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Kitchen Knife Buying Guide

A red-handled KitchenAid knife set in a wood block, placed on a kitchen counter.

Everyone has their favorite knife. But what about the rest of the knives in your knife block?We thought it might be helpful to put together a guide to knifes. Because really, who knows what each knife is actually meant for?


Knife Attributes

There are three things to look for when picking the right knife for your cutting job and the right knife set for your family. We use the Kitchen Aid® 12-Piece Cutlery Set here in the Ginny’s House kitchen. The set includes a chef’s knife, slicing knife, serrated utility knife, santoku knife, paring knife, four steak knives, a kitchen shears, and sharpening steel.

The Knife Edge, also known as the Grind
The knife edge is what some would call the “sharp part” of the knife. Edges can either be “straight” or “serrated”.  Straight edges are flat where serrated edges are jagged like a saw.

The Knife Profile
The profile of a knife is how much curve there is to the blade. Curved blades work best for dicing and mincing because the curved blade allows the knife to rock throughout the cut. Straight blades work best for slicing.

The Knife Spine
The spine of the knife refers to the thickness of the blade. Some knives have a thinner blade, which allows for more bend and control for things like boning.

Types of Knives

A chef’s knife is designed to be your all-purpose or everything knife. It works well for slicing, chopping, and mincing. The edge is curved, so you can get a really nice rocking motion going for chopping and mincing. Chef’s knives also usually have a thick spine.

Chef’s Knife

A utility knife is a lot like a chef’s knife, but it is smaller. It doesn’t have quite as much curve and it’s not as thick. Utility knives are sized down for smaller tasks, and don’t have as much rocker action as a chef’s knife. Sometimes, utility knives are called “steak knives”

Utility Knife

A serrated utility knife is often called a “bread knife”.  It is long and flat for making long cuts. Serrated knives are great for bread and other soft or delicate foods that you don’t want to crush while cutting. Simply take the blade and saw to let the knife do the work instead of pushing down to get the cut.

Serrated Utility Knife

A santoku knife is a wonderful all-purpose knife, much like a chef’s or utility knife.  The most important thing is the dimples in the blade. It allows air to get between the knife and the food you are cutting so the food doesn’t stick to the blade as easily. A santoku knife is great for softer foods like cheese.

Santoku Knife

A paring knife can come with different lengths of blades.  They are smaller so it doesn’t have as thick of a spine. Paring knives are usually used for paring, peeling,  getting the seeds out of a peppers, or deveining a shrimp.

Paring Knife

A carving knife is also known as a slicing knife. It is long, with a smooth blade. It has a little bit of curve but not too much. It is designed to make thin slices of meat, or poultry like turkey breasts.

Carving Knife

A boning knife (although not included in this particular Kitchen Aid® set) is thinner so it can be more flexible for getting into tight spaces. This is important when you need a lot of control over the blade to dig in and get the bones out of poultry or meat.


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How do you use the Knife Sharpening on the Block

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Published on Jul 14 2014

Last Updated on Nov 01 2018

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