Knives That Make Up the Best Knife Set

By George Steckel
Apr 22, 2021
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So, you want to slice, dice, chop, trim, and julienne like the best chefs? Well, you're going to need to upgrade your knife set – especially, if you're still using the rag-tag group of knives you've had since you first packed up your bindle and headed out into the world on your own. Before you restock your kitchen, do a little boning up to learn how and when to use each tool in your new chef knife set.

Essential Knives Found in Every Professional's Chef Knife Set

Shopping for kitchen tools can quickly become overwhelming when you realize that there are dozens of different knives to choose from. Luckily, you don't need one of each. With a smartly curated knife set, you'll be perfectly happy in your home kitchen, keeping up with all the professional chefs. We recommend stocking your kitchen knife set with the following tools:

1. Chef's Knife

The chef's knife is often considered the king of the kitchen because it can handle the majority of your cutting needs. It can handle the slicing, dicing, chopping, carving, and trimming of fruits, vegetables, and meats.

A chef's knife features a broad blade that curves along the bottom to form a pointed tip. This curve allows experienced chefs to use a rocking motion when slicing. Chef's knives range from 6 to 12 inches. The 8-inch chef's knife is the most popular, as it provides plenty of blade for working while maintaining a reasonable weight.

2. Santoku Knife

Similar to a chef's knife, the santoku can handle much of the knife work that occurs in a kitchen. Unlike curved chef knives, the santoku knife features a straight blade with a dull top that rounds down to meet the razor-sharp bottom edge.

Santoku knives also tend to have sharper blades than chef knives, making them the perfect choice for precision cutting. With a 7-inch santoku knife, even amateur chefs can achieve unbelievably thin – so thin they're almost transparent – slices of fruits, veggies, cheese, or meats.

3. Paring Knife

Santoku and chef knives can handle most jobs, but they're not the best or safest for small, precision work. When it comes to peeling fruits and vegetables, carving radishes into flowers and hummingbirds, hulling strawberries, or mincing small items like garlic, the pairing knife should be your tool of choice.

That being said, be careful not to use a pairing knife to slice through hard vegetables, as it can result in a kitchen catastrophe (kit-astrophe?). If you end up putting pressure on the blade at any time, then you're using the wrong knife. In these cases, let the weight of a santoku or chef's knife do the work for you.

4. Utility (Serrated) Knife

The most notable feature of a utility knife (also called a serrated knife) is its toothed blade. Of all the knives, it's the only one that doesn't feature a straight blade, and this makes it perfect for specialized jobs that other knives can't handle. 

Think of your utility knife as a miniature saw. Use a sawing motion to carve steak, slice through hard bread, cut foods with waxy rinds (watermelons, peppers, or tomatoes), and to trim cake layers. The teeth of a serrated knife will bite right into these surfaces, while the straight blade of other knives would slip right off.

5. Boning Knife

The blade of a boning knife is long and skinny with a curved tip. This special design makes it perfect for trimming around the natural curves of fish and poultry. With a boning knife, you can easily remove bones from fish or maneuver the bones and joints of a turkey. Boning knives are not designed to cut through bones, but they can handle slicing through cartilage or joints.

More Knife-Like Items to Keep in the Kitchen

No chef would be caught in the kitchen without a respectable pair of kitchen shears. These can be used to cut foods, clean shrimp, trim meats, and to make quick work of chopping fresh herbs and spring onions. Kitchen shears are a useful kitchen tool to have in your knife set, and you'll be surprised by how many creative ways you find to use them.

A serious chef also can't afford to be slowed down by dull knives. In a professional kitchen, you'll find a honing steel. This tapered steel rod with a knob at the top is intended for making incredibly sharp blades from dull ones. If you don't want your friends to find out you're not a professional, never call yours a "knife sharpener" and keep your chef knife set well-honed.

Caring for Stainless Steel Knives and Other Kitchen Tools

Handwashing and prompt drying is the best way to keep your chef knife set and all of your fully forged stainless steel kitchen tools from Made In in top shape. Never leave stainless steel tools sitting in a wet sink. When you're ready for cleanup, carefully wash them in warm, soapy water being mindful of the sharp side of the blade. Most importantly, after washing, wipe your tools completely dry with a clean cloth to prevent rusting.

Curate a Set of Kitchen Knives That Works for You

Depending on your skills and the kinds of foods you prefer to cook, you might need an entire set of kitchen tools or you might be able to get by with one or two catch-all carving tools. No matter which high-quality knives you have in your kitchen, you'll have no problem slicing, dicing, and mincing with the best chefs and home cooks around!