First things first, are you sure what you have bought is a paring knife?
It gets confusing sometimes, so you might want to look at these different knife charts to pick out the paring knife.
I have also found out quite recently that paring knives can come in different shapes and dimensions, but they usually follow the same design element.
Now, as with all other kinds of knives, you can use your paring knife for cutting, dicing, mincing, slicing, piercing, and all that. The question, however, is if you should use your paring knife for all of that.
Today, we look at what a paring knife is best used for together.
PS I have a great video on how best to handle and use a paring knife at the end of this piece too.
What is a paring knife?
You know I prefer to show rather than tell, so I found a really helpful video to walk you through the paring knife itself.
The video shows the different types of paring knives too: from the normal ones to the serrated edge paring knife and more.
After watching the video about a couple of times, you should be able to tell a paring knife from a bunch of different knives – and maybe even identify the different kinds that there are also.
What is the purpose of a paring knife?
To understand what a paring knife is best used for, you also have to understand some things about them.
You must have heard that they are also a form of chef knives, only smaller than the standard ones that you know. Thus, they are one of the most important knives to have in the kitchen.
Some people will also call them peeling knives – which gives away one of the tasks that they are best at.
Fortunately, like the standard chef knife or santoku knife (I wrote a guide to use santoku knives here), the paring knife can also be used for quite several things.
Let’s get into those now.
Paring knives are the best and should be the first choice when you are dealing with vegetables,
They are great for many vegetable-related operations, including but not limited to:
- Peeling – great for root vegetables such as yam, potatoes, cassava, and sweet potatoes
- Slicing – for when you bring some cabbage, lettuce, spinach, and the likes into your kitchen
- Coring – onions, pear, and strawberries need some coring done. Make sure to have your paring knife handy when that time comes
- Removing seeds – this part is self-explanatory. Be it for your tomatoes, cucumbers, or green peppers, the paring knife does just fine
- Testing tenderness – my mother loves to do this with her paring knife.
- Mincing herbs – a knife should be bigger than the food it is used to cut. The paring knife is very handy and bigger than most herbs, so it allows for great mincing.
- Skinning – works best for mushrooms
- Garlic – chef’s knives are also great for crushing vegetables like garlic, but you cannot beat the expertise of the paring knife in this region
The veggies don’t get to have all the fun here. Fruits are also a regular customer of the paring knife for the following reasons:
- Peeling – getting the bark off your orange? Want to eat your apples with a knife and look cool? My mother wouldn’t approve of the latter, but a paring knife comes in handy for both
- Slicing – get all members of the family an equal portion of oranges, pineapple, watermelon, or other fruits with a paring knife
- Coring – as discussed above, some fruits have to be cored. Chief of this is apple. Strawberries, pears, and pineapples are also on the same table.
- Hulling – when strawberries are involved
Preparing Meat/ Fish
From all the use cases above, it does seem like the paring knife is made for simpler tasks only. That could not be farther from the truth.
You can use the same knife to handle and process your meat or fish in the following capacities:
- De-veining – a paring knife works best on prawns without having to make a mess of the entire thing
- Great for shucking oysters
- Filleting – best for small fish. You can also look at some of the best filleting knives/ electric fillet knives for fish guides here for some more personalized options.
- Meat handling – the paring knife is great for slicing, so it also helps to get fat off of meat and carve small game.
- Testing meat tenderness
What is a serrated paring knife used for?
If you watched the video above on what paring knives are, you would have seen that there are also serrated options to pick from.
So, why those?
The serrated edges are there to makes these knives better specialized for some kinds of food. If the food item has a harder exterior than the interior, the serrated paring knife is best for handling such tasks.
Thus, they come in handy when slicking yam, potatoes, pineapple, and other such food items. You could also double your paring knife as a bread knife so that you don’t have to buy one of each and instead, commit that money to buy a paring knife of higher quality.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you know what a paring knife is used for, something tells me that you might have some more questions than the ones I explored above.
I have curated a list of the possible questions you could have and answered them here.
If there is anything else that you would like to know that I didn’t answer here, get in touch with me and I’ll ask my mother for the answer. In the rare case she doesn’t know what it is, I’ll consult other sources.
What is the best brand of paring knives?
Like most other things, this comes down to personal preferences.
However, some brands come up more than others when discussing the best paring knives in the market.
So, I have curated a list of the best paring knives that I have seen, all available on Amazon:
- DALStrong Damascus Paring Knife
- Wusthof Classic Stainless Steel Paring Knife
- Victorinox Serrated Paring Knife
- Zwilling 4-inch Paring Knife
- Victorinox Paring + Chef Knife Set – comes with free honing steel
Is a paring knife necessary?
If you don’t care about completing kitchen and cooking tasks as efficiently as possible, you do not need a paring knife. If you want a low-cost alternative that makes your work better, faster, and more enjoyable, though, I don’t see why you should not get a paring knife.
It is one class of kitchen knives (after santoku and chef knives) that I believe everyone who spends some time cooking should have.
How do you use a paring knife?
I did promise you from above that I have a video on how best to use a paring knife.
The video below is a demonstration from Howdini. If you also start using the paring knife like them, you will notice a better movement and much smoother knife operation.
What should I look for in a paring knife?
The blade size, blade-to-handle ratio, and grip comfort.
You must have confirmed that the paring knife is from a reputable brand (such as those suggested above) before making these secondary inspections, though.
The paring knife can come in multiple shapes and sizes. Depending on what you need the knife for, blade sizes between 3 and 4 inches should usually get the job done. A nice balance comes where the blade and handle are about the same length.
Now that you know what a paring knife is best for, I see you eyeing all those fruits and vegetables you have in your refrigerator. Yesss! It’s time to get some paring done.
Make sure to observe all the necessary knife safety tips before, during, and while using your paring knife.