Difference Between Santoku vs Chef Knife | Key Aspects

The Difference Between Santoku vs Chef knife: Chef’s knives are the most versatile knives suited to all types of chopping, slicing, and dicing. A santoku knife is better for slicing meat or fish because of its narrow blade, which makes it handy for chopping vegetables than for slicing meat or fish.

The best knife set for your kitchen should include both a Santoku knife and a Chef knife. Preparing a variety of ingredients in the kitchen will be a breeze with both. However, despite their similar appearances, these knives are very different. You can make an informed decision regarding when to use a Chef Knife or a Santoku Knife by understanding how they differ.

Differences Between Santoku vs Chef knife

As compared to a chef knife, a Santoku knife has the following major differences:


There is a general difference in length between a chef’s knife and a Santoku knife. A Santoku knife typically measures around 5 to 7 inches, while a chef’s knife measures about 8 to 10 inches. Although there are shorter Chef’s knives and longer Santokus on the market, this doesn’t mean the Santoku can’t be long.


Neither of these knives differs from the other in terms of shape in use. Due to the wide and flat blade of the Santoku, this knife is perfect for chopping, as it can only be used downwards. Chef’s knives have round blades, which can be rocked on a cutting board by rocking the blade back and forth.


Since both of these knives are made of thick metal, the Chef’s knife seems to be heavier and may be better suited to people who have large hands or prefer heavier blades. Those who prefer a more subtle knife are better off using the Santoku’s thinner and lighter blade.

The knives in general are both excellent and you should have them in your kitchen. As both knives cannot do the same job, the Santoku will be used for chopping food easily, while the Chef’s knife will serve you for cutting foods requiring a longer and heavier blade.

Differentiating Santoku from Chef’s Knife

Let’s start with the similarities before we discuss the differences. The knives can be used for chopping, slicing, dicing, and mincing, among other cutting tasks. Therefore, both professional and home kitchens commonly use these knives.

Ceramics and metal are both used to make both. Those made of steel are preferred by most professional chefs because they are durable and corrosion-resistant. To allow chefs to perform precise tasks, Japanese blades, such as those found in Santoku, are often made of a thinner, but stronger steel. Honshu Steel, for instance, is a Japanese steel company.

Santokus and Chef’s knives differ primarily in their origins and blade shapes (the latter determines what type of cuts or slices one can achieve).

Features of a Santoku knife

  • Japanese origin
  • It has a wide sheepsfoot blade and no tip (a dull, straight-edged front blade and a dull back spine).
  • With a thinner blade than a Chef’s Knife, you can slice more precisely
  • An edge that has been ground to form a knife edge can be a single (one-sided) or double (both sides) bevel.
  • A bolster (the metal piece between the blade and the handle) is usually not present.
  • Weight balance
  • Holds better
  • Blades may have Granton edges (divots and scallops on the blades to prevent food from sticking to them)
  • Between 5″ and 7.9″ in size

Features of the Chef’s Knife

  • German and French origins
  • Broad blade with curved tip (thick spine to add weight)
  • Serrated varieties are available
  • It is usually found only in double bevels
  • It is bolstered
  • Quite heavy to hold
  • Granton edges may be present
  • The most common size is 8″, but many professionals prefer 10″ or 12″.

Santoku knives: the best uses

According to the Santoku name, it’s not just used for cutting but also for dicing, mincing, and chopping. It does all these jobs admirably but does not chop large bones, slice bread, or perform precision tasks (such as peeling).  Santoku knives are known for their ability to slice foods very thinly, which increases the appearance of finished dishes.

Useful for:

  • Using a meat cutter
  • The process of slicing cheese
  • Fruits, vegetables, and nuts can be cut, chopped, or diced
  • Herbs or meat minced
  • The wide blade of a cutting board makes it difficult to scoop food off
  • Slicing vegetables and seafood into fine slices

In addition to its shorter length (at 8″, compared to 10″, when compared to a standard Chef’s Knife), Santoku knives feature a seamless handle-to-blade design, which makes them suitable for smaller hands.

What to do with a chef’s knife

There is no doubt that Chef’s knives are extremely versatile, which is why they are so popular in professional kitchens. Despite its versatility, it is not recommended for difficult tasks such as chopping large meat bones, peeling, and julienning frozen products. Slicing bread with a serrated blade is recommended.

Useful for:

  • Cutting that is complex or versatile
  • This tip is excellent for cutting, slicing, and disjointing meat (parts of the chicken can be separated with ease using this tip).
  • Cheese slicing
  • Using a knife to slice, chop, or dice fruits, vegetables, and nuts

Santoku knives are better at creating fine slices. A Santoku is a better choice if this is important to you.

What Should You Do With These Knives?

If you take care of your knives properly, which means sharpening, cleaning, and storing them, they will last for a long time.

It is strongly recommended to hand wash both knives, followed by drying them with a clean, soft towel, and to avoid placing them in a dishwasher.


To sharpen these knives and extend their longevity, you should consider the following:

Sharpening Santoku knives

Since Santoku knives are usually made of harder steel, one side of the blade can be sharpened much more easily. A 10 – 15 degree angle is usually used to sharpen Santoku knives. A bolster is not usually found on Santoku knives. Because only one side of the blade needs to be sharpened, they are easier to sharpen than other knives.

Santoku knives can be sharpened using a whetstone, as with most knives. Here are the rules for sharpening knives with a whetstone:

  • Whetstones should always be soaked in water for 10 minutes before sharpening
  • The whetstone’s coarser side should be used first, and the knife should be positioned at the angle described earlier
  • Use a smooth and precise motion to scrub the knife up and down the stone
  • When sharpening, make sure you cover the entire blade
  • Double-beveled knives must be sharpened on both sides.
  • On the finer side of the whetstone, repeat the same procedure as you did for both sides
  • To dry your knife, use a smooth, dry towel after washing your knife and whetstone

You might also be interested in our Miyabi knife review or Usuba vs Nakiri knife comparison.

Sharpening chef knives

Chef’s knives follow most of the same rules as Santoku knives, with some minor differences. Cutting angles between 15 and 20 degrees is one of the most important aspects of this.

The knife should also be sharpened between sharpening processes. By doing this, you’ll ensure your knife’s longevity and give it a great edge. These knives perform best when honed with a steel hone.

A chef’s knife must also be honed properly by following the steps below. Consider this a much-needed practice if you are new to this:

  • Grasp both tools and start using them
  • With your dominant hand, hold the knife, and with the other hand, hold the honing tool.
  • They should be shaped like a V.
  • Around two cm from the top of the blade, place the heel against the steel
  • You should aim for a 15 to 20-degree angle
  • Draw the knife down the steel, letting the blade’s tip flow
  • Only move the knife with modest pressure
  • The steel should only be touched by the edge
  • Switch sides after a few times of repeating the process

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