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

Stay sharp on the differences between these two blades.

  • Team Made In
  • Apr 3, 2023
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If you’re looking to stock your kitchen with a great knife set, make sure that the set you select has both a Santoku and a Chef Knife. Both will come in handy for prepping any number of kitchen ingredients. And as much as the two knives may look similar, they are actually quite different. By understanding the differences between a Santoku and a Chef Knife, you can make an informed decision regarding when to use each knife.

What Is a Santoku?

Both Santoku Knives and Chef Knives are both general-purpose knives that are commonly used in home and professional kitchens for chopping, dicing, mincing, and slicing. In many ways, a Santoku is simply a Japanese version of the Chef Knife—but the differences don't end there.

Beyond being about an inch shorter than the standard 8-inch Chef Knife, Santokus also tend to be made of thinner and harder steel, which makes them better suited for precision cutting. These knives feature a wide sheepsfoot blade with a pointed tip. Our Santoku also has flutes on its blade to prevent food from sticking, making it the perfect tool for slicing large quantities of vegetables.

How to Use a Santoku

Santokus are most often used for chopping, dicing, and mincing. Because of their precision edge, they're especially useful for julienning thin slices of vegetables and meats. The wide blade associated with a Santoku also makes it useful for "scooping" food off of a cutting board and moving to a Saute Pan or other dish.

How to Care for a Santoku

Like most knives, Santokus should be hand washed and dried to prevent rusting or other damage. When not in use, the best way to store a Santoku is to place it in a wooden knife block.

Occasionally, the knife on a Santoku blade may need to be honed. This should be done with a honing rod to maintain a sharp and precise edge.

What Is a Chef Knife?

Compared to Santokus, Chef Knives feature a broad blade that curves upwards to create a thicker and heavier spine. This is the knife that likely comes to mind when you think of a culinary knife. Chef Knives also tend to be heavier to hold, which can make them a little more difficult to work with for those with smaller hands.

How to Use a Chef Knife

Chef Knives are ideal for completing any type of cut that requires you to rock your blade forward. Generally, this makes the Chef Knife best for complex cuts, as well as for disjointing meat by cutting through cartilage and skin. Many people also prefer the Chef Knife for such tasks as slicing cheese and chopping or dicing vegetables/fruits and nuts.

How to Care for a Chef Knife

Caring for a Chef Knife is similar to caring for a Santoku. It’s important to wash only by hand, and to hone or sharpen when necessary. Other than that, Chef Knives are fairly easy to care for. We just recommend storing them properly when not in use.

Which Knife Should I Use?

chef knife top

Both. While the knife you should use will depend on the type of cut you need to make and the ingredients that you're working with, it’s important to have all the tools in your kitchen to be successful. Because a Santoku can be used to cut very thin slices, this makes it ideal for slicing vegetables and meats when a recipe calls for them to be cut finely.

A Chef Knife, on the other hand, may be a better option if you're working with meat that needs to be disjointed (such as a whole chicken wing). Chef knives are also great for everyday chopping, mincing, and dicing.

No matter what you’re cutting, check out our collection of fully forged, full tang Knives. Crafted in France by 5th generation bladesmiths, they are designed to hold their weight in the world’s best kitchens, including yours.

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