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What’s the Difference Between a Nakiri and a Chef Knife?

Learn more about what sets these blades apart.

By Team Made In
Aug 23, 2022
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If you enjoy working in the kitchen, then having a great knife set is a must. After all, not all knives are created equal. Some are better suited for dicing and mincing, whereas others may be ideal for precision cuts and deboning. Two common types of knives that are staples in most kitchens are the Nakiri Knife and the traditional Chef Knife.

So, what's the difference between these two Knives—and when should you use either in your own kitchen? We're covering all this and more below, so get ready to sharpen up your knowledge.

Nakiri Knives

A Nakiri Knife is distinguished by its large, rectangular-shaped blade. Its thin blade and straight cutting edge make it an ideal knife for cutting vegetables and other more delicate foods. Compared to a Chef Knife, a Nakiri Knife is shorter in length and typically weighs less as well.

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Advantages of Nakiri Knives

Now that you have a better understanding of what Nakiri Knives are, what they’re typically used for, and what they look like, let's dive into some of the many benefits of using this type of Knife in the kitchen.

Little Effort Required

For starters, using a Nakiri Knife is pretty straight-forward and simple. Because this Knife is always used to chop in a straight up-and-down motion, there is no special skill required to use it effectively. This makes it one of the most user-friendly knives available.

Small and Lightweight

Compared to many other knives (including the Chef Knife), the Nakiri knife is very small and lightweight. This makes it easier to work with, even for those with smaller hands. In fact, the average Nakiri Knife measures just 5-7 inches in length and weighs less than 9.5 ounces.

Considerations of Nakiris

Though we think that Nakiri Knives are an integral part of any Knife block, there is one consideration you should keep in mind if you are thinking about adding a Nakiri Knife to your collection, concerning its usage.

Limited Applications

Applications for the Nakiri Knife are also a bit limited. Generally, this type of knife is only used for slicing vegetables and other delicate ingredients. It ‘s not recommended to be used to cut meat or any other thick or tough materials, as this can cause damage to the blade.

Chef Knives

A Chef Knife is a versatile Knife that features a curvy, bent blade. These knives are used for a wide range of tasks in the kitchen, from cutting meat and chopping vegetables to slicing fruit and more. Compared to a Nakiri Knife, a Chef Knife is longer and heavier—often measuring 8-14 inches and weighing up to 11 ounces.

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Advantages of Chef Knives

There are many benefits to having a Chef Knife in your kitchen. In fact, many home cooks prefer to keep a few chef knives in different sizes for added utility, from the traditional 8-inch for everyday tasks to a smaller 6-inch for smaller-scale kitchen needs.

Many Uses

Compared to the Nakiri Knife, which is mostly used for slicing vegetables, the Chef Knife is much more versatile. It can be used for just about any cutting task in the kitchen, ranging from chopping and mincing to slicing and dicing.

More Durable

Whereas a Nakiri blade can be easily damaged, a Chef Knife blade is more durable and less likely to become damaged or chipped over time. This means it can last you longer before needing to be replaced, honed, or sharpened.

Considerations of Chef Knives

When shopping for a Chef Knife, there are some things to keep in mind before adding to cart. Mainly, you’ll want to think about your kitchen needs and what sort of knife skills you have—though we firmly believe these are a necessity in every kitchen.

Requires More Skill to Use

Because a Chef Knife can be used for a wide range of cuts, it does require a bit more skill and precision to use. Without proper experience or knowledge, working with a Chef Knife could be dangerous, so use precaution and Knife safety when cutting.

Heavier to Work With

Those with smaller hands may have a harder time working with a Chef Knife, especially for longer periods of time. If this is the case, you’ll likely want to use a Chef Knife in a smaller size (like a 6”) for safety and comfort.

Nakiri vs Chef Knife: Which One is Better?

Ultimately, the Nakiri and Chef Knife are both ideal for different applications. If you're looking for a catch-all Knife that can do a little bit of everything, then the Chef Knife is your best bet. If you need something specifically for slicing vegetables, a Nakiri Knife is a must-have.

Ready to Shop?

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Ultimately, we recommend thinking of Nakiri and Chef Knives as complements, not competitors. These can both help you build out a well-stocked knife block that ensures you have the right blade for each of your needs and kitchen tasks.

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