How Many Kitchen Knives Do You Really Need?

With budgets tight and counter and drawer space at a premium, you've probably asked yourself at one time or another, "Do I really need this particular kitchen tool or appliance?" This question can be particularly confounding when it comes...

With budgets tight and counter and drawer space at a premium, you've probably asked yourself at one time or another, "Do I really need this particular kitchen tool or appliance?" This question can be particularly confounding when it comes to kitchen knives.

How do you know which ones will really help you get the job done? As it turns out, the answer to the title of this post is actually a bit of a trick question. Why? Because your knife needs depend entirely on your cooking style and preferences. Let's take a closer look at some of the most common "must-have" and "nice-to-have" knives for home chefs.

Kitchen knives
Wondering which knives should fill your knife block? CilantroCooks.com can help!

 

The Must-Haves

  • A Chef's Knife Also referred to as a "cook's knife," this is the jewel of many a professional chef's knife collection. A wide blade and long length make this knife incredibly versatile, although it's particularly useful for chopping.

  • A Paring Knife A mini version of the traditional chef's knife, this small yet mighty paring knife is handy for small-scale tasks where a large blade might be unwieldy. It is frequently used for vegetable prep work, including everything from slicing and dicing vegetables to coring and chopping fruit.

  • A Serrated Knife Typically used for foods which have different inside and outside textures, a serrated knife is useful for slicing everything from tomatoes to bread.

The Nice-to-Haves

  • A Slicing Knife A necessity for carnivores (and those who feed them), this long, narrow knife is primarily used for cutting cooked proteins, including meat, chicken and fish.

Kitchen knives
Meat is no match for a high-quality slicing knife.

 

  • A Cleaver While a cleaver can perform many of the same tasks as a chef's knife in trained hands, it's also able to take on particularly difficult bones thanks to a heavy, rectangular blade.

  • A Boning Knife If you prefer to do your own butchery, you'll need access to a good boning knife. This thin, flexible knife features a five to seven inch blade, and is used to navigate the tricky task of separating raw fish, poultry, and meat from bone.

  • A Utility Knife Slightly larger than a utility knife and yet similar in form and function, a utility knife can be used for a number of tasks -- from mincing and dicing to peeling and slicing. It may also have a serrated edge, giving it additional benefits.

  • A Honing Steel While not technically a knife, a honing steel is essential to keeping your knives in tip-top shape. Also called a "sharpening steel," this tool promotes optimal knife performance by keeping the blade edges of your knife in alignment.

One last thing to keep in mind when it comes to assessing your knife needs? No knives with cracked, broken, wobbly or loose parts belong in your collection. These don't just up the risk of a knife-related injury, but can also be hard to clean because of trapped food.

When it comes to slicing, dicing, chopping and mincing, all knives are not created equally. This handy guide can help you determine which will make the most useful additions to your kitchen. Want to get your collection off to a sharp start? Register with Cilantro Cooks.com, your one-stop-shop for all things cooking, to receive 500 reward points toward your future purchases.