A Guide on How to Hold a Chef Knife

Knowing how to hold a chef’s knife properly is one thing you should know before buying a new knife set. Just like any item in the kitchen, whether it’s a stainless clad frying pan, nonstick saute pan, or carbon steel wok, knowing how to get the most out of it is essential. This blog post will cover the basics of holding a  sharp knife and why it is crucial when thinking about knife safety tips and making clean cuts. 

What are the two steps in grabbing a chef's knife?

When grabbing a knife blade, your first instinct is probably to wrap your whole fist around the handle, and rightfully so. It is called the handle for a reason! However, gripping your knives this way makes the knife more wobbly and less stable. This is particularly dangerous when handling a sharp object and puts your fingers at risk. 

The correct way to hold a knife is by placing your index finger on the blade, right in front of the knife’s bolster, and your thumb on the other side of the blade. Your middle and ring finger, along with your pinky will then wrap around the handle. This knife grip may seem uncomfortable at first, but it provides much more control over your kitchen knives, which is essential to making smooth, clean cuts. You have total control over the knife blade, and it won’t be flailing around like it would if you hold it by the handle. 

how to hold a chef knife

Follow Proper Knife Safety

It is necessary to know knife safety tips when handling a sharp knife in the kitchen. 

  • First, always make sure you’re using the right blade. For example, use a bread knife when handling tomatoes or bread and a paring knife when handling small and oddly shaped ingredients. 
  • Second, make sure your non-cutting hand is protected from the blade. Use the “claw” to keep any fingers out of reach of your blade’s motion. Bend the top third of your fingers inward and place your knuckle on the ingredient of choice and use it to guide the blade. Once you become very comfortable with this motion, you’ll be able to have the blade be touching your knuckles, which is perfect for extreme precision. 
  • Third, cut on the right surface! Using a wood or plastic cutting board, and don’t cut directly on the counter. If you are preparing small ingredients with the knife in one hand and the ingredient in the other, then make sure to be careful and work slowly. 

Can you use a chef’s knife for everything?

Chef knives are incredibly versatile, which explains why they are most commonly the first knife someone owns. Yet, they should not be used as an all-encompassing knife. A chef knife does not excel at slicing bread or handling small ingredients, like a bread knife or paring knife would, respectively. 

Chef knives are great for slicing, mincing, and dicing vegetables. Along with a serrated knife, a chef knife is also the best knife for cutting meat. However, we highly recommend getting a knife set, or collecting knives, which will allow you to perfect many different unique knife cuts. 

how to hold a knife

The Bottom Line

When it comes down to it, ensuring knife safety in the kitchen is super important. Knowing how to use all types of kitchen knives will reduce your risk of injury and also make you twice as efficient in the kitchen. Once you know how to hold a chef’s knife, you’ll be able to slice and dice almost anything!

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