Nakiri VS Santoku VS Chef Knife (Expert Thoughts)

When it comes to knives, there are tons of options to choose from. That can easily make you confused about which one to pick. 

With its rectangular blade, the Japanese Nakiri knife is ideal for fast, straight chops on vegetables. The santoku’s sheep’s foot shape makes it a versatile all-rounder for slicing, dicing, and mincing. But for an ultra-sharp and robust knife to handle the toughest cutting tasks, from proteins to produce, the classic Western chef’s knife is the undisputed kitchen workhorse.

In This comprehensive guide, we will go over the difference between the three most used knives: the Nakiri knife, the Santoku Knife, and the Chef’s Knife.

We will take a look at their uses, and we will compare each of these knives with the other two. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

What is a Nakiri Knife?

The Nakiri knife is a Japanese-style knife made especially for chopping, slicing, or dicing vegetables. In the Japanese language “Na” stands for Vegetable and “Kiri” means chopper.

You can easily opt for it by its squared-off tip and straight blade edge. This type of Japanese knife is pretty light in weight and perfect for giving you thinly sliced vegetables.

The handle of a Nakiri knife is usually designed ergonomically for precise control. You will get a better result in cutting vegetables with an up-and-down motion. Make sure to provide the right amount of force that is needed while chopping vegetables.

Read this article to learn how to use the Nakiri Knife like a Pro!

nakiri 165 mm
Nakiri Knife

What is Santoku Knife?

Santoku is also a Japanese-style all-purpose knife. You can notice lots of similarities between a Chef’s knife and a Santoku knife. A Santoku knife is thinner than a Chef’s knife, which is good for less tough food. 

It is light in weight, and that is the reason why it is suitable for less tough food. With an up-and-forward motion, you will get a good result while using Santoku.

Santoku knives usually come with 7 inches of lower length. Nowadays, most professional cooks tend to look for a long knife. In that case, we can mark it as a limitation of the Santoku knife.

Santoku Knives
Santoku Knife – @Mike: Flickr

What is Chef’s Knife?

The chef’s knife is an all-rounder in your kitchen for its versatility. It is also known as the cook’s knife. This knife is mainly designed for slicing and disjointing large sizes of beef.

The modern chef’s knife is used for doing multi-purpose activities such as slicing, mincing, and chopping vegetables along with disjointing bones and slicing meat or fish.

The midsection or belly of the blade has enough sharp edges for the usual chopping, cutting, and slicing. Lastly, the heavy heel or back portion of the knife provides a strong thick edge for cutting, slicing, and disjointing large pieces of beef.

chef's knife
chef’s knife

Nakiri vs Santoku vs Chef’s Knives

UsesBest for Chopping VegetablesSlicing, Dicing, and Mincing less tough foodMulti-purpose knife
Structure of BladeStraight, Thin, and RectangularSheepfoot, Thin and Flat EdgeRounded or Straight
Blade Length5-7 Inches6-7 inches8-12 inches
Blade Weight7.5 to 9.4 ounces6.5 to 8.5 ounces8.2 to 9.2 ounces
Cutting ActionStraight Up and downRocking, Straight Up and DownRocking

Difference Among the Nakiri, Santoku, and Chef’s Knives: The Key Points

Santoku VS Chef’s Knife

Both the Santoku and Chef’s knives are pretty much the same as they are used as multi-purpose knives. However, Santoku is slightly lighter than a Chef’s knife which means you are not recommended to cut tougher food.

Santoku is a Japanese-style knife while the Chef’s knife is a Western adaption of Santoku that mostly comes from Germany or France.

A chef’s knife is the most versatile, usually called the multi-purpose knife in your kitchen. On the other hand, Santoku is also known for its versatility, but when it comes to cutting small bones or something tough like that it may not be an ideal option. 

Besides, you can easily notice the difference between these two knives by their blade shape. The Santoku has a thinner and sheepsfoot blade while the chef’s knife features a rounded blade. Though you can also find a straight blade in a chef’s knife.

Nakiri VS Santoku Knife

As we have mentioned, the Nakiri knife is made especially for cutting vegetables. For getting optimal output while chopping vegetables it is designed ergonomically.

Simple up and down motion is recommended while cutting vegetables using a Nakiri Knife. Make sure you are not providing extra force while chopping. That may ruin the edge of the knife. 

Santoku is called an all-purpose knife. Though it features a thin knife that’s why you may face trouble while playing with a bone or any other tough food.

You can use it for chopping, mincing, and dicing less tough food. Simple up-and-down-cutting actions should give you satisfactory results. However, you can cut food items using a rocking or chopping motion as well.

Chef’s Knife VS Nakiri

Chef’s knives are the most versatile knives out there. It is pretty handy for chopping, dicing, mincing, and many more without putting a lot more effort. Usually, a Chef’s knife seems to be heavy which is why it is pretty good for cutting small bones or other tough food. 

Besides, they are longer than Santoku and other knives out there which is one of the reasons why most professional cooks like Chef’s Knife. You can use a rocking motion while using a Chef’s knife to get an optimal output.

A Nakiri Knife can deliver its expertise only on cutting vegetables as we already know that it is made especially for cutting vegetables. You can easily identify a Nakiri knife by its straight blade and rectangular shape. 

Some of the Nakiri knives come with hollow edges that can reduce the food sticking to the knife. The cutting motion should be simple straight up and down. Excessive force may destroy the edge of the knife therefore it is highly recommended to provide the right amount of force that is needed.

Chef Knife

Uses of Nakiri, Santoku, and Chef’s knife

Here are the main uses of Nakiri, Santoku, and Chef’s knives:

Nakiri Knife Uses

  • Chopping vegetables – The straight edge and rectangular blade are ideal for clean, even chops on veggies.
  • Cutting through hard produce – The weight and shape give power and control for cutting dense foods like squash.
  • Precision vegetable cuts – Great for making fine julienne cuts, brunoise dice, etc.

Santoku Knife Uses

  • Slicing meats and fish – The sheep’s foot shape works well for slicing proteins into thin cuts.
  • Dicing onions and herbs – The curved front allows a rocking motion for fast, even dice.
  • Mincing garlic and ginger – The blade curvature is good for controlled tip work.

Chef’s Knife Uses

  • Chopping onions and herbs – The curved shape and sharp edge make clean, fast chops.
  • Carving meats – Excellent for portioning roasts, chickens, etc thanks to the length and curved shape.
  • Smashing garlic – The broadside can be used to crush garlic cloves easily.
  • Hard produce – Sturdy enough for hacking through dense squash, cutting corn off the cob, etc.

Bottom Line

Hope this comprehensive guide will help you get a clear concept of Nakiri VS Santoku VS Chef Knife. We have tried to cover everything you need to know. Nakiri is completely different from the other two types of knives as they are specially made for cutting vegetables. 

On the other hand, you will find lots of similarities between the Chef’s knife and the Santoku knife. Though Santoku is lighter in weight than a Chef’s knife. Besides, there are some differences between their blade shape and cutting motion as well.

If you have any thoughts regarding this whole guide don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section below. We would love to hear from you. Make sure to share it with your friends and let them know.

Happy Cooking!


Tina Jordan here. Cooking delicious dishes for my family has always been a passion for me. Kitchen and cooking go hand in hand. I have spent a lot of time in my kitchen (still do), so I have a very clear understanding of kitchen gadgets.

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