies, taking the stalks off carrots and coring fruit.
Essentially, you can use a vegetable knife (also known as a paring knife) for any tasks where you’ll be cutting the item in your hand, rather than on a chopping board.
A serrated edge means that a knife will grip as it slices, which is great for prepping tougher vegetables (it’s sometimes known as a tomato knife).
They also come in handy for peeling citrus fruits and could be used as a substitute for a bread knife If you don’t want to have one of each. A great bonus with serrated knives is that they don’t ever have to be sharpened either!
Similar to the serrated knife, these knives are used for slicing through loaves of bread (and cakes too!), but with a longer blade, effectively slicing through the loaf without squashing the crumb.
Not for everyone, but if you are planning on preparing your own meat at home, fresh off the bone, then you’ll want one of these smaller, dagger-shaped knives.
They’re used for cutting through ligaments and connective tissue and removing meat from the bones, so not for the squeamish!
Again, not everybody will be filleting their own fish at home, but if you do you’ll want one of these flexible knives, which makes the job a lot easier.
There’s a lot of technique when it comes to filleting a fish though, so you might want to check out a guide such as this one from BBC Good Food or watch some YouTube videos!
Not quite the staple they used to be in British households, but if your family still sit down to a Sunday roast, then you’ll probably want a carving knife and fork. The long, thin blade makes it easy to give nice, even slices of your meat of choice.
Japanese knives are becoming more popular in Western households, even if you don’t particularly eat a lot of Asian cuisine at home.
What sets them apart is that they have a blunt end, as well as small holes or dimples on the blade which are designed to stop your food from sticking to it as you cut.
Now that you know a couple of the main kinds of knives out there, it’s time to start looking for the ones for your kitchen.
When it comes to making your choice, one last thing to remember is the type of metal used in the knives.
According to Kitchen Knives, while stainless steel knives will be the cheapest, that’s because they’re also the most prone to damage and will require regular sharpening.
Instead, they recommend looking for carbon steel knives which are a lot harder and easier to maintain.