How to Improve Your Knife Skills and Chop, Slice and Dice Like a Pro (2023)

How to Improve Your Knife Skills and Chop, Slice and Dice Like a Pro (1)

You might think that using a knife is a relatively simple task and in a way it is. For a novice, picking up a knife and blindly slicing it into food is about as good as it gets, but if you want to get to a professional standard, then you’ll need to practice thedifferent knife techniquesand improve those Japanese kitchen knife skills. Cutting techniques are especially important for asashimior sushi chef and allJapanesecuisine which is so intricate and precise.

How to Improve Your Knife Skills and Chop, Slice and Dice Like a Pro (2)

It can feel intimidating, especially since asharpknife can be a potentially dangerous tool in the wrong hands. But by using professional knife techniques used in Japan and practicing regularly, you will soon feel as though your knife blade is an extension of your arm.

In this guide, we will be giving you some handy tips used regularly bychefsinJapanesecooking, onhow to hold your knivesand improve your technique. It’s important to start slow and spend some time getting to know your equipment. Moreover, we would never advise trying anything that you don’t feel ready to. Take it at your own pace, practice and more importantly, enjoy what you’re doing. After all, cooking is a hobby, not just a necessity.

Table of contents

  1. Take Care of Your Blades
  2. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Having the Right Knife
  3. Get to Grips With Your Grip
  4. Get Familiar With the Basic Cuts
  5. Slicing
  6. Back Slicing
  7. Rock Chopping
  8. Don’t Forget to Focus
  9. Final Thoughts

Take Care of Your Blades

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when learning how to use a knife is notcorrectly maintaining the blade. Not only will this affect the performance of the knife, but it can mean you have less control over your cutting motion, and you’ll also end up having to replace your knives more regularly, which can get pretty expensive. By properly caring for your knives, you’ll find a sharp blade is much easier to work with and will give you much more control.We have a guide on the importance of knife sharpening,advising on a whetstone to sharpen the steelif you would like a more detailed explanation, but it’s important to know that cutting with a dull blade is both dangerous and difficult. There are some other things you will need to do as well to keep your Japaneseknivesin tip-top condition.

For example, you should avoid letting your blades be wet for any longer than necessary. Whenwashingthem, do this by hand rather than in thedishwasheras this will help to preventcorrosion. When you have finished cleaning the knife, always make sure to dry it thoroughly with a clean cloth, before storing, and be sure to watch out for anyrust spotsforming.

Furthermore, it’s essential to avoid using the sharp edge for anything other thancutting. When moving ingredients around the chopping board or scraping them into a pan, a lot of amateur chefs use the sharp edge and this will dull it much more quickly. If you must use your Japanese knife to move ingredients around, always use the flat side or the steel spine.

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Having the Right Knife

How to Improve Your Knife Skills and Chop, Slice and Dice Like a Pro (3)

If you’re going to have the most versatility, then it’s a good idea to stock your kitchen with a whole host of different steel knives. Moreover, you should educate yourself on what each of these knivesshould be used for. Despite what you might think, they’re all intended for different purposes. If you want to improve your knife skills then you’ll need to make sure that you’re using the correct knife for each application.For example, imagine trying to use aparing knifeto carve a chicken. You’re going to struggle. Generally speaking, you will need a largechef’s knifeorsantokufor things like carving meat as well as chopping hardvegetables, whereas a medium-sized serrated knife is ideal for cutting delicate foods like tomatoes, as well as cutting bread and pies. That paring knife we mentioned will really come into its own when doing more precision cutting.

Equally, you do not want to apply excessive force to aknifethat is not being used for its intended purpose. You could end up damaging the blade, the handle, or more importantly, your fingers!

So you see, you can have the best knife skills in the world, butJapanesechefs are only as good as his or her tools!

Get to Grips With Your Grip

How to Improve Your Knife Skills and Chop, Slice and Dice Like a Pro (4)

Something that a lot of people forget to consider when learning how to use a knife is how they hold it. But this is of the utmost importance. Not only will it make it so much easier to use your knife, but it’ll also make the whole process much safer and reduce the risk of an injury.More than anything else, you should feel comfortable when holding your knife. The correct way to hold the knife with a 'pinch grip'. The thumb and index finger should hold onto the heel and with your grip high on the handle. Doing this will vastly improve your stability and give you far more control.

