Do I Need a Paring Knife?

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The Spruce Eats / Zackary Angeline

Paring knives are a kitchen essential. These small knives are great for making precise cuts, peeling fruit and vegetables, or swirling garnishes behind the bar. The small blades make quick work of trimming seafood, cutting up a carrot, or peeling potatoes.

With blades running approximately four inches in length, they’re petite knives that pack up easily if you’re on the go. Best of all, paring knives are often inexpensive, so if you’re looking to build out your knife collections, a paring knife is a great place to start. Curious about adding one to your kitchen drawer? Here’s everything you need to know about paring knives.

How do you use a paring knife?

They’re great for deveining shrimp, cutting the tops off strawberries, or carefully removing bones from a fish. Outside of more serious tasks, paring knives are perfect for those inconsequential kitchen tasks, like peeling a clove of garlic or halving a lemon. Essentially, it’s one of the most important knives in your arsenal, and can be used for most kitchen tasks. 

Tojiro DP Gyutou

The Spruce Eats / Prairie Rose

How do I take care of my paring knife?

Sharpen your knives when necessary to ensure the edge doesn’t get dull. Replace your knives when needed—if the blade is dull beyond repair or broken, it’s time to say goodbye. Luckily, paring knives tend to be relatively inexpensive.

How much should I spend on a paring knife?

That may depend on what your budget allows. We will say that there are plenty of cheap paring knives that will last years in your kitchen. If you are geeky about knives, higher-end Japanese knives will never serve you wrong. That said, it’s all about how much you’d like to spend, and what time you’re willing to put into upkeep. (Keep in mind, while pricier Japanese paring knives will work beautifully, they do require more care to maintain that quality.)

Zyliss Paring Knife with Sheath Cover

The Spruce Eats / Prairie Rose

Do I buy a serrated or a straight paring knife?

They can come in several different blade styles, including spear point, bird’s beak, sheep’s foot, serrated, or clipped. All offer different benefits. Serrated knives have those slight curves to lock and pierce into the surface of a food, making it easier to get into what’s inside. These knives are ideal for slicing through tomato skins, cutting through citrus for wedges, wheels, or peels, or splitting an avocado skin. On the flipside, curved paring knives offer more precision, but are less adept at cutting through tougher surfaces. These knives come in handy with pastry dough, scoring bread, or halving berries.

Made In Paring Knife

Made In Cookware 4-inch Full Tang Paring Knife

Made In

What it’s best for: Your go-to paring knife

Taking inspiration from both German and Japanese craftsmanship, this long-lasting knife is hand crafted from stainless steel by 5th-generation bladesmiths in France before being hardened with nitrogen gas to give the piece a strong finish. Measuring just under 4 inches in length, it’s smaller in size, allowing you to tackle everyday kitchen tasks like peeling, coring, and chopping, while still being easy to maneuver thanks to a lightweight and precise blade.

Zyliss 3.5-Inch Paring Knife with Sheath Cover

Zyliss 3.5-Inch Paring Knife with Sheath Cover


What it’s best for: Your paring knife on the go

Yes, this is a budget-paring knife and barely costs more than a $10 bill. But while it’s lesser in price, this cost-friendly paring knife has many features to appreciate. The handle has soft rubber inserts, making it easy to hang onto, even if your hands are slippery or wet. The carbon steel blade holds sharpness easily and feels sturdy in your hand.

We love the included sheath—it allows you to pack the knife to go, whether that’s on a picnic, to slice up fruit at work, or camping. The sheath protects you from nicking your hand or cutting open the other contents of your bag. (Plus, the knife is inexpensive so if you lose it, you can replace it without too much worry.)

Is a paring knife worth it?

Consider the paring knife a kitchen jack of all trades. The small knife is versatile enough to make it the first knife you reach for in many situations, whether you’re prepping cocktail garnishes, peeling root vegetables, or chopping up shallots or garlic. 

The main question when purchasing a paring knife is not if you need a paring knife, it’s how much you’d like to spend. Are you a knife nerd who wants to add a higher-end new knife to your repertoire? Or are you looking for an easy, affordable knife for easy cutting? Out of these two mentioned here, you may have found your next most used kitchen utensil. 

do i need a paring knife?

The Spruce Eats / Renu Dhar

Why Trust The Spruce Eats

Kate Dingwall is an experienced wine writer and working sommelier, who has her BarSmarts and WSET certification. She has been writing about the bar, spirits, and food worlds for eight years, including extensive coverage on kitchen tools and how to use them..