Precise and delicate―it's the expert of the knife family.
With its blade of 2 1/2 to 4 inches, this looks like a miniature chef's knife, but its use is very different. The paring knife is great for peeling fruits and vegetables; slicing a single garlic clove or shallot; controlled, detailed cutting, such as cutting shapes or vents into dough; and scoring designs and patterns on surfaces of food. Use it for any job that requires precise and delicate work, like removing the ribs from a jalapeño or coring an apple.
Unlike the chef's knife, which is always used on a cutting board, you can cut with the paring knife while holding it aloft, as though it is an extension of your hand. The small handle gives the cook maximum control over the tip and the edge of the blade.
Eating healthy should still be delicious.
Sign up for our daily newsletter for more great articles and tasty, healthy recipes.
Three More Tasks for a Paring Knife
Hull strawberries: Use the tip of the knife to remove the stem and carve out the white center core from the stem end of each berry.
Section an orange or lemon: Hold the fruit over a bowl to catch all the juice that drips down. Peel the fruit to the flesh, then cut between the white membranes to extract each section. Because you hold the fruit as you cut it, this job is much safer when performed with a paring knife than with a chef's knife.
Devein shrimp: Cut a shallow slit down the outside curve of the shrimp; remove the dark vein, and rinse the shrimp under cold water.
What To Look For
Most professional cooks use a high-carbon steel, forged knife with a full tang, meaning the blade metal runs from the tip of the knife through the handle to the opposite end.
The Blade: In a forged knife, the blade is formed from heated metal and is individually hammered. The best blades are made from a mixture of alloys that help a knife take and hold a sharp cutting edge and resist corrosion. Look for a high-carbon stainless-steel blade with a Rockwell rating of at least 55, which indicates the knife sharpens easily and holds its edge. The Rockwell Scale is a measure of steel hardness, and it should be listed on the knife's product description.
Handle: Look for a handle with a precise fitting and no gaps or burrs. It should feel comfortable and secure. Materials range from wood to Bakelite to stainless steel and should have enough weight to balance the blade.
The 2 Best Paring Knives on America’s Test Kitchen
It is awesome when you can get top rated products for less! The other day I was watching America’s Test Kitchen on PBS and they were testing out paring knives. They were comparing the most expensive and most economical knives to see how they stacked up to each other. They compared almost 20 knives for durability, sharpness, ergonomic handle and more.
By the end of the episode, they had come to a decision on the top two best paring knives. After watching the episode I jumped on Amazon to see how much the top knives cost, and I was surprised by the results.
Why do you need a paring knife?
Most of you probably already know what to use a paring knife for, but here’s a quick refresher: A paring knife is a smaller knife that is meant to be used for more precise tasks. This could include things like peeling fruits or vegetables, chopping things up really finely, or even coring an apple. There are so many great uses for paring knives, you could even use them to test if your cake is fully cooked!
The most versatile paring knife: Kuhn Rikon Colori Paring Knife
This inexpensive paring knife has an easy-to-grip plastic handle that feels like it contours to your hand. The top of the handle has a mini bolster, like a finger guard, that makes it comfortable to choke up on the knife and complete all sorts of detailed cutting tasks. The blade (made of Japanese carbon steel) is sharp out of the box and has no problem peeling apples and slicing through hard cheese. Amazon reviewers as well as Epi staffers who use this knife regularly note that it stays sharp for a long time—plus, unlike most other knives, you can even toss it in the dishwasher. For a whopping $8, it's a low-maintenance workhorse that'll get plenty of use in your kitchen.
Recipes: A Father’s Day feast of rib-eye steak and more
Rib-Eye Steaks With Rosemary and Pomegranate Molasses. Connie Miller of CB Creatives
This year for Father’s Day, it’s easier than ever to give a heartfelt meal upgrade to your favorite meat and potatoes guy. Inspired by a magnificent rib-eye steak we had in Turkey, we turn to the fruity, tangy-sweet flavor of pomegranate molasses, the savoriness of onion, and the resinous notes of fresh rosemary for a marinade that deliciously complements the richness and smoky char of the beef. As a side, we boil small potatoes and then grill them over a hot fire. Next we brighten the flavors by serving them with minced, fresh oregano and lemon wedges. And for a counterpoint to cut through the heft, we treat parsley like a salad green and mix it with thinly sliced red onion and a sprinkle of tart sumac.
