Every kitchen needs a good set of professional knives. From carving and paring to slicing and dicing, you need to have the paring knife for these needs. So, what is a paring knife used for?
A paring knife is one of the knives you need to have to complete your kitchen. It’s a small, maneuverable, slightly curved knife that is perfect for slicing, peeling, and any other precise task when it comes to food preparation.
For this article, we will explain what is a paring knife and how to use it. We will also list the top six products currently on the market, so you can know which one to choose.
What Is A Paring Knife Used For?
Paring knives are small and short blades that you should use for intricate cutting, mincing, dicing, and peeling. These knives are kept simple, precise, and sharp, and they are ideal for any precise knifework you might have.
Paring knives are extremely versatile, and for a professional chief, they are invaluable. They can be used for a plethora of activities and food types, including vegetables, meat, and fish. For example, you can use a paring knife for:
- Peeing, slicing, and coring vegetables
- Removing seeds from fruit and vegetable
- Testing tenderness
- Mincing herbs
- Skinning mushrooms
- Eyeing potatoes
- Crushing garlic
- Segmenting citrus fruit
- Hulling strawberries
- De-veining prawns
- Scoring meat
- Shucking oysters
- Filleting small fish
- Trimming fat from meat
And many other precise food preparation activities that might benefit from a thin, precise blade.
Types Of Paring Knives
Once you know what is a paring knife used for, you might be planning on purchasing one. Still, you should know that not all of them are the same. In fact, there are four different types of paring knives!
Here are all of them, so you can know the difference.
Spear Tip Paring Knife
This is the classic paring knife that you’ll mostly see being advertised. It has a smooth, short, and outwardly curved blade. This shape helps the chef to slice and dice without applying too much pressure. This can make you feel as if the knife is doing all the work!
This type of paring knife is best used for coring, peeling, and slicing fruits and veggies. However, it is good for most other kitchen jobs, making it an excellent multi-purpose knife.
The only problem with this type of paring knife is that its cutting edge can be too small for some jobs.
Bird’s Beak Paring Knife
This type of paring knife has a concave blade that is shaped like a sickle, and it comes with a very sharp tip. In fact, it got the name because of this unique shape.
This paring knife is best used for delicate decorative work or peeling and coring fruits and veggies. Thanks to its shape, you can cut without much waste. However, it can be difficult to sharpen, so you might need some skill for that.
Sheep’s Foot Paring Knife
This is the smooth, straight, and flat blade with a rounded tip. The shape allows only the blade’s point to touch the board during the chop. However, this rounded tip means this knife type isn’t as sharp as many others.
Still, you can use this knife for Julienne cutting, and it’s also perfect for chopping cheese – both soft and hard. Also, it can stay sharp for a very long time.
Western-Style Japanese Paring Knife
These knives are shaped similarly to spear point paring knives, but the blade isn’t as curved. Most of these knives are made from the harder steel, which means they are extremely sharp and precise.
Their sharpness makes them a perfect choice for decorative garnishing and intricate carving and cutting since it gives you great control.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to watch out your fingers, as cuts are common.
What Is The Best Paring Knife?
Now that you know what is a paring knife used for, it’s time to see which great products exist on the market. Here is our top six list!
1. Wusthof Classic 3 ½-Inch Paring Knife
Don’t let the price pull you away – this high-end paring knife is worth every cent you’ll spend on it. You’ll know why the moment you take it out of the pack! The handle is perfectly balanced while the design is timeless.
With this knife, you’ll have a high level of control and amazing maneuverability. It will stand comfortably in your hand no matter the activity you’re doing with it. The sharp blade will enable you to complete any chopping work quickly and flawlessly.
- Enables quick cutting
- Balanced handle
2. Victorinox 3-Inch Paring Knife With Straight Edge
This is a simple knife with a budget-friendly price. While it isn’t of superb quality, it has an amazing value for the price, and it does an excellent job cutting. It is very lightweight, so you can easily use it even off the cutting board. In fact, when it comes to how easy it is to use, it isn’t far behind several times more expensive models!
This knife won’t tire your hands, and it will help you do plenty of quick cutting in your kitchen. However, it isn’t as durable as some other, more premium models – but for such a low price, this isn’t an issue.
