Learn These Kitchen Knife Cutting Basics

Learn some kitchen knife cutting basics to give yourself the confidence to food prep like a pro. However, as with learning any new skill, starting slow and practice are the keys to success.

One of the first things to pay attention to when learning how to use a kitchen knife is how it feels in your hand and how it moves along the cutting board. Is the knife easy to hold, well balanced and sharp?

When holding a knife it should feel like an extension of your hand. It should be comfortable to hold and easy to maneuver. Cutco’s knife handles make it easy. They are ergonomically designed to lock the thumb and forefinger into place for a secure, easy grip for less fatigue and more control while cutting.

How to hold your knives.

It’s also acceptable to hold the knife in a pinch grip, which you’ll see many professional chefs to, where your forefinger and thumb pinch the blade near the handle.

Now that you’ve got a kitchen knife that feels good in your hand, it’s time to work on technique.

Most knives, straight-edge knives in particular, cut best when moving them forward and down. This motion allows the knife to do the work, using less force. It should be a fluid movement keeping the knife in better alignment for uniform cutting.

Santoku with cut up ingredients.

Here are a few other knife cutting basics to keep in mind:

Begin the cut toward the tip of the knife and push the knife forward across the food until you reach the heel. If you reach the heel before completing the cut, pull straight back and repeat the forward motion.

For foods that sit high on the cutting board, like onions and potatoes, start with the blade toward the tip of the knife on the food.

Cut with the knife tip first.

Depending on the food you’re cutting you may have to adjust the motion. For example, for smaller foods, like carrots and celery, start with the tip of the blade on the cutting board, but use the same forward and down motion.

A Petite Chef being used to dice carrots.

For mincing small items, like herbs and garlic, use a rocking motion, placing your opposite hand flat on the top of the blade. Rock the knife along the sharp, curved edge and pivot it across the food without lifting the tip of the knife from the cutting board.

With all that being said, it’s also important to use a sharp knife for a fluid cutting motion that uses less force. A sharp knife is safer to use and allows you to make smooth, uniform cuts.

For continued good performance, maintain your knives by periodically sharpening your knives at home and then having them professionally sharpened every few years or when home sharpening just isn’t cutting it any longer.

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