How to Use Kitchen Knives Safely & Chop Like A Chef

Nobody likes to get wounds and cuts on their hands just because of doing the cook with their knives.

If you’re a beginner, it is important to learn some basic pieces of information on how to use kitchen knives safely. But as usual, this guide will give you more than that! Do you also want to chop like a chef?

Use the right knife for the right job

This is one of the most important things for you to remember because there are many different types of knives out there.

Make sure to always have the correct knife!

Here I’ll teach you how to use the most popular types of knives, including:

Remember, each one has its own functions.

Chef’s knives, utility knives, & Santoku knives

This is the most workhorse in your kitchen based on its versatility. With it, you can do large production, break down onions or peppers. They’re very easy to hold and do numerous chopping tasks.

The proper way of holding this is to put your finger and your thumb at the very back of the knife while wrapping your fingers around it.

how to use a knife

With that way, you have a firm grip and when chopping, you’ll be in control of what you’re doing. It might feel uncomfortable at first but with time, it will become second nature to you.

When slicing something, never pick up the knife too highly. The higher you pick it up, the better chance you have of getting something underneath it.

With the hand holding items to chop, form a bear claw (your fingers go in and the knife will hit up against your knuckles while chopping) to provide your fingers with more control and not under the knife blade.
using a chef knife

Cutting would be like a rocking motion to go down and forward. Remember to really keep the knife’s tip attached to your cutting board.

Bonus: While chef knives come in various blade sizes, you should also pay attention to the handle’s colors. On the knife safety, there’s also food safety involved.

You can color-code your knife with four options – red, green, white, and yellow.

A yellow knife would be used to cut up chickens, green knives will be using for vegetables, and red knives are for meat. From that point, you should only use those for that particular type of food to avoid cross-contamination.

Paring knives

This type of knife is excellent for intricate work due to its sharpness, balance, and lightness.

There are two ways to hold a boning knife – either holding it by the handle or using your thumb and index finger to fix the blade.

The second way is ideal for trimming something out. You can grab a little bit lower down and cut with it but just be careful, don’t grab through the cutting edge.

Boning knives

This is a curved edge bowie knife with a bit of flex in it. The right way to hold it is to wrap your fingers around the handle...or for intricate work like trimming off the bones, you can put your index finger up on top.

Another accessible way to hold a boning knife is reverse grip, which is mainly for trimming meats out.

If you have more knives to use in the kitchen, this in-depth article will give you the needed information about the usage of all knife types.

Keep your cutting board secure

Before you even start shopping, make sure that the cutting board is secure.

A wobbly board can result in your knife slipping and injuries happening. An easy fix is to place a damp paper towel or a non-slip mat underneath your cutting board. Or if you’re about to buy a new board, make sure it has grips.

A few common cuts in recipes

Dice

slicing onion

Onions are probably the most common thing you’re going to dice. For safety, cut it in half first right through the root end. The next step is to peel the outer layers, making sure that the root end is still intact.

With dicing, remember to put the flat side down to get the most stability.

Ensure that you have that claw grip while making some incisions horizontally into the onion then turn it towards you with the root side furthest away.

Again, with that claw, make a few cuts vertically.

Now, turn the onion again and use your knuckles as a guide then start chopping along. Personally, I prefer to use nakiri knife when cutting veggies. However, any vegetable knife would work so choose what suit you the best.

Chiffonade

This cutting technique is commonly used with herbs.

Start with stacking basil leaves in a pile then roll them up from the top, all the way down in a really tight cigar shape. Hold the “basil cigar” by one hand (forming a claw) and slice it in rocking motion. Make sure the knife fully slices down and if you do it correctly, they would look like beautiful ribbons.

Julienne

Julienne carrots

To julienne an item, cut it into shorter segments.

Creating a flat base on each segment then put that flat surface down on the cutting board for extra stability. Now, make 1/8” equal slices down.

Next, stack the slices up like building blocks and make equal 1/8” slices down. As a result, you’ll get beautifully equally sized matchsticks. 

How to walk with a knife or hand someone a knife safely

When you walk with a knife, remember to keep it down by your side with the cutting edge backward. In this way, people around the kitchen will know that you’re holding a sharp knife and don’t accidentally hit it.

Another important thing to remember on knives and knife safety is when you hand someone a knife, grab it by the spine (control it to ensure no one gets hurt) and hand its handle first to someone else.

If you are being given a knife and it doesn’t handle first, do not receive it. Ask them to take it, grab it by the spine and give you the handle first.

Conclusion

To end this guide, I’ll give you some other tips to use kitchen knives more safely:

  • Never slice things freehand over the sink
  • Don’t lick the cream cheese of your butter knife
  • Avoid using the palm of your hand as a cutting board, even in a hurry case
  • Keep the knives sharp

That’s all! Thanks for reading.

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