If you are a fan of Japanese knives, then, of course, you have heard of santoku knives. If not, let me help you recognize the role this knife has in a kitchen. Whether you are a full-fledged professional or an enthusiastic home cook, you’re gonna love having a santoku in your kitchen knife set.

Santoku knives are often misinterpreted as chef’s knives, but that’s more like a popular misconception. The features and benefits of a chef knife and a santoku knife are very different from each other and thus cannot act as each other’s replacement. Santoku knives can produce thin and precise cuts, which are widely prioritized in the culinary world. Santoku knives are used to slice, dice, and mince vegetables, fruits, meats, etc., with professional precision, which is essential for both the taste and presentation.

In a kitchen, there are a few knives that are must to keep, such as chef knife, paring knife, bread knife, etc. But you cannot use any three of them to complement the other, the santoku knife can. Whereas, with their guaranteed versatility, santoku knives are great as secondary knives. Highly functional in every sense, let us learn more about it.


Overview of Santoku Knives

Like many Japanese knives that have been adapted in other countries, i.e., Gyutou, Nakiri, Usuba, Yanagi, Kiritsuke, etc., a santoku knife is safe to be called the most popular one out of the lot. Its versatility and functionality on the chopping boards have taken it to reach the heights it’s in now.

The name “Santoku” translates to three virtues – cut, slice, and chop, the three main applications of santoku knives in general. For this reason, people often mistake it as an alternative santoku knife, but it’s not. A santoku knife is much lighter than a chef’s knife and has a thinner edge. Thus you cannot use a santoku knife on frozen or dense raw meat, etc., a santoku knife also produces thin slices effortlessly.

The distinct characteristics of santoku knives include the blunt tip, as opposed to the pointy tip of the chef’s knife. The tip of the santoku is curved towards the spine of the knife. Therefore, it’s not convenient to use a santoku in rocking motion while cutting, because of the rounded tip; instead, the up and down motion will help you pick up the pace.

For producing the desired fine slices, the blades of a santoku knife are designed to be narrow and with a thinner edge. This knife usually features a single bevel which makes it easier to sharpen, honing at the recommended angle helps preserve the long-lasting performance. Although, double bevels are noticeable in some of the new models to take it on par with the chef’s knife, which the people of the west are already comfortable with.


Types of Santoku Knife

Plain Edge Santoku: Plain or straight edge is when an edge is not serrated or features no indentations. Such plain edges are best for making clean cuts on fruits and vegetables. They are the most common ones found in kitchens. So people are already accustomed to using it. Maintaining and sharpening a straight-edged knife is simpler than sharpening a blade with a Granton edge.

Hollow Edge Santoku: Hollow-edged knife sports small dimple-like hollow pockets. They are designed to minimize the amount of friction at each stroke. It inevitably ensures a faster cutting experience, and the indentations prevent food from getting stuck on the blade and create less mess. The Santoku knife is mostly found with Granton edge.


Things to Consider While Buying a Santoku Knife

Size & Weight: The tall length is one of the distinct attributes of a santoku knife. The average length of a santoku knife should waver between 11-16 inches in length. The length poses a significant advantage in higher functionality and better coverage. The weight shouldn’t be too much to make the user uncomfortable; depending on the size and material of the knife, the ideal weight should be around 3 to 18 oz.

Blade Length & Material: The blade of a santoku knife varies between 5-7.5 inches in length. A santoku can be found as both full and half tang. Japanese manufacturers construct blades from Japanese high carbon steel, which has a very high HRC score, resists rusting, and stays sharp for the longest time. You can also find blades made from high carbon steel, superior stainless steel, etc. Which guarantees less sharpening sessions and maintenance hassle, retains an edge, and protects it from corrosion. The finish is also another thing to consider; a matte finish is the best to reduce reflection and ensure a high-grade shield from staining and fading color.

Handle: A handle should complement the knife better and not burden it. An ergonomic grip gives the knife more points, as it provides the chef with comfort and better maneuverability. Full tang knives often feature triple-riveted handles that grant greater balance to the build. While choosing the material, prioritize grip the most; it should feel natural in hand, avoid untextured metal and plastic handles as there’s a chance those would get slippery when wet. Similarly, wooden handles give the knife a premium look but seldom are waterproof. There’s also composite, resin, rubber, etc. As long as the handle is comfortable to hold, ensures a slip-proof grip, and provides better control, they’re worthy of consideration.


Care & Maintenance of Santoku Knives

The upkeep of a santoku knife is quite straightforward. Although, it’s important to maintain consistency; else the form will deteriorate. Whether the knife is branded as dishwasher safe or not, hand-washing adds more to the longevity of the blade. First, wash the blade with a soapy solution; then rinse with fresh cold water and finish by wiping it dry before storing.

Remember that sharpening a thin Japanese blade is a delicate task, which should only be done by experts. Sharpening a santoku knife without experience may end up damaging its edge permanently. With that said, whetstones are usually preferred to sharpen a santoku.



Q: Can I use a santoku knife instead of a chef knife?

A: No, that’s not recommended. Santoku knives are thin-bladed kitchen knives that are used to cut light food materials with precision. Where chef knives feature a much thicker profile which is very handy in dealing with solid foods & meats with more rigid skin. So no, you might be able to use santoku in some cases, but for others, you’ll have to resort to bulkier knives such as a chef’s knife.

Q: What’s the ideal angle to sharpen a santoku knife?

A: To get a perfectly honed santoku knife, the expert advice is to go for 10 to 15 degrees on a whetstone. If it’s double-beveled then do both sides at a similar angle. Try to maintain the manufacturer’s angle during sharpening.

Q: Where to buy the best santoku knife?

A: Apart from physical stores that sell kitchen appliances, you can check online cutlery sites, as well as Amazon and eBay, or you can buy directly from the manufacturers’ homepage. Big brands like Wusthof, Dalstrong, Mercer Culinary, Shun, and many more produce quality grade santoku knives that you should definitely look into.


Common Uses of Santoku Knife

Santoku knives feature a sharp cutting edge which is vastly convenient in a multitude of tasks in the kitchen. Once someone is used to having one, it’s impossible to imagine one day without it. Santoku knives were generally used by the Japanese, to take care of cutting animal meat before cooking. In time, the uses got diversified with different locations and people; now, santoku knives are used not only on meat but also on fruits and vegetables.

The three primary uses of a santoku knife are called the three virtues of santoku – slicing, chopping, and cutting in a nutshell.

The thin edge of a santoku knife is perfect to ensure a professional performance in the kitchen. By using the up and down motion, you can slice, dice, and even mince food at a pace like never before; a santoku is that sharp. Food doesn’t get stuck on the blade, making the job easier and faster.

Be it meat, fruits, vegetables, spinach, fish, with a santoku in hand, tasks will be done in a jiffy. The preparation stage is very crucial to make sure a better-tasting meal. Right-sized pieces of ingredients enhance the taste and look of the meal several-fold. With Granton edge, santoku knives can even be used to slice cheese and butter.


A santoku knife is one of the must-have pieces of knives in any kitchen. Originated from faraway Japan, its fame didn’t stay limited but spread worldwide. Now hardly any chef can bear to pass an hour in the kitchen without a santoku knife to rely on.

Due to its extreme popularity, many manufacturers have brought their versions and designs of santoku knives to the market. Therefore, we have prepared this post for you, which stores all the right information that you’re gonna need to decide the best one for your kitchen that checks all your boxes!

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