Santoku Knife vs Chef Knife

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Cooking is perhaps one of the best hobbies or vocations one could ever take on. There’s nothing better than staying in the kitchen with all your ingredients prepared and getting your santoku knife—or perhaps your chef knife?— to slice your meat.

We’re a bit confused, is it a santoku knife or a chef knife that you need? Does it really matter? Let’s find out! To those not familiar with the best kitchen knives, they may look similar, but in the battle between santoku knife vs chef knife, we’re about to find out their differences.

What Is a Santoku Knife?

The santoku knife is the Japanese, shorter counterpart of the chef knife. Ranging from five to eight inches in length, these knives are designed to distribute a balanced weight on both sides of the blade.

The name santoku literally translates to “three virtues,” although it’s quite unclear what these virtues are. Some believe they’re vegetables, meat, and fish, while others believe they stand for slicing, chopping, and dicing.

Santoku Knife Features

Santoku knives are characterized by a wide blade and the absence of a tip. Instead of a pointed end at the front, the dull spine opposite the blade is slightly curved downward where the front edge of the blade is straight.

Some versions of the santoku blade are one-sided, while others are characterized by a bevel on both sides. No matter what type of santoku blade you use, what will really catch your attention is how thin the blades are compared to chef knives.

Because of these thin blades, the weight of the knife is perfectly distributed, and they are significantly lighter than chef knives. The shortest santoku knife is around five inches, while the longest is around eight inches.

Best Uses of a Santoku Knife

Santoku knives are a great choice for those with small hands since they are lighter and shorter compared to their counterparts. Because of its thin blades, a santoku knife performs well in delivering thin slices.

A santoku knife is best used for meat cutting, dicing, or chopping vegetables and fruits, slicing cheese, and making fine slices for seafood.

Sharpening a Santoku Knife

Since santoku knives are generally single-beveled, sharpening them is quite easy. A finer angle is also easily achieved because of how thin the blade of a santoku knife is.

To sharpen a santoku knife, you must first submerge it in water. After soaking, tilt it at an angle of around 10 to 15 degrees, and run it on the whetstone smoothly. Continue doing so until you’ve achieved the desired sharpness.

What Is a Chef Knife?

The chef knife originated from the Western part of the globe and is basically a cutting tool used to disjoint or slice big portions of beef. It’s used for different purposes and can be expected to perform well in doing various kitchen tasks.

Chef Knife Features

To be precise, the chef knife was born in France and Germany. As compared to a santoku knife that doesn’t have a tip, chef knives are equipped with broad blades and end with a tip. The spine of a chef knife is around 1.5 inches thick, making it heavier than santoku knives.

Chef knives are also double-beveled, meaning that the knife edge can be found on both sides of the blade. The shortest chef knife is around six inches, while the longest ones you can find may reach up to 12 or 14 inches.

Best Uses of a Chef Knife

A chef knife is one of the most versatile types of knives you may find in a kitchen, which is probably why it’s popular among professional cooks. Because of its heavier weight, chef knives are great for cutting large chunks of meat.

It’s also a great choice for chopping or dicing fruits and vegetables. However, although it can also be used for slicing cheese, it’s important to note that it doesn’t make fine slices as a santoku knife does.

Sharpening a Chef Knife

Chef knives are double-beveled, which means sharpening them are a bit harder as compared to santoku knives.

To sharpen a chef knife, you have to use both hands. Use your dominant hand to hold the handle, and your less dominant hand to press on the dull spine of the blade.

Tilt it at an angle of about 15 to 20 degrees and run it along the whetstone continuously. Repeat the process on the other side of the blade and continue doing so until the desired sharpness is achieved.

Santoku Knife Vs Chef Knife

It has now come to the moment where we need to lay both knives side by side and look at what they have to offer. Which one would come out the victor?

You’re probably sitting there scratching your head, pondering on the advantages and disadvantages of both knives, making it even harder to decide. Don’t bother, because there’s not really one superior knife among the two.

If you’re usually faced with large chunks of meat, or you want to reduce the amount of pressure and energy you apply on your knife when you cut meat, then certainly, the heavier and longer chef knife is a better choice.

On the other hand, if you regularly use your knife for finer slices, like cheese and seafood, or if you have small hands and would want a knife that’s quite easy to grip, then the santoku knife is obviously the smart choice.


In the battle between the santoku knife vs chef knife, we don’t have to cut corners and compromise the quality of food we can offer. When you’re faced with the dilemma of using a knife to cut the food in front of you, there are certain things you need to consider. How thin are the slices? How hard would it be to cut this piece of meat? What type of food are you cutting, slicing, dicing, or chopping?

When you find the answers to these questions, you definitely would have an answer as to which among the two knives is the best one to use. Better yet, have both knives at your disposal so you’re ready for whatever may come your way. It’s not really a battle between the better knife, but rather, a battle between a better cut.