Home » Recommendations » Best Knives for Cutting Vegetables

Best Knives for Cutting Vegetables

Jennifer Hanes MS, RDN, LD

The best knives for cutting vegetables is a difficult topic to discuss.

Knife skills are important for any cook. Learning to process vegetables quickly and safely goes a long way in making the cooking process more enjoyable. Or at least less burdensome. A big part of learning knife skills is simply practice.

However, another big part is having the right knives for the job. 

A good knife allows for more precise cuts and are more comfortable in your hand.  They also hold their edge for longer, meaning less time spent sharpening your knives.

Sharp knives won’t slip off your produce and cut you. And they won’t smush, smash, or tear your vegetables instead of slicing where you want. Read on to learn which knives are the best knives for cutting vegetables.

It is important to note that as an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases if you choose to click on any of my suggestions.

A brief overview of the best knives for cutting vegetables

I think that everyone is familiar with the basic chef’s knife. And for good reason. It is versatile and relatively easy to care for.

However, it’s not the only game in town, and other knives can be helpful in cutting vegetables in different situations.

When choosing a knife, there are some key features to be on the lookout for. The heel, tip, edge, and handle are the most common features to consider. Blade and handle shape and weight play a significant part in how the knife will feel in your hand.

Types of Knives for cutting vegetables

In addition to the common Chef’s knife, santoku, nakiri, utility, and paring knives are all used to prep vegetables.

They each have unique features, giving them each different strengths and weaknesses in the kitchen.  Additionally, bread knives and boning knives could also be useful for vegetable prep in some situations.

Chef’s Knife

The chef’s knife is the most common and most versatile kitchen knife.  If you’re limited to one knife, for whatever reason, this is the knife to get.

And the first one you should upgrade when you’re ready.

The chef’s knife has a rounded belly (cutting surface), that tapers into a sharp tip, making it ideal for the rocking motion used so often in vegetable prep. The blade is also sharpened on both sides, known as a double bevel.

A bolstered handle is the most stable and reduces the likelihood of your hand slipping off of it. 

The blade of most chef’s knives are 8″, though they can range from 6 to 12 inches.  The blade length is generally a matter of preference, so make sure you get one that you can easily control. 

Your main kitchen powerhouse, the chef’s knife is appropriate in almost all aspects of food prep. The weight of the knife makes it better than some others in prepping large or dense foods, such as spaghetti squash or watermelon.

Use your chef’s knife to make a Roasted Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie!

Santoku Knife

The Santoku knife can be considered the Japanese version of a chef’s knife, though there are some differences. 

The curve of the blade is much less noticeable and does not have quite the obvious pointed tip.   

Overall, the Santoku knife is smaller and lighter than most chefs’ knives, which has both pros and cons. The blade is typically 6-7″.  Because the blade is not curved like the chef’s knife, you will have to pick the blade completely off the cutting board for each pass through your ingredients. 

On the upside, you’ll get that cool chopping sound you sometimes here on Food Network!

Finally, the single bevel of a Santoku knife allows for a scalloped edge that helps keep food from sticking to the blade.

Because of its lighter weight, many people consider the Santoku knife superior to the chef’s knife in creating delicate cuts.

Use a santoku knife to make an awesome mango habanero salsa!

Nakiri Knife

A Nakiri knife is similar in shape to a butcher’s knife.

The flat of the blade is quite wide and shaped like a rectangle, with no discernable curve or tip. The cutting edge, on the other hand, is very thin. This makes the Nakiri vegetable knife very good at creating very thin slices but is also very delicate.

In fact, most home cooks likely won’t have a use for a Nakiri knife. It can take up a lot of room you may not have and doesn’t have the versatility of some of the other knives in this article. However, if you enjoy prepping food in an artistic manner, try a Nakiri out.

Use a nakiri knife to make my summer-y Grilled Eggplant Tomato Stacks!

Utility Knife

A utility knife is smaller than a chef’s knife but larger than a paring knife. They usually have a blade shape similar to a Santoku knife, though proportionally much longer.

