Preparing food is easier, faster, and safer when you have the right tools, but with so many different types of knives on the market, finding the one that suits your needs can be tricky. Without the right knowledge, it's all too easy to buy a selection of specialist knives you hardly ever use — meaning you end up with a selection of unused knives languishing at the back of your utensil drawer. Let's talk about the types of knives and their uses.
A chef knife — sometimes called a chef's or cook's knife — has a long, broad blade with a straight edge. It is widest across the heel, tapering up to a finely pointed tip.
What is a chef knife used for?
The curved blade of a chef knife allows it rock back and forwards on a chopping board, which makes it the perfect tool for chopping and dicing lots of vegetables at once. The broad heel area means it can stand up to more pressure during heavy-duty chopping work, which is useful for cutting thicker or harder foods, like potatoes, onions, or parsnips.
A great all-rounder, a chef knife is one of the most versatile knives in the kitchen, perfect for everyday dicing and mincing tasks.
A utility knife is a similar shape to a chef knife, but smaller and slimmer. Some utility knives also have a sharp tip which tapers up towards the spine, to allow for more intricate work.
What is a utility knife used for?
A utility knife is good for chopping smaller foods and vegetables, like shallots. It shares many of the qualities of a chef knife, but it can be a useful tool when working with smaller food items, as the utility knife allows for more precise cutting work. So, when your cook's knife is a little too big for the job, you'll want to reach for a utility knife instead.
A paring knife has a short, slim, evenly sized blade with a pointed tip. It tends to be light, to allow for easy handling during delicate work.
What is a paring knife used for?
The small but mighty paring knife is used to cut, chop and slice fruits and vegetables, but they can also be used for a multitude of other kitchen tasks. Despite their small size, paring knives will make light work of harder foods, like potatoes, while still being manoeuvrable enough to carry out delicate tasks like peeling, trimming, and removing seeds from fruit and veg.
A bread knife has a long, evenly sized blade, with a sharp serrated edge — like a saw. This sort of knife is designed for use on softer items.
What is a bread knife used for?
The long blade and sharp serrated edge of a bread knife makes it the perfect tool for sawing through all sorts of different breads, including crusty bread, baguettes, bagels and bread rolls. This is because the grooved edge allows the chef to cut through softer textures without crushing them out of shape.
Bread knives can also be used to slice cakes with soft, fluffy textures, as they can cut through them without knocking the air out of the sponge or damaging the overall shape. If you don't have a cake leveller in your kitchen, a bread knife can also be used to even out your sponge cakes after baking.
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