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Nakiri Vs Chef Knife – What Are the Differences?

Nakiri knife and chef’s knife, how are they different from one another?

A Nakiri knife has a rectangular-shaped blade with a thin edge ideal for slicing vegetables, whereas the chef’s knife has a curved edge that can chop, mince, and dice different foods. Nakiri knives are lightweight and smaller, but they’re expensive and mostly for right-handed users. A chef’s knife on the other hand comes in larger sizes, weighs more, and is less expensive.

Learn more about the other differences between Nakiri vs chef knife to see which one is more suitable for you.

Difference Between Nakiri and Chef Knife: At a Glance

SubjectNakiri KnifeChef Knife
Blade shapeRectangular shape, with thin & flat bladeCurvy & bent
Cutting abilityExcel at cutting delicate items like vegetablesGood at different tasks, like cutting meat, chopping many vegetables, cutting larger & thicker fruits, spatchcocking chicken, slicing ham, bone cutting, etc.
Length5 (125mm) and 7 (180mm) inches8 (203mm) to 14 inches (355mm)
Weight7.5 to 9.4 ounces8.5 to 11.1 ounces
Angle12 and 17 degrees17 and 25 degrees
Cutting actionUp and down cutting motionSuitable with different techniques
Price$100 and up$10 to $1,000 and more
HandednessThe Nakiri knife is not ambidextrousFor left-handed and right-handed users

Nakiri Knife Vs. Chef Knife: Detailed Comparison

The Nakiri knife is mostly for slicing vegetables, whereas the chef knife does a bit of everything. Other differences between Nakiri knives vs chef knives include weight, shape, how to use them, and what you can cut with them. Understanding these differences will give you an idea of which is the better knife to meet your demands.

Blade Shape

Nakiri knives have a rectangular-shaped blade with a thin and straight cutting edge. This blade is wide and symmetrical, usually with a blunt nose. The standard shape of Nakiri knives dictates their purpose, as they have a thin edge that excels at slicing. Also, the wide blade can pick up chopped or sliced food and place it in a bowl. A Nakiri looks like a meat cleaver.

Read Also: Butcher Knife vs Cleaver – What’s the Difference?

The general shape of a chef’s knife blade is curvy and bent. There are two types: French and German knife blades. A German-style chef’s knife has a deep and continuous curve design through the entire cutting edge. On the other hand, the French chef’s knife style sports a blade with a flat blade that curves near the tip.

Cutting Ability

Nakiri knives excel at cutting delicate items, like slicing through vegetables. The straight cutting edge allows you to use the Nakiri for slicing back and forth in an up and down motion. Use it to cut cucumbers, zucchini, cabbages, potatoes, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, lemons, and more. Also, the straight edge makes complete contact with the cutting board to make cleaner cuts. 

The downside to Nakiri knives is that they can’t make tougher cuts due to the thin blade. It’s not a suitable tool for butchering meat or cutting through thicker veggies.

Chef’s knives can cut a variety of items in different ways. Use it for chopping and dicing many vegetables simultaneously, for butchering meat, or for slashing through larger fruits like pineapples. The versatility of the chef’s knife makes it a suitable utensil for beginner and professional cooks, whether at home or in restaurants. 

Other tasks you can do with a chef’s knife are spatchcocking chicken, slicing hams, or cutting through bones. These are all tasks that a Nakiri can’t accomplish.

Length of the Knives

Nakiri knives have blade sizes ranging between 5 (125mm) and 7 (180mm) inches. This knife type is mostly for slicing vegetables, which is why the blades are smaller. You can use them to chop down on different ingredients in a single pass. Due to their small size, Nakiri knives are suitable for home kitchens and restaurants. Even in a confined space, you still get to use the full extent of the cutting edge without bumping into appliances around you.

Read Also: 6-Inch Chef Knives – Are They Too Small?

Chef’s knife blades range from 8 (203mm) to 14 inches (355mm). Choosing the size of a knife depends on what you want to do with it. Smaller chef’s knives of 8 inches are ideal for home cooks without much kitchen space. Larger knives like the Wusthof Classic 14″ are suitable for professional butchers working in spacious areas like large restaurants.

Read Also: Should You Get an 8-inch or 10-inch Chef Knife?

Weight of the Knives

The average weight of a Nakiri knife is between 7.5 to 9.4 ounces. This type of knife has thinner blades and less metal, which affects the overall weight. Lighter blades are more convenient because you can use them longer without feeling fatigued or stress. Also, a lightweight Japanese Nakiri knife makes it easier to slice graciously.

