While it may not be an essential knife for every kitchen, paring knives are perfect for making tiny, precise cuts or peeling and hulling fruits and vegetables. They also work well for deveining shrimp, and they're great to have on hand in your home bar for cutting tiny wedges and citrus peels for cocktails.
Paring knives are small with short blades, 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 typically less expensive than other kitchen knives, so you don't have to worry that they aren't the most versatile. At the same time, there are also plenty of luxury brands making paring knives from higher-quality materials that are meant to last.
With tons of options on store shelves available, we tested 20 of the top brands (ranging in price from $8 to $206) with our experts to help find the best paring knives for your kitchen. We rated each on key attributes like performance, balance, size, comfort, and design, paying special attention to specific tasks like mincing shallots, peeling and segmenting oranges, and coring tomatoes.
Made In Paring Knife
Resistant to corrosion
Choose between metal or wood handles
Fully forged and full tang
The Made In paring knife is crafted by a 5th-generation bladesmith in France and hardened with nitrogen gas, resulting in a piece that is long-lasting, resistant to corrosion, and more balanced than other knives. The blade measures just under 4 inches in length, and its full tang, fully forged design combines elements of both German and Japanese knife craftsmanship. A thoughtful gift for anyone who enjoys cooking, the paring knives come in bright red, black, or gorgeous olive wood handles.
In testing, this knife sliced, chopped, diced, and cored produce smoothly and easily. We had no trouble cutting through the flesh of an orange and getting clean segments without imperfections, thanks to its lightweight and precise blade. Even better, the knife remained just as sharp after testing as it had been right out of the box. It was also easy to clean by hand—though be sure to dry it immediately after to keep it in good condition.
Price at time of publish: $69
Blade Material: X50CrMoV15 Stainless Steel | Handle Material: Metal or Olive wood | Blade Style: Spear point | Tang: Full | Blade Length: 3.8 inches | Total Length: 8 inches | Weight: 3.3 ounces
Zyliss 3.5-Inch Paring Knife with Sheath Cover
Comes with protective blade sheath
Comfortable soft rubber non-slip handle
High-carbon stainless steel blade
Green handle may not match knife collection
Rubber may turn brittle in dishwasher
This budget-conscious paring knife comes with its own sheath, so it’s perfect for tossing into a picnic basket, tucking into a tackle box with fishing gear, or taking to work with your lunch. And even though you won’t spend as much on this knife as you would others, it still has features you’ll appreciate. The 3.5-inch carbon steel blade retains its edge well and is easy to re-sharpen with a personal knife sharpener 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.
Even though it is lightweight with a combination of stainless steel blade and rubber handle, the knife still felt sturdy during testing. It sliced cleanly through everything from a sheet of paper to an orange peel and only fell short with a particularly squishy tomato. It also remained sharp throughout the entire testing process, despite the lower price tag.
Price at time of publish: $9
Blade Material: High-carbon stainless steel | Handle Material: Rubber | Blade Style: Spear point | Tang: Undetermined | Blade Length: 3.5 inches | Total Length: 11.25 inches | Weight: 1.9 ounces
Wusthof Classic Ikon Paring Knife
Ergonomic non-slip handle
Full tang blade
Durable high-carbon steel blade
More expensive option
Doesn't come with a blade cover
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.
We found this knife to be very sharp from start to finish, gliding through tomatoes, shallots, and oranges with ease. It didn't get caught in the produce skins or compromise the quality of the products in any way. The handle also provided a strong, solid grip thanks to its weight and full-tang design. The only disadvantage to this knife is its small size, which may make it more difficult to cut through larger items from end to end. Although this knife is a pricey investment, it's backed by the sterling reputation of the Wusthof brand.
