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How to choose the perfect knife 🔪 — Slice and dice with confidence

With so many knives to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start with creating your personal knife collection. Do you really need a carving knife if you have a chef’s knife? What’s so great about a Santoku knife? In a bid to make these important life choices easier, we have created a little infographic and knife breakdown to help you choose the best options for your kitchen.

Knife article infographic

Take a carving knife and try chopping a tomato, now try chopping it with a Victorinox paring knife, this will show you that each knife is created with a specific purpose in mind. This doesn’t mean that you need to buy every single knife under the sun, but that you should consider what you enjoy cooking most often and tailor your knife collection to suit your needs. Some knives are great multitaskers, some are best used to fulfil their fish-boning destiny.

Each knife's purpose

Is it important to use the correct knife for the correct purpose? It may sound obvious but, within reason, it is. A carving knife won’t work to cleave and, if it does, you’re probably using too much force and damaging the blade. A chef’s knife is a great multitasker, but for delicate work like de-seeding peppers and coring tomatoes, a small and nimble paring knife is better.

So how do I choose which knives I need?

You can cut out some of the thinking by choosing a knife set but, in case you already have the basics of a knife collection, here’s how our knife wish list would go.

Knife article knife collection guide

1. Chef's knife

A proper chef's knife is where most epic knife collections begin. These handy, classically shaped knives will make light of all your basic food preparation tasks, like chopping and slicing fresh ingredients. A good chef’s knife can change how you feel about cooking altogether.

2. Paring knife

Paring, peeling and slicing are made easy with these nimble guys and they are great if you have to take just one knife on a picnic or camping. Just decide whether you need a serrated blade — great for cutting through soft-skinned tomatoes — or a straight blade. Or, just go with one of each.

3. Utility knife

For a multitasking, versatile knife, choose a utility knife for all those small slicing tasks like mincing shallots, slicing herbs and cleaning and cutting your veggies. The slightly longer blade is convenient when you don’t need the heft of a chef’s knife, but a paring knife is just too small to be comfortable.

Utility knife shoot

4. Bread knife

Squashing a fluffy loaf with a non-serrated knife is not okay. For gently slicing through bread without tearing it, a bread knife is what you need. The large serrations bite through the crispiest crusts and leave the soft crumb inside intact. Respect the freshly-baked baguette, people.

5. Steak knife

There is nothing like a good steak but the enjoyment of your robust meaty dish can be diluted if not given the right utensils. Invest in a set of steak knives to make light work of sumptuous slabs.

6. Fillet knife

A fillet knife should have a flexible blade for delicate fish and meat preparation. Equip yourself with the right tools and a little technique and you’ll be a master meat surgeon before you know it.

7. Boning knife

Now we’re getting a little technical. The boning knife has a narrow, flexible blade with a finely tapered tip. This shape makes it much easier to work around bones — whilst causing minimal damage to the surrounding meat. Nice to have, but not essential unless you plan on doing a lot of your own meat prep.

8. Carving set

Taking on a roast leg of lamb, whole chicken or anything else requiring carving is much easier and more fun with the right tools. Sure, you could hack at it with your chef’s or bread knife, but armed with a carving set, you’ll find yourself looking forward to your next chance to slice it up. The two-pronged fork keeps meat still and inflicts minimal damage, while the long, narrow blade of the carving knife quickly cuts slices, and cuts through the joints of poultry easily.

9. Cleaver

Thwack! is the sound that a cleaver makes when it chops through a bone or large chunk of vegetable or meat. Light work of heavy tasks — it’s not subtle, but we like it. Use it to crack through the back of a lobster, or when your butchery tasks have you cracking marrow bones open.

10. Santoku knife

Ah, the Japanese chef’s knife. There are a lot of foods that get nervous around these bad boys. Wouldn’t you? The hollow edge of a Santoku knife creates pockets of air which prevent extra thin or soft slices of food from sticking to the blade, and the straighter “sheep’s foot” blade style facilitates an up-and-down chopping motion vs. the typical Western rocking chopping motion.

11. Vegetable knife

With tapered, fluted, thin, angled and broad blades to protect your pincers, vegetable knives will enhance your veg chopping experiences wonderfully. Primarily from the Japanese end of the spectrum, they help to process veggies quickly and easily.

Vegetable knife shoot

12. Mezzaluna

Make light work of chopping your herbs fine with a mezzaluna. Mezzaluna means half-moon or crescent in Italian and describes the blade. Work it backwards and forwards over your fresh herbs to chop them pronto.

13. Cheese knife

Love your cheese? Then equip yourself with a cheese knife specially designed to stop cheese sticking and to make serving a whole lot easier. Love a variety of cheeses? A cheese knife set could be your best bet.

Cheese knife shoot - camembert

14. Sashimi knife

For the ultimate homemade sushi fanatic, the sashimi knife is a pro choice. The flat ground on one edge for superior edge-holding capability and an even, flat cut, it’ll turn sushi-making into a dream. Keep it sharp, and it’ll reward you for years.

Cutting sushi

There’s exhilaration to be had from wielding the right knife in the kitchen. Browse the full range of knives on Yuppiechef to help you on your way.

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