What is a Santoku Knife?
A Santoku knife is a kitchen knife used for a variety of food preparation activities. It can chop, dice, slice, and mince. It typically features a sheepsfoot blade that measures between five and eight inches with a flat edge and 60-degree curve at the point. The weight of the blade is matched by the combined weight of the tang and handle, making it a very well-balanced knife. It features scalloped Granton edges, which allow air between the knife and the food, keeping food from getting stuck on the knife during cutting.
Best Santoku Knives
These are the top seven Santoku knives available on the market today:
The Premier Seven-Inch Santoku Knife from Shun Cutlery is light, agile, and easy to use. At seven inches, it is designed to be lightweight and easy for anyone to use for a variety of tasks. Its walnut-colored PakkaWood handle is contoured with an ergonomic design.
The blade does have a slight upward curve towards the point, which adds the ability to quickly chop and dice foods. It’s made of VG-Max “super steel,” which features 34 layers of stainless Damascus steel on each side. The hammered tsuchime finish allows air to form between the blade and the food, which keeps food from getting stuck on the blade during cutting. The blade is double-beveled at an angle of 16 degrees.
- The knife is lightweight.
- The short blade is ideal for controlled slicing.
- The handle is beautiful and the contouring allows for a secure grip.
- Most Santoku knives do not feature curved blades, but the curve on this one allows for added chopping and dicing abilities.
- Durability and strength is provided by the Damascus steel.
- Food doesn’t get stuck on the blade thanks to the hammered tsuchime finish.
- The 16-degree double bevel provides a sharp edge that can easily slice most meats and vegetables.
- The handle is ambidextrous, so both right- and left-handed users will have no problem wielding the knife.
- The wooden handle will absorb moisture, so keeping the knife dry will be very important in order to avoid rusting.
- Scrub sponges may scratch the blade during cleaning.
- Though the Damascus steel should be strong enough to resist chipping, the blade does sometimes chip easily.
- The blade is sharp, but dulls quickly and needs frequent sharpening.
- The short blade is designed for those with smaller hands, but the bulky feel of the handle makes it better suited for larger hands.
- The bulk of the handle also throws off the balance of the knife.
- The outside layer of the blade is soft and becomes scratched easily.
The SK-65 Superior Santoku Knife from Mac Knife is sharp and durable. The blade measures 6.5 inches long and two millimeters across, making it a short and thin blade. It is made of high carbon, boasts resistance to rust, and features a 15-degree double bevel.
The edge has a slight curve but is mostly flat. This makes it ideal for most up-and-down slicing and the occasional chop. It is intended to hold its edge longer, so you don’t need to sharpen it frequently. The PakkaWood handle is black and has a sleek appearance to it.
- The short, thin blade is very sharp, resists rusting, and holds its edge well.
- The high carbon construction of the blade makes it hard, strong, and durable.
- The handle is sleek and simple.
- The 15-degree angle creates a sharp cutting edge for thin, precise slicing.
- A full tang provides stability.
- The wooden handle will need to be kept dry to avoid rusting the tang and blade.
- This knife is not intended to cut through bone, and doing so will likely result in chips and dents.
- It is not very well-balanced.
- Though it claims to resist rust, the blade begins to rust rather quickly if not kept dry.
The Pro Seven-Inch Hollow Edge Rocking Santoku Knife from Zwilling J. A. Henckels is durable and versatile. The blade features two edges: a curved edge on the bottom and a straight edge on the top. This gives it a variety of uses since you can use the curved edge for chopping that requires a rocking motion and the straight edge for up-and-down slicing and chopping.
The blade is made from stainless high carbon steel, offering resilience and durability. It features a black handle and curved bolster. The blade is double-beveled, with a 10-degree angle on each side (20 degrees total).
- The two edges, one curved and one straight, offer versatility and increase the number of uses for this knife.
- Stainless high carbon steel is strong and resilient.
- The bolster provides safety and its curved design provides comfort.
- The blade doesn’t stay sharp for long and needs frequent sharpening.
The Genesis Forged Santoku Knife from Mercer Culinary is a traditional Santoku knife, with a straight edge and sheepsfoot spine, although it does also feature a bolster. The bolster provides safety, stability, and balance, and a shorter bolster is available. The blade is made from stainless high carbon steel, which is strong and can resist rust, corrosion, and discoloration.
It measures seven inches long. Full tang construction and a taper-ground edge add stability and strength. The Granton edge creates air pockets for easy release of food. A black Santoprene handle offers comfort and grip with its ergonomic design. It is also durable and can withstand oils and extreme temperatures.