Chef’s knives usually weigh between 8.5 to 11.1 ounces.  A chef’s knife has thicker blades than Nakiri, which means more metal and heavier weight. Some chef’s knives can be as large as 14 inches, like the Wusthof Classic, which also increases the weight. Heavier blades can be an advantage if you use the blade’s own weight to cut through, but you may experience wrist pain or fatigue after using it for too long.

Angle

Nakiri knives have small angles, ranging between 12 and 17 degrees. This angle creates a thinner cutting edge for accurate slicing tasks. Lower angles lead to less material displacement while slicing, but the blades can chip with ease because there’s not enough material supporting the edge.

Fortunately, Nakiri and other Japanese kitchen knives like Santoku knives use harder steel to compensate for the thin cutting edges. However, comparing the Nakiri vs Santoku knife shows that Santoku knives are all-purpose tools due to their pointy tip and straight blade.

Chef’s knives have larger angles, usually between 17 and 25 degrees. This angle creates a durable blade for general use. It’s suitable for making clean cuts in meats while being strong enough to withstand intense chopping motions. Overall, western knives feature soft steel that puts up with abuse without chipping.

Price

Nakiris are expensive Japanese knives, with the most affordable option around $100. The reason Nakiri knives are expensive is due to their quality construction. Look at the Mercer Culinary MX3, for example. This Japanese-style knife features VG-10 stainless steel with high-carbon laminated outer layers, a full tang, and a triple-riveted ergonomic handle. All of these characteristics make the Nakiri knife far better than the cheapest chef’s knives.

The price of a chef’s knife varies between $10 to $1,000 and more. It’s easy to find a chef’s knife within any price range, which is perfect for entry-level cooks. There’s no need to spend a lot of money on a knife if you’re still trying to find the right size or style that most suits your needs. Furthermore, budget knives can be just as effective as the more expensive models.

Cutting Action 

Nakiri knives work best with a smooth cutting action, requiring little effort to slice through vegetables. This benefit comes in handy when you’re cutting through items like cabbages, which can be large. The Nakiri knife makes the task easier by slicing in an up and down motion without much force necessary. 

The chef’s knives require effort and skills to perform certain cutting techniques. For example, you can use the tip to carve meat or the belly for rock chopping veggies. A wider chef’s knife blade cuts thicker food like meat, but it isn’t gentle enough for delicate stuff like tomatoes. As a result, you must be more careful with a chef’s knife.

Handedness

The Nakiri knife is not ambidextrous because it has a single-bevel blade. Single-bevel knives are ground on one side only, which you must sharpen down to a 15-degree angle to get a sharp and flat edge. However, this knife style is more suitable for right-handed users. Left-handed users have to look for a special knife designed for left-hand use. 

Most chef’s knives have double-bevel edges, and they’re suitable for left-handed and right-handed users. This type of knife is ground on both sides, creating an edge in the shape of a V. Double-edged bevel knives are the most versatile because they provide optimal control to make different cuts on the food. 

What Is the Difference Between a Santoku and Nakiri Knife?

The Santoku is a multi-purpose knife with a straight edge and a sheepsfoot blade suitable for most ingredients and cutting techniques. A Nakiri knife has a rectangular blade and a rounded tip, and it’s primarily a tool used for chopping vegetables.

Are Nakiri Knives Worth It?

The Nakiri is a worthy knife because it’s ideal for delicate cutting chores, like chopping vegetables. It has a flat profile that guarantees even cuts, and it’s also lightweight for making fast cuts. Overall, Nakiris are the better option for chopping vegetables.

Nakiri Knife or Chef’s Knife – Which One Should You Buy?

Choose a Nakiri knife if you mostly cook using vegetables. This knife style has a thin blade that excels at slicing delicate items, including fruits, herbs, and vegetables. A Nakiri knife is lightweight and doesn’t tire your hand quickly, allowing you to prepare your salads by cutting the ingredients smoothly. The Nakiri knife is a bit expensive, but the quality materials and overall performance make it worth it. 

The chef’s knife will help you cut, chop, mince, and dice almost anything. Plus, this type of knife comes in larger sizes that could be an advantage if you usually cut ingredients faster. A chef’s knife also has a stronger blade to resist heavy-duty use. Besides cutting vegetables, this knife is better for cutting meat, bone, chicken, and thicker items. Overall, the chef’s knife is a multi-purpose kitchen for different applications.

About Brian M. Casey

As a food lover, Brian M. Casey developed a fascination for cooking at an early age. He soon realized that not only the ingredients matter but also the knives and the accessories used to turn those ingredients into a delicious dish. This way, Brian began his journey on the magnificent world of kitchen knives, outdoor knives, knife accessories, and much more. After years of experience with many ups and downs, Brian now wants to share everything he’s learned during his journey as an avid knife collector, a well-seasoned knife maker, and an all-around knives enthusiast.

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