The Rundown on Paring Knives
Look, a paring knife may not be the most exciting knife next to your massive 12” BBQ slicer but you will come to find it’s a star player in your arsenal. This little stubby knife is super useful and versatile. Let’s talk about it.
What is a paring knife?
A paring knife is basically a short chef knife. They have a blade length of anywhere from 2-4 inches. The blade shape of this kitchen knife varies, but the classic paring knife shape has a spear tip and a rounded belly. The paring knife is a simple, straightforward blade for intricate work. The main purpose of a paring knife is to “pare” outer layers from fruits and vegetables. Other purposes like cutting, trimming, and slicing become easier by using this knife.
Paring knives are best used for precision cuts and are very versatile. This is the perfect knife for any of the delicate and detailed tasks that your meal demands. Quality paring knives must be lightweight, comfortable to grip and use, and sharp.
Control is one of the main “fruits” of the paring knife, no pun intended. A lot of cuts can be made in the air with a blade this short which gives you much more control than your other kitchen knives. Because this knife is so compact, it allows you to maneuver around the smallest cuts that need to be made. Speaking of the compactness, a paring knife is best stored on your magnetic knife block where it doesn’t take up much real estate at all. The reduced size makes it easy to carry, making it portable for picnics, the backyard BBQ, or camping.
The paring knife is definitely in the top three of the best, most essential, tools in your kitchen.
What do you use a paring knife to cut?
The trusty paring knife is a multitasking tool that is very versatile. There is a wide variety of culinary jobs that a paring knife can accomplish. Paring knives are great at removing peels and outer layers from fruits and vegetables. You may start to compare this kitchen knife to a peeler after reading the last sentence, but with the versatility of a paring knife, there is so much more that the knife can tackle than a peeler.
A paring knife can slice apples and tomatoes, halve a lemon, and devein shrimp, for starters. There are so many things a paring knife can cut so we will just look at the three main food groups where a paring knife comes in super clutch.
- Cutting Vegetables
A paring knife does best at peeling, slicing, and coring vegetables. This knife can mince herbs, eye potatoes, skin mushrooms, and remove even the smallest seeds. With a kitchen knife of this small size, it makes it easy to test tenderness and versatile enough to crush and mince garlic with the same tool.
2. Slicing Fruits
Similar to vegetables, the paring knife is used for peeling, slicing, and coring fruits. A couple of other detailed jobs that this knife takes care of is hulling strawberries and segmenting fruits.
3. Filleting Meat and Fish
With a 2-4 inch blade, a paring knife is your best bet for deveining prawns, shucking oysters, filleting small fish, scoring meat, and trimming fat from meat. This knife can even carve small carcasses like poultry. Similar to checking the tenderness of vegetables, you could also check the tenderness of meat with this short blade.
Whether you’re scoring, cleaning, or segmenting, the paring knife will go above and beyond for you. There is a multitude of little kitchen tasks that require fine detail and the paring knife is the best choice for handling all the precise details.
Why do I need a paring knife?
There are several reasons why a paring knife needs to be easily accessible in your arsenal. The main two qualities that paring knives posses are versatility and precision. This is going to be the smallest knife in your kitchen, unless you have a mini knife, which makes it perfect for getting into smaller spaces where larger kitchen knives can’t go.
The paring knife is one of the most used knives, not just in your kitchen, but for any meal preparation outside of your home. Whether you’re cutting up a banana for oatmeal at work, halving an avocado at the campsite, or segmenting an orange at your buddies BBQ, a paring knife is small enough to take on the go.
While a chef’s knife is designed to work with medium to large size ingredients, the paring knife is used with the smaller items. Because paring knives are so small, they allow for different grips and cutting methods. A paring knife is going to be the only knife you can use in the air, safely. This is an essential knife to have because of the many jobs that require precision.
How is a paring knife different than a chef's knife or bread knife?
Each knife in your kitchen knife set has a specific job to do. Having just the one you need will make meal prepping a breeze which will make it more enjoyable. There is a range of different lengths and shapes of knives in a kitchen knife set and each one is designed to take on specific kitchen tasks. The three best kitchen knives are the paring knife, the chef’s knife, and the bread knife.
The Chef’s Knife
A chef’s knife generally has a blade length between 6 and 14 inches. These knives have a slight curve to them that becomes more pronounced near the tip. The curve allows you to use the classic rocking motion while meal prepping. This type of knife was designed to slice large cuts of beef, but it can handle almost all of your kitchen tasks. The length of this blade allows you to efficiently complete a longer slice or dice in one stroke. The chef’s knife is like an extension of your hand and it plays a main role in almost every meal prep.
2. The Bread Knife
A bread knife is a good tag team player for meal prep and more versatile than people may think. These kitchen knives are infamous for slicing loaves of bread, but they can be used for so much more. The bread knife can be used on food with smooth surfaces like tomatoes and peppers. They can also be used to cut layers of cake. The main difference of a bread knife is the serrated grooves in the blade. This helps to cleanly slice through bread without crushing it, or any food with a hard edge and a softer interior.
3. The Paring Knife
A paring knife is the kitchen knife in your set that comes in clutch for the detailed, smaller jobs that require precision. This versatile knife is about 2-4 inches in length. The size makes this knife the easiest to control and the best at precision work. The paring knife can peel fruits and vegetables, devein shrimp, or segment citrus. No other knife can tackle the smaller jobs, like coring fruits, as efficient as the paring knife. This knife takes up the least amount of space on your magnetic knife block and packs the biggest punch when doing the intricate work.
What should I look for in a paring knife?
At the end of the day, what you need is a small sharp edge for delicate detailed cuts. A good paring knife should be 2-4 inches long and have a slightly smaller handle than the rest of your knives. This helps with added maneuverability around the kitchen. You can go to just about any retailer and pick up the boring paring knife your grandma has in her drawer. If you want something with a little more pizazz and style.
Check out our paring knife options here at Folded Steel: