Selection of chef knives on chopping board

Choosing the right knife

Having a decent set of sharp kitchen knives is really important. It will make cookery prep almost effortless, not to mention more safe.

But you do not have to spend a fortune, nor buy knives for specific jobs such as a filleting knife if you already buy ready prepared meat and fish.

The basic knives which cover most kitchen tasks are:

Vegetable knife

Vegetable Knife

This is a small pointed blade which is useful for fiddly jobs such as segmenting fruit, deveining prawns and trimming or shaping vegetables. A cheap one will be fine and should not require regular sharpening

Serrated knife

Serrated Knife

Useful for slicing tomatoes and other soft fruit. It does not require any sharpening and they are cheap to buy.

Cook's/Chef's knife

Chef's knife

This is the knife that gets the most use as it is the most versatile. Use it for everyday prep such as chopping veg, meat, herbs, nuts and for portioning up food. They vary in length and weight so it is best to try out a few before you buy if possible to find out what feels more comfortable to use. This is a knife worth spending money on. Ensure you choose the right sharpener too.

Bread knife

Bread Knife

This has a long, serrated blade and is designed to cut through bread without squashing or crumbling. Use also for splitting cakes and carving roasts. They need not be expensive but often come as part of a set in a knife block

Filleting knife

Filleting Knife

This knife has a flexible blade which is ideal for filleting fish, especially flat fish as it enables you to slice along the bones and remove the skin easily.

Carving knife and fork

Carving knife and fork

This long, sharp knife often comes with a matching carving fork to make light work of slicing roasted meat



A popular Japanese-style knife with a rounded end which is made for slicing and chopping. It has dimples in the blade to help thin slices for sticking to the blade.

Types of metal

Selection of knives on wooden chopping board

You can choose various types of metal which have pros and cons:

  • Stainless steel - cheapest, but requires regular sharpening.
  • Carbon steel - harder, more expensive and easier to keep sharp.
  • Damascus looks amazing as the knife is mottled. This is because a carbon steel core is surrounded by layers of soft and hard stainless steel, creating a knife that is hard and razor sharp.
  • Ceramic 10 times harder than carbon steel, yet so much lighter. They also retain their edge for longer, so they don’t need to be sharpened. However, they are more prone to chipping.