Essential Knives

8 Essential Knives For Every Kitchen


December 13, 2021

You can’t cook delicious meals if you don’t have the correct knives in your kitchen.

Whether you need to peel or chop vegetables, or cut through tough meat, the right knife will make your task easier.

What’s the most versatile knife to own?

A chef’s knife is considered to be the most versatile knife for various cooking and food preparation tasks.

That said, there are other essential knives that you should purchase. Here’s a rundown of the ones to add to your collection and when to use them.

8 Top Knives To Stock In Your Kitchen 

Chef’s Knife 

8 Essential Knives For Every Kitchen

This knife is one of the most important knives to own. It has a blade that’s between eight and 10 inches in length, and this increases its versatility. 

A chef’s knife makes it easier than ever to slice through ingredients, and its size makes it safer to hold because it gives you more leverage. It can be used for various cooking tasks, such as cutting vegetables, fruits, fish, and meat.

When purchasing a chef’s knife, you should buy one with a full-tang blade. This means that it’s a piece of metal with two handle pieces that are attached to the sides. It’s better than a half-tang blade because it’s more balanced and sturdier. 

Santoku Knife 

8 Essential Knives For Every Kitchen

This is a Japanese knife that’s a bit like a chef’s knife but its blade is between five and eight inches in length, and it has a thinner edge.

This makes it ideal for when you have finer cutting tasks to do in the kitchen, but you can use a santoku knife for various jobs, such as chopping veggies, slicing cooked meats or cheese, mincing herbs and meat, and scooping food off a cutting board. 

In fact, “Santoku” means “three virtues,” which refers to its three main uses: dicing, slicing, and chopping. 

Paring Knife

8 Essential Knives For Every Kitchen

A paring knife is great for smaller cutting tasks that you can’t use a chef’s knife to do properly. This is thanks to its smaller blade that’s about three inches in length.

Use your paring knife for tasks such as mincing garlic or peeling fruits and vegetables. It really shines when you want to cut a fruit or other food directly in your hand as you can better grip and control it without needing to use a chopping board.

It’s therefore convenient when you’re on the go, such as if you need to peel an apple at work or in the car.

While you can find paring knives that have ceramic blades, it’s better to choose one that’s made of metal as it will last longer. 

Serrated Knife

8 Essential Knives For Every Kitchen

Chances are you use a serrated knife when you want to cut bread, but it has many other uses. This knife has a blade of around six inches in length and it’s great for cutting foods that have waxy surfaces, like watermelons, peppers, and tomatoes.

You can also use a serrated knife for cutting through cake layers because of how the serrated edges manage to cut through it without wobbling.

Just make sure that you don’t purchase a serrated knife with teeth which are too large as this can make it difficult to cut smoothly through fresh bread or soft foods. 

Boning Knife

8 Essential Knives For Every Kitchen

A boning knife is used for cutting poultry, fish, or meat.

The reason why this knife is so useful if you cook meat-based dishes is because most knives can only cut straight lines while a boning knife enables you to move and flex when cutting around bones so you can pull the meat away from them neatly. This is as a result of how it’s designed with a narrow and flexible blade that has a fine tip. 

By using a boning knife, you can get smoother, cleaner cuts of meat that will also look good when presented on a plate.

Although usually reserved for meat, a boning knife does have other uses. You could use it as a cookie-cutter by using its pointy, fine tip, or to carve out cupcakes before filling them. Similarly, a boning knife can be used to sculpt the outside of a cake. 


8 Essential Knives For Every Kitchen

If you cut a lot of vegetables in your kitchen, you’ll benefit from having a nakiri knife in your collection. This knife has a thin, rectangular blade with a flat edge. It’s lightweight to hold and easy to use.

You can use a nakiri knife for small cutting jobs, like when you need to chop herbs, but it’s also useful when your cutting task is larger, such as if you have a large leafy pile of spinach to cut up as a nakiri knife will take the task in its stride without getting stuck. 

Since it has a very sharp edge, a nakiri knife can be used to make even, thin vegetable slices which are great for garnishing dishes. 


8 Essential Knives For Every Kitchen

A cleaver, otherwise known as a butcher’s knife, will help you to break down whole chickens or debone a roast. It’s ideal for difficult tasks because it has heavy blades which can be between six and 10 inches in length. You can find cleaver blades that come in various shapes.

While you might assume that a cleaver is designed solely for meats, you can use this tool for cutting large vegetables like squash because it gives you more force than what you’d get when using a chef’s knife. You can also use it when slicing, pounding, dicing, or mincing other foods. 


8 Essential Knives For Every Kitchen

A tourné knife is a type of paring knife with a shorter, curved blade.

Its design is advantageous because it enables you to make round shapes during the cooking process, such as if you want to make round potatoes or remove citrus or onion peels before cooking.

This kind of knife also comes in handy when you need to cut the eyes out of potatoes with greater ease. 

Do You Need A Honing Steel? 

8 Essential Knives For Every Kitchen

A honing steel is a must to purchase. It’s basically a long steel rod that keeps your knives in good condition so that they can perform at their best. How it works is that you move your knife blade along the steel rod and this realigns the teeth on the blade. This also ensures it will make cleaner cuts when used. 

Ideally, you should hone your knife after every time you use it. Note, however, that you should have your knives sharpened professionally every year as honing a blade doesn’t sharpen it per se.

It’s important to bear in mind that you can only use a honing steel with a knife that has a straight-sided blade, like a paring or chef’s knife, but you can’t use it with serrated knives because their jagged edges won’t move along the steel.

What Is A Whetstone?

8 Essential Knives For Every Kitchen

A whetstone is a valuable knife-maintenance tool to own. It sharpens your knife by removing microscopic material from the blade.

This is an affordable way to sharpen your own knives and ensure they cut smoothly and quickly. 

How To Care For Your Kitchen Knives 

While you should sharpen and hone your knives regularly, there are other important ways in which to care for your knives.

  • Wash them after every use. Make sure you wash your knives after using them. Although knives are usually made of high-carbon steel or stainless steel, both of which are less vulnerable to rust, you don’t want chemicals from food or acids to damage the blade, such as by leaving dark spots on them.
  • Always wash your knives by hand. It’s not good to put your knives into the dishwasher as they could get chipped. A bit of mild soap and water is all you need to give your knives a good clean.
  • Dry them immediately after washing them. You should use a cloth after washing your knives instead of leaving them to air dry on a dish rack. This prevents rust. 
  • Store your knives safely. A bamboo or wood block is the best way to store your knives because it protects them and prevents them from touching each other, such as they would if stored in a drawer, which can damage their blades. 

Related Questions 

Should you always use a knife on a cutting board?

The sharp edges of your knives can become damaged if they come into contact with a metal countertop or ceramic plate. Always use a chopping board, preferably one made of wood.

What is a tomato knife?

A tomato knife is usually serrated so you can cut through the slippery skin and delicate insides of tomatoes with minimal pressure. 


A few kitchen tools are essential to make your cooking processes much easier, but which ones do you really need?

While there are many types of knives out there, you don’t have to buy them all. In this article, we’ve given you eight of the most essential knives for every kitchen.



Nicole Dowdy is an avid foodie and successful restaurateur. [He/she] has dedicated nearly all her life to learning popular recipes from across the globe as well as developing new ones. Using Food Migration, Nicole Dowdy shares the very best recipes for just about every home cook looking to try something new in the kitchen. Pro chefs can also learn a few tricks on the website.Looking to improve your kitchen? You will also find awesome and high-quality kitchen utensil recommendations as well as buying guides on this website.