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Product Roundup

The Best Paring Knives You Can Buy Right Now

published Jun 25, 2021
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Most professionals, myself included, will argue that you really only need three knives to complete most kitchen tasks: a chef’s knife, serrated knife, and paring knife. (Of course need and want are two different things!) But you’re here, reading this post, so you know I’m going to focus on that last knife for now: the tiny-yet-mighty paring knife. 

Paring knives are great for prep tasks, like slicing fruit, cheese, shallots, and more. And because of their small, thin blades, they’re precise, making them ideal for deveining shrimp, coring tomatoes, peeling apples, and hulling strawberries. When you want accuracy and dexterity, a paring knife is the right choice for the job. 

Not all paring knives are the same, though. Some are bigger than others. Some have large handles or barely-there grips. And some are far too dull, even right out of the box. Which is why I rounded up dozens of paring knives from some of the top brands out there and put them to the test. I evaluated how sharp the knives were, how maneuverable they were, and how comfortable they were to hold. Here’s what I found out. 

Credit: Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
Some of the knives I tried.

The Best Paring Knives

The Tests

  • Hold a sheet of printer paper vertically and slice through it, to gauge initial sharpness.
  • Slice a tomato. 
  • Hull strawberries. 
  • Peel and segment an orange. 
  • Peel an apple. 
  • Wash each knife by hand after every test. 
  • Hold a sheet of printer paper vertically and slice through it, to gauge final sharpness.

Why You Should Trust Us

I’m the Tools Editor at Kitchn and a professional kitchen equipment tester. I previously worked at America’s Test Kitchen and my reviews on topics like stand mixers, induction burners, toaster ovens, and multicookers have been published in Cook’s Illustrated, Cook’s Country, and on the America’s Test Kitchen website. My work has also been featured on America’s Test Kitchen’s and Cook’s Country’s television programs. I also have a slight obsession with kitchen knives.

Credit: Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
If a paring knife couldn't easily slice through a tomato without tearing the skin (like top) it was a no-go.

What to Consider When Buying a Paring Knife

How Sharp & Maneuverable Is It?

For kitchen tasks that require precision, like mincing shallots, deveining shrimp, and peeling fruit, you want a knife that’s sharp and stays that way. To gauge how initially sharp the knives were, I held a piece of copy paper tightly in one hand and tried to slice through it with each knife (getting a new piece of paper each time, of course). A sharp knife should easily glide through the paper. I repeated this test at the end of testing, too, to see which knives retained their edge. 

The best paring knives are razor-sharp and stay that way. They are able to not only cleanly slice paper, but also tomatoes without squishing the fruit. They should also be able to peel apples, and peel and segment oranges. They also have sharp, pointed tips that easily hull strawberries. 

A great paring knife has to be nimble, too, to match the small tasks their stature excels at. The length of the blade has a lot to do with this. I find knives that have 3.25- to 3.50-inch blades to be the ideal length. Anything shorter and it’s too small to easily slice through a whole tomato; anything larger and it’s too difficult to peel fruit or hull strawberries. 

There are some other factors that also impact dexterity: the lightness of the knife, flexibility of the blade, and the thickness and width of the blade. As far as I’m concerned, the lighter the paring knife, the better and easier it is to use. A blade that’s slightly flexible is also helpful, as it really hugs the curve of fruit and is able to fit into tighter, precise spaces. A thick knife blade adds weight and makes the knife feel unwieldy in hand. And a wider knife blade is too large for delicate tasks, like hulling strawberries or peeling apples. 

Credit: Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
A lot of the paring knives had different styles of handles (my overall favorite paring knife is right).

How Comfortable Is the Handle? 

Among all of the paring knives I tried, there were a lot of different handle styles. Some have big, thick handles, while others have squared corners or super-slim handles. Of these, I like the latter the most, as they feel the most comfortable in hand. Thicker and/or longer handles make the knife feel less dexterous and add weight. However, this is also a matter of personal preference — as some people (like my 6’8” husband) dislike the feel of a featherlight paring knife in hand, and would rather have something a bit bulkier to hold onto.

What We Look for in a Paring Knife

I judged all of the paring knives on the following criteria, on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being the worst and 5 being the best).

  • Sharpness: How sharp is the knife? 
  • Dexterity: How nimble and maneuverable is it? 
  • Comfort: Is the knife comfortable to hold and use? 

Best Overall: Victorinox Straight Edge Paring Knife

This knife is inexpensive, super sharp, and, dollar for dollar, the best paring knife you can buy. It has a thin, nimble blade that easily slices through tomatoes and peels apples and peels and segments oranges. It also has an agile, pointed tip that easily hulls strawberries. Its thin, fairly long plastic handle feels comfortable in hands of all sizes and is easy to choke up on and securely grip. It’s ergonomic and feels like it was molded just for your hand. Is it fancy? No. But it works incredibly well.  


