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Our top picks for chopping any vegetable with ease and precision.
You may already love veggies, or maybe you're trying to eat more of them, but whatever you cook now, vegetables are almost certainly a part of it. With some basic knife skills and the right knife for you, chopping, dicing, slicing, julienning, and mincing is a breeze, making it even easier to prepare and enjoy the vegetables you love.
We've tested countless knives over the years, narrowing down the three knives you need most, plus our favorite chefs' knives, Japanese knives, and paring knives. Now, we're turning our expertise towards vegetable knives. Here are our favorites.
Best Overall: Mac Knife 8-Inch Hollow Edge Chef's Knife
This versatile knife has lots to love, including dimples above the cutting edge that help keep food from sticking. It has a super sharp, double-beveled blade for clean, smooth cuts, and we found this knife cuts through both tomatoes and chives cleanly, leaving no jagged edges or uncut bits. Even with dense food like sweet potato, this knife is a star: It sliced through effortlessly without sticking halfway through as some other blades might.
“Rock solid knife for all sorts of kitchen tasks,” says Food & Wine Editor-in-Chief Hunter Lewis. “It handled all of the tasks for this testing cleanly and easily.” The feel of the knife is excellent, too: We found it has enough clearance between the handle and blade so our fingers didn't touch the cutting board as we chopped, and it felt balanced in our hands.
Price at time of publish: $155
Best Nakiri: GLOBAL 7 Inch Vegetable Knife
A nakiri knife is a great specialty knife to have in your drawer if you frequently chop vegetables. This knife performs as well as its pricier counterparts, with extra thickness in the spine to keep it sturdy and steady. We were wowed by its smooth cuts through tomatoes, shallots, and even a piece of paper. No matter what test we threw at this knife, each pass was controlled and, as one tester noted, cut “like butter.” Our only criticism? The handle was less comfortable than some others we tested.
Price at time of publish: $125
Best Paring Knife: Wusthof Classic Ikon Paring Knife
Small in stature, a paring knife is versatile and precise, making it great for taking on tasks like peeling, mincing, and coring. This durable, comfortable-to-use paring knife is worth every penny. When testing, it had a simple, hard handle with a slight curve that made it comfortable to hold, and it fit well in our hands, making it the ideal size for a paring knife. We noted that, unlike some other paring knives, this one took absolutely no effort to cut through whatever we threw at it, including peeling and finely chopping a shallot. We could cut very small, precise pieces, whether chopping a shallot or navigating the knife along the membrane to remove orange segments.
Price at time of publish: $115
Best Value: MITSUMOTO SAKARI 8 inch Japanese Gyuto Chef Knife
This knife is heavier than some others we tested, so it requires a lighter touch with soft, delicate foods like tomatoes to prevent smushing. That said, even though it's heavy, it's still well-balanced, making it comfortable to use. We were impressed by its incredibly smooth rocking motion and how easily it cuts through onions without crushing or crunching. Unlike some others, this knife includes a very nice sheath and a wooden box for storage, too.
Price at time of publish: $70
Best Professional Grade: Misono 7-Inch Santoku Knife
Santoku knives can be best described as a general-purpose knife, so it’s a natural workhorse for chopping, dicing, and mincing. This knife is a joy to use, making clean cuts without damaging any cell walls along the way, and is comfortable in hand. We love how well-balanced it is, its smooth rocking motion, and the fact that it requires very little effort to make clean cuts in any vegetable we use it with.
As it's stainless steel, it's also easier to clean than some other materials and will remain sharper than other softer steel blades. Though, Lewis warns against the bevel edge: “One important thing to note for home cooks or beginner professional cooks is the bevel. When sharpening, the design requires sharpening the right edge of the bevel much more than the left edge. Because of the 70/30 bevel, sharpening these is tricky and best left to experts at reputable knife stores. Do not sharpen it equally on each side, or you lose the effectiveness of the blade's angle.” Because of this, we would only recommend this knife for more experienced home chefs. That said, he still notes that “this knife is a dream to use once you become comfortable with the santoku shape.”
Price at time of publish: $176
The Mac Knife Professional 8-Inch Hollow Edge Chef Knife is our top pick for its sharp blade that effortlessly cuts through even soft vegetables or delicate chives, its comfortable handle, and its well-balanced construction.
To find the best vegetable knives, we performed a variety of tests as well as looked at the construction and functionality of knives, including blade sharpness and ergonomic handles.
We typically start by slicing the knife through a sheet of paper to assess the sharpness level straight out of the box. We look to see if the knife slices through the paper cleanly or tears it instead. We record how much effort is required to slice through the paper. Next, to gauge how sharp the knives are on a soft food that requires a very sharp, nimble knife to achieve precise, uniform slices, we sliced some of the knives through a tomato. With each knife, we thinly sliced a ripe beefsteak tomato crosswise on a cutting board into very thin slices, observing how cleanly the knife sliced through the tomato, noting if the tomatoes were jagged or had perfect, clean edges. We also report if it struggled against the rubbery tomato skin or smushed the tomato. Other knives were tested with sweet potatoes to see how the knives do with firmer, denser food as well as removed orange segments.
A dull knife will bruise chives as it slices (the chives will turn darker), so we performed this test next. We also wanted to examine how easy it is to achieve a rocking motion. We then took each knife to an onion to see how well it diced, evaluating if the knife crunched or tore through the onion halves instead of cleanly slicing through them. We repeated the paper test for our last test to gauge how sharp each knife was after testing.
For some of the knives that won this round, we performed a second set of tests to fully determine our favorite knives. This set of testing included slicing another tomato as well as carrots to really evaluate the geometry of the knife — a well-designed knife will cut right through the carrots, leaving flat faces on the vegetable.
With each use, we hand-washed the knives. We looked for any significant cleanup factors to consider, like if it was prone to staining or if the manufacturer required any particularly finicky care instructions. Throughout each test, we evaluated how comfortable the knife was to hold, if it felt balanced, and if the handle was comfortable to hold. We also paid attention to the size of the knife to determine if any were too long or too short.
Ultimately, the knives that made the cut were easy to use, able to cut precisely and cleanly, and comfortable to hold.
Factors to Consider
Type of knife
Think of the tasks you'll use your knife for most often: Small, delicate work, like slicing shallots or segmenting oranges, is great for smaller blades like paring knives, but they can't easily cut through large, tough vegetables like butternut squash. For those, a bigger blade is the best choice, and if you aren't sure, a versatile chef's knife that can handle both may be your best bet.
You want a thin, sharp edge on your knife for safe and easy cutting. A single-bevel knife blade means it has an angle only on one side, while a double-bevel knife has an angle on both. While single-bevel knives can be great for meat and fish, double-bevel knives are ideal for up and down cuts and for cutting vegetables. Blades are made from different types of metal, too, often steel. Choose something easy to sharpen and clean unless you want to spend time polishing.
The blade is important, but it's not the only thing to consider: The handle is just as important for a knife you'll use regularly. Choose one that fits comfortably in your hand and offers a firm grip to prevent slips. The handle length is significant, too. You want a long enough handle to keep fingers away from the blade but not so long that it bumps into your forearm as you work.
Weight and balance
Weight and balance help determine how comfortable the knife is to use: You want it to be well-balanced so it doesn't feel like it's about to tip forward or back with too much weight in the handle or blade. A smooth rocking motion is also important, as is its weight: If the knife is too heavy for you to comfortably work with for extended periods, you'll be less likely to use it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a nakiri knife? What wouldn't you use a nakiri knife for?
According to chef Mike Behmoiras, a nakiri knife is a Japanese knife especially made for cutting vegetables. They typically feature a rectangular, thinner blade, making precise cuts easier, and are best used when cutting down versus rocking. "I wouldn't use it for butchering, cutting meat, or coming in contact with bone," notes Behmoiras.
Are German or Japanese knives better for vegetables?
Both are good options, and it's partially up to personal preference. “Personally, I prefer Japanese knives because they are lighter, can prepare vegetables or delicate foods with lots of finesse, and sharpen easier,” says Behmoiras. That said, if you prefer durability when it comes to your knives, go with a German-made knife.
What kind of knife is best for cutting potatoes?
