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While it may not be the most essential knife in the kitchen, paring knives are perfect for making precise, small cuts or for peeling fruits and vegetables. They also work well for deveining shrimp, and they're great to have on hand for your home bar since you can cut tiny wedges and citrus peel for cocktails.
Paring knives are small with a short blade so they travel easily, whether you want to take one along on a picnic or to work and use it for slicing up fruit at lunchtime. Plus, they're often inexpensive, so you don't have to worry that they aren't the most versatile of kitchen knives. With tons of options on store shelves today, we researched top brands to help find the best paring knife for you.
Best Overall: Wusthof Classic Ikon Paring Knife
Made in Germany, this knife is built for cutting performance, no matter what grip you’re using. You’ll feel confident with it in your hand, whether you’re peeling an apple for a snack or slicing a lemon for a garnish. The handle is a synthetic material that’s designed for kitchen use and is easy to hold even when your hands are wet.
Three rivets and a full tang give the knife great balance, while the sharp 3.5-inch blade slices easily through fruits and vegetables. The bolster is designed to allow you to sharpen the full length of the blade when necessary. Like all fine knives, this should be washed by hand.
Best Budget: Zyliss 3.5-Inch Paring Knife with Sheath Cover
This budget paring knife comes with its own sheath, so it’s perfect for tossing into the picnic basket, tucking into the tackle box with fishing gear, or taking to work with your lunch. While it’s a fine knife for the price, it’s inexpensive enough that if you lose it, you can replace it without too much angst.
Even though you won’t spend a lot on this knife, it still has features you’ll appreciate. The 3.5-inch carbon steel blade retains its edge well and is easy to re-sharpen when needed. The handle has soft rubber inserts, so it’s easy to hang onto even if you’re peeling under running water. It provides a comfortable grip as well.
The sheath protects the knife from bumps and nicks, no matter where you store it, and it protects your hands from accidental jabs when you reach into the drawer. While this knife is dishwasher safe, hand washing is recommended.
Best Ceramic: Kyocera Advanced Ceramic Revolution Series Paring Knife
When it comes to ceramic knives, Kyocera is one of the prominent brands, thanks to their long history with all sorts of ceramic products. This Kyocera paring knife is very affordable and very, very sharp. Rather than a more typical point tip, this blade has a rounded tip that is less likely to break. It has a molded black handle (although similar knives from this company are available in other colors) that is comfortable to hold.
The 3-inch blade is a pristine white color and is made from a proprietary zirconia material in Japan that’s extremely hard, which keeps the knife sharp for a long time. The ceramic blade can’t be affected by acids, oils, or salts, and will never rust, corrode, or stain.
When sharpening is necessary, the knife can be sent to Kyocera or sharpened with a tool that is specifically made for ceramic blades. While they are hard, ceramic blades aren't as durable as steel and should not be used with frozen foods or for prying around bones. This knife should be washed by hand.
Best Japanese: Tojiro DP Paring Knife
Japanese knives are known for their sharpness and precision, and this paring knife is a good example of why. The blade has three layers of metal with stainless steel on the outside to resist rust and corrosion. The angle and shape of the 3.5-inch long blade (called a sheepsfoot-style blade) are not the same as what you’ll find on typical paring knives, but users found that it was easy to get used to and was very comfortable to use when slicing. This knife comes in a box that can be used for storage. Hand washing is recommended.
Best Set: Wüsthof Gourmet Three-Piece Paring Knife Set
This affordable set includes a drop-point paring knife with a 3-inch blade that will come in handy for slicing cheese, a sharp-point paring knife with a 3-inch long blade, and a bird’s beak paring knife with a 2.25-inch blade that’s great for peeling fruits and vegetables. All three have full tangs, riveted composite handles, and stamped stainless steel blades. They are dishwasher safe, but hand washing is recommended.
Best for a New Kitchen: Farberware Paring Knife with EdgeKeeper Self-Sharpening Sheath
Great for new kitchens that don’t have a lot of extra gear, this paring knife comes with a self-sharpening sheath that automatically gives the blade a little sharpening swipe each time it’s inserted into or taken out. The sheath also makes it great for tucking into the picnic basket or taking to work for lunch, and it means you can safely store the knife just about anywhere without worrying about nicking the blade or stabbing yourself when you reach into a drawer. The 3.5-inch blade is made from rust-resistant high carbon steel, but should be hand washed and dried immediately for the longest life.
Best Splurge: Shun Premier Paring Knife
Shun is known for premium knives—and this 4-inch paring knife is no exception. It has a layered Damascus steel blade with a hand-hammered finish that reduces drag when you're cutting and helps prevent food from sticking to the blade. The handle is made from pakkawood and is shaped to provide a comfortable grip. While it is dishwasher safe, hand washing and air drying are recommended. Because these knives are handmade, the actual length of the blade can vary between 3.75 to 4 inches long.
Best Serrated: Victorinox 3.25-Inch Rosewood Paring Knife with Serrated Edge
You might be familiar with the Victorinox name from its very popular Swiss army knives, but the company makes kitchen knives, too. This one has a 3.25-inch long serrated blade made from European stainless steel that’s perfect for cutting through fruits and vegetables with tough skin and delicate flesh, like tomatoes or plums. The short blade and longer handle give you accurate cuts no matter how you grip it. The handle is made from rosewood, which is naturally heavy and crack-resistant. This knife should be washed by hand.
Best for the Picnic Basket: Kuhn Rikon Straight Paring Knife with Safety Sheath, 4", Set of 3
These cheerfully colored knives will be at home in the picnic basket, a drawer at home, or the RV. They’re inexpensive enough—and an even better bargain when buying three—that losing one won’t break the bank, but they’re sharp enough to handle kitchen tasks with ease. The sturdy sheaths keep the knives safe for travel or storage, keeping the blade free from nicks and hands safe from accidental pokes. The nonstick surface makes cleaning easy, so they can be wiped off easily with no need for serious scrubbing. These knives are also available as a single purchase in a wide variety of colors.
Best Basic: Misen Paring Knife
Misen made its name on Kickstarter, selling a chef’s knife that earned praise from both websites and average customers, and since then it's expanded the product line. While the original Misen knives came with a blue handle, now they’re also available in black or grey to blend in with any kitchen décor. The sloped bolster is designed to encourage a proper pinch grip when cutting and also makes sharpening easier. The blade is made from AUS-10 steel, which offers lasting sharpness, and the knife has a full tang for good balance along with two rivets for security. Like the original chef’s knife, this blade earns praise from users for its balance, grip, and sharpness out of the box.