How to Use a Chef’s Knife

Spooky image of knife and woman's hand

Nisian HughesGetty Photographs

The chef’s knife is an important tool in your kitchen—however provided that you understand how to make use of it. The one most vital factor to know in regards to the skillful use of your chef’s knife: There’s a proper option to maintain it and a unsuitable means, and in the event you maintain the unsuitable means, it gained’t work proper.

The grip: Pinch the blade between your thumb and forefinger simply forward of the bolster like a claw, curling the opposite three fingers across the deal with. (Scroll down for a knife vocabulary lesson.)

A chef’s knife is especially used for chopping, and the blade is supposed to maneuver up and down in a staccato trend, along with your wrist because the pivotal joint. Correct hand place on the bolster controls the blade, determines its perform, and prevents you from slicing the greens too massive (or slicing your finger off).

When you grow to be accustomed to the texture of the proper grip, nothing else works. Your hand routinely acknowledges the error—muscle reminiscence—and makes the adjustment.

Anatomy of a Conventional (European) Chef’s Knife

A breakdown of the working components of any chef’s knife, regardless of the model.

Measurement: Ranges from six to 14 inches and measures the blade solely, not together with the deal with.

Level: That is the knife at its most fragile, used for nonimpact jobs like piercing, corresponding to slicing slits in a roast to insert garlic cloves.

Tip: Truly the primary third of the knife. Used for extra delicate slicing work. It can be an anchor throughout mincing—the tip stays involved with the board whereas the remainder of the knife bounces up and down behind it, mincing away.

Innovative: The precise fringe of the blade. Mostly V-shaped with the edges slanting straight down into the innovative. (Japanese knives produce other blade kinds, that means how the blade is floor to kind the slicing floor. These embody a beveled edge, with a smaller V form over the bigger V, and the chisel edge, that means just one facet is sharpened.)

Bolster: The complete bolster, which protects the fingers holding the knife in the usual “claw” grip and helps to stability the blade’s weight, transferring the middle of gravity again towards the deal with, making high-impact jobs like chopping and mincing simpler. But it surely additionally prevents you from utilizing the total size of the blade, which is why you gained’t discover a bolster on basic Japanese knives.

Backbone: The thicker (boring) high portion of the blade, which provides stability and power. You don’t minimize with this, however you should use the sting to scrape your work off of the slicing board.

Heel: The place the blade is thickest and heaviest, used when extra pressure is required, like slicing by way of issues like butternut squash or some kinds of bones.

Deal with: Historically made with rosewood as a result of this can be very exhausting and tightly grained. However even with new materials composition, the necessities stay the identical: superior moisture resistance and sturdiness. Most chef’s knives have a contoured deal with, however there are variations, and the form you select is private to your grip. (Japanese knives, historically made for smaller palms, usually have an octagonal, spherical, or D-shaped deal with.)

Butt: That is essentially the most sturdy a part of the knife, the place you get the total weight. I’m not saying that is the best utilization, however I’ve seen loads of cooks use the butt finish of their knife to pop open a can.

Tang: Because the manufacturing strategy of knives advanced, so did the tang, or the steel strip working backward from the blade. At one time, a full tang displaying by way of the 2 deal with slabs (or scales) and held in place by rivets was the signal of an excellent knife. And its nonetheless an excellent factor to search for in a bigger knife supposed for heavier work as a result of it makes the deal with really feel completely linked to the blade. For those who select this type, the rivets ought to be seamlessly flush with the deal with not just for consolation however so tiny flecks of meals particles gained’t accumulate within the hole.

What to Purchase

First alternative for me is at all times Wüsthof, though Henckels is one other wonderful knife in the identical worth vary. Each are made by centuries-old Germany corporations, based in Solingen, referred to as the Metropolis of Blades. There isn’t a compromise on any characteristic from both knife.

Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Professional S Eight-inch Excessive Carbon Stainless-Metal Chef’s Knife

ZWILLING J.A. Henckels


In a drop-down worth vary—a few third of the associated fee—is the Swiss Victorinox Fibrox Professional Chef’s Knife. It has a skinny stamped, high-carbon stainless-steel blade with a partial tang, which is hidden within the nonslip mineral-fiber deal with, making it lighter than the German knives. As a result of the blade is stamped (from giant, steady sheets of chrome steel) it’s extra versatile, with out a bolster (which suggests you actually need to focus when slicing thick-skinned produce like winter squash).

Victorinox Fibrox Professional Chef’s Knife, Eight-Inch Chef’s FFP



One other good worth is the Mercer Culinary Genesis Cast Quick Bolster Chef’s Knife. The ergonomic rubber-like Santoprene deal with is light-weight, sturdy, and even makes it attainable to place this knife within the dishwasher.

Mercer Culinary Genesis Cast Quick Bolster Cast Chef’s Knife, Eight Inch

Mercer Culinary


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