The Difference Between Knives

Knives are, by all accounts, a confusing affair. You could just grab anything sharp or serrated and start cutting away, but results would be varied. Breads would be crushed, hands would be sliced, and tomatoes would just become a liquid mess. Knowing the difference between them, and their intended purposes, is a requirement for any good kitchen.

Chef’s Knife

The chef’s knife is all-purpose, sharp, and heavy enough to cut through bone. The curve in the knife allows users to rock back and forth on a cutting board, allowing for precise dicing.

Paring Knife

In concept, it’s a smaller chef’s knife: all-purpose and sharp. It won’t nearly be as heavy as a chef’s knife, but it can get more intricate work done, such as de-veining shrimp, taking out seeds, and more intricate work than the large swaths of cutting for the larger one.

Boning Knife

It does what it says; these long, narrow bladed knives are for working with meat, fish, and poultry. Stiff boning knives are good for meat and pork, while flexible ones are for poultry and fish.

Carving Knife

Carving knives are usually shorter and wider than slicing knives, and are brought out whenever you need to take off thin cuts of meat from large dishes, such as a turkey dinner for Thanksgiving.


A cleaver is, beyond being used in countless horror movies, used to cut large chunks of meat with force, while also allowing a flat side great for crushing garlic. It’s not as sharp, as the hammering motion is intended to separate via force, not slicing.

Butcher Knife

Most home chefs may have never used a butcher knife. It’s for dressing and butchering large chunks of meat, and isn’t really suitable for the everyday kitchen.

Electric Knife

Two serrated blades motorized together slice quicker through meat than a normal person can, but at the cost of having to be connected to power.

Butter Knife

A dull point and a vaguely serrated blade is for spreading butter, cutting soft items (such as softer cheeses), and generally are the safest knife around.

Steak Knife

In comparison to the butter knife, the steak knife is drastically sharp and serrated, ready to cut down big chunks of meat.

With these divisions of knives down, you’ll have no problem slicing everything from radishes to roast beef.