Utility Knife Uses in the Kitchen & Do I Really Need the Best One?
By Bobby B. | Updated January 18, 2020 | Knives
There are so many types of kitchen knives these days, including several different shapes and sizes. You might be asking yourself if you really need them all. What is a utility knife used for in the kitchen anyway? Before we explicitly answer that question, let’s first define a utility knife as it relates to the kitchen. No, we’re not talking about a box/drywall knife like you might be thinking.
Utility Knife Definition
A kitchen utility knife has a 4″ to 7″ sharp blade and is perfect for a multitude of cutting tasks in the kitchen. They are most commonly straight-edge knives, but can also come with serrated blades, depending on your preference. These utility knives are also sometimes referred to as a “petty knife”.
So basically a utility kitchen knife is a catch-all knife that does all the random jobs around the kitchen that no other knife is specifically designed for. It fills the gap between the ever-popular paring knife and the very common chef’s knife.
Kitchen Utility Knife Uses
There’s no hard and fast rule as to what you should use a kitchen utility knife for. In fact, there are an endless number of tasks that can be performed by such a knife, including most that you might also use a paring knife for. The sweet spot however, is for foods that are slightly larger than the typical small fruits like strawberries and small apples. While there’s no way to make a comprehensive list, we’ll do our best and offer you 10 great kitchen utility knife uses with pictures!
1. To Cut Up Medium-Sized Fruits & Vegetables
As mentioned above, once the fruit or vegetable gets larger than the blade of a paring knife, roughly 3″ to 3.5″, it becomes a much less efficient tool for such a job. Some examples of these larger foods include potatoes, peppers, pears, and apples. There really are too many to list. The idea here is anything that is roughly the size of the paring knife’s blade should be considered as a good task for the utility knife.
2. To Slice Meat Chubs (Salami, Summer Sausage, Etc)
Slicing these meats is an easy task with a standard utility knife. The blade is a perfect length and the straight edge should have not problem cutting through these meats. The thin blade of a kitchen utility knife makes slicing them pretty easy.
3. To Slice Hard Cheeses
Utility knives are the perfect tool for slicing cheese if you don’t have a dedicated cheese knife in your kitchen. And even if you do, you probably already have your utility knife out for the salami, right? This is a great example of how these knives are so versatile and have many “utilities” or uses.
4. As a Backup Steak Knife (Our Favorite!)
Steak knives usually come in sets and we preach to always purchase more than you think you need. You’ll definitely wish you had more steak knives later. In any case, sometimes they’re in the dishwasher or you just run out. A utility knife is the perfect reliever when you need another steak knife in a pinch. They are roughly the same size and you’d be surprised how these two knives really aren’t that different anyway.
5. To Make Veggie Slices (Cucumbers, Zucchini, and Other Squashes)
Common summer treats, squashes and cucumbers need to be sliced up for eating. As is often the case a paring knife is typically just a little too small and your chef’s knife is overkill. A nakiri knife is perfect, but do you need a knife just for slicing veggies??? Again, the kitchen utility knife comes to your rescue.
6. To Trim Chicken or Fish
Trimming can mean different things to different people. This might entail trimming off some fat around the edges of pieces of chicken, but almost might just mean cutting your poultry or fish into smaller chucks. We actually recommend kitchen shears as your first option for this task, but a utility knife also works!
7. Slicing Long, Thin Vegetables (Think Green Beans, Celery, Green Onions, Etc)
This is actually a task that can be done with a number of different kitchen knives, but there’s no reason it can’t be done with a utility knife. If you already have it out for other veggies you’re cutting up, give it a quick rinse and slice on. No reason to dirty another knife, right?
8. To Cut Up Citrus (Lemons, Limes, Grapefruit)
Cutting citrus for drinks or freshly squeezed juice is an easy task with a utility knife. Larger citrus fruits like grapefruit are sized perfectly for such a knife. Many are just too big for a paring knife.
9. For Cutting Up Hot Dogs, Brats, Sausages
With all the “no-carb” diets happening these days, lots of folks are watching how much bread they eat. It’s not uncommon to see people eating their dogs without the bun. These can also be easily cut up with a utility knife in the kitchen.
10. As a Sandwich Knife
So, you’ve cut up all the veggies and meat with your utility knife already. You might as well cut your sandwich in half with the same knife while you’re at it!
Do I Really Need a Utility Knife In My Kitchen?
It’s an understandably common question, wondering if you really need a utility knife in the kitchen when you already have so many other knives. The short answer is not really if you have all the other kitchen knives that each have their own job. But what if you don’t have a bunch of knives already or you’re trying to figure out which knives you need in that knife set you’ve been wanting to buy.
