Recipes & Skills >> Browse Articles >> Techniques / Guides


Types of Knives

Types of Knives

The Culinary Institute of America

A wide array of knives is available to suit specific functions. As you continue to work in professional kitchens, your knife kit will grow to encompass not only the basics—chef’s or French knife, boning knife, paring knife, and slicer—but also a number of special knives.

This list is intended as a guide to the knives that may be found in nearly any well-outfitted knife kit—

Chef’s knife or French knife This all-purpose knife is used for a variety of chopping, slicing, and mincing chores. The blade is normally 8 to 12 inches long.

Utility knife This smaller, lighter chef’s knife is used for light cutting chores. The blade is generally 5 to 8 inches long.

Paring knife This short knife, used for paring and trimming vegetables and fruits, has a 2- to 4- inch blade.

Boning knife A boning knife is used to separate raw meat from the bone. The blade, which is thinner and shorter than the blade of a chef’s knife, is about 6 inches long and is usually rigid.

Related Culinary Guides

Filleting knife Used for filleting fish, this knife is similar in shape and size to a boning knife, but is thinner and with a more flexible blade.

Slicer This knife is generally used for slicing cooked meat, and is also suitable for food such as smoked salmon. It has a long blade with a round or pointed tip. The blade may be flexible or rigid and may be taper-ground or have a fluted edge.

Cleaver Used for chopping, the cleaver is often heavy enough to cut through bones. It has a rectangular blade and varies in size according to its intended use.

Tourné knife This small knife, similar to a paring knife, has a curved blade to make cutting the curved surfaces of tournéed vegetables easier.

Don’t Miss This Great Related Content!
The Parts of a Knife
How to Sharpen Knives
6 Ways to Care for Your Knives
How to Buy a Chef’s Knife

Return to Knives 101 Home

Reprinted by permission from The Culinary Institute of America, The Professional Chef, 8th Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2006).