Chef Cian O'Sullivan prefers a knife with dimples on the blade (like our top pick), noting that it reduces contact with the potatoes after the initial cut, making them less likely to stick to the blade as you work. Behmoiras adds that a chef's knife is the best choice — the weight and length make it the best for chopping firm vegetables like potatoes.
What kind of knife is best for cutting tomatoes?
The experts agree that a sharp knife is your best bet. Behemoiras notes that a sharp knife is always his go-to. O'Sullivan agrees, saying, "It has to be sharp, or it won't go through tomatoes." For cooks newer to cutting tomatoes, both chefs say that a small, serrated knife might be easiest.
What should readers look for when buying a knife for cutting vegetables?
Choosing the right knife means choosing a knife that makes you feel comfortable and confident in the kitchen. According to Behemoiras, "When looking for a knife for cutting vegetables, it is the same when buying any knife — how it feels in your hand and if you will use it. I don't care how expensive the knife is. If you don't use it, it's not worth what you spend on it."
How should I clean and store my vegetable knives?
Hand washing is recommended, which helps your blades last longer. Immediately after use, wash and dry your knives, then store them where the blades won't dull in contact with other utensils — ideally, on a magnetic knife strip or in a knife block.
Other Vegetable Knives We Tested
Shun Classic Chef’s Knife ($170 at Amazon)
This knife sliced beautifully with minimal effort, and we loved its great balance and precision. When we cut squash, we noticed some of it stuck to the blade, which made it harder to work with.
Victorinox 8-Inch Grand Maitre Chef's Knife ($165 at Amazon)
We loved this knife for mincing, and it has enough heft to easily smash a clove of garlic with the side of the blade. However, its slices were less smooth and clean than other knives we tested.
Oxford Chef Kiritsuke Chef's Knife 8-Inch ($90 at Amazon)
This knife is nimble, precise, and makes accurate cuts with ease. However, we found its design less appealing than the others we tested.
Zwilling Gourmet 6.5-inch Nakiri Knife ($84 at Amazon)
This knife is practical and performs well, even if it's a tad heavier than some others. While we were pleased with its performance, we weren't wowed like we were with our top picks.
Made In Paring Knife ($69 at Amazon)
This knife cut clean orange segments without membrane clinging to the fruit and excelled at many other tests we ran it through. We loved its performance and design but felt the price point was a bit high for someone who isn't a serious cook.
Shun Premier Paring Knife ($135 at Amazon)
Shun knives are well-known and tend to perform well, so we weren't surprised that this one does, too. We especially loved its slightly longer than usual 4-inch blade for coring tomatoes. However, it's pricier and weightier for a paring knife, which may take some adjustment, but it may be worth the investment if you want a beautiful, sharp knife.
What Didn't Make the List
Some budget knives we tested, like the Mercer Culinary Millennia 8-Inch Chef's Knife, were not as sharp, precise, or comfortable to use as mid-range and professional-grade options.
We were surprised that the Wüsthof Classic 8-Inch Knife didn't make the list, but as Lewis notes, it isn't ideal for vegetables: "I don't like the German design of this chef's knife. It's an anachronism from an earlier edge for old-fashioned cooks who didn't have access to Japanese-style chef's knives that are lighter and more elegant and slice more evenly through food. The design of the blade is entirely too wide and thick, which means you can't slice larger, thicker vegetables like sweet potatoes evenly. The knife is good for butchering chickens, however. Given the thick hilt and heavy-duty strength of the blade, you could cut easily and consistently through the backbones and breastbones of several chickens before needing to hone the edge."
Japanese knives didn't always make the cut, either. We found the Katsu Kiritsuke 8-Inch Chef's Knife struggled through cuts of vegetables without tearing.
Julia Skinner, PhD is a food writer, author of Our Fermented Lives, culinary educator, and founder of Root, a fermentation and food history consulting education company, wrote this piece using her expertise and our tested insights. She also spoke with Cian O'Sullivan, Head Chef for Gourmet Pantry in Kinsale and Carrigaline, Ireland. Mike Behemoiras, a Jewish Cuban chef from Miami with experience cooking a variety of cuisines all over the South, also lent his expertise. He has won a Good Food Award and has been featured in various food shows around the South. Finally, Hunter Lewis, Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine, helped test the best knives for cutting vegetables.
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Read the original article on Food & Wine.