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Santoku vs. Chef knife: Which is best for your kitchen

Which is a better knife, the santoku knife or the chef knife?  The santoku vs. chef’s knife debate is a tough one, but we will break it down so you can decide which of these two knives is the best for you. This article will explore the differences between the chef’s knife and the santoku knife.


What is a Santoku Knife?

This santoku is a Japanese knife. While the knife has existed for a long time, it’s only in the last two decades that they’ve begun to find their way into North American kitchens. It is becoming more and more popular as the go-to knife in the kitchen for many home chefs.

The santoku knife has a thinner blade and is a lighter weight than a chef’s knife. This makes for easier work when making fine cuts or precise angles. Giving a more precise and detailed cutting experience than a chef’s knife. The blades are smaller and thinner metal making the santoku a lighter knife than the chef’s knife. The blade is also less durable due to its thinness.

Chef’s knife overview

The chef’s knife is a heavier blade than the santoku. It has a heavier weight to it and is better for driving through bone and tougher meats. The chef’s knife has a point and is longer and typically a stronger knife that can be used for cutting through larger and denser items.

The chef’s knife’s design is different as well; it has a rounded edge and tip. This makes cutting easier than a santoku because it uses a rocking motion. The chef’s knife blade length is anywhere from 8 inches to 12 inches because it is a longer blade and thicker it can handle things like bone and other thicker meats than a santoku can.


How the santoku and chef’s knife are different

Depending on what kind of work you do in the kitchen, you may be wondering which is the better knife. They are similar in many ways and yet different in some key ways that can affect your buying decision.


In general, western knives tend to be thicker and bulkier knives. The chef’s knives are made of a thicker and denser metal from the handle to the blade. This is useful in cutting meats and denser materials like bone. At the same time, the santoku’s thinner blade is better from more delicate cuts and cuts needing some finesse.



Another difference is the edge of the blade itself. Asian-style knives typically have a sharper-edged angle, whereas knives in the west have a slightly wider angle. On the Classic santoku knife, you will have a 10 to 15 degrees angle on the blade, whereas the average chef’s knife will have a 20 degrees angle blade like you see on the Cangshan knives.


Purpose of knife

Both knives are capable of slicing and dicing many different foods. They’re both capable of cutting fruits, vegetables, herbs, meat, and fish. However, with its added weight, the chef’s knife is easier to cut through denser materials.



Santoku vs. Chef Knife: The chef knife is longer and has a point

The length of a santoku blade is up to the standard 7 inches. The chef blades can be anywhere from 8 inches all the way up to 12” with the average sitting at 10 in. A longer blade is nicer if you have larger hands to handle. Either of the blades can be forged or stamped. The blade of a santoku also has divots in the blade to release the vegetables while being cut; these provide air in between the knife and the item you’re dicing so that the vegetable doesn’t get stuck on the knife.

Check out these parts of a knife to sharpen your knife knowledge.

The shape of the blade

To look at these knives, they look similar. However, they are different. Comparing a santoku knife versus a chef’s knife is about noticing the slight differences in the blade. The top of the blade of a santoku is straight and to a flat point downwards. In contrast, the chef’s knife curves upward to a tip. This rounding of a chef’s knife helps give it a better rocking motion for cutting.

Another difference is the blade’s safety because of the santoku’s round end and not coming to a tip like a chef’s knife; it could be considered a safer knife.

Santoku vs. Chef Knife: Which is better? The santoku has a flatter blade.


The cutting motion of a chef’s knife and a santoku are different as well; a chef’s knife is rounded and will cut with a rocking motion, whereas the santoku knife is a flat knife and cuts straight down. This means that when the santoku goes all the way down, it allows for a full cut of the fruit or vegetable, while the chef’s knife will require rocking.



Another thing to consider is the hardness of the steel used in each knife. Because chef knives are heavier knives than a santoku, the steel is denser and is often more durable. The santoku being more flexible and agile is a great feature. However, the metal can end up santoku knife and ensure that you are getting the highest quality possible.


The handle

The handles will depend on the manufacturer’s process. The way you gripped both handles is pretty much the same. The difference is in the cutting motion used for each knife; a chef’s knife will have a rocking motion as the blade is rounded, whereas the santoku blade is flattered and needs to have an up-and-down motion more akin to chopping.

There is a world of difference in manufacturers of knives and knife handles. You can see the Dalstrong knife review compared to the Chicago cutlery review. Handles can range from plastic to a pakkawood handle, and the price will reflect these changes.


Which is better, the santoku knife versus the chef’s knife?

Now it’s time we get to the big decision: which is better: the cook’s knife or santoku knife? When you’re looking at each of these knives, it’s important to realize they are very similar. If you find yourself using a knife to cut through a lot of denser meats and bones, the chef’s knife will be the way to go.

Likewise, if you prefer a rocking motion with the chef’s knife when it comes to cutting, slicing, and mincing your food, the chef’s knife is hard to beat.

However, if you find that you prefer the up-down motion of cutting and getting a full cut in one push, that you prefer a lighter and thinner blade that’s just a little bit smaller, the santoku knife may be the better fit for you.

Of course, these knives are both going to serve the purpose for most of the things you will do in a kitchen. The difference will be the smaller intricacies that each knife offers.

Ultimately it boils down to preference and which knife you think will be best for you. Personally, we use a chef’s knife more as it’s what we have a personal preference for.


Did you know there are knife blocks that sharpen knives? Read about in our Best Self Sharpening Knife Blocks.

Which is the best santoku knife?

If you are looking for the best santoku knife, this one is an Amazon choice product with a high rating and nearly a thousand reviews. Being made by Wusthof, you know that it is a great brand (read our Wusthof knives review) and a quality knife.

Which is the best chef’s knife?

The best chef’s knife will be a matter of price, and we have several articles to help you find the best chef’s knife here:


Final thoughts on chef’s knife vs. santoku knife

When it comes to these two knives, either one will do the lion’s share of the cutting in the kitchen. What will come down to your decision is the price, look, and cutting style you would like to do. For those of you that prefer a smaller knife, the santoku is the way to go, and for those of you who prefer a larger knife and have larger cuts, a chef makes can’t be beaten. While they will both be great with vegetables, herbs, fruits, and meats, you will need to decide what tasks you will be performing with the knife and which one is best for you.


Decided on santoku vs. chef knife? Here are some other knives to read: