Basic Knife Skills That You Need to Master

Posted by Steven Tuckey on

Owning a kitchen knife is necessary, but learning how to use those knives is a choice for every owner. When talking about knife skills, you might think that those topics are for professionals or chefs only. However, no matter how respectable a chef is, he certainly mastered the basics at some point before reaching his achievements today.

You might not be a pro yet in handling your kitchen knives, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a chance to become one in the future. Well, as the saying goes, great things start with small beginnings. Great chefs begin by learning basic knife skills.

Whether you’re an aspiring chef in the future or simply a knife enthusiast, this article is a perfect read for you.

Top 5 Basic Knife Skills

When searching for basic knife skills online, I know that you’ll have hundreds of articles claiming to be the best blog or entry to rely on. But, sometimes, instead of learning something new, you’ll end up having a headache from confusion. 

So, I want to break that process by simply showing you the 5 most basic knife skills that don't require expertise and will be perfectly applicable for beginners.

Holding a Knife

First on our list is the proper way of holding a knife. This might sound absurd as you might believe everybody knows how to hold a kitchen knife. Surprisingly, you’re wrong. Not everyone knows how to handle a knife, which is typically the leading cause of accidents in the kitchen.

  1. In holding a knife, avoid tightly gripping the handle using your five fingers because you won’t be able to control the direction and range of motion.
  2. The proper way of holding a kitchen knife is by holding it using your three fingers while the pointer finger controls the blade and the thumb acts as the break.


One of the primary purposes of your kitchen knife, aside from cutting, is peeling vegetables and fruits. The common ingredient that requires peeling in your kitchen is carrots. With that, I would like to take carrots as an example to show the procedures of proper peeling.

  1. Prepare all the necessary things, such as a paring knife, board, and your freshly washed carrots. Ensure that you clean the carrots and remove the stems on the upper part.
  2. Hold the carrot at a 45-degree angle from the cutting board.
  3. Place the blade of your paring knife at the top part of the carrot and gently scrape downwards. If the carrot’s size seems too large for you to peel, you have the option to cut the carrot in half before peeling. Take note that the pressure you apply determines the thickness of your peeling.
  4. Repeat the same procedure until you completely peel the carrot.


Another essential skill that we need to master in using a kitchen knife is dicing vegetables or lean meat. Dicing is a method of cutting into a cube shape. You can adjust the sizes of the cube depending on your need.

  1. In dicing vegetables such as carrots and onions, assuming they were already peeled, start by cutting off the sides or the edges. If you’re cutting meat, make sure it’s clean and ready for cooking.
  2. Slice the object in half, then lay the flat surface on your chopping board.
  3. Gently make some vertical slices without cutting straight all the way. You need to let it stay intact, so it won’t be hard to slice later.
  4. Now, turn your knife horizontally and slice through the vegetable or meat.
  5. Use your thumb and pinky to hold both ends of the object, then cut it vertically according to your preferred size. Your diced meat or vegetable is now ready to cook.


If you’re a fan of sauteing, you probably already know that ingredients are always best when appropriately minced. Typically, the common element in your kitchen that requires mincing is onion or garlic. You might probably think that there are already some electronic tools that could do the mincing for you. However, dishes are always best when it undergoes your hardworking hands.

  1. In mincing, start by peeling the vegetables and cutting both ends.
  2. Using your hand, claw the object by placing your thumb and pinky on both ends.
  3. Thinly slice the object. You need to take precautions in doing this since some vegetables, such as garlic, could be a bit slimy to cut. 
  4. Now, place your left hand on top of the blade, then slice up and down, back and forth, side to side, until you reach your desired mince.
  5. Scrape the minced garlic into a container.


This might sound new to you, especially if you’re not a kitchen or food enthusiast before. However, don’t get intimidated, as I assure you that you can perfectly manage this basic knife skill. Well, what is Julienne? This is a slicing style that resembles matchsticks or shoestrings. Usually, this cut is designed for carrots, celery, onion, and potato.

  1. Peel the desired vegetable that you want to julienne. Ensure that it’s washed carefully and remove excessive stems or soil.
  2. Gently slice the vegetable into 2 to 3 equal parts.
  3. Cut each slice lengthwise into thin planks.
  4. Then slice each plank lengthwise into a thinner size. Continue doing this until you reach your desired length and volume.

Slicing it down to Conclusion

Starting to learn some knife skills might be intimidating at first, but as long as you commit to practicing it regularly, I assure you that someday, you’ll end up mastering it. The basic skills I enumerated above are some but not all knife skills. There are more things to learn to become an expert in using kitchen knives. However, what you have learned today is a good starting point for you to achieve.

If this is your first time learning how to properly use a kitchen knife, don’t get frustrated if you can’t achieve your desired outcome correctly. Just continue practicing, and you’ll end up becoming good at it. For now, stick with the procedures I mentioned since many experts have already tested them.

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