Difference between chef’s knife and santoku knife

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Chefs and cooks have a variety of knives in their kitchen which differ in shape, size, weight, and purpose.

The chef's knife is the most versatile knife for all-around chopping, slicing, and dicing. It has a broad blade that makes it good at chopping vegetables but not as good at slicing meat or fish because of its width – santoku knives are better for this.

In this article,  we'll introduce you to the differences between a chef's knife and santoku knives and help you choose which one is right for you.

Keep reading to learn more.

Santoku vs. Chef's Knife (Differences, Similarities, Pros, Cons)
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What is a chef's knife?

A chef's knife is a large, heavy-duty knife that can be used for chopping and dicing vegetables, slicing meats, mincing garlic, and more. It is also sometimes called a French knife or cook's knife.

The shape of the blade varies somewhat between brands; however, most chef's knives are broad with a curved edge that tapers to the point where the blade meets the handle. Different brands of chefs' knives have different names for this type of knife but it is best known as a French or cook's knife. The chef's knife is not suited for fine chopping because its blade is too wide – this is something you'll want to do with an 8-inch santoku.

The chef's (or French) knife can be used in place of paring knives, utility knives, and boning knives as well. This versatility makes it one of the most important knives in a cook's knife collection.

What is santoku?

Santoku means ‘three virtues' in Japanese and this refers to the three cutting tasks handled by this type of knife. Santoku knives are sharp, lightweight, and thin with a straight edge – unlike French knives which have curved edges.

The shape of santoku blades varies between brands but they are generally tall, thick, and wide with a flat face that tapers at the point where the handle meets the blade like that of a cleaver. The sharp edge is suitable for chopping and the finely tapered point is designed to make it easier to cut and slice through vegetables.

The best santoku knives are best suited for slicing, dicing, and chopping small-sized ingredients where precision is required, such as onions, garlic, or green peppers. They can also be used in place of chef's knives but are not as versatile because they have a straight edge rather than curved like French knives.

Should you go for a chef's knife or a santoku knife?

Although the shapes of a chef's knife and santoku knives are slightly different, you can use either to accomplish the same tasks. The choice between these types of knives comes down to what you are comfortable using because there is not a lot of difference in performance.

However, if you want an all-purpose knife that will chop, slice, and dice vegetables and other ingredients with ease then a good chef's knife should do the trick. But if you need a more precise blade for chopping or mincing smaller ingredients like garlic or onions then a santoku might be perfect for your kitchen. 

However, there may be cases where chefs prefer one type of knife over another because of personal preference. For example, some people prefer the lightness and flexibility of a santoku knife while others choose the weight and heftiness of a chef's knives.

Pros and Cons between chef's knife and santoku knife

The choice between these two types of knives may also depend on what type of tasks you perform in your kitchen because each has its pros and cons:

The blade of a chef's knife is wider than that of a santoku so it cannot slice through ingredients as easily. It is not good at cutting meat or veggies with small bones such as chicken.

  • A santoku knife is more versatile than a French knife because it can be used to mince garlic or chop vegetables like carrots, celery, or broccoli.
  • The design and size of a chef's knife allows for maximum force and control so it can be used to chop vegetables on a cutting board or butcher block.
  • A santoku knife is lighter than a French knife and does not require as much downward pressure when chopping. Some cooks find this more comfortable.

Can you use a Santoku for mincing garlic or slicing vegetables?

Chef's knives can be used in place of Santoku knives but not vice versa. Chef's knives are much better at chopping vegetables, mincing garlic, and slicing meat because the blade is wider and thicker than a santoku knife which makes it better-suited for these tasks. A santoku knife cannot cut food as easily as a chef's knife, especially vegetables with small bones such as celery or broccoli. Some cooks prefer the feel of a chef's knife in their hands while others prefer the lighter weight of a santoku.

How to choose between chef's knife vs Santoku?

If you need an all-purpose knife that will chop, slice, and dice vegetables and other ingredients then one good option would be to use a chef's knife. However, if you need to chop or mince more delicate ingredients like garlic and onions then a santoku might be the best choice for your kitchen.

Is there any difference in sharpening a chef's knife vs. a Santoku knife?

A knife sharpener can make the blades of both knives as sharp as possible. However, santoku knives are not the best choice for cutting through bones because their blades are shorter and thinner than a chef's knife.

When sharpening a chef's knife, use a whetstone sharpener or a manual steel sharpener to hone the blade on both sides. You should then finish up using an electric or manual knife sharpener with your choice of fine, medium, or coarse slots. 

Sharpening a santoku knife is not as difficult as sharpening a French knife because it has a thinner blade and does not have to be honed as frequently. The blades can become dull over time so they will need to be sharpened from time to time but you don't have to do it as often as on your chef's knife. To sharpen a santoku knife, put the whetstone in water for 15 minutes before you begin, like with any other type of knife. Put the blade of your santoku knife at about a 20-degree angle and maintain this angle during the sharpening process. Draw the blade forward in an arc motion across the whetstone, drawing it back toward you in short strokes until you've sharpened both sides. Finish off with a few more strokes on each side using medium or coarse slots to get that smooth polished look and feel that every cook wants in their kitchen knives.

Santoku vs Chef Knife: Kitchen Knife Comparison
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Final thoughts on the difference between chef's knife and santoku knife

A good set of kitchen knives should contain different types of knives for all-purpose chopping and slicing tasks. When choosing between a chef's knife and santoku, the decision will be based on personal preference -it all depends on what you hope to accomplish. Chef's knives' curved edges make them better suited for chopping and slicing while santoku's blade shapes are more precise and better suited to chopping, dicing, and mincing.

We hope that this article helped you learn more about the most popular types of kitchen knives, so that ultimately, you can make a better decision about which one suits you more.

Heather Hardy

Heather Hardy

Heather is a professional writer with a background in real estate and home renovation. She enjoys research and contributing to DIY publications.

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