Brush up on your slicing skills with tips from our expert
Are you a pro at using kitchen cutlery? Or do you feel somewhat awkward when slicing veggies, meats and other foods? Regardless of your confidence level when you have a knife in your hand, you should understand key safety strategies to avoid cutting your fingers.
To help you cut with confidence, we sought the advice of our cooking and baking expert, Andrea Boudewijn. In addition to her pro tips for using kitchen knives correctly, she included a list of her favorite knives that highlights the Henckels Solutions Razor Sharp 15-Piece Knife Set, Mercer Culinary Millennia 5-Piece Magnetic Knife Board Set, WUSTHOF Gourmet 6-Piece Steak Knife Set and others.
Mistakes when using kitchen knives that can lead to cuts
Not only is slicing your finger with a kitchen knife painful and inconvenient, it can be serious. That’s because some large chef’s knives with sharp blades can result in major lacerations if they aren’t used properly. The best plan is to avoid mistakes when using knives. Boudewijn pointed out some common errors that cooks often make.
”People drink while cutting, very dangerous! Also holding the knife with slippery hands wet with water or slick with butter,” she said. Some major cuts can occur when a knife isn’t even in use, Boudewijn continued.
”The worst mistake you can make is setting the knife in a sink or bin with soapy water to soak: No one can see past the bubbles on the surface of the water, and may plunge a hand into the murky water to feel around. One wrong motion and ouch!”
How to use knives properly
In addition to making mistakes when using a kitchen knife, simply using it improperly will put you at risk of cuts. Fortunately, Boudewijn’s advice for proper knife use will reduce the likelihood of accidents. The size of the knife matters, she said.
”Use a knife of appropriate size. I’m so used to using a chef’s knife for everything that I can use it to slice something as small as a tiny pepper to a watermelon, but if you find it unwieldy, use a paring knife.”
Boudewijn added that technique is also important for avoiding cuts.
”Curl your fingers under your hand and hold the item you’re slicing with the folded under fingertips (your nails will be against the item). Rest the leading-edge knuckles against the flat side of the knife as you cut so your sense of touch will always tell you where the knife is,” she said.
Stabilizing the food you are slicing will also help to avoid mishaps, Boudewijn continued.
”A simple fork goes a long way to holding a vegetable or piece of meat steady while you slice.”
Avoiding cuts while washing and storing knives
While the majority of injuries from kitchen knives occur when slicing food, washing and storing them can also be risky if not done correctly. People can avoid cuts while washing kitchen knives by following a few tips, Boudewijn said:
- Turn the sharp blade-edge away from your hands while scrubbing.
- Never let go of the knife during the washing process. Always walk over to the sink with a dirty knife and hold it, rinse it, soap it up, rinse it again, then set it on a side towel to air dry.
- Never set a knife in a bin of soapy water. It’ll get lost or could move in there, and in a distracted moment someone may put their hand into the water and get a surprise!
Knives can be hazardous when left on the counter or stored loose in a drawer. Our expert said that storing your knives with care is vital to prevent injuries, but some methods are better than others.
”Use a countertop knife block or in-drawer knife plaque. They are the safest ways to store knives. Magnetic strips are great for quick easy access, but don’t always hold the knives stable and vertical. Storing knives loose in a drawer is the least safe due to the exposed blades and the increased odds for the knives to spin and jumble, facing all directions,” she explained.
Boudewijn’s favorite kitchen knives and knife sets
Made by a top brand, these knives feature sharp blades that provide precision cutting without requiring frequent sharpening. The 15-piece set includes a variety of knives plus kitchen shears and a knife block for storage.
With high-carbon Japanese steel blades, these four knives are constructed to stay sharp and cut with ease. The contoured handles are easy to grip. The set includes a magnetized board to store the knives when they aren’t in use.
Every home cook needs a set of steak knives. This set of six durable knives are built to last thanks to their high-carbon stainless steel blades and strong riveted handles.
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In addition to a well-made 8-inch carving knife, this duo includes a carving fork that provides leverage while you slice a roast, turkey, vegetables and other foods.
This chef’s knife stands out in terms of versatility thanks to the precision 8-inch blade that has dimples that simplify slicing through dense, sticky foods. The ergonomic handle makes it easy to grip and maneuver.
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This is another strong 8-inch chef’s knife that’s made to perform through numerous cutting tasks. The high-carbon stainless steel blade does a good job maintaining a sharp edge.
With a sharp, serrated high-carbon steel blade, this knife is designed to slice through all types of bread with minimal effort. It includes a sheath to cover the blade when itâ€™s not being used.
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It’s Swedish carbon steel that makes this knife live up to the task of slicing easily through meat, firm vegetables and more.
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Place this knife block in a drawer and you can store your knives safely out of site. It includes slots for 16 knives, plus a sharpening steel.
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Jennifer Manfrin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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