- The bolster provides safety and strength.
- The knife is well-balanced.
- Stainless high carbon steel construction offers strength and resistance to most types of corrosion.
- The full tang adds stability.
- The Granton edge guarantees that food doesn’t get stuck to the blade while cutting.
- The handle is simple, sleek, comfortable, and durable.
- The blade can be sharpened within a range of 15-19 degrees.
- The knife seems to be very delicate and requires special care. It cannot be soaked in aluminum or stainless steel sinks, which will pit the blade, or dried with a coarse towel.
- The blade becomes bent easily.
- It can sometimes rust easily.
- The handle can feel bulky for users with smaller hands.
- Though well-balanced, the knife has a heavy feel to it.
The UX10 Seven-Inch Santoku Knife from Misono is durable, balanced, and versatile. It differs from most traditional Santoku knives in that it features a slight upward curve, a bolster, and no Granton edge. The blade is made from Swedish stain-resistant steel and the bolster is constructed of riveted nickel, both of which make the knife durable and balanced.
The blade measures seven inches and is double-beveled, but the face of the blade has a steeper angle than the back for more precise slicing. The handle is made of composite wood and designed for right-handed users.
- Durability comes in the form of the hard Swedish steel and riveted nickel bolster.
- The knife appears to be well-balanced and lightweight.
- Safety is provided by the bolster.
- It features a double bevel but tries to approach the traditional single bevel by sharpening one side at a steeper angle than the other.
- The lack of a Granton edge means that food may get stuck to the blade and require loosening.
- The wooden handle will need to be kept dry to avoid rusting the blade.
- Left-handed users will have a difficult time using this knife.
- The handle is rectangular and a bit uncomfortable.
The Millenia Seven-Inch Granton Edge Santoku Knife from Mercer Culinary is strong and comfortable, with a traditional blade design and an emphasis on safety. The blade measures seven inches, features a Granton edge for easy release of food and is made of high carbon stainless Japanese steel.
The Japanese steel construction makes the blade thin but strong. The handle is made of Santoprene and polypropylene and comes in an attractive blue color. The Santoprene offers comfort, while the polypropylene adds durability.
The handle also features textured finger points, which reduce slips and improve grip. Like most traditional Santoku knives, there is no bolster, but Mercer Culinary has added a finger guard to protect you from accidental cuts.
- The Granton edge allows food to slide off the blade cleanly.
- High carbon stainless Japanese steel offers strength and durability.
- The handle is comfortable, durable, attractive, and ensures safety.
- Textured finger points and a finger guard further enhance safety in the kitchen.
- The knife feels very lightweight.
- Like Mercer Culinary’s other offering on this list, the Genesis Forged Santoku Knife, this knife requires special care: no aluminum or stainless steel sinks, no soaking for extended periods, and no coarse towels.
- The edge of the blade extends downward beyond the handle. This makes it for fingers to slip during cleaning, leading to cuts.
- The angle and size of the blade make it feel uncomfortable in smaller hands.
- The finger guard gets in the way of chopping by preventing the blade from landing flat on the cutting surface.
- It doesn’t keep its edge for very long and needs frequent sharpening.
- The blade is too flexible and cannot cut in a straight line when it meets resistance.
The Pro Seven-Inch Santoku Knife from Mad Shark is strong and comfortable. It features a high-carbon stainless steel blade with a slight upward curve and hollow edge design, a bolster, and a sleek black handle. Hollow divots on the blade minimize suction and allow for faster, cleaner slicing.
The German high-carbon stainless steel construction makes the blade strong, durable, and resistant to rust, stains, and wear. The handle is made of military-grade high polymer and features a triple-riveted design. Overall, the knife is well-balanced and has a very sharp edge.
- Durability is offered in the form of high-carbon stainless steel and a polymer handle.
- The handle is secured to the blade with the help of triple rivets, full tang construction, and a bolster.
- The blade can resist rust, stains, and wear.
- The handle can resist moisture and extreme temperatures.
- The hollow edge design allows food to slide off the blade without getting stuck.
- The blade begins to dull quickly and requires sharpening.
- The knife can feel heavy and unwieldy at times.
What is a Santoku Knife Used For?
A Santoku knife is considered an all-purpose kitchen knife. It can handle a wide variety of activities in the kitchen, including slicing, chopping, and dicing. It can help prepare a range of foods as well, such as meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, cheese, and herbs. However, it is specifically designed for cutting thin slices of meat, fish, and vegetables.
