Santoku vs Kiritsuke: Which Japanese Knife is Right for You?

If you’re a home cook or a professional chef, you know that having the right knives is essential for preparing delicious meals. Two of the most popular types of kitchen knives are the santoku and the kiritsuke. Both knives are versatile and can be used for a variety of tasks, but there are some key differences between them.

In this article, we’ll compare and contrast the santoku and kiritsuke knives, so you can decide which one is right for you. We’ll discuss the features of each knife, their pros and cons, and who might benefit from using each one.

Santoku Knives

Santoku knives are Japanese-style knives that are designed for chopping, slicing, and mincing. They have a broad, flat blade with a single bevel, and a straight or slightly curved edge. Santoku knives are often compared to chef’s knives, but they are slightly smaller and have a shorter blade.

Santoku knives are a good choice for home cooks who want a versatile knife that can handle a variety of tasks. They are particularly well-suited for chopping vegetables, but they can also be used for slicing meat, fish, and poultry. Santoku knives are also relatively easy to sharpen.

Kiritsuke Knives

Kiritsuke knives are also Japanese-style knives, but they are more specialized than santoku knives. Kiritsuke knives are designed for slicing, and they have a long, thin blade with a single bevel. The blade of a kiritsuke knife is similar to the blade of a Chinese cleaver, but it has a more acute angle.

Kiritsuke knives are a good choice for professional chefs who need a knife for slicing meat, fish, and vegetables. They are also a good choice for home cooks who want a high-quality knife for specialized tasks. Kiritsuke knives are more difficult to sharpen than santoku knives, but they can be very sharp when properly sharpened.


The following table compares the key features of santoku and kiritsuke knives:

FeatureSantoku KnifeKiritsuke Knife
Blade Length6-8 inches8-10 inches
Blade Width2-2.5 inches1.5-2 inches
Blade Thickness0.1-0.2 inches0.1-0.15 inches
Blade MaterialStainless steel or carbon steelStainless steel or carbon steel
Blade EdgeSingle bevelSingle bevel
Handle MaterialWood, plastic, or compositeWood, plastic, or composite
Weight6-8 ounces8-10 ounces

Factors to Consider in Choosing the Right Knife

When selecting a knife that best suits your needs and preferences, it’s important to consider several factors. By understanding these factors, you can make an informed decision between Santoku knives and Kiritsuke knives. Here are some key factors to consider:

Cooking Style

Consider your cooking style and the types of tasks you frequently perform in the kitchen. Are you more focused on precise slicing, chopping, or both? Different knives excel in different tasks, so understanding your preferred cooking style will help you choose the appropriate knife.


Comfort is crucial when using a knife for extended periods. Pay attention to the handle design and grip of the knife. Some individuals may prefer a heavier knife with a full tang handle for better balance, while others may prefer a lighter knife for increased agility. Consider what feels most comfortable and ergonomic in your hand.


Knife prices can vary significantly, so it’s important to establish a budget. Determine how much you are willing to invest in a quality knife that will meet your needs. Remember that a good knife is an investment that can last for years with proper care and maintenance.

Specific Requirements and Tasks

Consider the specific requirements and tasks you frequently encounter in your culinary endeavors. Santoku knives are known for their versatility and excel at tasks like slicing, dicing, and mincing. On the other hand, Kiritsuke knives offer multi-functionality and are ideal for precise slicing and intricate cuts. Assess your specific needs and match them to the strengths of each knife type.

Care and Maintenance Tips

Proper care and maintenance are essential for preserving the longevity and optimal performance of your Santoku knives and Kiritsuke knives. Here are some tips to help you take care of your knives:


  • Hand wash your knives with warm, soapy water immediately after use. Avoid soaking them in water or leaving them unwashed for extended periods.
  • Use a soft sponge or cloth to clean the blade, and be cautious around the sharp edge.
  • Dry the knives thoroughly with a towel to prevent moisture buildup and potential rusting.


  • Regularly sharpen your knives to maintain their sharpness. You can use a sharpening stone, honing rod, or electric sharpener.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions or seek professional guidance for the appropriate sharpening technique.
  • Test the sharpness of your knives by gently running your thumb along the blade (with caution) to feel for any dull spots.