Price at time of publish: $115
Blade Material: High-carbon stainless steel | Handle Material: Polyoxymethylene | Blade Style: Spear point | Tang: Full | Blade Length: 3.5 inches | Total Length: 6 inches | Weight: 2.6 ounces
Henckels Classic Precision 4 Inch Paring Knife
Comfortable to hold
May dull quickly
When it comes to everyday use in the kitchen for tasks like slicing, coring, and peeling, a good paring knife doesn't necessarily need to be flashy. A classic black, triple-rivet handle and a satin-finish blade offer precision cutting with this Henckels paring knife, while a fully forged design provides durability. It's also conveniently dishwasher safe and boasts an ergonomic handle for tireless cutting.
This knife performed extremely well during testing but particularly excelled with smaller items like shallots, green onions, limes, and kiwis. According to our tests, it was also well suited for chopping cherry tomatoes and mincing garlic. The thin, long blade and skinny tip made jobs like coring larger tomatoes simple, and the hilt at the end of the knife made it easy to hold and control throughout the entire process.
Price at time of publish: $40
Blade Material: German stainless steel | Handle Material: Polyoxymethylene | Blade Style: Spear point | Tang: Full | Blade Length: 3.94 inches | Total Length: 8.27 inches | Weight: 3.98 ounces
Best Full Tang
Global Classic 3.5 Inch Paring Knife
Ice tempered to resist corrosion
Blade may be too short for certain tasks
Made of a proprietary Cromova 18 high-carbon stainless steel and ice tempered to resist rust and corrosion, this 3.5-inch paring knife is as functional as it is beautiful. It has a curved, ergonomic handle, and its short blade makes it easier to maneuver safely while making the precise types of cuts that paring knives are designed for. Because it has a thinner blade, it maintains a sharp edge even after prolonged use, though it is also easy to sharpen when the time comes.
We appreciated the even cuts this knife made with no tearing or ripping through the skins of harder vegetables like shallots, and didn't "squeeze" out much juice when cutting segments from the orange. Likewise, the pointy, thin tip of the blade cut a beautiful cone-shaped wedge from the top with clean lines and edges of our tomato and diced without crushing out all the seeds (we even used this knife to clean up the cuts of another knife). It remained incredibly sharp, didn't drag through any cuts, and performed effortlessly all around. Although the heft is above average at 3.2 ounces, the combination of the weight and textured handle made it easier and safer to grip.
Price at time of publish: $50
Blade Material: Cromova 18 high-carbon stainless steel | Handle Material: Stainless steel | Blade Style: Spear point | Tang: Full | Blade Length: 3.5 inches | Total Length: 7.25 inches | Weight: 3.2 ounces
Shun Premier Paring Knife
Hand-hammered blade finish reduces sticking and drag
Incredibly sharp out of the box
Thinner and lighter blade
Straight handle may be uncomfortable for some
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.
We appreciated the slight curve to the blade, which made it easier to rock chop than with other Japanese-style knives. Speaking of the blade, it is truly something special. The stunning, hammered finish lends itself to the aesthetic appeal, while the edge itself is extremely sharp from tip to heel. During testing, it moved cleanly through produce and was capable of making thin, precise slices. Hand washing and air-drying are recommended.
Price at time of publish: $125
Blade Material: Layered stainless steel | Handle Material: Pakkawood | Blade Style: Spear point | Tang: Full | Blade Length: 4 inches | Total Length: 8.25 inches | Weight: 4.5 ounces
Tojiro DP 3.5-Inch Paring Knife
Rust and corrosion resistant
Full tang steel blade
Slight learning curve with blade shape
Japanese knives are famous 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 it's still very easy to get used to. This knife comes in a box that can be used for storage.
Regardless of the relatively-short blade, this knife's weight and good quality craftmanship made it feel quite sturdy—almost like a small steak knife. According to our tests, the handle is thin and elegant but still comfortable to hold. Coring, dicing, and peeling with this knife was effortless, and it even tackled softer tomatoes with its sharp edge. However, this knife performed best with more delicate work, such as slicing through fruit segments. Hand-washing is recommended, which is easy thanks to its straight lines, stainless steel, and smooth composite handle.