Rib-Eye Steaks With Rosemary and Pomegranate Molasses
Our adaptation of a superb grilled rib-eye steak prepared by Naci Isik at Manzara Restaurant in Sögüt, Turkey, hews closely to the chef’s recipe, with a few modifications for cooking in a home kitchen, while also using ingredients available in the United States. We recommend pomegranate molasses that does not contain added sugar its flavor is purer and more intense than types made with sweetener.
Take care to scrape off the marinade and pat the steaks dry before grilling. The marinade contains moisture and sugar that inhibit browning and cause sticking. Making sure the steaks are as clean and dry as possible when they hit the grill grate will help with better browning and easier release.
1 medium white onion, peeled and cut lengthwise into quarters
¼ cup pomegranate molasses, plus more to serve
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or ¾ teaspoon sweet paprika plus ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary, divided
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 12- to 14-ounce boneless rib-eye steaks (about 1-inch thick), patted dry
Grape-seed or other neutral oil, for brushing
2 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 4 pieces
Set a box grater in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Grate the onion quarters on the large holes, allowing the pulp and juice to fall into the dish. To the grated onion, stir in the pomegranate molasses, Aleppo pepper, 1 teaspoon of rosemary, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Add the steaks and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours flip the steaks once or twice while marinating. If refrigerated for longer than 1 hour, remove the steaks from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before grilling.
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. For a charcoal grill, ignite three-fourths of a large chimney of coals, let burn until lightly ashed over, then distribute the coals evenly over one side of the grill bed open the bottom grill vents. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 minutes, then clean and oil the grill grate. For a gas grill, turn all burners to high and heat the grill, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate.
Scrape any excess marinade off the steaks and pat dry with paper towels. Brush one side of the steaks with oil, then place oiled-side down on the grill (on the hot side if using charcoal). Cover and cook until nicely charred on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Brush the side facing up with oil, then flip the steaks. Cover and cook until the second sides are nicely charred and the centers reach 120 degrees (for medium-rare), another 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the steaks to a serving platter, sprinkle each with the remaining rosemary, and top each with 2 pieces of butter. Tent with foil and let rest for about 10 minutes.
Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and cut them into thin slices on the diagonal. Return to the platter and pour over the juices from the cutting board. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper and, if desired, drizzle with additional pomegranate molasses.
Armenian Grilled Potatoes
When purchasing potatoes for this recipe, look for ones about the size of an extra-large egg and that weigh about 2 ounces each. And for even cooking, try to select potatoes of similar shape and size. The potatoes can be precooked and refrigerated up to a day in advance just before grilling, skewer them, brush with the lard or salted butter, and season with salt and pepper. You’ll need three or four sturdy 12- to 14-inch metal skewers skewers with pins that are flat rather than round or square help prevent the potatoes from spinning around, making them easier to manage on the grill.
2 pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes
2 tablespoons lard or salted butter, melted
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
In a large pot over high heat, bring the potatoes and enough water to cover by about 1 inch to a boil. Reduce to medium-high heat, cover partially, and cook until a paring knife inserted into the largest potato meets just a little resistance, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle but steady simmer, 8 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice water. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then transfer to the ice water. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain again and pat dry with paper towels.
Thread the potatoes lengthwise onto three 12- to 14-inch flat metal skewers, dividing them evenly. Using a paring knife, make 4 or 5 parallel crosswise cuts into each potato, stopping when the knife blade reaches the skewer leave the other sides of the potatoes uncut. Brush the potatoes all over with about half of the lard and season with salt and pepper.
Prepare a grill for high-heat cooking. For a charcoal grill, pour a large chimney of hot coals evenly over one side of the grill bed and open the bottom grill vents and lid vents for a gas grill, turn the burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate.
Place the skewered potatoes on the hot side of the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a platter, then brush with the remaining lard. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper and the oregano. Serve with lemon wedges.
