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Chef’s knife vs Santoku. What are the differences

We often get questions about the difference between a chef’s knife and a santoku knife. In this article we try to answer that question. The biggest difference can be found in the shape of the blade. The blade on a chef’s knife has a pointed tip and the blade on the santoku knife has a curve that runs from the spine to the edge. For that reason both knives also ask for a different sharpening technique.

Chef’s knife

In general a chef’s knife has a blade of approximately 20 cm long. There are also smaller chef’s knives with a blade length of circa 16 cm while professional chefs actually look for longer knives. Chef’s knives have a high blade of approximately 4 to 5 cm to make sure you can place the fingers of the hand you use to hold the ingredient against the side of the blade. As a result you can work safely and quickly. The shape of the side of a chef’s knife is with a slightly curved line very characteristic.

A chef’s knife is the basis of a knife set and perfect for cutting vegetables, meat and fish. But can also be used as a rocking knife to finely chop herbs. For this cutting technique the chef’s knife is moved up and down alongside the finger while the tip never leaves the cutting board. As a result you are left with a rocking movement.


Santoku knives originally come from Asian cuisine and are the Japanese version of the chef’s knife. The shape of the blade of the santoku is, unlike a chef’s knife, practically the same alongside the entire length of the blade and only has a slight curve a couple centimeters from the tip towards the spine. In addition, the Santoku is lighter and shorter than its European brother which makes the Santoku very popular.

With a santoku knife a cutting technique is used that diverts from a chef’s knife. Because of the flat blade the santoku won’t rock on the cutting edge like the blade of a chef’s knife. You hold a santoku at the handle and cut with a movement from back-up to down-front. With every cut the blade will lose contact with the cutting board. Keep the fingers of the hand you use to hold the ingredient turned inwards and prevent cutting in your fingers. Here the same applies: practice, practice, practice and you will quickly get the hang of it.

Santoku knives aren’t better or worse than chef’s knives. It is simply a different kind of knife and a different cutting technique is used to carry out similar tasks.

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