Nakiri Vs Gyuto Knife – What’s The Difference?

Both are excellent kitchen knives, but which one’s better between Nakiri vs Gyuto?

Nakiri is a knife specifically designed for prepping vegetables, with a flat profile to make even and clean cuts in a chopping or slicing motion. A Gyuto is the Japanese equivalent of the Western Chef’s knife, a multi-purpose tool that slices vegetables, cuts meats, and dices fruits. The blade shape of a Nakiri is rectangular, while the Gyuto has a rounded design near the tip. 

Learn all the differences between these two Japanese knives to pick the most suitable for you.

Differences Between Nakiri and Gyuto Knife: A Quick Summary

SubjectNakiri KnifeGyuto Knife
UsesChopping VegetablesFlat cutting, Rock chopping several ingredients, To cut meat, To cut fish, General kitchen use
Blade ShapeFlat profile with a long and thin blade. Rectangular blade shapeFlat profile with a rounded shape towards the tip and a tall heel
Blade’s TipLacks a pointy tipPointy tip
Blade Length      5 (125mm) to 7 inches (180mm)7 inches (180mm) and 14 inches (360mm)
Sharpening Angle18-20 degrees to the whetstone45 degrees to the whetstone
Cutting ActionChopping, Push Slice, Pull SliceChop, Push Slice, Pull Slice, Horizontal Cuts, Rocking Chop
Ease of Use          HardEasy

Gyuto Knife Vs Nakiri Knife: Detailed Comparison

The key differences between the Nakiri knife vs Gyuto knife are the blade shape, how to use them, in which scenarios to use either, and how comfortable the knives are. I’ll go into an in-depth review of the features that set these two Japanese-style knives apart. By the end, you’ll know which one you need between a Gyuto or Nakiri.


Nakiri is a traditional Japanese knife that dates back to the seventeenth century, when it was one of the two most common knives in Japanese home kitchens. The other one was the Deba knife, which Japanese cooks used for cutting meat and fish. 

Nakiris may be outside the realm of what many Southern cooks are used to, but they’re one of the most utilitarian knives we could use because vegetables are so much a part of Southern cooking.

Jacqueline Blanchard, a chef who started a business called Coutelier centered around Japanese knife styles.

The Gyuto knives originated from traditional multi-purpose knives with a Western chef knife style. As a result, the Gyuto is the Japanese equivalent of a Chef’s knife. Modern Gyuto knives feature high carbon steel and stainless steel wrapping on the sides. This construction makes the knives more resistant than they were originally.

Usage Capacity

The Nakiri is an excellent tool for prepping vegetables due to its lightweight build and nimble profile. It also has a flat and thin cutting edge with less metal to push through ingredients and slice them smoothly. Use the Nakiri to cut cabbages, julienne onions, or slice apples, among other things. 

Unlike Gyuto, Nakiri knives are ideal for chopping vegetables for salads and stir-fry.

The Gyuto is a versatile knife that does well in many tasks but it doesn’t excel in a specific area. Use it to cut herbs like cilantro, vegetables like onions, or boneless meats or fish. Using larger 240mm Gyuto knives allows you to cut through many ingredients simultaneously, but the precision won’t be as good as the Nakiri. Choose the Gyuto if you want an alternative to the Santoku knife for cutting almost anything.

Blade Shape

Nakiri knives have a flat profile with a long and thin blade and a rectangular shape. This knife type is available in multiple sizes, varying between 120mm and 240mm. The most popular sizes are 165mm and 180mm, which are large enough for most home cooks. 

Normally, the Nakiri blade is tall to provide knuckle clearance and feel comfortable. A flat profile allows you to chop through vegetables and use the entire length of the cutting edge for clean cuts.

Gyuto knives have a rounded shape towards the tip with a flat profile across the edge and a tall heel. The rounded shape is excellent for push-cutting and making clean cuts through the ingredients, whether you’re cutting onions or boneless meat. However, this type of shape isn’t suitable for rock chopping because the cutting edge doesn’t have enough clearance.

Tip of the Blade

The Nakiri knife doesn’t have a pointy tip, which is a downside if you prefer to pierce or puncture the food before slicing it. Still, you can use a Nakiri like the Fujimoto Nashiji Nakiri to split ingredients in half by placing the upper end of the edge and dragging it down. This technique only works with thin vegetables like celery. 

Gyuto knives have a pointy blade tip, which is suitable for making precision cuts. A pointy tip can pierce and puncture with ease to give you more leverage on thicker ingredients like pumpkins. 

The Gyuto also lets you concentrate more pressure on the tip for penetrating hard food such as meat chunks. Another advantage of pointy Gyutos like the Masamoto 8.2-Inch is that you can use the full extent of the cutting edge in a slicing motion.

Blade Length

Standard Nakiri knives have a blade length of 5 (125mm) to 7 (180mm) inches, which is good enough to cut most vegetables in a single pass. The smaller blade size makes the Nakiri an excellent choice for cooks with limited space. You can use the full length of the cutting edge in a small place like the home kitchen or at a restaurant.

Read Also: Are 6-Inch Chef’s Knives Too Small?

