While most people consider the chef’s knife to be the number one choice for all hard and rough kitchen work, but when we require surgical precision, we all turn to paring knives. Paring knives offer superior maneuverability and excel in tasks that involve more precision and less raw force.
Whether you have to devein some shrimp or peel some apples, these knives come in handy. With so many models to choose from – each equipped with a unique host of features – it is hard to select the best paring knife in the market. However, after reading this article, you will be able to do so with ease.
Our Picks for the Best Paring Knives (2020)
After thoroughly researching and reviewing what’s available on the market, we have picked the best models of paring knives:
1. Wüsthof Classic Paring Knife
This premium quality paring knife comes equipped with a high-carbon stainless steel blade. The streamlined design and superior blade quality make it ideal for most tasks. It can effortlessly cut through fruit to make flawless sections, chip off scales of shrimp, or peel off apple skin.
The knife has a well-designed handle that can be balanced seamlessly, making it very comfortable to use, yet it’s very effective at the same time. It will remain comfortably nestled in your palm as you use it for precision-oriented chores.
All in all, the model is very effective at what it does; it is more than capable of tackling any kitchen related task that you throw at it. With superior maneuverability, streamlined blade design, a sharp cutting side, and effective handling, this knife deserves the appraisal it has attracted.
2. Victorinox Paring Knife
Victorinox is not a new name to anyone with even the slightest knowledge about the knives industry. And this model succeeds in providing the same level of excellence, cost-effectiveness, and performance that people expect from this brand.
The said knife is a 3.25-inch paring model with a lightweight body, making it highly maneuverable and ideal for tasks off the chopping board. It can deal with all sorts of fruit without even the slightest duress, and deliver unparalleled results without tiring you out.
The sharp blade is ideal for some of the most daunting and precision-oriented tasks; it easily rivals some of the best blades of its category, without costing as much. If you are looking for a cost-effective solution that offers great value for money, then this may be the one for you. However, it may not last as long as some high-end models, but all in all, it’s a good buy.
3. Global GS-38 Classic Paring Knife
The Global GS-38 is an excellent example of superior Japanese craftsmanship that empowers this blade to perform well in a versatile manner. This western-style knife boasts an amazing aesthetic charm, owing much to its finely designed blade and exquisitely textured handle.
Though this 3.5-inch paring knife may not be able to outperform the top contenders in this list, it still carries a strong punch. For its price tag, this knife holds out excellently and performs quite well – the only downside is that it is being compared to superior models that cost more.
The iconic design, intricate texturing of the handle, perfectly balanced blade, affordable price tag, and appreciable performance of this model all elevate it. The sturdy design will hold out the test of kitchen tasks, and although it may not be able to outperform high-end models, it also costs much less in comparison.
4. MAC Professional Paring Knife
Being a new name in the Japanese market, MAC is nevertheless developing a good reputation due to its uncompromising standards. These blades, as is expected from the blade makers that presented us the katana, are honed for holding their edge for prolonged durations.
The 3.25-inch paring knife is not only sharp enough to cut through whatever is thrown at the kitchen counter, but it is also very versatile and maneuverable. You can easily cut through fruit without tiring; for instance, coring your strawberries will be no problem with this model.
The only downside for some people would be that this model, if it offers premium features, also costs that much. The handle is a bit longer and heavier, disturbing the balance, but overall, the performance is pristine. If you can afford to get your hands on one of these, it will be worth it.
5. Mercer Culinary Genesis Paring Knife
If affordability is your concern, then Mercer Culinary Genesis should be the product to look out for. Mercer will immediately ring a bell for those who’ve attended a culinary school, as this is the standard knife for first-year students, and that makes it all the more convenient for most users.
The Genesis is a 3.5-inch paring knife designed to deliver a versatile and sharp experience but at an affordable rate. The blade’s sharpness is impressive, allowing it to cut with ease, without causing even the slightest duress or discomfort to the user.
Despite the best efforts from the makers to deliver an effective all-round tool, some people may have a problem with its heavy frame. The bulky handle can be a drag for some people, but if you’re okay with some bulkiness, this model may be the one for you.
6. Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Four 4-inch Star Paring Knife
The Zwilling Four-Star model is ideal for those seeking a paring knife that helps them out for a long time. Durability has been the major ingredient in the Zwilling mixture, and they have added it in just the right amounts. This knife not only performs well but is crafted to last longer than most.
The smooth and well-designed handle is also very appreciable, lacking any edges or sharp corners that may ruin the soft touch. The blade is sharp, but overall, the knife is a bit too long, with the blade measuring in at four inches. This makes it a bit tricky to execute precise cuts, although, for some, it may work excellently.
7. J.A. Henckels International Classic Paring/Utility Knife
This knife from J.A. Henckels is another very affordable option for those who seek to get their hands on a piece that gets the job done but without any high-end perks. Like the product mentioned above, this model is also a 4-inch paring knife.
The only difference, or rather drawback, is that the handle is not as smooth as Zwilling; some edges make it hard to hold on to for long. The longer blade may also be a problem for some, but those who are comfortable with it will appreciate the affordable price tag.
This second entry from Wüsthof is also impressive but does not equal its more expensive cousins; for good reason, of course, because it is a more low-end model. The blade is flexible, allowing you to use the knife in multiple contexts. However, this flexibility may be a bit too much.
The 3.5-inch model is lightweight and has a compact size. This makes it suitable for some of the most intricate and detailed tasks. However, some people may have a problem with its blade. If it works fine for you, go ahead – the price tag is low anyway – but otherwise, consider looking elsewhere for a more rigid option.
9. Kuhn Rikon Straight Paring Knife
Kuhn Rikon can be your choice for a portable paring knife to be taken with you on the go. You can keep it in your pack, safe in the knowledge that its blade is covered with a plastic sheath, meaning that storage is not an issue. The performance has some flaws, but all in all, it is worth what you pay for it.
The blade is non-stick, being made from carbon steel that is ideal for executing most tasks neatly. However, the problems start with the handle; the plastic-based handle can become slippery and does not offer an appreciable grip. You need to be careful while using it.
10. Opinel No. 112 Paring Knife
Opinel No. 112 is a highly maneuverable and lightweight model that offers superior handling and allows you to perform precise kitchen operations with ease. Even though the knife is equipped with a 4-inch blade, this does not make it any less flexible in its movements.
The only downside is that the blade is not as sharp as you’d want it to be. Of course, you can get it sharpened for your use, but unless you do so, you’re stuck with a knife that may not be able to cut through some objects as effectively as others can. But if that doesn’t bother you, this model is worth the money and is quite affordable too.
You don’t need a wide array of knives to make your kitchen work optimally; just four types will do, including a chef’s knife, a boning knife, a serrated knife, and a paring knife. These knives will allow you to tackle any task that you may come across in your kitchen with ease.
Paring knives are small, compact, lightweight, and somewhat flexible, making them ideal for tasks such as peeling and paring (from which they derive their name). From the host of items mentioned in the rundown above, it may be confusing for some to pick a product that ideally suits them. It is for this reason that we have added this buyer’s guide, with details of all of the features that make a product better than others.
1. The Characteristics That Define Paring Knives
Appearance: Paring knives differ from regular models in that they have a short and narrow blade, at most measuring up to 4 inches but mostly less than that. The handle is also often short, but long enough to fit comfortably in your palm, while the blade tip is pointed.
Functions: These knives are suitable for precision-oriented tasks such as preparing fruit, deveining shrimp, or peeling the skin off fruits and vegetables, for making fillets you should check out the fillet knife article.
Usage: They are used with items held in hand, instead of being placed on a board, although in some cases, you can use a cutting board. With the fruit held in one hand and the knife in the other, you can use its edge for peeling or for making incisions. You can use its point for piercing, or in case of deveining, pulling out the vein.
2. Materials Used in Paring Knives
Blade: The blade of the knife is often made from stainless steel, which is produced by adding chromium, a shiny and rust-resistant metal, to steel. Manufacturers often harden the steel via ice tempering, which involves heating and then cooling the steel to make it harder than it would be otherwise.
Handle: The handle can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, steel, polypropylene, and plastic. The foremost has a distinct natural feeling to it that cannot be mimicked by anything else. However, each material has its edge. Propylene is resistant to damage from water (unlike wood), steel offers strong leverage, and plastic is the most lightweight of all.
