An Illustrated Guide to Cutting EVERYTHING—and Which Knife You Should Use

There are a few home skills that signal you've become a bona fide adult. At the top of our list are buying a quality vacuum cleaner and knowing what all the attachments do, the ability to cook turkey to perfection for Thanksgiving, and knowing exactly what every knife in your top drawer is actually used for. The latter might sound simple, but skilled chefs know that every knife is designed for a different purpose, and mastering each makes cooking so much easier.

Can you tell the difference between a chef's knife and a utility knife? What are you supposed to cut with a bread knife, apart from bread? If you don't know the answers to these questions or simply aren't sure which knives are worth investing in for a well-stocked kitchen, we've got the goods. No, a bread knife isn't just for cutting bread. This is what it’s actually for.

Photo: Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

What is it? A small common knife with a shorter blade than a utility knife.

What’s it for? Precision cutting including peeling,trimming, and slicing small fruits. Anything that you need to hold in your hand to cut calls for a paring knife, says Zwilling J.A. Henckels expert Joanna Rosenberg.

Pro tip: Handle it like a pro by holding the small fruit or vegetable in your less dominant hand, clutching it with your fingers for control. When you cut with your dominant hand, use your thumb as a guide for precision.

Wüsthof Classic 3 1/2" Paring Knife $78 $50

For more of Rosenberg’s knife tips plus our market picks, click through the gallery, and pin or print our quick overview below for future reference!

Photo: Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Ready to dig your cleaver into something? Not so fast. Learn how to pick a perfectly ripe watermelon first.