Turkish Red Onion and Parsley Salad With Sumac (Sogan Piyazi). Connie Miller of CB Creatives
Turkish Red Onion and Parsley Salad With Sumac (Sogan Piyazi)
This simple salad, called sogan piyazi in Turkish, is perfect as a bright, fresh counterpoint to rich dishes such as grilled meats and kebabs. It’s also great alongside roasted beef, lamb, or poultry, or tucked into a flatbread-wrapped sandwich. Many versions call for white or yellow onion, but we prefer the color contrast of red onion against the deep-green parsley.
If you can’t find sumac, add a mix of 1 teaspoon ground coriander, ¼ teaspoon ground cumin, and ¾ teaspoon sweet paprika.
Add the lemon juice and sumac to the onion after you’ve massaged the slices with salt for about 1 minute. The salt softens the onion slices so that their crunch isn’t quite so raw. After that, allowing the salt-rubbed onion to stand with the lemon and sumac mellows any harsh, pungent flavors.
1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
4 teaspoons ground sumac (see headnote)
1½ cups lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
In a medium bowl, combine the onion and ½ teaspoon salt. Using your fingers, massage the salt into the onion until the slices soften and wilt, about 1 minute. Stir in the lemon juice and sumac, then let stand for about 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley, olive oil, and ¼ teaspoon pepper, then taste and season with salt.
Paring knife (curve edge or straight edge).
This is my second post. I was thinking about getting a boning knife to accommodate my all-purpose knife, but now I am considering a paring knife first. I think one of you guys talked me into it. My question is about traditional curve edge and straight edge. In case, I am being confusing. Here are two examples:
The way I see is that the curve edge is better is most occasions because the user can cut in at various angle while the curvature accommodates it, whereas the user need to be more exact when he/she is using a straight edge. However, the straight edge is better for peeling a flat skin off fruits or vegetables for food prep. For example, only a straight-edge knife can do this:
Of course, I am not going to cut a huge daikon with a paring knife, but you get my point. Is there any advantage of a straight edge paring knife? Anyone here actually prefer a straight edge paring knife? If so, can you name at least one reason?
Compared to most other kitchen knives, the paring knife is the baby of the family and often comes in sets (like this 6-knife set and this 3-knife set from F.N. Sharp).
With a blade measuring only 2 ½ to 4 inches long, the paring knife is shaped like a chef’s knife in miniature with a curved blade and pointed tip however, its small size makes it the perfect choice for ingredients that require detailed handwork, from peeling fruits and vegetables to scoring meats and deveining shrimp.
If you haven’t experienced the power of this handy little knife yet, then read on for its many, many uses and why it’s sure to become one of your favorite kitchen tools.
Using a Paring Knife for Slicing and Mincing
While a chef’s knife is the perfect tool for mincing ingredients like onions or bell peppers, it’s much more cumbersome to use for dainty items like shallots, garlic cloves, herbs or even pitting and chopping dates . That's where the paring knife comes in.
For these small tasks, you’ll use the paring knife much like you would its larger counterpart. Place the food on a cutting board (preferably a wooden one, like this beauty from F.N. Sharp) and hold the knife with your fingers wrapped around the handle, thumb pinched against the handle or the flat of the blade near the handle. Keep the fingers of your off-hand curled into the "claw" position as you hold your ingredient to slice or mince.
Using a Paring Knife for Peeling
A sharp paring knife is just the right tool for stripping the peel off an apple or a potato in one long, curly strip. Since this is most easily accomplished while holding the food in your hand, rather than setting it on a cutting board, you’ll need to slightly adjust your knife grip.
To hold the paring knife for detailed handwork, wrap your fingers around the hilt with the blade facing your thumb. Your thumb stays free to help guide the cut, so make sure you have a comfortable and controlled grip without having to force the blade.
A sharp paring knife makes all the difference when you’re peeling, allowing you to skim away the skin without taking much of the flesh below. Use this technique for thin-skinned fruits and vegetables that are easily held in your hand. For larger items, or thick-skinned fruits like citrus, set the food on a cutting board and remove the skin by slicing downward.
Test Your Paring Knife Skills With This Recipe: Antipasto Crostini
Using a Paring Knife for Segmenting
If you’re not a fan of bitter orange pith or want clean, gleaming segments of citrus for a salad or a garnish, break out your paring knife and practice segmenting. Also called “supreming”, this is the process of removing the peel and pith of citrus fruits, and then removing each segment cleanly from the surrounding membranes. If you’ve ever had canned mandarin oranges, completely free of tough membrane and bitter pith, that’s essentially the end result of careful segmenting.