  • Store your knives in a knife block, magnetic strip, knife sheath, or in a designated drawer with individual slots to protect the blades.
  • Avoid storing knives loosely in a drawer, as they can bump against other utensils and become damaged or dull.
  • Keep the knives away from moisture and humidity to prevent rust and corrosion.

Recommended Brands and Models

When it comes to Santoku knives and Kiritsuke knives, there are various reputable brands and models to choose from. Here are some popular options:

Santoku Knives:

  • Brand A: Known for their high-quality stainless steel blades and ergonomic handles. Price range: $X – $Y.
  • Brand B: Offers a range of Santoku knives with Damascus steel blades and beautiful patterns. Price range: $X – $Y.
  • Brand C: Known for their budget-friendly yet reliable Santoku knives with durable construction. Price range: $X – $Y.

Kiritsuke Knives:

  • Brand X: Offers handcrafted Kiritsuke knives with high-carbon steel blades and exquisite craftsmanship. Price range: $X – $Y.
  • Brand Y: Known for their modern design and ergonomic handles, producing Kiritsuke knives suitable for professional chefs. Price range: $X – $Y.
  • Brand Z: Provides a variety of Kiritsuke knives with unique blade designs and excellent edge retention. Price range: $X – $Y.


In conclusion, understanding the distinctions between Santoku knives and Kiritsuke knives is essential for making an informed decision. Consider factors such as blade design, intended tasks, comfort, and budget when choosing the right knife for your kitchen. Remember to prioritize care and maintenance by following proper cleaning, sharpening, and storage practices. Explore reputable brands and models to find the perfect Santoku knife or Kiritsuke knife that aligns with your needs and preferences. Whether you’re a professional chef or a passionate home cook, selecting the right knife will enhance your culinary experience and elevate your cooking skills.


Q1: What is the main difference between a Santoku knife and a Kiritsuke knife?

A1: The main difference lies in their blade design. Santoku knives have a shorter, wider blade with a flat edge and a granton (dimpled) edge, making them versatile for slicing, dicing, and chopping. Kiritsuke knives, on the other hand, have a longer, single-beveled blade with a slightly curved edge, allowing for precise slicing and intricate cuts.

Q2: Which knife is better for home cooks?

A2: Both knives can be suitable for home cooks, but it depends on personal preference and cooking style. Santoku knives are popular for their versatility and ease of use, making them an excellent choice for everyday tasks. They are ideal for home cooks who want a multi-purpose knife that can handle various ingredients and cutting techniques.

Q3: Are Kiritsuke knives only for professional chefs?

A3: While Kiritsuke knives are often favored by professional chefs due to their specialized design and precision, they can also be used by experienced home cooks who appreciate the finer aspects of knife craftsmanship. Kiritsuke knives require more skill and practice to handle effectively, making them a preferred choice for those who desire precise cuts and enjoy the artistry of cooking.

Q4: Can a Santoku knife replace a Kiritsuke knife?

A4: While a Santoku knife is versatile and can handle many kitchen tasks, it cannot entirely replace a Kiritsuke knife. Kiritsuke knives have a specific blade shape and edge profile that allows for delicate and precise cuts, making them indispensable for certain techniques. If you frequently perform intricate slicing or need precise control, a Kiritsuke knife may be a valuable addition to your kitchen arsenal.

Q5: Which knife is better for cutting vegetables?

A5: Both Santoku knives and Kiritsuke knives are suitable for cutting vegetables. Santoku knives, with their wider blade and granton edge, excel in tasks like slicing, dicing, and chopping vegetables. Kiritsuke knives, with their longer and thinner blade, are also adept at slicing vegetables with precision and creating decorative cuts.

Q6: Are Santoku and Kiritsuke knives dishwasher safe?

A6: It is generally recommended to hand wash Santoku and Kiritsuke knives to preserve their sharpness and overall quality. Dishwashers can subject the blades to excessive heat, harsh detergents, and potential contact with other utensils, leading to damage or dulling of the blade. Hand washing and immediate drying are the best practices for maintaining the longevity and performance of these knives.

Q7: Are there different sizes available for Santoku and Kiritsuke knives?

A7: Yes, both Santoku and Kiritsuke knives come in various sizes to accommodate different preferences and cutting needs. The blade lengths typically range from around 5 to 7 inches for Santoku knives and 7 to 10 inches for Kiritsuke knives. Choosing the right size depends on personal comfort, the size of your hands, and the tasks you perform most frequently in the kitchen.

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