Price at time of publish: $60
Blade Material: 3-layer clad stainless steel | Handle Material: Composite | Blade Style: Sheep’s foot | Tang: Undetermined | Blade Length: 3.5 inches | Total Length: 14.5 | Weight: 2.2 ounces
Best for New Kitchen
Our Place Precise Paring Knife
Available in multiple colors
Comes with safety sheath
Not dishwasher safe
The Our Place paring knife enjoys the same stylish color palette and high-quality construction as the brand's popular Always Pan. It's made using premium German steel and a custom-grooved handle that's designed to guide your thumb toward comfortable and productive placement. Paired with a mid-range price, full-tang blade, and six different colors to choose from, this knife is the perfect addition to a new or upgraded kitchen.
We love the two indents on the handle near the blade, which make for a good grip and overall improved functionality of the knife. During testing, we also appreciated how balanced the knife felt, noting how it wasn't top or bottom-heavy in hand. Thanks to the super-sharp, pointed blade, even trickier jobs like coring tomatoes and peeling oranges were easy—it sliced cleanly and without much effort at all. Although this knife is hand-wash only, it was simple to clean with soap and water, and even came with a knife sponge to remove any hard stains and a safety sheath for storage.
Price at time of publish: $40
Blade Material: German steel | Handle Material: Composite | Blade Style: Spear point | Tang: Full | Blade Length: 4 inches | Total Length: 8.31 inches | Weight: Undetermined
Mercer Culinary M20003 Genesis 3.5 Inch Paring Knife
Very sharp out of the box
Blade may be prone to rust
Don't let the basic design fool you; This 3.5-inch paring knife from Mercer Culinary boasts a high-carbon steel blade and ergonomic, non-slip handle that's both comfortable to hold and surprisingly sturdy (considering the lower price). Lightweight, practical, and backed by Mercer's one-year warranty, it's sure to become an indispensable tool in your kitchen.
We loved this knife for its super sharp edge, which made clean and exact slices. The small blade makes it ideal for more precise or intricate jobs but can work nicely for jobs as simple as peeling fruit and vegetables. The tip of the knife was also impressively accurate, coring and chopping tomatoes with precision. Though it isn't dishwasher safe and the manufacturers suggest hand-wash only, the soft grip Santoprene handle makes this knife easy to clean. This paring knife is also included in one of our favorite knife sets, along with a utility knife, a boning knife, a bread knife, and a chef's knife.
Price at time of publish: $18
Blade Material: High-carbon stainless steel | Handle Material: Santoprene | Blade Style: Spear point | Tang: Partial | Blade Length: 3.5 inches | Total Length: 11.63 inches | Weight: 3.17 ounces
Whether you're peeling an apple for a snack or slicing a lemon for a garnish, the Made In Paring Knife cuts with precision and ease. For an impressive budget-conscious option that gets the job done, we recommend the Zyliss 3.5-Inch Paring Knife with Sheath Cover.
How We Tested
We sent a total of 20 paring knives to our experts and editors to use in their own home kitchens, where they assessed performance, balance, size, and comfort through a series of tests. Not only did they slice through sheets of paper to evaluate the knife's sharpness right out of the box, but they also spent time mincing shallots, peeling and segmenting oranges, and coring and chopping tomatoes.
What to Look for in a Paring Knife
If a knife isn’t comfortable to handle, the chances of using it will go way down, especially if you struggle with hand strength. So take a look at the different types of handles available. Handles that are ergonomically shaped will be easier to grip.
Take the handle material into consideration and whether you’d like it to have a non-slip rubber or textured surface. Larger hands may benefit from a knife with a longer handle, where smaller hands will feel more secure over a shorter handle. Finally, handles come in a wide variety of materials, finishes, and colors. Choose one that’s attractive to you, that you’ll enjoy picking up and using often.
Of course, the primary use of a paring knife is for slicing up smaller ingredients. With that in mind, you want a sharp blade that can easily cut through fruit and vegetable skins, as well as cheeses and even small portions of meat and fish. Look for a knife that comes sharp and stays sharp. If you can sharpen it along the way, that’s a great bonus.