Get Familiar With the Basic Cuts

It might come as a surprise to learn that there is more than one way to skin a cat…or so the saying goes. The same is true when using a Japanese knife. Allow yourself time to research the different methods, develop new skills, and learn the different techniques, and you will allow yourself much greater ease when tackling various jobs. Moreover, you will find that you can use your knives far more efficiently and cut much more quickly.Let’s use chopping as an example. If you are using a recipe that calls for this, be sure to chop the pieces of vegetable, fish or meats, into equal sizes. If you need to dice then the rule of thumb is to produce cubes that are around a quarter of an inch.

But these aren’t the only method of cutting; you’ll often be asked to mince foods and this means to chop them as small as possible. While julienne cuts require the chef to slice the food into shapes that are similar to that of a matchstick. Again, choosing the right knife for each technique will make life a whole lot easier.

And if you thought that was all you needed to know, we have another surprise for you. You will note that not only are there different styles of cutting but also different ways of doing it.


How to Improve Your Knife Skills and Chop, Slice and Dice Like a Pro (5)

Slicing is often used for meat or veggies and this is done by laying the food onto the cutting board and holding it in place using your non-knife hand, making sure to mind your knuckles and fingertips. Hold the knife and place the tip of the blade onto the board, lifting the handle to angle it upwards. Then you can repeatedly pull back the full length of the blade whilst keeping its tip to the board, in a circular motion, at the same time as moving the food into the blade.

Back Slicing

If you need to cut foods much more finely such as herbs then you will do best to choose the back slice. For this, you will need to stack your leaves and roll them tightly together. Keep the leaves still using your free hand and place the knife's tip onto the board. You will need to keep the angle of the blade pretty low and pull it backward in a slicing motion, through the herbs.

Rock Chopping

Rock chopping is one of the most popular knife techniques and is the ideal method for mincing and this works well again when cutting herbs. With this technique, you will need to start by slicing your food and arranging it into a pile to one side. Once again, you’ll need a pinch grip to place the point of the blade onto the cutting board and use your free hand on the spine to steady the blade. Now, move the knife in a rocking motion up and down which will mince the food into very fine pieces.

Don’t Forget to Focus

When you are cutting ingredients, it can be easy to lose focus as some people find this a repetitive task. However, it is super important to make sure that you always remain focused otherwise there is a serious risk that you will cut yourself.Before you begin cutting anything, make a plan for how you are going to do it. This may seem over the top but it will help you to become more adept at using your knife. You want to think about how to make the task as easy and safe as possible and once you start, constantly keep your eyes on what you are doing.

Final Thoughts

Becoming the best chef you can doesn’t only involve cooking delicious dishes. You will also need to get familiar with your tools and some of the most important are yourJapanese knives. Improving your knife skills can be done over time and there are some incredibly simple things you can do to help yourself. Making sure that you choose the right knife, the correct method for the job, and ensuring excellent blade maintenance, are just some of the ways you can become the next knife whizz!


How to Improve Your Knife Skills and Chop, Slice and Dice Like a Pro? ›

The Four Basic Knife Cutting Techniques

Watch Chef Blake's video to learn the proper methods of dicing, mincing, julienne, and chiffonade.

What are the 7 knife skills tips? ›

7 Tips to Show Your Knife Who's Boss
  • Start with a sharp knife. Sharp knives are pretty darn scary. ...
  • create a stable surface. ...
  • Get the right grip on your knife. ...
  • learn the most common chopping techniques. ...
  • protect your fingers while chopping. ...
  • create a flat surface. ...
  • practice, practice, practice!

What are the 4 knife techniques? ›

The Four Basic Knife Cutting Techniques

Watch Chef Blake's video to learn the proper methods of dicing, mincing, julienne, and chiffonade.

What are the 10 basic cutting techniques? ›

Here are the cutting techniques every chef should know:
  • Cross Chop.
  • Rock Chop.
  • Julienne Cut.
  • Brunoise Dice.
  • Small Dice.
  • The Batonnet.
  • The Baton.
  • Pont-Neuf.
Dec 22, 2015

How do you cut richness in food? ›

If your food is too rich...

Add an acid such as lemon juice, lime juice, vinegar, or pickled vegetables (such as jalapeños).

What is the #1 rule of knife safety? ›

Keep fingertips curled under the hand that is holding the food. Point the blade away from your body when cutting, washing, or drying a knife. Always use a cutting board. Secure your cutting board with a damp paper towel or non-slip mat.

What is the secret to throwing knives? ›

Keeping your wrist tense while throwing will allow better control on your release. A limp wrist will result in an over rotation. Additionally, flicking your wrist upon release of the knife will cause an over rotation. At release, keep your wrist straight and locked, following the natural momentum of your release.