To segment fruit, slice the stem and blossom ends off to provide a flat surface. Set the fruit on a cutting board and slice downward to remove the peel and pith in long strips. Then use the tip of your paring knife to trace out each segment individually and remove them. Voila! Perfectly segmented citrus.
Try Segmenting With This Recipe: Italian Candied Fruit
Using a Paring Knife for Trimming, Hulling & Cleaning
There are a multitude of little kitchen tasks that require fine detail, like trimming the ribs from peppers, hulling strawberries or deveining shrimp. A paring knife is perfectly suited to all of these.
When it comes to hulling strawberries, use the same knife grip used for peeling to neatly snip the leafy caps off strawberries in one slice. Or you can preserve their shape by using the tip of the knife to cut a cone-shaped core from the top of the berry to remove both the leaves and the tougher flesh at the stem end. Use the same technique to core tomatoes without getting juice everywhere.
The pointed tip of the paring knife also comes in handy when deveining shrimp. To do this, make a shallow slice down the back of the shrimp to expose the vein, then use the tip of the knife to carefully lift it out. This can be done with both peeled and unpeeled shrimp.
Put Your Paring Knife to the Test: 21 Easy Shrimp Recipes
Using a Paring Knife for Scoring
Scoring is the process of making many thin slices into the surface of items like breads, pies and meats. For baking bread , scoring the top of the dough allows it to rise and expand as it bakes. Simply cut a series of shallow slashes—three is usually enough for a standard sized loaf, though long loaves like baguettes may need more—to allow the bread to rise and expand.
For two-crust pies, whether sweet or savory, score the top crust to allow steam to escape and prevent the sealed edges from leaking. In this case, you can use the precision of a paring knife to express your creativity as well as your culinary skills. Cut simple straight lines or decorative shapes into the pastry—whatever suits your fancy!
When it comes to meats, you can use your paring knife to score through thick layers of fat. This helps release some of the fat as it cooks and helps the meat absorb the flavors of any herbs or spices you’ve applied.
How to Care for a Paring Knife
If you take good care of your knives, they’ll take good care of you. Keeping your knives clean and well maintained ensures they’re always ready for the next job.
While this little knife may fit perfectly in the utensil basket, you should never wash your knives in the dishwasher. This is a very harsh environment for these strong, yet delicate tools. Putting your knives in the dishwasher puts them at risk for damage to the blade, from chips and scratches to rust and discoloring to a dull blade .
Keep your knives clean and in perfect condition by hand washing with warm, soapy water and be sure to wipe them dry before placing back in your knife block – a nother kitchen essential . Just like hand washing, storing your knives in a knife block (like this beauty from F.N. Sharp ) is an important part of caring for your knives.
More Bad Habits to Avoid in the Kitchen: The Kitchen Knife Safety Guide
How to Sharpen a Paring Knife
When it comes to sharpening your paring knife, there are a few different sharpening tools available , but the best thing you can do is leave it up to the professionals. This may seem like a waste for such a tiny blade, but that’s exactly why it’s important. Using home sharpeners seems easy enough, but they can easily chip or destroy the edge of your blade – and with such a small blade, the last thing you want to do is take too much off or completely destroy its edge.
The Most Common Knives in a Knife Block
If you bought a set of knives complete with a butcher&aposs block and sharpening tool ($55 amazon.com), then at the bare minimum, you probably own the five most common types of knives available.
- a chef knife
- a utility knife
- a bread knife
- a carving knife
- a paring knife
"Those would be the standard pieces," Donovan explains. "However, there&aposs also the Santoku knife, boning knife, butcher knife, and carving fork that would make up a more complete set."
To help you get a handle on these five basics, Donovan explains exactly what to use each type of knife in your butcher&aposs block to cut:
1. Chef Knife
"With a straight edge and slightly rounded belly, this knife is good for chopping, dicing, and mincing on the cutting board," Donovan says. "This is an all-around good knife to have for prepping fruits and veggies" — and it&aposs probably one of the knives you&aposll use most often, too, since it&aposs essential for meal prep.
