How sharp is your knife knowledge? We're taking you on a tour of your knife block to show you what each of its common components looks like and what it does best.
The Basic Knife Block
What to Know About a Knife Block
One size fits all doesn't quite apply when it comes to buying a knife block. The selection and amount of knives can vary, and price can start as low as $25 and go up to $600 and higher. This is an example of an introductory knife block; one that you'd find for about $40 or less. Expect these blocks to contain the essential knives that you're likely to use on a regular basis, as well as some that you might not need or use very often — especially if you don't know what they are.
1. Steak Knife
Placed on the table, steak knives are the tool to reach for cutting all the foods on your dinner plate.
2. Chef's Knife
Consider your chef's knife the do-it-all, multi-purpose knife in the block. Ranging from six to 14 inches long and about one-and-a-half inches wide, with a blade that curves into a sharp tip, this knife is used for slicing, dicing, and chopping everything from produce and herbs, to meat and nuts.
Read More: 5 More Ways to Use a Chef's Knife
3. Slicing Knife
Sometimes referred to as a carving knife, use this knife to slice or cut larger pieces of meat just before serving.
4. Serrated Knife
Also referred to as a bread knife, this long, jagged blade does its best work slicing through large loaves of bread, and other foods that are hard on the outside and soft on the inside. Tomatoes come to mind.
Read More: 5 Ways to Use a Serrated Knife
5. Paring Knife
This tiny knife, with a blade typically between three and five inches long, is like a mini version of your chef's knife. Use it for small tasks, like peeling and coring fruits and vegetables.
Read More: 5 More Ways to Use a Paring Knife
6. Vegetable Knife
The name says it all. This knife is meant for slicing, dicing, and chopping fresh fruits and vegetables. Despite its more pointed tip, it's quite similar to a utility knife.
7. Utility Knife
Smaller than a chef's knife and larger than a paring knife, this lightweight tool can have a straight or serrated blade that ranges in size from four to seven inches long. Grab this knife from the block to cut fruits, veggies, herbs, and cheese.
Read More: 5 Ways to Use a Utility Knife
8. Tomato Knife
Roughly the size of a utility knife, with a serrated blade, the aptly named knife cuts tomatoes like a dream. You can also use if for tasks where a bread knife is too large, for example cutting hard pieces of cured meats, like salami and pepperoni. Most tomato knives also have a sharp, two-pronged tip ideal for coring.
9. Cheese Knife
This is hardly an essential knife, but potentially a nice one to have around if you're a cheese-lover. As its name implies, this small knife is best for slicing through soft and hard blocks of cheese.
Not in the Block, but Still Noteworthy
1. Boning Knife
With a thin, somewhat flexible blade, this type of knife is primarily used for cutting the bones out of small cuts of meat and poultry.
2. Santoku Knife
Similar to a chef's knife, this is a general-purpose kitchen knife with Japanese roots. This style of knife has a wider, straight blade that gradually curves upward at the tip, and ranges from five to seven inches in length.
This large, rectangular knife has a heavy, rigid blade and is used for splitting meat and bones. The flat edge can also be used to pound meat and crush small ingredients like garlic cloves and whole spices.
4. Tourne Knife
This specialty knife, sometimes referred to as a bird's beak knife, is typically smaller than a paring knife, with a blade that curves upward. It's commonly used to make a cut called a tournée with firm vegetables, like potatoes, carrots, and turnips. It can also be used to peel small pieces of fruit.