Kitchen Knives 101: The Only 5 Types of Knives You Need in Your Kitchen

Designed to chop, carve, slice, and dice, knives come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and sets. But for everyday use, you only need these five basic kinds, which are serrated knives, Chef’s knives, paring knives, butcher knives, and boning knives. 

Remember, when you’re shopping for knives, the key is always to find the ones that feel comfortable and balanced in your hand. After that, it’s up to you to keep your shiny stainless steel blades—as well as your knife skills—sharp.

Now, folks, let’s take a deeper look at which types of knives you should have in your kitchen and how to correctly use them!

Serrated Knife

Serrated Knife | 5 Knives You Need in Kitchen | Baan Somtum

Serrated knives have a saw-like edge that is super useful for slashing through foods with waxy surfaces and skin, such as tomatoes, pineapples, watermelons, citrus, and peppers. A serrated knife’s blade length is usually 6 inches long. Keep in mind that serrated knives should only be used for slicing, rather than chopping foods. 

Chef’s Knife

Say hello to the ultimate workhorse of the kitchen! Chef’s knives are ideal for slicing and dicing meats, fish, vegetables, and fruits. It makes chopping, dicing, and mincing much, much easier than other knives, and it can turn out to be more fun! 

While a chef’s knife may be the most versatile knife in your kitchen, it should not be used to butcher or carve chicken, or to remove the skin off of large, thick vegetables. The broadness of a chef’s knife blade makes it too large and cumbersome for tasks better suited to a smaller knife. Don’t forget to use the flat side to smash garlic, however!

Chef's Knife | 5 Knives You Need in Kitchen | Baan Somtum
Paring Knife | 5 Knives You Need in Kitchen | Baan Somtum

Paring Knife

his three-to-four-inch knife nimbly peels green papayas for your favorite som tum, cores tomatoes, and deveins shrimps easier than all the other types of knives. The paring knife’s short blade allows for precise trimming, coring, and peeling, that’s why it’s best for slicing and mincing ingredients like garlic, or peeling fruits and vegetables.

Avoid using paring knives to cut tough vegetables like carrots. These smaller knives aren’t big enough, so they don’t carry enough weight to easily slice through foods which are bigger in size, as it will make you increase the pressure or tighten your grip as you’re cutting or slicing. Forcing the cut means that you’re not using the right type of knife, and it can be dangerous, too, causing the knife to slip and potentially injure yourself, which is really not what you want to do!

Butcher Knife

Butcher Knife | 5 Knives You Need in Kitchen | Baan Somtum

A butcher knife is used to chop up raw meat, either as part of the butchery process or to divide it into smaller portions before cooking. The large, bulky blade means that it can even cut through bones, making it one of the best knives to prep raw meat. The broad, flat, and heavy blade surface has also proven time and time again to be very useful for crushing garlic, cloves, or ginger against a chopping board, too!

Boning Knife

Boning Knife | 5 Knives You Need in Kitchen | Baan Somtum

A boning knife is the best blade for cutting up or boning fish, meat, or chicken of any size. When it comes to anything with a ribcage and joints, you need a blade that can nimbly move around, which is where the boning knife comes in.

One important thing to keep in mind is that a boning knife should not be used to cut through bones, but rather to cut around bones. A good boning knife will have the flexibility to deftly separate meat from bone as well as slice through joints, cartilage, and ribcage.