Many of these knives are serrated, making them magic for cutting tomatoes and sandwiches. They would also be a good choice if all you needed to cut was smaller items such as shallots, citrus, or herbs. You could cut an onion with a utility knife, but a chef’s or Santoku knife would be better.

Paring Knife

A paring knife is the smallest of the knives we will discuss. Both of mine actually came as an “add-on” with my chefs’ knives.

Paring knives tend to resemble mini chef’s knives and are best used to peel fruits and vegetables and to make intricate cuts for fancy garnishes.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Vegetable Knife

Several factors go into choosing your next knife. 

Cost is always a factor. Do you need a cheap knife fast? Or do you have some money to invest in quality?

What do you already have? In my opinion, you need to prioritize.  Don’t buy a Nakiri knife if you don’t have a chef’s knife.  Have a fisherman in the house? You don’t need a boning knife until after you have a paring knife.

What is important to you? Aesthetics? There are lots of pretty knives out there. Do you hate sharpening knives? Some materials hold an edge better but are more d Helicate and may chip.

The user. How well is everyone willing to treat the knives? Will they be kept out of the dishwasher? Will they be thrown carelessly into the sink? If so, you need a durable and less expensive knife at the expense of precision.

But if everyone can agree to take care of it, a more expensive knife may make sense.

What jobs need to be done? Never peel a fruit or vegetable? A paring knife shouldn’t be first on the list. Don’t often cut super dense produce? Then you likely don’t need a cleaver. 

Below are only some of the factors to consider.

Blade Material

The most common blade materials are:

  • high carbon steel
  • stainless steel
  • ceramic

Less common blade materials include:

  • Titanium
  • Laminated steel

High Carbon steel is made of iron and carbon. These blades will hold their sharp edge longer and are easier to sharpen. However, they are more prone to rust and stains than other blade materials.

Stainless steel is made of iron, chromium, carbon, and potentially other metal alloys, which make it less prone to corrosion than high-carbon steel, but must be sharpened more frequently.

When looking at steel blades, it’s also important to consider where they were made. We usually see steel coming from Japan or Germany. Forging techniques vary by country, making the end product vary between countries.

Japanese steel tends to be harder due to higher carbon content, but are more brittle. These knives are great for slicing and other precision cuts, but chopping and cutting dense material may be difficult.

German steel, on the other hand is softer. Because of this, you’ll likely have to sharpen it more often, but it has a much lower tendency to chip, making it making these knives better for harder cuts.

Ceramic blades weigh less than steel blades, making them potentially easier to use. They also tend to stay sharper than metal blades but also more brittle.

These knives cannot be used for anything that can’t be easily sliced, making them less versatile than steel blades. Ceramic blades can also make for more aesthetic knives as they can be colorful and fun!

Titanium (named after the Greek Titans) blades are resistant to corrosion, light-weight, difficult to scratch, and can have a variety of patterns and looks. While this all sounds great, they are also much more expensive than stainless steel blades, and they don’t hold their edge well.

You’ll have to sharpen titanium blades frequently.  Everything’s a trade-off!

Finally, we have laminated steel blades. These blades attempt to marry the best of high-carbon steel and stainless steel into one blade. They are essentially high-carbon steel on the inside and stainless steel on the outside laminated together.  These blades tend to be very expensive.

Blade Shape

Aside from the shapes of the individual knives discussed above, you should also consider whether to blade edge is serrated or not. Both have their own pros and cons and could potentially have a place in your kitchen.

Serrated blades are better for cuts that slide along the food rather than forcing the blade through the food. Bread, squashes, melons, and tomatoes all do better with a serrated knife edge. Also, for your meat-eating friends and family, tougher cuts of meat tend to cut easier with a serrated knife.

Non-serrated blades are better for most other food prep.

Blade Size

Find a blade size that feels comfortable in your hand. Longer blades can process more vegetables at a time but can be unwieldy for a lot of people. This means you’ll fatigue earlier, making it more difficult to prep your food.

Handle Material

Most knife handles tend to be made of wood, titanium, or aluminum. And just like anything else, each material has it’s own pros and cons.

Wood handles have a lot of potential for customization and ergonomic grips. They can have any number of looks depending on the wood used and various manufacturing processes.  However, they are not water-proof and are more prone to getting scratched and dented depending on their finishes.

Titanium handles weigh less and are more durable than wood handles because they are resistant to water. They can also come in any color, potentially making them fit in better with your kitchen design. Additionally, despite some manufacturers’ claims, titanium handles can be scratched or dented if not treated well, and titanium is expensive.

Aluminum handles are cheaper than wood or titanium handles. They are lightweight and customizable, similar to titanium.  However, transfer temperature very well so can get very cold or hot depending on their environment and become slippery when they get wet, potentially making them more dangerous.

Weight and Balance

Ideally, you’ll try out your knife before buying it.  However, there are some factors that make the weight and balance of your knife a bit more predictable, many of which were discussed above.

However, there is another factor we haven’t discussed yet. And that is how far the blade extends into the handle. The most durable (but heaviest) option is to have the blade go all the way through the handle.

This makes it almost impossible for the handle to separate from the blade but also makes the knife weighted towards the back, rather than where the chopping is happening. I think this trade-off is worth it, but you may not.

My Suggestions for the Best Knives to Cut Vegetables

I will always disclose what products I have used and what products I’m suggesting based on research. Reminder: as an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases if you choose to click on any of my suggestions.

I also made an effort to provide a budget and high-quality option whenever possible.

My Top Picks for a Chef’s Knife

Top Pick:

My favorite knife is my Wüsthof Classic IKON 8″ Chef’s Knife. You may have seen it in some of my social media posts.   This knife was a Christmas gift from my husband, who chose this on a recommendation from a Gordon Ramsey YouTube video. 

There is a noticeable difference in my knife cuts after switching to this knife. I can cut more precisely and more quickly with this knife than my budget option, the BHG Chef’s Knife.

Budget Knife:

I used the Better Homes and Gardens Chef’s Knife for years without any real complaints.  However, I noticed that it started needing sharpening more and more frequently to maintain its edge. It wasn’t until I got the more expensive knife that I realized that it wasn’t quite as great as I thought.

That being said, this knife is miles better than the cheapo knife I was using previously.

Unfortunately, it does not appear that this knife is still being sold. 

Upon further research, I would consider the Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife. It has an 85% 5-star review rating on Amazon with over 8,000 ratings.

My Top Picks for a Santoku Knife

I don’t own a Santoku knife. It’s actually been years since I’ve even used one. These recommendations were made looking at several reviews around the internet.

Top Pick:

The Wustoff product seems to be the best-reviewed on multiple sites and has a 4.9/5 rating on Amazon. High marks are often given for its easy and comfortable grip, sharpness of the blade, and precision forging technology.

Budget Pick:

Try the imarku Ultra Sharp Santoku Knife for a good option with a lower price point. This knife rates well for sharpness, giftability (due to price point and shipping presentation), and ergonomic design. It is a designated top seller on Amazon.

My Top Picks for a Nakiri Knife

I had not used a Nakiri knife prior to researching this article, but decided to add a budget option to my collection!

Top Pick:

The Miyabi Evolution 6.5″ Nakiri Knife.  This knife rates very high for having the thinnest, sharpest blade available, high durability, and precision handling. 

Budget Pick:

We chose to try a budget option for our first Nakiri knife. My husband picked the Mercer Culinary Millenna knife due to reviews that stated this knife is affordable, has a sharp and durable edge, and a comfortable, no-slip grip. I’ll update this post when I have some personal information to add!

*Updated 10/6/23:

We’ve been using the knife for several months now. The blade has held up well, but I find the knife unwieldy in my hand, and don’t use it very often. However, my husband has stated multiple times that this knife gets his vote for best knife he’s ever had. He likes it more than the Wusthof he bought me.

