What Is a Paring Knife Used For?

Small but mighty, learn why every knife block needs a Paring Knife.

Team Made In|Sep 16, 2022
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The

Paring Knife

is an essential tool in any kitchen. Its short, non-serrated blade is used for any kind of intricate or precision work ranging from dicing a shallot to delicately peeling an apple. Often underutilized, Paring Knives can perform many of the same tasks as a

Chef Knife

, with a number  for which it is uniquely suited.

What is a Paring Knife?

Paring Knives are small—typically under 8” total—  and resemble a miniature Chef Knife. Featuring a non-serrated, slightly curved blade that’s typically under 4”, these knives are ideal for handling smaller tasks in the kitchen —like cutting small vegetables, peeling fruits, or slicing awkwardly-shaped ingredients.

What Is a Paring Knife Used For?

A good, sharp

Paring Knife can do many things, but some tasks are uniquely suited to this versatile, maneuverable kitchen tool. Here are eight ways to get the most use out of your Paring Knife.

Peeling

Because of its small size, our Paring Knife is ideal for peeling, when you need maximum control in order to remove only the skin of an ingredient. It can be used for a fruit as uniform as a kiwi to an oblong, slightly irregular

butternut squash

. To peel a fruit, hold the knife close to the blade with a relaxed, steady grip, place your thumb on the fruit a couple inches in front of where you want to peel, then carefully pull the blade towards you as you move your thumb around.

Coring

Coring refers to the process of removing seeds or tougher, fleshy, undesired material from fruits, nuts, and vegetables. While there are designated coring tools, it’s easy to do this with our Paring Knife, which you can use for many things instead of just one. To core an apple for example, set the fruit upright and hold it with your non-dominant hand. Cut around the stem in a circular motion, slicing all the way through to the underside of the apple. When you’ve sliced through, use your thumb to push the core out.

Alternatively, you can also make a series of four cuts around the stem and four around the base of the apple. Then, slide the blade through to connect them. Once the core has been loosened, it should easily twist or pop out.

Hulling

Similar to coring, hulling removes the inedible top of a fruit, specifically strawberries. To hull a strawberry, grip the Paring Knife high up the blade so the flat of the Knife is held between the side of your index finger on the bottom and your thumb on the top. Insert the blade just below the stem of the fruit, then slowly carve out a shallow, cone-shaped core of the top of the strawberry. Discard the stem and cut strawberries as desired.

Scoring

Cooking certain cuts of meat or

baking a loaf of bread

often involves scoring—cutting very shallow slits on the surface of your ingredient. While you can use any of our

Knives

to score,  the precision of our Paring Knife lends itself particularly well to this task. Scoring allows steam to escape as bread bakes in the oven or can be used to make patterns in the final product. When used on certain cuts of meat, scoring can increase the

Maillard reaction

during cooking and allow for the infusion of aromatics like ginger or garlic.

Deveining

Deveining shrimp or prawns isn’t strictly necessary before cooking, but many chef’s like to remove the digestive tract for presentation, depending on the dish. To devein a shrimp, make a shallow incision along the back of the shrimp to expose the vein. Use the tip of the knife to pull the vein up and out in one piece. Wash your Paring Knife before using it again to prevent contamination.

Segmenting

Using a Chef Knife may be best for

breaking down chicken

, it can be difficult when segmenting citrus. Also called supreming, this delicate process involves removing not only the peel, but the white interior pith from wedges of citrus fruits. For best results, make sure your Paring Knife is very sharp. First, remove the top and bottom of the citrus, then remove the peel, working your way around the fruit. Try to take as much of the white pith off as possible and remove any remaining once the citrus is fully peeled. Then, rest the fruit on its side and cut towards the center on either side of the membrane. Remove the sliver of fruit and repeat until fully segmented. This is a time consuming process but it’s worth the work.

Mincing and Dicing

Though a Chef Knife is better suited to mincing or dicing larger ingredients,  our Paring Knife is useful for processing smaller ingredients like shallots or garlic. Mincing garlic is a great way to practice

basic knife skills

, and using a Paring Knife can be a good way to get used to handling a Knife in this fashion. Check out our article on cutting garlic to learn how to do it properly.

Trimming

Even  ingredients like celery, carrots, poultry, or seafood that are often mainly broken down with a Chef Knife, there are parts of the process for which having a Paring Knife on-hand is useful. Trimming the leaves and stems from carrots or celery or removing fat, excess bones, or tendons from chicken or seafood are all tasks best handled by the dexterity of a Paring Knife.

How to Hold a Paring Knife

Handling a Paring Knife is much like

holding any other Knife

. In general, a relaxed but firm grip that keeps the knife from slipping with the thumb high on the flat side of the blade is best, but a Paring Knife is capable of a variety of techniques that sometimes require moving the grip further up the blade. Use a grip that feels comfortable but is also secure to give you the most control over your blade.

Ready to Shop?

Like all of our Knives, our Paring Knives are full-tang and fully-forged, meaning that they’re hammered from one piece of stainless steel that runs all the way through from the tip of the blade to the base of the handle. This yields a balanced, sturdy Knife that won’t snap at the handle. When it comes to precision and control for the tasks listed above and others, you’ll find that this little knife is an indispensable part of your knife block.