I've got a limited collection of knives which I was moderately pleased to discover meet the "minimum requirements". But, recent activity on here has got me thinking - am I using them for the correct jobs?

I have:

  • Long (8 inch) flat-blade knife (Chef's?).
  • Short (4.5 inch) flat-blade knife.
  • Very short (3 inch) serrated knife (Paring?).
  • Long serrated bread knife.

We can, I think, ignore the last one as I'm hopefully managing to use that for its intended role.

I currently tend to use the serrated knife for veg with any sort of "skin" (e.g. peppers, tomatoes, onions, etc), the short flat-blade for anything else small enough, and the large knife for meats and anything too big for the smaller flat-blade.

From what I've been reading on here, I get the feeling I'm using them for the wrong jobs - am I?
And what's the best use for each of these knives?

  • Would someone please change 'use' to 'using' in the title. Thanks!
    – Ocaasi
    Aug 1, 2010 at 18:39
  • @Ocaasi & @hobo - ta for fixing that typo + correcting my stupidly short inch-fractional knife lengths...
    – DMA57361
    Aug 1, 2010 at 18:57

3 Answers 3


Well your chef's knife should constitute about 90% of your usage I'd say. It should be used for slicing, dicing just about anything. Your paring knife is actually the 3-4" one you describe. Paring knives are typically used for delicate tasks like, coring apples, peeling, and some people use it for mincing garlic because it's so small.

I've never seen a 2" serrated knife before, so I'm not sure what I'd use that for if anything. If you're using it because it seems to do a better job on the vegetables, then that's a sign that your chef's knife is dull. I have seen tomatoes sliced with a 6" serrated utility knife due to their tenderness. However, you generally don't want to use a serrated knife on an onion, this will cause a lot of the gas to be released that makes you cry.

  • 1
    That pretty much confirmes my suspicions. And, as per another recent question of mine I strongly suspect my knives are probably a bit too blunt at the moment. And I've gone to the effort of measuring my knives - and the 2inch is actually 3in long. Apparently I'm bad at estimates...
    – DMA57361
    Aug 1, 2010 at 19:00

Don't exclude the bread knife just to bread.

I'm sure there are others, but one I've heard of before is it is good for slicing pineapple.

Not sure what the short serrated is either, I've seen mention of a short serrated knife as a "fruit knife" so maybe it is that.


The purpose of using a 6" serrated knife on tomatoes isn't because of their tenderness; actually the opposite. It is because the skins are extremely tough, to the point where if you go through a flat of roma's them with a chef's knife, it will have been significantly dulled. (I used to go through several flats a day at a restaurant, and was amazed to see this).

In a sense it is because of the tenderness though, because the amount of force you have to use to break the tough skin with anything less than a razor-sharp chef's knife will cause some squashing of the interior flesh.

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