Understand the difference between these two essential knives.
Just like every tool in the average toolbox has a specific purpose, every knife in a knife block is constructed to excel at one or two tasks. While many home cooks are tempted to use whatever knife looks like it’ll get a job done in the kitchen, you’ll be able to unlock a deeper understanding of certain skills by using your knives as they were intended.
Today, we’ll be discussing the difference between two common knives: the utility knife and the chef knife.
In short, the chef knife is larger, broader, and built with a slight curve that allows its user to perform a “rocking” motion and make quick work of many medium- to large-sized ingredients. The utility knife, on the other hand, is slightly smaller, often serrated, and easier to maneuver for precision cuts compared to the chef knife.
Keep reading for more information on each knife and how to use them.
Due to its smaller size—approximately 4 to 9 inches in length—the utility knife is built to give its user exceptional leverage across a variety of tasks, like chopping smaller produce or slicing bread. Designed to be pragmatic above all else, this is the knife you’ll want to bring on a hike, to a picnic, or in your beach bag to enjoy charcuterie al fresco.
Often (but not always!) serrated, the utility knife is intended to handle just about any task you need it for, food-related or not. While our preferred use is slicing summer sausage (for a cheeseboard) or cutting through the tough skin of citrus (for a cocktail), we can confirm that our Utility Knife is suitable for shotgunning.
Known as a kitchen workhorse, a chef knife ranges from 6 to 14 inches in length and has a broad, almost triangular blade. In Western kitchens, this is the blade we most commonly think of when we hear the word “knife.” Its slight curve allows cooks to use a highly efficient “rocking” motion, which makes it possible to process ingredients very quickly.
Chef knives are the perfect tool for chopping large fruits and veggies, such as broccoli, cauliflower, melon, celery, and much more. Beyond produce, they’re equally adept at slicing and breaking down large cuts of meat.
As the chef knife is pretty much the only tool in the kitchen that you’ll be sure to use nearly every time you cook a meal, it’s important to purchase a high-quality blade. A well-made knife features a blade that goes all the way to the end of the handle (this is called “full tang,” and it creates a sturdier, stronger knife) and is fully forged with a single piece of metal for durability.
The biggest differences between a utility knife and a chef knife are the sizes, styles, and functions of each knife’s blade.
Since chef knives have a bigger, broader blade, they’re able to chop and slice larger quantities faster. Also due to its bigger size, it features much less precision. A utility knife, on the other hand, has a much smaller (and often serrated) blade that’s designed to get the job—any job—done.
While deciding whether you want our Chef Knife or Utility Knife, consider what your needs are in the kitchen—or outside of it.
If you’re an aspiring Top Chef looking to make lavish meals for friends and family, a new high-end Chef Knife might be all you need. However, if you often find yourself on the go but are still unwilling to leave meals up to chance, or if you’re constantly finding odd jobs that need something a bit more rugged, the Utility Knife is a compact and easy-to-store choice for keeping your options open.
While both knives have their own advantages and disadvantages, they’re a dream team when paired together and used properly. Make sure your kitchen is equipped by taking a look at our Chef and Utility Knives, each one designed to be of the highest quality and crafted by skilled artisans in the knife capital of the world: Thiers, France.