My Top Picks for a Paring Knife

Both my BHG and my Wustoff knife came with a paring knife and both are very good compared to the cheapo knife I had previously (by Chicago Cutlery, btw not worth the price point). I would recommend both knives in a heartbeat.

However, to be completely transparent, had the Wusthof knife not come with the paring knife, I wouldn’t have bought it. It is a fantastic knife, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t use paring knives often, and my BHG knife was just fine in my kitchen. Unfortunately, it also seems to be discontinued.

For a budget option, it seems like the Zyliss paring knife is a favorite. It has a sharp blade and textured grip to prevent slipping. This grip seems to also be a negative as some folks have a hard time adjusting to the texture.

How to Care for Your Vegetable Knives

So you have your awesome new knife? But how do you make sure it stays awesome?

You gotta make sure you take care of it.

Cleaning and Drying Your Knife

First, the don’ts.   Please don’t throw your dirty knife in the sink until you throw it into the dishwasher. 

You need to treat it like the important tool it is. When you’re done using it, wash the knife with warm water and dish soap, then pat dry with a paper towel. Immediately put into your knife storage (not loosely into a drawer). 

The goal here is to preserve both the sharpness of the blade and the integrity of the handle. Letting it rattle around in the sink, the dishwasher, and a drawer does the opposite.

Honing

This can be a bit confusing, but many chefs state a knife should be honed every time it will be used. 

Honing is different than sharpening. When honing a knife, you are essentially straightening the metal back into a straight edge. Sharpening, on the other hand actually removes some material to reveal a straight edge.

Have you ever seen a chef rub a knife against a metal stick? That’s honing. 

What about those “knife sharpeners” that sit on the counter and you drag your knife through? Also honing.

Sharpening

While honing could be considered regular maintenance, sharpening is done less frequently.  With my BHG knife, I probably had to sharpen it about every 1-2 months. My Wustoff knife, I got about 9 months before I noticed the edge was getting dull.

And that was BEFORE I finally jumped on the regular honing bandwagon.

So you won’t have to do this all the time.  I like to use a whetstone to sharpen my knives.  I’ll let chef Mark Sandoval show you how…

I’ve had my whetstone for years know, and unfortunately can’t find the exact same on Amazon or Google. However, the one listed below is similar. The stone has 2 grits and comes with a non-slip base, which I HIGHLY recommend for your safety.

Storing

We need to find storage that doesn’t have your knife blades banging around and getting dull prematurely. You basically have 3 options

  • A magnetic strip
  • A knife block
  • A cork-lined knife holder

Magnetic strips are great in that they eliminate the need for counter space.  Opt for one that mounts to the wall with screws rather than one that sticks to your fridge. They are more stable (read: safe).

A cork-lined knife holder fits in your drawers but keeps the blades from jostling around by securing them in notches in a piece of cork. This ultimately depends on where you need space. 

That being said, with my oldest, I would have been fine with this solution. This younger kiddo, however, poses a safety hazard everywhere she is, and I would prefer an option further out of reach.

The third option is a knife block. On the upside, everything is condensed and easily within reach. The downside is that they take up counter space and usually limit what knives you can store according to the slots that are available. 

I overcome this last problem by using a knife block that doesn’t have specified slots. I currently have 3 chef’s knives, 2 paring knives, and 2 honing steels in mine. And now my new Nakiri knife as well!

Knife Safety

Now you have chosen your knives and learned how to care for them.  The next step is learning how to stay safe around your knives.

The basics of kitchen knife safety are:

  • Use a cutting board. 
    • I like plastic because I can color code them and they are safe in the dishwasher. However, a wooden cutting board is easier on your knives.
  • Keep your knives sharp
  • Consider cutting gloves
    • especially if you’re new to using a knife. These gloves will save your fingers from all kinds of injury as you’re practicing your knife skills. My food service rotation required them!
  • Fold your knuckles under to save your fingertips.
  • Only chop as fast as you can safely. Bobby Flay, you are not. Slow down a bit, you aren’t racing a clock.