Gyuto blades measure between 7 inches (180mm) and 14 inches (360mm), making the Gyutos longer than Nakiri knives. Longer Gyutos will let you cut more food volume quickly, slicing through more than one vegetable at a time. It’s the perfect choice for professional chefs that need to prepare and serve dishes quickly. Home cooks may not work well with larger knives because the knives would require larger workspaces to complete the cutting motion.

Related Article: 210 Vs 240mm Gyuto Knives

Sharpening Angle

Sharpen Nakiri knives at an 18 to 20-degree angle to the whetstone. This angle will remove material to produce a razor-sharp cutting edge without damaging the cladding. Experiment with the blade to find the angle that feels better for you.

Sharpen a Gyuto knife by positioning the blade 45 degrees to the whetstone. Use your non-dominant hand to press the blade, and move back and forth 20 times to get a burr. Sharpening a Gyuto knife is easier because the process is similar to how you would sharpen most other knives. On the other hand, Nakiris take more time and skill to find the perfect angle.

Cutting Action 

The Nakiri knife has a straight edge for up-and-down chopping motion. This cutting technique allows the blade’s cutting edge to hit the cutting board simultaneously and chop veggies evenly. You also get outstanding control by holding the knife in a pinch grip to distribute the pressure across the blade’s length.

Nice, clean, even cuts. Up and down motion with the double bevel as well as the double scallop. Everything just falls right off. Perfect vegetable knife.

Chef Chris Consentino

The rounded shape of Gyuto knives allows you to chop, push slice, pull slice, and make horizontal cuts. Gyuto knives can also make rocking chop motions for mincing herbs, but you must prevent chipping the blade.


Nakiri knives are affordable, with an average price of $150 and $299. One of the most expensive is the Miyabi Birchwood, which has a 6.5-inch blade and 16 ounces of weight. This Nakiri isn’t a high-end knife, but it has a stronger blade to resist break and chip issues.

Gyuto knives are expensive, with some models like the R2 Japanese Gyuto Chef Knife worth $4,440.00. This particular Gyuto is highly precise due to its sharp blade and slender handle that offers maximum control.

Ease of Use

Using the Nakiri knife takes skill, as you must keep the cutting arm at 45 degrees to your body. This position keeps the blade at an almost horizontal position on the cutting board, which makes it easier to slice comfortably. If you use the Nakiri with your arm in front of you, your wrist or elbow may run into your lower torso.

Gyuto knives are easier to use and you don’t have to adopt a particular posture. You can simply use the Gyuto for slicing, moving the blade up and down in the same spot. There’s also the option to use a rocking chop motion that doesn’t require you to move your arm in a push slice motion. Overall, the Gyuto is easier to use than the Nakiri.

What Does Nakiri Mean in Japanese?

Nakiri means “knife for cutting greens.”

How Do You Sharpen Nakiri?

  • Place a whetstone on a flat surface and wet the stone before sharpening.
  • Put the blade of the Nakiri at an 18-20 degree angle to the stone. The manufacturer may recommend sharpening Nakiris at 8-12 degree angles, but it’s easy to grind away the cladding of the knife this way. Play with different angles and see which one feels the best for you.
  • Sharpen the knife by sections. Use your dominant hand to hold the knife with the index finger on the spine and the thumb at the heel. Use the index and middle finger of your other hand to press the top section of the blade against the sharpening stone. Then, do the same with the bottom half of the blade. 
  • Start sharpening the blade in a push-and-pull motion on the right side first.
  • When you notice a micro-burr across the edge’s length, turn the knife and sharpen the left side. Hold the knife with your dominant hand by placing the index finger on the heel first and then put your thumb on the spine. 
  • Start sharpening the knife again. Sharpen the top section of the cutting edge and then the bottom section.
  • To deburr the blade, start stropping the right side of the blade upwards to let the stone remove the excess burr. Apply gentle pressure and continue stropping about 12 times before changing sides.
  • Turn the knife to the other side and place the blade’s bottom half horizontally over the stone. Start stropping by bringing the blade downwards in a curved motion to pass all the right side across the stone. Repeat this step 12 times.
  • Repeat the stropping ten times on each side, then eight and six times. Continue until the edge slices through paper with ease.

How Do You Hold Gyuto?

The correct way to hold the Gyuto knife is using the pinch grip. Hold the knife by the handle, and place the middle finger in a tucked position against the finger-guard. Put your thumb on one side of the blade’s heel and your index finger in a curled position on the other side of the blade. Grab the knife firmly but also gently to make the cuts smoothly.

Gyuto or Nakiri – Which One Should You Pick?

Go with a Nakiri knife if you want the ultimate tool for slicing vegetables. This knife type is lightweight and comfortable, offering optimal control to slice through soft ingredients without smashing them. Nakiri knives don’t have a tip, reducing piercing power but ensuring you don’t stab fruits like tomatoes accidentally. The downside to Nakiri is the price, which is considerably higher than most other knife styles.

The Gyuto is an all-around tool for kitchen use that does all tasks decently. Use it to cut vegetables, fruits, and even meats with satisfying accuracy. Gyuto knives are excellent entry-level chef’s knives that will help you master different cutting techniques instead of just chopping vegetables. That’s it for this Nakiri knife vs Gyuto difference review! 

Brian Casey
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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