Many people survive with just two or three kitchen knives in their arsenal, but the reality is that there are literally dozens of different types of kitchen knives. Some of the differences between knives are dramatic and obvious; some of them are quite subtle. But each of the types has its own advantages and uses.

We give a quick overview of some of the various types below. Click through to get more information and our recommended choices in each category.

Chef knives

Chef knivesA chef’s knife is the staple of any kitchen. If you’re only going to have one knife, start here. It’s also known as a cook’s knife and is the go-to knife when you’re chopping, dicing and mincing.

Paring knives

Paring knivesAnother must-have in any kitchen is the paring knife. Its small size and fine blade make it perfect for delicate jobs like coring fruit or seeding chillies.

Utility knives

Utility knivesUtility knives like a smaller version of a bread knife, with a serrated blade between four and seven inches in length. They’re great for vegetable prep, and can go by various names, including tomato knife or sandwich knife.

Boning knives

Boning knivesA must for serious chefs who like to get the most out of their cuts of meat, the boning knife is a serious bit of kit that will remove bones and cut through ligaments and connective tissues.

Bread knives

Bread knivesAnother household staple, and a familiar sight in most kitchens. It resembles a larger version of a utility knife, with a large serrated blade perfect for slicing through piles of sandwiches.

Carving knives

Carving knivesOne of the ‘glamour’ knives, thanks to its starring role in proceedings at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Carving knives have a blade that’s sharp, fine and very long – specially designed to allow thin, precise slicing of meats.

Peeling knives

Peeling knivesSimilar to the paring knife, peeling knives have a short, downward-curved blade. They’re intended for peeling vegetables and digging into the flesh to remove blemishes.

Trimming knives

Trimming knivesSmaller than a boning knife, but used for much the same purpose, only on a more delicate scale. Also used for creating garnishes such as radish roses and carrot swirls.


CleaversUsed for ‘cleaving’ meat and bone, the cleaver is a staple in horror movies. Its instantly-recognizable rectangular blade is thick, heavy and very sharp, making it perfect for chopping up steaks or unsuspecting teenagers.

Mincing knives (or mezza lunas)

Mincing knives (or mezza lunas)Looking almost as terrifying as the cleaver, the mincing knife will be far more useful in most home kitchens. Also known as the mezza luna because of its distinctive half-moon shape, it’s used for finely chopping vegetables and herbs.

Fluting Knives

Fluting knives

Fluting knives are used for delicate peeling and creating decorations. It functions well as a trimmer for removing excess fat when larger knives are too big to maneuver. It also works well for fluting or for cutting small pockets in meats for stuffing.