3. Comparing a Standard Chef’s Knife With a Paring Knife
The standard chef’s knife is enough for most of the hardy tasks presented on a cutting board, whether it be chopping vegetables or cutting meat. However, with such brute force, this knife lacks precision and delicacy, and this is where a paring knife comes to the frontline.
A paring knife lacks the strength of a chef’s knife but is small enough to execute the most intricate, precision-oriented tasks that other models cannot. These tasks mostly require the use of both hands, instead of a cutting board, hence a chef’s knife would be a safety hazard.
Whether you have to peel off the skin from some small fruit, like apples, or remove the seeds from jalapenos, such delicate and precise tasks can only be done via a paring knife. The small size, flexible blade (in some cases), and compact handle make it ideal for such tasks.
4. The Design of a Paring Knife
Though they may seem small and miniature-like, this small size is one of the biggest features of paring knives. It allows you to easily maneuver them against small fruit when peeling or sectioning them. The short blade is also ideal for navigating the curves of an object, especially small fruit.
The tip of the blade is also ideal for executing precise pierces without damaging the food item or making it lose its appeal. Not all paring knives are equal; while most of them have a simple blade design, others boast a curved, serrated, or hooked design.
Despite the differences, these paring knives all serve more or less of the same purpose: preparing food for use in the kitchen. These tasks require a greater degree of control and precision; it won’t be wrong to add ‘surgical precision’ here that a simple chef’s knife can’t offer.
5. What Is the Tang & Does It Matter?
A paring knife, much like any other knife, is a single metallic unit, consisting of the blade and the part that is covered by the handle. The second region is responsible for creating a tang, and you would’ve noticed that we did not mention this term until now for good reason.
Tang is the visible metallic line that runs through the handle, and if it goes all the way to the end of the handle, it is called a full tang. Normally, it means that the knife is more durable as the chances of it breaking are minimized, for obvious reasons.
So does it matter? Normally, for a chef’s knife, the answer would be yes, as they have to cut through bone and rough tissue. But this is not the case with paring knives; they are used for delicate and precision-oriented tasks only, meaning that you don’t really have to worry about a full or partial tang.
6. Weight Is an Important Parameter
The heading can’t make it any clearer – weight matters with paring knives. Since these small models have to be held in your hand when working and the tasks at hand are delicate, a lightweight model is better than heavier ones. Paring knives must be maneuverable and versatile; this is impossible for a heavy knife.
However, there is no optimum weight or a single answer for all. This is more of a personal thing – just take the knife in your hand and try it out. Does it feel heavy or uncomfortable to use? If yes, then move on; if no, then you’ve just picked the best knife for yourself. But do consider the fact that you’ll be using this knife extensively, so don’t settle for ‘sort of’ and instead be sure about your decision.
7. Features of Excellent Blades & Handles
Since paring knives have to be used for delicate and precise tasks, as ascertained multiple times, the blade does not have to be ultra-sharp. However, sharpness is still an important factor; you want a tool that makes stuff easier for you and not something that doubles the effort.
The handle should also be fit for the task. Although there is no way to claim that a certain material is better than the other, the experience will be affected by the type of handle you pick. Ideally, your handle should not be very heavy, should have an excellent grip, and, most of all, it should feel comfortable.
8. Ideal Size for a Paring Knife
Paring knives, like those mentioned in the list above, usually range between 2 to 4 inches (6 to 10 cm) in length. The most common blade length falls between 3 and 3.5 inches that is an ideal length for most users.
You can find knives beyond 4 inches, but that kills the whole point of getting a paring knife. A paring knife should be compact and maneuverable to tackle precision-oriented tasks with effectiveness. Choose the size that best fits you; your hand span is also an important factor in this area. Hence, there can be no generalization here.
Paring knives are designed to make intricate tasks like deveining shrimp, sectioning fruit, or peeling vegetables simple. These knives sacrifice size and strength for maneuverability and superior control. You can find one of these in any optimal kitchen ensemble, as without them, preparing food can be a nightmare.
When choosing a model, be sure to consider your personalized needs and budget. The products mentioned in this list are some of the best available in the market, and the assorted buyer’s guide offers generalized tips for buying a decent model. Hopefully, by now, you’ll have learned all there is to know about paring knives, and you’re in a better position to choose the best option.