Buying a kitchen utility knife is a great way to reduce the number of knives you need in your kitchen because of how versatile it really is. As you saw above, there are so many tasks that can be taken care of by this knife, even if it’s not the best tool for the job.
Best Utility Knife
Clearly after questioning the necessity of a kitchen utility knife we’re not going to spend big bucks on buying one. But, let me share a secret with you on the top utility knives. You can buy a pretty good one for not a lot of money and the price difference between most utility knives really isn’t much.
That being said, there are a few models that are made of very high-end, hardened steels. The only time we’d advise you to spend more money on the best kitchen utility knife is if you were only going to buy a couple of the basic knives for your kitchen and you didn’t have much space. In this case, you’ll be using your knives a lot and the longevity and usefulness you’ll get out of your utility knife will be worth the extra money. If this sounds like you, consider our favorite high-end utility knifes show below.
“Best 4-inch Utility Knife”
This fully-forged 4″ utility knife from J.A. Henckels International has everything needed to get the job done. The smaller 4″ version of the utility knife is easier to maneuver on smaller foods like fruits and long, thin veggies like green beans. With it’s classic styling and no frills shape, this knife made of high-carbon stainless steel is a great little knife at a very affordable price. If you’re looking for something that will cover larger foods or will be using your knife more regularly, keep looking down our list. There’s something for everyone.
“Best 5-inch Utility Knife”
For the price-point on this knife, you sure get a lot of bells and whistles! This knife uses quality German steel, is full-tang, forged with a tapered bolster, and offers great balance. And as an up-and-coming knife brand, Zelite Infinity offers a 100% satisfaction or MONEY BACK GUARANTEE so you can’t go wrong buying it. The 5″ utility knife is a great size for most jobs. Not to short, not too long and almost right between the standard 3″ paring knife and 8″ chef’s knife.
“Best 6-inch Utility Knife”
If you follow kitchen knives at all, you already know…Wüsthof is a family-owned business, making knives for over 200 years in Germany. This knife is made in Germany and carries their lifetime warranty, but is also one of their more affordable families of knives. It’s blade is stamped, not forged and while the blade is made of high-carbon stainless steel, there are better, albeit more expensive versions of a Wüsthof 6″ utility knife such as the forged Classic Ikon. Both knives are great options, and if you’re not going to use it much, the Gourmet is perfect.
“Best Serrated Utility Knife”
You can’t beat the price or the user feedback on this serrated utility knife. It’s hard to believe how substantial this knife feels for the small amount of money they ask you to pay for it. Besides that, it’s forged, full-tang, made of high-carbon no-stain steel. Looking at this serrated utility knife reminds us of a steak knife, so obviously it will work as a great back-up for that purpose. Calphalon also provides a full lifetime warranty as well.
“Best Kitchen Utility Knife”
What a beauty this 6″ petty knife is from Dalstrong. Not only is this knife made with AUS-10V Japanese Super Steel, but it also has the Tsunamic Rose Damascus pattern on the blade. This is one of those higher end knives we alluded to above. It does cost a bit more than others on this list. But, with it’s Rockwell Hardness of 62+, the Japanese Super Steel will help with blade retention (sharpness) and give the user a great experience while using it. So, as mentioned previously, if this is going to be one of your main kitchen knives, it’s probably worth the extra money.
“Best High-End Utility Knife”
This utility knife from Shun is really more than you need in a home kitchen. It is perfect for any professional chef though. It just didn’t feel right to build a “best utility knife” list without including this amazing knife from a top-tier company, Shun Cutlery. This knife is harder, thinner, lighter, and sharper than the rest. It’s a fantastic knife, but does come with a higher price tag than the rest. If you feel you’ll get good use out of it or just want the best money can buy, consider this option. It’s a Japanese style utility knife that uses VG-MAX steel as its core, wrapped in 68 layers of Damascus steel that provide a beautiful pattern on the blade. The handle is made with the ever-popular pakkawood that is pretty common among higher-end Japanese knives. This knife has great reviews online…check it out!
Utility Knife Summary
Hopefully it’s clear to you now how useful a kitchen utility knife can be. It’s obviously a great idea to have on in your kitchen at all times when cooking. It often allows the use of just one knife that you can just rinse between foods during dinner prep. Its versatility is what makes it so very useful.
As you surely found by clicking through and checking the knives above listed on Amazon, utility knives are relatively inexpensive to purchase. And, since they can do the same job as numerous other knives, they can help you save money overall and/or better utilize your counter space or kitchen drawer space by purchasing fewer knives.