Also, a full tang style blade that extends the length of the handle will be a better-balanced knife with sturdier construction that will potentially last you longer than other options. Aim for a blade constructed with high-carbon stainless steel for the most reliability. Other options include ceramic blades that stay sharp for longer but are more brittle and regular stainless steel blades that are sturdy but not as strong as their high-carbon relatives.
Additionally, paring knives come in different shapes. The traditional curved European blade shape is what most people are familiar with and is a great place to start if you’re just starting to build your knife collection. There are also “bird’s beak” style blades where the tip of the knife curves down towards what you’re cutting. This style knife is ideal for delicate and decorative cuts, especially when making pastry, but is also well-suited for slicing fruit and vegetables and their skins.
You may also notice a style called “sheepsfoot” with a straight angled blade instead of a curved blade. This style is designed to only come in contact with the cutting board at the blade’s tip and create long, smooth cuts. The more creative you get in the kitchen, the more we’d encourage you to test out different styles of blades to see which work best for your cooking needs.
High-quality knives almost always come with a manufacturer’s warranty, which can range from a few years to a limited lifetime guarantee. When picking out a knife, it’s worth it to check the product’s warranty to ensure the protection and maintenance of your investment. More expensive knives occasionally include free or low-cost sharpening by the manufacturer or vendor, which is an excellent addition to the purchase if you aren’t comfortable sharpening your knives.
What is the function of a paring knife?
Paring knives come in different blade styles—spear point, bird’s beak, sheep’s foot, clipped, and more—but one thing they all have in common is that they are relatively small, both blade and overall, and their blades can often be lighter and more flexible than larger knives. Each style is ideal for certain tasks, and it might be worth owning and exploring the advantages of more than one style.
In general, a paring knife’s most useful functions are with those smaller, more delicate cutting tasks, such as peeling and cutting fruit, edging pastry, mincing herbs, etc., with which precision and flexibility make the work easier. For people who are less skilled with larger knives or simply more comfortable with a smaller blade and handle, a good, long-ish, spear-pointed paring knife can be quite useful.
What is a serrated paring knife for?
Serrations on a paring knife serve the same function as serrations do on a lager knife: They pierce the skin or surface of the food and create a pathway into the softer insides—that’s what makes a serrated paring knife especially useful for slicing tomatoes, splitting an avocado, or wedging citrus. The serrations help get through the outside to the inside.
What is a curved paring knife for?
Curved paring knives—called a bird’s beak blade—are what you turn to when you need the ability to pierce and obtain the greatest precision in cutting. The downturned point of the blade is perfect for incising pastry or rolled cookie dough, halving small fruits and berries, and if you're in a pinch, you can even score a loaf of bread before baking (though a bread lame is a better tool).
How do you sharpen a paring knife?
If you have the option and the manufacturer offers the service, go ahead and send your paring knife back for routine sharpening or you can have it professionally sharpened. To sharpen a paring knife at home, for those with a more or less straight blade edge, you can sharpen as you would any other kitchen knife: in a sharpener designed of the purpose or on a whetstone. A bird’s beak paring knife is a bit trickier, but if you get the hang of using a whetstone, that can be sharpened, too. For a serrated paring knife, it’s best to leave the sharpening to professionals. and if your serrated paring knife isn’t one of the more expensive blades, then the best thing to do when it’s dulled is to simply replace it.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie has been testing kitchen tools and appliances for The Spruce and The Spruce Eats since July 2016. She is a freelance food writer, recipe developer, and published cookbook author. With an affinity for gadgets, Donna is always on the lookout for new helpful tools to make your cooking projects more exciting and efficient.
This article was updated by Jenny Kellerhals, a food writer and professional pastry chef of over 10 years in NYC. Jenny likes to strike a balance between affordable and long-lasting knives in her kitchen. Her daily go-to paring knife is her Kuhn Rikon straight paring knife, printed with colorful strawberries.
Catherine Russell also updated this roundup. Growing up, her grandmother's kitchen was one of her favorite places to be. Warmed by the oven and redolent of spices, she learned to bake, roast, broil, and cook most anything from scratch, and often with only the recipes as grandma remembered them.