Basic Knife Skills for Home Cooks

February 26, 2019

Are you wondering how to hone your basic knife skills for the home kitchen? Alex and I have created a resource of everything you need to know about knife skills! In the Basic Knife Skills below, we share our best chef knife, how to hold a knife, how to care for your knives, and a bit of basic info about different cuts (chop, dice, and mince). Then, we’ve got a separate videos for the best way to cut 18 different common fruits and vegetables! We hope that our basic knife skills videos can be a tried and true resource for you and your friends and family as you navigate the kitchen.

Our best chef knife

Basic knife skills | Best knife: 7" chef knife

People ask us all the time, what is the best chef knife you recommend? Here’s our best chef knife: a 7″ chef knife, which fits well into both small and large hands. Alex likes to use a huge knife, so we also have a 10″ chef knife. Keep in mind that a good knife will last quite a long time: ours have lasted over 10 years so far! So it’s a great investment. If you’re looking for a more budget knife, we’ve recommended an 8″ affordable chef’s knife. A few other essential knives for the kitchen are a paring knife and a serrated knife for cutting bread and tomatoes. These recommendations are perfect for outfitting your own kitchen, or great gifts for a wedding registry or someone who loves to cook!

  • 7″ Chef’s Knife — our best knife recommendation; the one used in the video!
  • 10″ Chef’s Knife — our favorite large knife
  • 8″ Chef’s Knife — our favorite affordable knife
  • Paring Knife
  • Serrated Knife / Bread Knife
  • Related: Our favorite vegetable peelers

How to hold a knife

Basic knife skills | How to hold a knife: incorrect
Basic knife skills | How to hold a knife: correct

THE MOST important thing you can learn to enhance your basic knife skills is how to hold a knife! Do not place your finger on the blade of the knife, or hold right at the start of the handle. Instead, get a firm grip on the knife handle right where the handle meets the blade. This will give you maximum control over the knife while you’re cutting.

Master the motion of how to cut

Basic knife skills | Cut in a circular motion

Once you’ve mastered how to hold a knife, you can practice the motion of how to cut. This motion is also essential for your basic knife skills! When you’re dicing, mincing, or slicing, you’ll use a circular motion with the knife. Use the end of the knife blade to help balance. You can practice using this type of motion without even cutting anything. Watch the video for this one, since it’s easiest to understand when you see it in action.

How to sharpen a knife

Basic knife skills | Knife sharpener

How to sharpen a knife? And how often? Alex and I actually get our knives professionally sharpened: there are a few stores in our city that offer knife sharpening. There is also a knife sharpening vendor that comes to our farmer’s market. Without a home sharpener, get your knives professionally sharpened every 6 months. Ask around to find a professional sharpener in your city.

How to clean knives

Basic knife skills | Never put your knife in the dishwasher

Never, never put your chef knife in the dishwasher! Putting a chef’s knife in the dishwasher causes the blade to dull faster. Always wash your chef knife with soap and water and dry it completely before storing it.

The best way to store kitchen knives

Basic knife skills | Best knife: 7" chef knife

So, what’s the best way to store knives? Above all, do not store your chef knives loose in a drawer! This causes the knives to become dull and is a safety hazard! Instead, use a knife block, magnetic strip, or a our favorite option, a drawer organizer. Since we have a toddler, we’ve found a drawer organizer with a child lock is a slick and safe way to store knives. Here’s the drawer organizer that we use:

  • Drawer Knife Organizer

What is chopped, diced, and minced?

Basic knife skills | Chopped

Here are some basic knife skills and how to distinguish between some common cuts. Chopped refers to cutting into rough, irregular pieces.

Basic knife skills | Diced

Diced refers to cutting into smaller, more uniform pieces, usually about 1/4″ squares.

Basic knife skills | Minced

Minced refers to cutting something into a very small dice.

And that’s it: basic knife skills for home cooks! Ready for all the vegetables?

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