Cutting Technique

Proper cutting techniques can help you get the most out of your knives and make your cooking tasks more efficient. For example, use a rocking motion when using a chef’s knife, and use a slicing motion when using a Santoku knife.

Look up tutorials on YouTube or read up on basic knife skills to improve your technique. Here’s an example:

Recap of the Best Knives for Cutting Vegetables

I hope all this information was helpful and not too overwhelming!  In summary, when it’s time to buy a new knife for chopping veggies, a chef’s knife is the hands-down most versatile option.  However, Santoku, Nakiri, utility, and paring knives also have their places.

Whether you choose a high-end or budget option, keep your knife safe and functional by taking care of it with frequent honing, occasional sharpening, and out of the dishwasher.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the best knife for you is the one that feels comfortable in your hand and meets your needs. Everyone’s preferences and needs are different, so take the time to test out different knives and find the one that works best for you.

Remember that knives are an essential tool in the kitchen, but they can also be dangerous if not used properly. Always prioritize safety and proper maintenance to get the most out of your knives.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of knife is used for cutting vegetables?

The most common knives used to cut vegetables are the chef knife, the santoku knife, the nakiri knife, and the paring knife. Less frequently, boning knives, utility knives, and bread knives are also used.

What are the most durable and long lasting knife for cutting vegetables in the kitchen?

Chef’s knives and santoku knives tend to be the most durable. Variable knife features that increase the durability of a knife in the home kitchen include German steel, a bolstered handle, and the care the goes into the knife.

Why does a sharp knife cut vegetables better than a blunt knife?

A blunt knife will hack at a vegetable, particularly a soft one, rather than cleanly slice through it. The result is uneven cuts, mushy veggies, and potentially a cut finger.
By contrast, a sharp knife glides easily and won’t roll of the vegetable you’re trying to cut, keeping fingers, and dinner, safe.

How do I cut vegetables without the knife going off at an angle?

Take care of your knife Don’t throw it in the sink when you’re done with it. Hone it frequently, every 1-2 uses. Sharpen it as needed. A dull knife is often the cause of the knife diverting to an angle you don’t want it to.

Can you use a ceramic knife to cut lettuce?

A ceramic knife should be able to handle lettuce without a problem. However, they are not strong enough to handle denser, tougher vegetables. With limited funds, spend your money on a steel blade. However, a ceramic knife could be a handy addition to your knife stash for this type of easier kitchen task.

Do you prefer using a knife or a food processor for your vegetables fruit for cooking and why?

For my day-to-day cooking, I definitely prefer a knife. Cleaning a food processor or other chopping gadget often takes more time than just chopping and wiping my knife would any day. If I’m making a lot of food, say for a holiday gathering, my manual food processor comes in handy, and the time savings outweigh the extra cleaning time.

What are some good ways to practice your kitchen knife skills?

Honestly, the best way to practice is by cooking more. In theory, you could buy a bunch of onions and practice until you’re great at it. But the food waste that would produce is unreal and, frankly, unethical. The more you cook, the more you’ll practice without wasting food unnecessarily. You can’t study or watch your way into better knife skills.
That being said, if you are completely lost, there are great tutorials available that are only a search engine away.

What is the best cutting board for keeping knives sharp?

A wooden cutting board is softer than plastic, and therefore easier on your knife blade. However, this comes at a cost of reduced sanitation. The upkeep of a wooden cutting board is more difficult and because wood is more porous than plastic there is greater potential for foodborne illnesses.

Is it possible to slice, dice, and chop vegetables without a knife?

Technically yes. There are numerous gadgets, including a food processor, that can cut up your veggies. But these tend to be expensive and require a lot more cleaning and upkeep effort than a good knife will. It’s up to you to decide what is worth it and what isn’t.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

©2024. Dietitian Jenn Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Disclosures
Scroll to Top