How to Hold a Kitchen Knife Like a Chef?

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By Trinity Archie

Updated: Apr 17, 2024

8 min read

How to Hold a Kitchen Knife
Photo: Cooking Channel

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    In the kitchen, incorrect knife handling is a common issue often overlooked amidst the excitement of new recipes. Mastering knife skills is fundamental, considering it is the cornerstone of kitchen tasks. While there is no universally perfect grip, certain practices, like placing your index finger on the blade, are wrong. Experimenting with different grips, such as the handle grip versus the blade grip, can significantly enhance your cutting precision. Ultimately, regardless of the grip, the priority is to ensure safety and accuracy, safeguarding both your fingertips and the quality of the recipe's creations.

    Precision and Control in Knife Handling

    A fundamental aspect of handling a knife lies in the technique of how you grip it. Although the traditional way of grasping a handle involving all five fingers may appear straightforward, it doesn't offer the delicacy and accuracy attainable with the pinch grip, alternatively referred to as the blade grip.


    With the pinch grip, you strategically place your pinky, index, and middle fingers around the handle while your pointer finger remains bent on one side of the blade and your thumb on the other, mimicking a delicate pinch of the blade.


    Initially, this method may feel unfamiliar, similar to the adjustment of holding a writing instrument closer to its tip for finer strokes; mastering the pinch grip allows for more controlled and precise cuts. By employing this technique, you can enhance your ability to execute thinner and more direct slices.

    The Handle Grip for Beginners

    Using the handle grip places your hand entirely behind the bolster on the handle, often favored by novice chefs or those with smaller hands. While comfortable, this grip provides minimal control for precise knife work. Similarly, adopting the same grip from the rear position involves tucking all fingers behind the bolster.

    Professional Choice - The Blade Grip

    Professional Choice - The Blade Grip
    Photo: Cooking Channel

    The blade grip, favored by seasoned chefs, involves positioning your thumb and forefinger in front of the bolster directly on the blade itself. Though initially daunting, this grip provides superior control and balance. However, it may pose challenges or discomfort with cheaper stamped knives lacking a bolster.

    Safe Slicing

    When slicing foods, ensure they're securely positioned, ideally with a flat-cut side against the cutting board. Direct the knife blade with your spare hand, keeping your fingertips safe by curling them inward and using your knuckles to guide the knife. For a finely minced result, engage your spare hand. Anchor the knife tip on the cutting board with your spare hand and proceed to rock the blade up and down to finely mince herbs or other ingredients.

    Mastering the Knife Grip and Technique

    Mastering the correct grip and technique for using your chef’s knife is essential for both safety and efficiency in the kitchen. While initially feeling unfamiliar, with practice, you can enhance your chopping speed and precision, resembling a professional chef. Regardless of your initial discomfort, continuous practice will gradually improve your comfort level and proficiency with knife skills. Follow the below process for mastering knife grip and technique:

    Efficient Knife Usage

    The chef's knife is highly versatile, perfect for tasks like rock chopping herbs and slicing bell peppers. Its narrow front ensures smooth trimming and slicing without food sticking. To optimize its versatility, a comfortable grip is crucial.

    Optimal Grip

    Refrain from placing your index finger atop the blade. Instead, opt for either the "hammer grip" or "blade grip" for enhanced control and safety.

    Dual-Hand Technique

    Position the three middle fingers of your guiding hand atop the object being sliced to manage the knife hand effectively. Ensure that your fingertips are inwardly bent to prevent contact with the blade.

    Maintain Contact with the Cutting Surface

    Maintain Contact with the Cutting Surface
    Photo: Cooking Channel

    Keep the knife consistently in touch with the cutting board. Employ your spare hand to maneuver the item being cut while employing rocking motions with the knife.

    Utilize a Sharp Blade

    Always employ a sharp knife to minimize the likelihood of accidents. Dull blades necessitate more force and are prone to slipping, which is why you should keep a knife sharpener with you kitchen tools to avoid dull blade accidents.

    Speed and Length

    Gripping the knife at the handle affects speed, making the blade less stable at faster cutting rates. Slowing down enhances control. Longer knives pose challenges to handle grip control.

    Exercise Patience

    Take your time, particularly if you're a novice. Pause to readjust your hand positioning for improved outcomes and safety.

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