types of knives and how to use them

Types Of Knives: How To Use The 4 Most Common Knives​

Earn a free micro-certificate with a quick quiz!

Who is this micro-class for

* Waiters and restaurant staff

* Restaurant guests

* House-party hosts and guests

What you’ll learn

* The most common types of knives and how to use them

Resources

* Less than 5 minutes to complete

About this micro-class

Knives come in various types, each designed for specific purposes. Here is a list of common types of knives and some specialized knives, and how to appropriately use them.

1. Common types of knives

There are 4 common types of knives that you are likely to find on a formal table setting. Use them according to the general rules of cutlery etiquette.

Dinner knife

Description: A large, blunt-edged knife with a rounded tip.
Average Size: Approximately 8 to 10 inches.
Use: Used for cutting main course items, such as meat and poultry.
How to Use: Hold the handle with your dominant hand, and use a fork in the other hand to stabilize the food while cutting.

Fish knife

Description: A narrow, pointed knife with a slightly curved blade.
Average Size: About 8 to 10 inches.
Use: Specifically designed for cutting and filleting fish.
How to Use: Hold the handle gently, and use a fork to steady the fish while slicing along the bone.

Dessert knife

Description: A smaller and often narrower knife with a blunt edge and a pointed tip. It may have a slightly serrated or straight edge, depending on the specific design.

Average Size: From 6 to 8 inches in length.

Use: Used for cutting and eating desserts, such as cakes, pastries, and pies. They are designed to facilitate the delicate cutting of sweet treats without squishing or damaging them.

How to Use: Hold the dessert knife gently and use it to cut through dessert items with a smooth, controlled motion. It’s important to avoid using excessive force to maintain the presentation of the dessert.

Fruit knife

Description: A small, usually curved knife with a narrow, pointed blade. The blade may be straight or serrated, depending on the specific design. Some fruit knives have a forked tip for picking up fruit pieces.

Average Size: From 3 to 4 inches in length.

Use: Designed for peeling, slicing, and preparing various types of fruits. They are particularly useful for fruits with delicate or thin skins, such as apples, pears, and citrus fruits.

How to Use: Hold the fruit knife with a secure grip and use it to peel or slice fruits as needed. The curved blade allows for precise and controlled cuts.

2. Types of specialized knives

There are a few types of specialized knives in dining etiquette. Specialized knives are not always present on the dining table at the beginning of the meal.

Butter knife

Description: A small, flat knife with a rounded tip.
Average Size: Typically 6 inches.
Use: Used for spreading butter or other condiments on bread or rolls.
How to Use: Hold the handle and apply gentle pressure to spread the butter evenly.

Steak knife

Description: A sharp, serrated knife.
Average Size: Around 4 to 5 inches.
Use: Designed for cutting through cooked steak and other tough meats.
How to Use: Hold the handle firmly and saw back and forth to cut meat.

3. Common types of cooking knives

Cooking knives are common utensils in the kitchen. However, you are unlikely to find them at the dining table.

Chef's knife

Description: A versatile, multipurpose knife with a broad, pointed blade.
Average Size: Typically 8 to 10 inches.
Use: Ideal for chopping, slicing, and dicing a variety of ingredients.
How to Use: Hold the handle with a firm grip and use a rocking motion for efficient chopping.

Paring knife

Description: A small, sharp knife with a pointed tip.
Average Size: Usually 3 to 4 inches.
Use: Suitable for precise tasks like peeling, trimming, and garnishing.
How to Use: Hold the handle delicately and make controlled, detailed cuts.

Bread knife

Description: A long knife with a serrated edge.
Average Size: Generally 8 to 10 inches.
Use: Designed for slicing bread without squishing it.
How to Use: Gently saw through the bread with minimal downward pressure.

Utility knife

Description: A smaller version of the chef’s knife, with a narrow blade.
Average Size: Typically 4 to 6 inches.
Use: Versatile for various cutting tasks, from slicing to trimming.
How to Use: Hold the handle securely and adapt to the specific task at hand.

Test Your Knowledge and Earn a Free Micro-certificate

Earn a free micro-certificate with a quick quiz!

Additional resources & links