When you are doing a job, it’s important to have the right tools. Without them, it’s going to take longer and you may not get the finish you were looking for. Can you hammer a nail in with a wrench? Sure but it isn’t as efficient and may leave you with a mess afterward. Whether it’s carpentry, painting, or scrapbooking, having the right tools for the job is essential. The same goes for cooking.

Everyone has experience using a knife to prepare food. There’s chopping and dicing going on for fruit, vegetables, and meat and when you use the right knife for the job, things go way easier. We’ve all seen the knife sets with varying sizes and styles and they look pretty cool. Wouldn’t you like to know what all those knives can do?

Here are seven types of cooking knives and their uses:

Type #1: Chef’s Knives

These types of cooking knives are the workhorses in your kitchen. If you could pick only one knife to use for all your food prep and cooking, the chef’s knife is the one you want. This “Cook’s Knife” has a wide, long blade that tapers to a fine tip to support a rocking motion when cutting. Its curved blade is for large-scale cutting and can handle thicker produce easily.

This multi-purpose knife is ideal for chopping, dicing, slicing, and mincing. It’s also great for deboning and filleting. Make sure these types of knives are properly maintained, which can be done through a knife sharpening service.

Type #2: Santoku Knives

The Santoku is a Japanese knife, similar to the chef’s knife. They are a very versatile knife with a flat blade for precision cutting and are used in a more up and down motion rather than rocking back and forth. They typically have dimpling along the sides to prevent food from sticking and its long, broad blade is great for scooping up food from your cutting board to the pan.

Santoku means “three benefits” and is excellent for cutting, dicing, and mincing. It’s worth trying out the different feel and cutting action of a Santoku knife to a chef’s knife. Both knives have a place in your kitchen.

Type #3: Utility Knives

Most knife sets come with this knife and it’s very handy. It’s a smaller version of a chef’s knife and works well for tasks like chopping small vegetables. They come in various sizes with a straight edge or serrated so it works well with tomatoes and citrus. If your chef’s knife seems a bit too big for the job, grab your utility knife to tackle the work.

These types of knives are ideal for smaller tasks like chopping finer produce, fruit, and soft cheeses.

Type #4: Paring Knives

We all have used paring knives and for good reason. They are great for cutting and peeling when you are not using a board. It has a short blade with a pointed tip and is light and easy to handle. You use it for precision and delicate work because it is so maneuverable and portable.

These types of knives are great for peeling, de-seeding, trimming, and well as dicing small vegetables, and deveining shrimp.

Type #5: Bread Knives

If you like to bake your own bread or buy whole loaves and buns, you need a bread knife. They have long, serrated blades with grooved edges to effectively saw through your loaf without crushing it down. They are also good for evening out cakes too.

The best uses are for various breads like buns, bagels, brioche, rolls and baguette. They even do well with tomatoes and citrus.

Type #6: Carving Knives

Your carving knife will be the longest knife in your kitchen and is used for slicing meats. It has a slim tapered design with a sharp point and because it is narrow, it doesn’t have much drag as it slices through food. This allows for nice uniform slices of meat.

Besides meat, they are good for cutting larger fruit and vegetables too. And when you want perfect slices of cake, reach for your carving knife for smooth cutting.

Type #7: Butcher’s Knives

This is an easily recognizable knife but one you might not use often. The butcher’s knife or “Cleaver” has a large, flat rectangular blade and they are among the heaviest knives. They come in various sizes and have a hole in the corner so they can be hung up. This knife is efficient at butchery because of its size and weight and cutting raw meat and bone is its forte. It’s a well balanced, sturdy knife for when you need to bring out the big guns.

Beyond these knives lay many other ones that have specific and crossover purposes and you can decide if you want to add them to your kitchen. They include:

  • Nakiri
  • Boning
  • Filleting
  • Tomato
  • Peeling
  • Steak
  • Fluting
  • Trimming
  • Mincing
  • Garnishing
  • Cheese

Using kitchen knives when cooking is very satisfying. While there are many gadgets that can do slicing and dicing, using a knife is an extension of your hand. With practice, you build up a skillset and your cuts become faster and more precise, making food prep a breeze. Now go out there and build your own kitchen knife collection.