Beginner’s Guide To: Kitchen Knives

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Now that we’ve covered the basics of cutting boards, it’s time to learn about about their perfect counterpoint: kitchen knives. Slicing, dicing, chopping, and mincing is made easier, faster, and cleaner when you have the right tools. Check out this edition of Beginner’s Guide to figure out which knives are right for you.

What is it? 

Everyone knows what a knife is… however, kitchen knives are unique. These cutting tools are used to prep food, and since each knife is designed to help you achieve a different task while cooking, they come in many different shapes and sizes. There are bread knives, fillet knives, chef’s knives, carving knives, boning knives, cleaver knives, utility knives, steak knives, paring knives… the list goes on and on.

I need this if… 

This is not an if. You need kitchen knives for any type of cooking, but the needs will vary based on your cooking prowess. If you’re a top-notch chef, your needs will be quite different than if your signature dish is Kraft mac ‘n cheese. Your skill, ambitions, and what you cook in your home will determine which knives are must-haves for your newlywed kitchen. Because lets be honest, not all of us will be filleting and deboning fish on our own kitchen counters.

What type is the best for me? 

With cutlery blocks of up to 17 pieces or more, how do you decide which knives you’ll actually use? With help from Zola’s experts, we took our Wüsthof knives for a test spin and rounded up the knives every kitchen needs. Here are our top picks to keep your registry on point (see what we did there?):

Paring Knife:Wusthof Classic Paring Knife sold on

Wusthof Classic Paring Knife

This is an essential tool in absolutely any kitchen. The pairing knife is a small, thin knife for fine cuts and easy maneuvering. You will use it for more delicate jobs such as cutting fruit or peeling vegetables. Think prepping your potatoes for some yummy mash, or trimming the ends off green beans.

Chef’s Knife:
Wusthof Classic Cook's Knife sold on

Wusthof Classic Cook’s Knife

Chef’s knives are another must-have kitchen utensil. They can be used for dicing, chopping, mincing, or any other everyday cooking task. This knife will be your favorite go-to when preparing that culinary masterpiece, or a simple weeknight meal of vegetables and chicken.

Utility Knife:

Wusthof Classic Utility KnifeWusthof Classic Utility Knife

A utility knife is a cross between a paring and a chef’s knife. It’s perfect for any task that is not delicate enough to require a paring knife, but may be too delicate for a chef’s knife. Tip: It can also be used as an an all-purpose knife for beginners.

Bread Knife:
Wusthof Classic Bread Knife sold on

Wusthof Classic Bread Knife

While you can get away without having this knife in your kitchen, it will make your life much easier when it comes to slicing break, cakes, sandwiches, and even meats. Bread knives feature a long blade with a serrated edge. Their shape allows the blade to slice through thick crusts without crushing the soft interior. While this knife can seem a bit intimidating, it really does makes otherwise very tough cutting tasks seem like a breeze.

Kitchen Shears:

Wusthof Kitchen Shears sold on Zola.comWusthof Kitchen Shears

Kitchen shears (a.k.a. scissors) have a range of uses, including trimming meats and snipping herbs. Many models separate for easy cleaning. Tip: Although we’re guilty of this, try your best to resist using your kitchen shears when opening a package. Unfortunately, these household uses quickly reduce the sharpness of your blades.

Carving Knives: 
Wusthof Classic 2-Piece Hollow Edge Carving Knife Set sold on

Wusthof Classic 2-Piece Hollow Edge Carving Knife Set

If you cook a lot of meat, these knives are for you. Whether you are carving a chicken or can’t get enough of that marinated skirt steak, a carving knife’s long, slim blade will help get the job done while leaving your meat juicy without unwanted tears.

Steak Knives:
Wusthof Classic Steak Knife, Set of 4 sold on

Wusthof Classic Steak Knife, Set of 4

These knives are less about prepping food, and more about eating. Traditionally used at the dinner table, steak knives have much sharper blades than traditional dinner knives, allowing you to easily cut through any type of meat. They are an essential for couples that love to host dinner parties, or those that are just looking forward to grilling tenderloins outside during summer nights.

How Many Do I Register For? 

The number of knives your kitchen needs completely depends on how often you cook and what type of things you typically make. You can either register for each knife individually, or register for full knife sets.
Wusthof Gourmet 7-Piece Acacia Wood Knife Block Set sold on Wusthof Gourmet 7-piece Acacia Knife Block Set sold on
Wusthof Gourmet 7-Piece Acacia Wood Knife Block Set

Knife sets will equip you with all the essentials you need in the kitchen. If you order everything separately, we recommend having at least one chef’s knife, one paring knife, one bread knife, and at least four steak knives for when you have friends over to eat a delicious roast or ribeye.

Scope out our full collection of kitchen knives here.



  1. Nice guide on how to use a cutting board and how to know kitchen knives.
    Usually I use the Santoku as an all purpose knife.

  2. Great guide. Very easy to follow for a beginner. You did an excellent job at explaining the differences between the various kitchen knives. Thanks for sharing with us!

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