How To Use a Chef’s Knife and Paring Knife

I think that how to hold and use a Chef’s knife and Paring knife should be taught more. Most people end up buying a knife block at some point in their life, but they don’t have a clue how to even properly hold a knife. Now, this way is my own personal preference, but I imagine that a lot of you will like it better once you start doing it. This way allows you to have more control over what you are cutting and it keeps your fingers out of the way so you don’t chop your hand off. Which is actually quite important. 😉

Oh, and did I mention I’ve got a great giveaway for you too? BOOYAH!

Alright, let’s talk about how to use a chef’s knife and paring knife. Let’s start with the chef’s knife. I personally think that this is one of the most, if not THE most important knife you could own.

If you are an at home cook, whether you are just getting started or you focus mainly on cooking quick and easy dinners for your families there really is no need to go out and buy a $400 Chef’s knife. You can still find great knives and take good care of them and they will work perfectly for you.

Chicago Cutlery has a fantastic 8″ Chefs knife that has a great sharp edge and I love that it has a place right behind the blade and on the bolster where you can pinch your thumb and pointer finger.

The new Chicago Cutlery DesignPro line takes the guess work out of slicing, dicing and chopping with its innovative grip that will guide a home cook’s hand to the best position on the knife for superior cutting and control.
“All DesignPro knives have ultra-sharp, Japanese stainless steel blades that make cutting effortless. Steel runs from the tip of the knife to the end of the handle for durability and strength. DesignPro knives offer a full lifetime warranty.”

How to hold a chef’s knife
As pictured above, you’ll want to lay the knife in your hand with your last three fingers at the handle.

Close your last three fingers tightly around the handle, leaving your thumb and pointer finger out.

Now pinch the bolster (that thicker portion before the blade), or on some knives you’ll actually slide your hand up to the blade because the bolster is not as prominent. This allows you to keep control of the blade at all times.

Think of a paring knife as more of an extension to your fingers, than a blade sticking out. A paring knife is the perfect knife for close up work like, peeling, slicing slits in pastry dough etc. Again, you’ll notice on the Chicago Cutlery that you have the perfect indentation for your thumb, and you can easily keep a grip on the handle while peeling fruit etc.

When you are using the paring knife to peel, use your thumb to press against the fruit and pull the knife around to create even peels.

And of course I need to mention that when you are chopping, or cutting foods, it’s best to pull your fingers, grip the food with your finger tips in a claw shape, and press the knuckles forward. This way, if the knife slips, your knuckles keep the blade away from those tender finger tips. Also, try keeping the tip of your blade on the cutting board, if the food allows, and use a rocking motion to cut.

How to Peel Ginger

How To Clean Knives

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Carrian Cheney

Lover of all things beautiful, good and delicious. Wife, mother, friend, foodie.

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64 comments on “How To Use a Chef’s Knife and Paring Knife”

  1. Great article. Knives are an essential part of every kitchen. Without knives, it is impossible to work in kitchen. I always

    prefer to use good quality knives.

  2. What’s up with that last picture, cutting the lemon cucumber? Totally shifted the grip up onto the blade like you (correctly) said not to do!
    I tell folks to grab the handle like it’s a handle, like a hammer or tennis racket and never to put their index finger along the top of the blade. “I feel I have more control with my finger there” they usually say but then I have them do it and show how easily it is to twist the blade side to side when doing so, which will happen when they’re slicing something that has multiple textures like bread or a skinned fruit or squash or lotsa stuff.

    Gripping up high is like someone who chokes up on a hammer or baseball bat or tennis racket; seems easier to control but isn’t and robs you of power so that you have to use a lot more effort to do the same job. SLICING, i.e. moving the knife back and forth quickly, is the key to having good control of the blade and does a far superior job (instead of crushing but pushing straight down).
    Also, a big cutting board is just as essential as a good, big knife.

    • Oh, and I believe that the Chicago knife and others that have the finger-thumb indents are a compromise to encourage folks not to move up on the blade. Further back = more power, more speed, better slicing.

  3. I like kitchen gadgets, especially knives! 😉

  4. Follow you on twitter

  5. I like you on facebook

  6. Oh, I've wanted good knives for soo long. My dear husband just can't remember not to put my knives in the dishwasher. 🙂 so, they are getting so dull. Good knives make cooking so much less challenging! If I win these I will give my current chefs knife to my stepmother, because I seriously doubt anyone has worse knives than hers. Last time I was home I couldn't find one without rust spots. My dull one would be a vast improvement!!

