Santoku Vs. Chef’s Knife: The Difference In Cuts And Use

bell pepper, seasonings and a kitchen knife

My dad loves knives. We have so many of them, people. It’s a little ridiculous. However, one of the things I remember from my childhood is my dad explicitly telling me the difference between a santoku vs. chef's knife: Santokus were for thin cuts, and chef's knives were for meat and hard stuff.

Being a young child, I blindly chose to believe what he said, of course. The truth is, though, I didn't know whether or not he was right. He said the word "santoku," so it sounded legit.

To my small child brain, I thought all knives did the same thing: They cut stuff. While it may appear that way, that is not the case.

Knives Serve Different Purposes

There are so many different kinds of knives that, if you’re inexperienced, it can seem really intimidating. However, different knives really are necessary for every aspect of the kitchen.

Some knives are better suited for cutting veggies, while others are for meat. For example, you need to know what is a paring knife. These small knives are suitable for peeling and chopping. There are also cleavers, which are good for cutting through the hard stuff.

The world of knives is vast and full of choices, but there is a debate that is particularly significant in the knife world: santoku vs. chef's knife.

Santoku Vs. Chef's Knife: The Main Differences

These knives may seem remarkably similar, but they really do have their differences. The santoku originated in Japan, while the chef’s knife originated in Germany and France.

A santoku knife doesn’t come to a point at the tip of the blade like a chef’s knife does. A chef’s knife is heavier, and the spine of the knife is usually thicker to add weight.

Another thing that differs between the knives is the sharpening process. Since a santoku is thinner steel, you’ll need to use a wet whetstone to sharpen them, as a sharpening steel is bad for the blade. However, a chef’s knife will be sharpened best with a sharpening steel.

Santoku Knives

Santoku knives are not hard to come by. You can find a plethora of options online and in stores. When you purchase a santoku knife, it’s important to understand the knife you’re buying. If you just choose one randomly, and it doesn’t have all the benefits of a good santoku, the debate of santoku vs. chef’s knife will quickly be lost on you.

Where do they come from?

What do they do?

When to use them

Chef's Knives

Now that you know all about the santoku, it's time to discuss the other side: the chef's knife.

Chef's knives are easy to find and more common in most kitchens than a santoku. They're heavier, pointier, and thicker, and most people use them for cutting thicker slices.

When you're searching for a good chef's knife, keep in mind that they are not all created equal. The market may be wide, but that does not mean that some won't crumble at the first sign of a chicken breast. There is a chef's knife out there for everybody, and it's worth the wait to find the perfect one for you.

Despite the differences between a santoku vs. chef's knife, one thing is the same: safety. Chef's knives are incredibly sharp, and you need to handle them with care. They also form more of a point than a santoku, so be careful not to prick a finger while you're cutting your pork chops.

The history of chef's knives

The purpose of a chef's knife

Best times to use chef's knives

Do You Need Both?

The question of a santoku vs. chef's knife raises an important question: Do you need both?

The short answer is yes. A santoku and a chef's knife are two separate entities, and if you don't have both, you may find yourself disappointed in your cheese platters or staring at your pork chops with disdain. Though it may seem redundant to have both, some things work better together.

Of course, whether or not you actually purchase one, the other, or both depends on your specific needs. The types of foods you eat and the tasks you find yourself performing with knives frequently will determine what you need. You can find the best knife in the world, but if you're not using it, it's not doing you any good.

Don't Cut The Cord

Once you think you found the perfect knives for you, don't be afraid to branch out. If you've compared a santoku vs. chef's knife and decided you prefer one over the other, it's never too late to change your mind.

Cooking can be an exciting hobby. Not only that, but it'll save you money in the long run. What you're going to put in your body is something you have control over, and when you're cooking, you make every call.

You don't have to be Gordon Ramsay to love cooking, and you don't have to be Gordon Ramsay to want to know about your utensils. The utensils are going to guide you and provide you with the support you need to continue cooking. Knowing what you're cooking and the difference between a santoku vs. chef's knife is just the first step, but it's necessary.

Okay, at this point, I've concluded that my dad was mostly right about the difference between a santoku vs. chef's knife. It was a lesson I've held onto, and now, a lesson chefs in training like you can confirm.

What kind of knife is your favorite? What do you use your knives for? Let us know in the comments!


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