2. Utility Knife
Second only to the chef knife in frequent use, "this is a knife with a blade that&aposs usually about 4- to 5-inches long," Donovan explains. "Think of it as a large paring knife that can slice, core, and trim," which is why Cutco&aposs version is called the Trimmer.
3. Bread Knife
With jagged, saw-like edges, a bread knife gently "saws" through bread without you having to exert a lot of downward force, which could crush it. That&aposs why it&aposs the best choice for cutting delicate bakery goods.
4. Carving Knife
This knife is used for carving meats, like "whole turkey, chicken, or bone-in ham," says Donovan. "The tip of the knife also allows you to easily cut around bones," she explains.
5. Paring Knife
"This is the unsung hero of the kitchen!" Donovan says. "Paring knives, which have straight edges and come in various lengths, are for intricate cutting. They can be used to peel, remove blemishes from fruits and veggies, and to slice smaller fruits and vegetables on the cutting board. You can also try your hand at making decorative garnishes with these knives."
Why You Need a Paring Knife
Almost every basic cutting task in the kitchen, whether it's dicing an onion or breaking down a chicken, can be done with a chef's knife. But there are some jobs that require a smaller, more delicate tool. For mincing smaller alliums like shallots, cutting up small fruits, and trimming vegetables, a paring knife is frequently a better choice. Pretty much any task that would feel overly clumsy with a large chef's knife is well suited to a paring knife—if I had to perform emergency surgery in a kitchen, a sharp paring knife would be my instrument of choice. Morbid? Maybe, but practical, too.
Because paring knives are so small, they also allow for different grips and cutting methods: You can work on a board if you're mincing a shallot, but you can also cut "grandma-style"* by holding the knife and food aloft and letting the trimmings or pieces fall into whatever vessel is below them.
*This is a phrase I picked up in Italy, where the nonnas would almost never use a cutting board. Like, literally, they could cut a watermelon held aloft.
On top of that, they lend themselves to odd jobs in the kitchen. Not sure if your cake is done in the center and you can't find a cake tester? Need to test the tenderness of a roasted beet? A paring knife works in a pinch in both cases, being small and narrow enough to not leave behind any obvious signs that it's been inserted into the food.
Paring knives are also useful for peeling onions and garlic, way better than stubby fingers alone at sliding under the dry skin and prying it free.
If I'm being totally honest, a paring knife is often the knife I'll grab to slice open stiff food packaging, like vacuum-sealed bags, even though that's probably not great for the blade. Yes, I sometimes abuse my paring knives, and I'm comfortable admitting it.
Common Paring Knife Materials
Although high carbon stainless steel is by far the most common (so we’ll start with that first), take a moment to consider some of the other materials you will find when looking for a quality paring knife.
High Carbon Stainless Steel – They retain their sharpness for a long time and are known for being hard wearing and resistant to corrosion which makes them a popular material for paring knives.
Stainless Steel – Although they can be quick to dull they are one of the more affordable materials but expect to have to sharpen it from time to time.
Carbon – Expect a carbon paring knife to stay sharp for a long time and never rust or corrode. The best will be reistant to staining but they can break if you try using them on hard material or food.
A sharp-edged instrument used for cutting, peeling, slicing, spreading and so on. Most knife blades are made of steel, but a material called ceramic zirconia is now also being used. Knife handles can be one of many materials including wood, plastic-impregnated wood, plastic, horn and metal. The blade should be forged carbon or high-carbon stainless steel that resists stains and rust and gives an excellent cutting edge. A good knife should be sturdy and well balanced. In the best knives, the end of the blade (called the tang) extends all the way to the end of the handle, where it's anchored by several rivets. Knives come in a variety of different sizes and shape -- each with its own specific use. A French knife (also called chef's knife), with its broad, tapered shape and fine edge is perfect for chopping vegetables, while the slicing knife cuts cleanly through cooked meat with its long, thin, narrow blade. Knives with serrated or scalloped edges make neat work of slicing softer foods such as bread, tomatoes and cake. The pointed, short-bladed paring knife is easy to handle and makes quick work of peeling, removing cores, etc. Knives used for table service are usually named after their use, such as dinner, luncheon, fish, butter and steak knives.