What is the hardest dish for a chef to make? ›

1. Consommé Devilish dish: A clear soup made from meat, tomato, egg whites and stock, slowly simmered to bring impurities to the surface for skimming. Techn-eeek: Even some of the most experienced chefs cannot master the complex clarification process required to make consommé.

What is the hardest thing for a chef to cook? ›


Widely used as the metric of a chef's ability, consommé is one of the most challenging dishes to cook. Despite its light and small yield, traditional consommé requires a large amount of meat; which is why it was long associated with society's upper classes who could afford such extravagance!

What are 6 knife cuts? ›

Let's break down the top eight knife cuts every professional cook and chef should know.
  • Mince. For specific garnishes and sautés, mincing is the ultimate knife cut because it's as microscopic as you can get. ...
  • Julienne. ...
  • Batonnet. ...
  • Brunoise. ...
  • Dice. ...
  • Rondelle. ...
  • Chiffonade. ...
  • Paysanne.
Sep 2, 2022

What is the smallest dice cut? ›

The brunoise knife cut (pronounced BROON-wahz) measures 1/8 inch × 1/8 inch × 1/8 inch, which makes it the smallest of the dice cuts. Brunoise is usually used for garnishes.

What is push cutting? ›

A cutting method widely used in Japan! It's also referred to as push cutting. With this cutting technique, you place the blade in the center of the ingredient. You then move the knife up and down or forward in combination with a pushing motion.

What is the largest knife cut? ›

One of the largest of the knife cuts, the baton cut is perfect for thick-cut french fries. The baton is the largest of the stick cuts, with a standard dimension of 2 inches by a 1/2 inch by a 1/2 inch.

What is the cross chop method? ›

For soft ingredients like herbs or nuts, use the 'cross chop' position. Place the ingredients on the board and hold your knife in your strongest hand. Place the other hand on top of the knife, with fingers lying flat and out of the way. Rock your knife across the food, backwards and forwards to chop the ingredients.

Why do chefs tap their knives? ›

Tapping the blade on your board, loosens foods that have been cut before it. High volume cutting has ingrained this into out prep work routine.

What are the 7 different tastes? ›

The seven most common flavors in food that are directly detected by the tongue are: sweet, bitter, sour, salty, meaty (umami), cool, and hot.

How do you cut bitterness? ›

Sweetness: From sugar, honey, fruits or otherwise, sweetness will counteract bitter and sour flavours. It can also be used to cut down the heat of a particularly spicy meal. Saltiness: Salt plays two very important roles in flavouring a dish. Firstly, it balances against bitterness.

What are the 4 flavor words? ›

It is important to note that you can only taste four flavours with your tongue. The flavours are sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.

What is the 21 rule knife? ›

Definition of the 21-foot rule

Tueller found that “the average healthy adult male,” running with a knife or other contact weapon in hand, can cover a distance of seven yards in about 1.5 seconds – the time it takes the “average” officer to draw a sidearm and place two hits center-mass on a man-size target 21 feet away.

What is knife rule 9? ›

Gibbs' Rule #9: Never go anywhere without a knife.

First mentioned in "One Shot, One Kill" (Episode 13, Season 1).

Is knife throwing a talent? ›

Knife throwing is a combat skill and sport that requires the artist to be professionally trained in the art of throwing knives. Knife throwing operates on same principles of mechanics whether it is used as a sport or in martial arts.

Should a throwing knife spin? ›

No-spin throwing is always Instinctive. The two terms are often used interchangeably. Half-spin throwing can be Instinctive or Fixed-distance. Rotational throwing is almost always Fixed-distance – the two terms are often used interchangeably.

How much does a professional knife thrower make? ›

As of May 31, 2023, the average hourly pay for a Professional Axe Throwing in the United States is $17.46 an hour.

What destroys a knife? ›

Washing in Cold Water

Never wash your knife in cold water as this also makes your knife blunt; always wash in hot soapy water and never leave a knife in a sink that has water in it; you or someone might not know that there is a knife in the sink, and someone will get cut.

Is knife throwing a sport? ›

Knife throwing is an art, sport, combat skill, or variously an entertainment technique, involving an artist skilled in the art of throwing knives, the weapons thrown, and a target.

What is the number 1 rule in cooking? ›

1. Read the recipe. Of all the important advice out there about cooking, this by far has to be the number 1 rule of cooking: read your recipe completely before getting started. This may seem like a mundane task (especially when you're excited dive in!), but you'll be so thankful you took the time to do it!