Do You Really Need a Santoku Knife?
Although a chef knife can handle most of the cutting you need to do in the kitchen, a Santoku knife is designed for special tasks. It produces finer, thinner cuts of meat and vegetables. It doesn’t have a dangerously sharp point, making it safer for most people to use.
Due to its smaller blade, it is also ideal for those with smaller hands. The Japanese steel and design make the knife strong and durable. A chef knife can handle a variety of tasks, but not everything – after all, you wouldn’t use it to slice bread, would you? Of course not, you would buy a serrated knife designed for this purpose. In the same way, a Santoku knife is essential in any kitchen if you want to prepare great food with ease.
Can You Use a Santoku Knife to Cut Meat?
Yes, you can. In fact, a Santoku knife is made for this purpose. But instead of separating and cutting large pieces of meat, the Santoku is designed for creating clean, thin slices for various dishes.
Santoku vs. Chef Knife – What is the Difference?
Santoku and chef knives are very similar. In fact, the Santoku knife is often confused for a chef knife. They can even tackle the same types of work in the kitchen. But if you look closer, there are a few key differences between Santoku and chef knives.
The major difference between the two types of knives is the size of the blade. Santoku knives have a shorter blade, at five to eight inches, while chef knives have a longer blade, typically eight to ten inches. This shorter blade makes it easier to use, especially for those with smaller hands.
However, this smaller blade doesn’t make the knife too lightweight. While chef knives are more streamlined, Santoku knives have a boxier build, which is modeled after a traditional Japanese vegetable cleaver, called a nakiri. The blade is also crafted from Japanese steel, which is heavier than its Western counterparts. The build of the knife and the Japanese steel combine to give the Santoku knife a hefty, solid feel. This balances out the knife and makes it easy to handle.
The third difference is the shape of the cutting edge. Santoku knives have a straight edge, which is ideal for clean slicing and the occasional quick chop. However, it doesn’t provide the rocking motion needed for quick, repeated chopping or dicing. A chef knife, on the other hand, has an edge with more curve, allowing for this rocking motion.
Another difference between these knives is the point. Chef knives have a sharp point, which can help you break open packaging or puncture foods with thick skin. Santoku knives have a gentler point, which keeps you safe from accidental cuts.
Then there is the bevel. This is the surface that has been ground to form the edge of the knife. Chef knives are usually only found in double bevel varieties, but Santoku knives can have either a single or double bevel, though they usually have a single bevel. This single bevel gives them a cutting edge that can be sharpened at an angle of 12-15 degrees, while the chef knife’s double bevel gives it an angle of 20-30 degrees. The Santoku knife’s sharper angle makes it easier to cut very thin slices of meat and vegetables.
The final difference between these two kitchen knives is the way that they can be used. Santoku knives are more specialized and designed specifically for creating thin slices of meat, fish, vegetables, and even cheese and fruit. Chef knives can be used for a broader range of purposes, including chopping a large number of vegetables quickly and separating large pieces of meat.
Santoku Knife Sharpening
Due to the fact that they typically do not feature a bolster, Santoku knives are generally easier to sharpen than chef knives. Sharpening can be accomplished with a whetstone, which both keeps your knife in pristine condition and provides a sharper edge. A whetstone is typically soaked in water, then applied to the knife’s edge using the coarse side first. You should tilt the knife to the proper angle, then run it up and down the stone in smooth motions.
Make sure to sharpen the entire blade. If the knife is double-beveled, you’ll need to do the same thing on the other side. Then flip the stone over to the finer side (not coarse) and repeat the entire process. When the knife has been sharpened to your liking, wash and dry the knife completely.
Please note that using a sharpening steel instead of a whetstone may damage a Japanese blade. This is because the steel is thinner.
Santoku knives are an essential part of any chef or foodie’s kitchen. They are specialty knives used for creating beautifully thin slices of meat and vegetables. They are very similar to chef knives, but you will find that the Santoku knife is shorter, more precise, thinner, straighter, and often sharper as well. They require special care, both in cleaning and sharpening.
There are many great brands to choose from when looking for your first Santoku knife – Shun Cutlery, Zwilling J. A. Henckels, Mercer Culinary, and Mad Shark being among the best. To choose the best one, consider the size of your hands and the size of the knife that would be the most comfortable for you to use. Also, consider how much care it will need and whether you can devote your time to that care.
Overall, a Santoku knife will enhance the functionality of your kitchen, and it’s fun to show off to guests, too. One of these top Santoku knives is sure to meet your needs and find a spot in your kitchen and your heart.