What Does Pare Mean in Cooking?

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Are you someone who likes to try out different ways to cook food? You may have constantly heard of new cooking terms when you watch cooking-based reality TV shows—from sous vide and searing to broiling, roasting, and so on.

Have you heard of paring, though? What does pare mean in cooking?

When you think of pare cooking, the first thing that may come to your mind is the paring knife. As you are aware, one of the most common uses of the paring knife is to peel ingredients.

What Does Pare Mean in Cooking?

To pare something means to remove the skin of a vegetable or a fruit, such as potatoes, with the help of a paring knife or a traditional peeler. This may also be referred to as scrape or peel.

In all honesty, the term “pare” is pretty old-fashioned now and is something that is not used much in recipes. As mentioned earlier, it just means to peel something. While a paring knife works great in doing this, it does take some time getting the hang of it.

If you don’t feel confident about using a paring knife, you can simply use a traditional peeler that is made especially for this purpose. Make sure that you are only removing the skin of the food. Try to leave as much of the flesh of it behind as you can.

How to Pare

  • Begin by holding the fruit or the vegetable in your non-dominant hand and then hold the peeler or the paring knife in your dominant hand.
  • Start carefully peeling away the skin of the fruit or vegetable in your direction until it is all removed.
  • For a beginner, a swivel-bladed peeler, where the blade pivots around the base of the utensil, is a great tool to opt for. This will move with ease around the fruit and will not waste much of the flesh.

If you don’t have a peeler or a paring knife and you need to buy one, then we would recommend buying a paring knife ​of the two. The paring knife has a lot of other applications compared to a traditional peeler, and once you get the hang of using this knife, you will never go back to using a peeler. You can read our view of the best paring knives on the market today.

What Is a Paring Knife?

A paring knife is a relatively smaller knife compared to your regular kitchen knife. While this is not as commonly found in most kitchens, we believe that every home should have a good paring knife.

The paring knife is a specialty knife; by that, we mean that this is meant to be used for very specific tasks. While not everyone may agree with this, several top chefs in the world consider paring knives to be the second most important piece of knife in their kitchen, just after a chef’s knife.

Buying a Paring Knife

It is not enough that you know what is a paring knife; you also have to educate yourself about how you can choose the best model. It is a known fact that paring knives are used primarily for delicate tasks, which is why it is essential that you invest in a high-end paring knife. You will definitely be thankful for ​spending a little extra money, ​the right knife will last you a lifetime.

Some of a high-end paring knife’s features that you will need to consider include:

Blade Size

Paring knives tend to come in various sizes, but the ones that measure between 3.25 and 3.5 inches are the best ones to work with.

Blade-to-Handle Ratio

The blade-to-handle ratio applies to both the weight and size. You will need the blade and handle to be about the same size, and you will want its weight to be properly balanced, as well.

The knife should not be heavy on either end; else, it will be very clunky to use.

Comfortable Grip

The grip is another important factor you must closely consider since this is the part of the knife that you will grasp tightly every time you use it. Make sure that this is as comfortable as possible and does not hurt your hand.

If you are on the market for a full knife set, then we recommend you look for a paring knife along with it. In fact, several knife sets come with two paring knives. We believe that having two paring knives is better than having just one.

Different Types of Paring Knife

Even within paring knives, there are different types. You will often find that there are two different paring knife sizes: a three- to four-inch blade and a two- to three-inch blade. The latter often tends to have a curved blade and is called a bird’s beak paring knife.

We would recommend having both these types of paring knives. However, if you had to choose one, we suggest choosing the longer curved blade because you can use it to cut other food on a cutting board as well as with trimming the fat from meat.

Our pick of the bunch when it comes to pairing knives is the Wusthof Classic High Carbon Steel Paring Knife, check out our review.

In all cases, avoid using an overly rounded blade that has a tip turned up at a sharp angle. This makes using the point of the knife rather difficult when you want to core or hull a fruit or vegetable.

As mentioned earlier, the sweet spot for a good paring knife is between 3.25 and 3.5 inches. However, you do get paring knives that are as long as five inches. That said, these tend to be quite rare.


With this article, we are sure you now know what ​pare means in cooking. To sum it up, ​it simply means ​to peel a fruit or vegetable. ​It is a fairly old term, which is why you ​will not hear ​it ​often. Nevertheless, it is always good to know what it is to improve your culinary skills.

So, the next time you are trying to impress your friends, make sure that you keep referring to peeling foods as paring them!

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