  • Blade length: 3.25 in
  • Blade width: 0.30 in
  • Blade thickness: 0.013 in
  • Handle length: 4.25 in
  • Weight: 0.7 oz

Rating Criteria

  • Sharpness: 5
  • Dexterity: 5
  • Comfort: 5

Who it’s best for: Anyone in need of a nimble, inexpensive paring knife. 
Good to know: This knife is also available in fun colored handles, like pink, orange, green, and yellow — all of which are less than $9. 

Best for Small Hands: Global Classic Paring Knife

Like almost all Global knives, this paring knife has a dimpled handle. This style can be polarizing — and I find people either really like or really don’t like it. Personally, I love it. While the knife is heavier than the Victorinox, the handle is super grippy and has an inlet that’s comfortable for your fingers to rest in. It’s also incredibly sharp and works well for slicing, peeling, and hulling. If you’re a fan of Global knives, you won’t be disappointed by this guy.


  • Blade length: 3.25 in
  • Blade width: 0.70 in
  • Blade thickness: 0.03 in 
  • Handle length: 3.6 in
  • Weight: 2.1 oz

Rating Criteria

  • Sharpness: 5
  • Dexterity: 4.5
  • Comfort: 4

Who it’s best for: Those who are fans of Global knives or would like to try out a handle that’s different from the norm.
Good to know: This knife is also available in a 3-inch size.

I also want to call out this knife, which is totally different compared to the Global option above, but is still incredibly comfortable to hold. It has a thin, rounded handle that’s cushy and grippy. It’s lightweight, sharp, and nimble and it’s easy to slice and peel with. Its tip curves slightly upwards, which means it takes more finesse to hull strawberries and that the blade feels a bit short for slicing tomatoes. However, it’s still an incredibly nimble, fantastic paring knife. 


  • Blade length: 3.5 in
  • Blade width: 0.45 in
  • Blade thickness: 0.02 in
  • Handle length: 3.75 in
  • Weight: 2.1 oz

Rating Criteria

  • Sharpness: 5
  • Dexterity: 3.5
  • Comfort: 5

Who it’s best for: If you’d like a lightweight paring knife with a rounded, comfortable handle.
Good to know: This knife’s handle is available in some cool colors, like Lilac Grey and Blue Grey. If you want a set of knives with matching handles, Material also makes a serrated knife and chef’s knife.

Best Heavier Option: Misen Paring Knife

For those who would prefer a heavier, more substantial-feeling paring knife, this is an excellent choice. Its blade is wider and its handle bulkier, which makes it harder to maneuver during more dexterous tasks, like hulling strawberries. However, you may well like a knife with a little heft. And that being said, it’s still super-sharp, fairly lightweight, and nimble. And while it’s not nearly as cheap as the Victorinox, it’s reasonably priced at $30. I also really like the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro 3-Inch Paring Knife, which has a shorter and slightly wider blade, but is otherwise similar to the Misen in terms of design. 


  • Blade length: 3.25 in 
  • Blade width: 0.80 in 
  • Blade thickness: 0.024 in 
  • Handle length: 3.75 in
  • Weight: 2.9 oz

Rating Criteria

  • Sharpness: 5
  • Dexterity: 3.5
  • Comfort: 4

Who it’s best for: If you’d prefer a knife with some heft over one that’s featherlight. 
Good to know: This knife is available as part of a knife set

Best for Big Hands: Shun Classic Paring Knife

If you have large hands and find shorter paring knives too, ahem, short (or just prefer a bigger knife) a slightly longer paring knife could be a good fit. This model by Shun has a rounded, comfortable handle that feels comfortable in hand and grippy. Its blade is wider, but still nimble, and it has a sharp, pointed tip that is great for hulling strawberries. Because it is longer, it feels less maneuverable at times. However, its slightly larger size means it easily slices through whole tomatoes. This knife is also available in a 3 1/2-inch blade, which is worthwhile to check out, too.


  • Blade length: 4 in 
  • Blade width: 0.85 in
  • Blade thickness: 0.024 in
  • Handle length: 3.60 in
  • Weight: 2.3 oz

Rating Criteria

  • Sharpness: 5
  • Dexterity: 3
  • Comfort: 5

Who it’s best for: If you’d prefer a longer paring knife instead of, or in addition to, a shorter one.
Good to know: This knife is definitely a splurge price-wise, but I’ve had a Shun paring knife for about 7 years and am incredibly happy with its quality. (And it’s my husband’s go-to!)

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