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Santoku vs Kiritsuke: Which Japanese Knife is Best for Kitchen Cooking?

While a Santoku knife is common in kitchens, chances are that the hardy Kiritsuke knife is unfamiliar to many people. This is because the Santoku is the most popular of all the Japanese knives. santoku vs kiritsuke

If you are familiar with Japanese knives, you will know that no two Japanese knives are the same. Each style is crafted for a distinct purpose. In this article, we will compare Santoku vs Kiritsuke and try to explore the similarities and differences between these two Japanese knives. 

What is a Santoku Knife best used for?

Out of all the knives that originated from Japan, Santoku seems to be the most famous and favored of them all, especially in the American knife market. This is primarily attributed to its versatility in the three most important cutting formschopping, dicing, and slicing. The word ‘Santoku’ loosely translates to mean “Three virtues.” Each of these virtues represents the cutting style. 

What is a Santoku Knife best used for?

A classic Santoku design comes with a flat blade that starts from the bottom to finish with a rounded tip at the top. It is often made from high-carbon steel that is lightweight and easy to control. Thus, Santoku is a chef’s delight in cutting vegetables, fruits, and fish for sushi. It is not uncommon to find that a Santoku comes with double bevels as it offers a better advantage for any chef aspiring to achieve acute precision cutting. 

For effective delivery and control, most Santoku is always around four to nine inches long. Thus, it becomes an easier knife to handle in the hand of beginners or experts with shorthands. However, you shouldn’t mistake the large blade and sharp edge for a robust knife that can be used for tough cutting.

While you can use the Santoku knife to carve roasts, fillet fish, and cut meat and vegetables, and fruits, it cannot be used for deboning or cutting through frozen items. For a better cutting experience, it is common to find western crafted Santoku with Granton to help reduce friction and aid in helping food fall off the knife easily. 

What is a Kiritsuke?

If you’re looking at cutting giant vegetables and fruits, the Kiritsuke is the perfect Japanese knife. Typically, Kiritsuke is eight to ten inches long, with a blade-tall flat blade angle and a sharp pointed tip. This knife, just like the Santoku, may come in single or double bevels. However, unlike the Santoku, you might not enjoy enough versatility when dealing with smaller food or items. 

What is a Kiritsuke?

For a knife like the Kiritsuke, the bigger the fruits or veggies are, the faster you will get the job done. Often, they are made from high carbon stainless steel with a hardness scale of over sixty. This attests to how formidable, and strong the Kiritsuke knife is. For chefs who prefer the rock chopping method, the Kiritsuke offers the right flexibility and control to ensure that cutting style. 

In a traditional Japanese kitchen, the Kiritsuke symbolizes status and expertise as the head chef uses it. Because the knife is long and quite heavy, unlike the Santoku, a high level of experience with the knife is needed to deliver excellent cutting skills on any vegetables and fruits. 

Overall, the Kiritsuke can achieve both push and pull cutting style, long drawing cut, back slicing, and many other professional forms of cutting in the right hands. 

Santoku vs Kiritsuke Features (Face to Face) 

 Santoku Kiritsuke 
Length 4-9 inches 8-10 inches 
Weight Lightweight Lightweight 
Edge Flat or Granton Straight 
Construction Hand-forged or Stamped Hand-forged 
Blade material Carbon steel, stainless steel, or ceramic High-carbon steel or Damascus steel 
Bevel Double Single or Double 

Standout Features Between Santoku vs Kiritsuke

While both knives are Japanese knives, they are quite different in many ways. Below are some of the few distinct features of both knives. 

1. Length

In terms of length, the Kirituske is longer than Santoku and often hinders its control and flexibility, especially in the hands of beginners. That is why experienced chefs use Kiritsuke. 

2. Versatility

Santoku is quite more versatile than the Kirituske as the Santoku can quite easily do the job of a Kirituske in its absence. Kiritsuke cannot deal with small food or carving the way a Santoku can. 

3. Pricing

Because the Santoku is widely popular and well-appreciated for its versatility, Santoku is more expensive than the Kirituske.  

4. Design

There is no doubt that the Kirituske is more appealing than the Santoku. It has an impressive long sword-like blade length, a super durable blade, and patterning than the Santoku. The Santoku is often shorter, comes with a rounded tip, and sometimes comes with a Granton edge. 


The Santoku is always a ready substitute for the regular kitchen knife and cleavers. Santoku knives are perfect for preparing smaller meals and are great for chopping vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Thus, it becomes easy to say that in a Santoku vs Kirituske comparison, the Santoku would be a better option.

However, for chefs needing to chop large vegetables and kitchen ingredients, the Kiritsuke is a ready alternative to a Santoku. But keep in mind that Kiritsuke knives require more expertise and experience than the easier to use Santoku. 

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