- Very sharp
- Not durable
3. Global GS-38 Classic 3.5-Inch Paring Knife
This is a sturdy knife with a very sharp edge made from Japanese steel. While it isn’t as good for every kitchen job out there, it excels at most of them.
The main feature that makes this knife stand out from the rest is its extraordinary handle. It is hollow and textured, so it gives you perfect control of the blade while remaining lightweight and easy to use.
The blade itself is the perfect length, so it won’t be too short compared to many other paring knives. Not to mention that the handle is pretty looking, making this a perfect addition to every kitchen!
- Balanced blade
- Not as good for every kitchen task
4. Mercer Culinary Genesis 3.5-Inch Forged Paring Knife
If you’re a somewhat experienced cook, then you’re probably already familiar with the Mercer brand. It makes some of the best knife kits out there – in fact, most culinary schools use Mercer kitchen utensils.
While this blade isn’t of premium quality, it has an amazing value for the price. It is very sharp for the price range, and it can cut through almost anything you want it to cut! Veggies or meat, nothing can withstand it.
The biggest complaint about this model, however, is its weight. This is a bulky knife with a heavy handle that can feel a bit awkward in the hands.
- Very sharp
- Heavy and bulky
5. J.A. Henckels International Classic 4-Inch Paring Knife
While a bit too long for a paring knife, this is a durable product that can do most of the work really well. It has a standard design, so it will most likely fit other kitchen utensils you already have.
The blade is made from German stainless steel, making it durable and sharp. While precise, the length makes this knife a bit uncomfortable to use. You may have issues doing some more delicate tasks with it.
If anything else, this knife is dishwasher-safe, so you can clean it up with ease once you’re finished using it.
- Modern design
- Too long handle
6. Kuhn Rikon Colori Paring Knife
If you want to look like a ninja while dicing onions and strawberries, then this might be the right knife for you. It comes in full color and sports a nonstick carbon steel blade, making it really sharp and easy to clean.
Uniquely to this knife, it comes with a plastic sheath, so you can take it with you on the road. However, keep in mind that the plastic handle is somewhat slippery, so it can fall out of your hands, which isn’t a good thing.
- Comes with a sheath
- Nonstick carbon steel blade
- Great design
- Plastic handle’s slippery
Paring Knife Buyer’s Guide
Once you know what a paring knife is used for and which are some of the good blades you can find, you may wonder what makes a knife stand out from the rest.
Here’s what you need to look for in the best paring knife for your kitchen!
A knife needs to be comfortable so you can hold it with ease. This is essential for people struggling with hand strength. You don’t want anything to go wrong while using a knife! Handles that are shaped ergonomically will be easier to grip. If possible, search for knives with textured handles or handles made of rubber. Also, consider the length of the handle and the size of your hand. If you have a small hand, you’ll find a long handle uncomfortable, and vice versa.
We’ve already counted all four types of paring knives. Search for the one that suits your needs the best, and the one that you can take care of. The shape and length of the blade need to be considered in every aspect. While most people are familiar with traditional curved blade shapes, there is no reason why you shouldn’t experiment a bit if you feel comfortable enough. Experimenting with blades is especially handy when making decorative carvings.
A knife needs to be sharp to be able to fulfill its purpose. Also, it needs to stay sharp, and any necessary maintenance needs to be as easy as possible. There is no purpose in purchasing a knife that isn’t sharp enough to cut through everything you need or a knife you need to sharpen every little while. A good idea would be to look for a knife made with a high-carbon stainless steel blade.
Of course, in the end, many things come down to the price. Cheap, standard knives are something that you should always have in your kitchen, as they are the best for everyday chopping tasks. However, you cannot have a complete utensil set without at least one good, luxurious paring knife. When you decide to buy a premium product, make sure it has a decent warranty, as well. A good knife should have a warranty of one to five years, or even longer.
The Bottom Line
Every cook – novice or expert – should know what is a paring knife used for, and have at least one in their cabinet. These knives are especially useful for those picky, delicate tasks that other knives are too long and bulky for.
We hope now you understand what makes these utensils different from the rest, and what you should look for in the best paring knife for you. Of course, you are free to look for other products with the guide we’ve given you, but we welcome you to try any of the knives we’ve listed – you won’t be sorry.