What is the least a chef can make? › reports that the highest-earning chefs make $76,280, which is more than $36 an hour, and that the lowest-earning chefs make $23,630 annually, or $11.36 an hour.

What famous chef yells a lot? ›

Amazingly, after more than two decades of yelling at people on television, Gordon Ramsay is still Gordon Ramsaying. He's committed to the same bit that now spans over 20 shows, from his early Hell's Kitchen days, through the Kitchen Nightmares and Master Chef eras, and now on Next Level Chef.

How stressful is a chef? ›

Burnout is especially problematic in professional kitchens where chefs are sometimes expected to work up to 12 hours a day, weekends, and often in harsh working conditions.

What is the secret of a good chef? ›

Great chefs keep themselves updated with food trends. They study the cooking methods and cuisines of other cultures and spend time experimenting with different dishes. Doing so allows them to constantly discover new skills and recipes that they can incorporate into their food.

What do chefs suffer from? ›

Some of the biggest health concerns facing chefs are not directly related to the job but are a result of the lifestyle associated with it. This includes the risk of diabetes and heart disease that is caused by a lack of exercise and negative eating habits.

What makes a chef stand out? ›

Passion: A great chef has to be passionate about food and cooking. They have to genuinely enjoy the whole process of procuring, preparing, cooking and serving food and have to be able to design menus too.

How can I make chopping easier? ›

There are a couple of tips that will help you to feel more in control and safe when you are chopping up food.
  1. Get to Flat. ...
  2. Claw Grip. ...
  3. Use a Proper Grip. ...
  4. Make sure you have good quality knives. ...
  5. Make sure your knives are sharp. ...
  6. Use a cutting board.
Mar 25, 2023

Is knife skills a hard skill? ›

Hard skills: These are specific to a chef and include skills like your knife skills, knowledge of food safety and regulations and temperature requirements to cook various meats. Soft skills: These are general abilities that apply to a chef's role and often complement your hard skills.

How do you expertly sharpen a knife? ›

Insert the blade into the manual sharpener at the base, which is where the blade meets the handle. Use gentle force, pushing the blade down as you pull it through the slot, toward your body. Repeat this action 3 to 6 times, 3 for a mildly-dull blade, or more for a severely-dull blade.

What technique is most used in cutting? ›

The most common cutting techniques that can be used with virtually any type of kitchen knife is slicing.

What is the toughest thing to cut? ›

Root vegetables like parsnip and rutabaga are the most difficult things to cut other than bone. Coconut is too hard to cut with a knife at all unless you use a machete.

What is the finest level of chopping? ›

Mince: This is the finest level of chopping, and is frequently done using a food processor, or a sharp chefs knife. Mincing is a technique that allows the maximum amount of flavor to be contributed by the mined food; frequently the minced vegetable is chopped so finely that it “melts” into the dish.

Do knife sharpeners ruin knives? ›

Even the adjustable ones are not well suited to all knives. Electric pull through sharpeners remove way too much metal and shorten the life of your knife by years. Ceramic wheel sharpeners tend to take chips and chunks out of thin Japanese blades.

Does heating up a knife make it sharper? ›

Heating a blade will soften the steel and the knife will not be able to hold an edge as long and will never truly achieve its maximum sharpness.

Do expensive knives stay sharp longer? ›

Do expensive knives stay sharper longer? Typically, expensive knives stay sharper longer. But the sharpness of a knife, or edge retention, depends on its material – not its price. Soft metals are easy to sharpen but require more sharpening.

Where is the sweet spot on the knife? ›

The middle of the edge, often called the "sweet spot," is for those everyday knife tasks of slicing and dicing vegetables, meat, and fish. The heel is yet another tool, where the edge widens to a wedge shape.

What are the 3 methods of sharpening knives? ›

grinding (on a grinding wheel) or whetting (on a whetstone) steeling, using a honing steel. stropping, on a razor strop or buffing on a wheel.

What are 2 methods on how do you sharpen knives? ›

To sharpen your knives at home, you can use an electric sharpener or a whetstone (also called a sharpening stone). Electric sharpeners require little effort on your end, but stones are generally the preferred choice since they're gentler on blades, relatively inexpensive, and easy to use.

How long should a knife stay sharp? ›

If you use it regularly and care for it well, a good knife should remain sharp for six to 12 months. Good edge retention, as Wirecutter senior staff writer Lesley Stockton explains, relies in part on steel composition and hardness.


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