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Left to right: paring knife, serrated knife, chef's knife.

Which Knives do you Really Need?
By Tanya Milosevich

I love shopping for kitchen stuff but the truth is you don’t need much to have a well-stocked kitchen. Possibly the single most important tool to have is a small but decent set of knives for slicing, cutting, and chopping. Though I have owned many kinds of knives, and sets of knives, I have found that there are really only three knives that you need for most common kitchen jobs:

1. Chef’s knife

This is my multi-purpose tool. You want to find one that feels good in your hand, is well-balanced,  and the right size for your grip. I tend to use one that has a 6 or 7-inch blade. This is what you need to chop all manner of vegetables and protein.

2. Serrated Knife

This is a must for slicing bread and tomatoes, otherwise you end up smushing the tomatoes or bread instead of slicing them.

3. Paring knife

I love my paring knife! It’s small and sharp and perfect for slicing around the middle of a peach or plum.

Knife Tips

  • Spend on quality:  Invest in buying nice, high quality knives that can be sharpened.
  • Stay sharp: It’s important to keep your knives sharp. Take them to a local sharpener or buy a whetstone and learn how to sharpen them yourself.
    Sharp knives make all the difference. When the knives are dull, the job will take twice as long and won’t be as much fun. I keep my whetstone in the drawer and sharpen the knife just a little each time before using.
  • Hold close: Holding the knife close to the blade is more ergonomic and makes it easier to use and control. Choke up on the handle so your thumb and forefinger are just barely touching the blade and chop away!
  • Prevent slippage: Put a kitchen towel under your cutting board to prevent it from slipping around while you’re working and have some fun!


Tanya Milosevich is a San Francisco-based baker and cook.


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