  7. I would like to win these knives for my s.o. who could use them. His are flexible, serrated and oh-so-challenging to cut with. He doesn't know what he's missing!

  8. The reason I should win these Knives is because I would use these knives everyday & they would become my best buddy in the kitchen, It would be great to have a knife you could depend on …

  9. The reason I should win these Knives is because I would use these knives everyday & they would become my best buddy in the kitchen, It would be great to have a knife you could depend on …

  10. The reason I should win these Knives is because I would use these knives everyday & they would become my best buddy in the kitchen, It would be great to have a knife you could depend on …

  11. I've been talking about how I really need to learn how to properly use a knife and thank goodness for your blog! I am always worried about missing an onion and getting my finger instead..
    following you on Facebook too!

  12. I follow you on Twitter. I'm mlynnh8

    mlynnh5 at gmail dot com

  13. I really enjoy cooking for my family with fresh ingredients and using whole foods. I think that these knives would be get a lot of use from me! Thank you for opportunity to win these.

    mlynnh5 at gmail dot com

  14. I need these knives because my current chef's knife is old, dull, and in dire need of replacement.

  15. I shared this link on Twitter

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. OH yea, and I liked you on Facebook…lol

  18. I am one of your twitter followers @rusthawk

  19. I am one of your FB followers as Rust Hawk

  20. Because two beautiful matching knives will make my job easier – and more fun, actually. 🙂

  21. Oh geez… I would love a real knife. I have an old set from target when I got married 12 years ago! I hope I win.

  22. I like you on Twitter via @serene_streams

  23. I like you on Facebook!

  24. I just own regular knives and don't have any professional knives for cooking so these would be great for our home!

  25. I have knives that I paid way too much money for, and I don't even like them 🙁 A couple new knives would be great!

  26. i love to cook and i am really in desperate need of knew knives

  27. I believe I deserve these knives becuase I cook all meals homemade to keep our family's budget straight. I had a chef knife I received as a wedding gift that have been destroyed, my mistake was that I registered the cheapest knives. My second mistake was that I used my most used knife (chef) on my son and husbands frozen icecream birthday cake this year in April. The blade came right off. It was pretty funny. Also, it'd be a great birthday present (September 16th) to myself. I think your recipes are awesome and I am a new reader of yours! Thank you for considering:-)

  28. Liked you on fb.

    erinb1 at aol dot com

  29. I need a good knife and don't have any with that nice protector. How perfect!

    erinb1 at aol dot com

  30. I need these knives to cut down on knife accidents. Dull knives are more dangerous.

  31. I would love these knives because I am a broke college student with a passion for cooking! It'll be a great way to begin my collection 🙂

  32. I would LOVE a good pair of knives! All I have now are cheapo ones from when I got married. 🙂

  33. Such a great post Carrian! Knowing how to handle your kitchen tools is so important when cooking.

  34. I shared your link on Facebook

  35. I could really use a chef's knife. I use a steak knife for all my cutting.

  36. There is nothing like a good knife! I'm in need of another

  37. I love love love your site and follow you on pinterest and email. I would love the knives to give to my son and his wife – he's currently on his third deployment in Afghanistan – and they really could use some good knives. Thanks for the tutorial on how to handle the knives. I have a granddaughter who is going to go to college to become a chef and she has been teaching me all the cool things she's learning. Have a blessed day!

  38. i follow you on twitter

  39. my knives so need to be updated! these look fabulous!

  40. I follow you on Twitter (duh). 😉

  41. I like you on Facebook too thanks!

  42. LOVE a good chef's knife! I use mine all the time.

  43. I need a good knife because all my knives are so dull – they won't even cut bread!

  44. Great post! I finally got a great knife set and am scared to use them 🙂

  45. Great post! I finally got a great knife set and am scared to use them 🙂

  46. Great post! I finally got a great knife set and am scared to use them 🙂

  47. I NEED these knives because I don't have a good paring knife AND I use my chef's knife alllll the time, but it's breaking!

  48. I follow you on twitter.

  49. I like you on facebook!

  50. I'm one of those people who doesn't know what knife to buy and how to use it. These look amazing and I would love to give them a try. Thanks!

  51. thanks for the lesson I needed that…You do such a great job.

  52. I'm always amazed at how many people don't own a sharp knife, or don't know how to properly use a knife. Love this post!!