Santoku vs Nakiri Knives – What Are the Differences?

Different knives serve unique purposes in the kitchen. While some are ideal for cutting meat, others might be more suitable for cutting vegetables or fruits. But why should you get a separate knife for each task? Well, if you use a sharp knife to cut meat, you’ll likely get the precise cuts you need without wasting even a tiny piece of food. The same is the case for other cutting needs in your daily routine.

One type of knife people commonly ask about is a Japanese knife. Nakiri and santoku knives are two of the most highly-rated Japanese chef knives, but it can be challenging to tell the difference between them.

We’re going to discuss what each Japanese style knife has to offer you and talk about their distinct features, uses, and what sets each apart from the other. So, let’s get started!

What Is A Nakiri Knife?

Nakiri is a Japanese term for a knife used to cut vegetables or greens. A Nakiri knife has a straight-edge blade design and a squared-off tip. You can cut through vegetables with the blade’s horizontal pull/push motion, and the straight edge of the knife, measuring 6.5 to 7 inches, allows for thinner slices and more even cuts.

Because of the straight sharp edge, it allows for a smoother cutting stroke. Furthermore, chefs appreciate the blade for cutting vegetables with greater precision without a problem. It is incredibly lightweight and offers user-friendly razor-sharpness.

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Nakiri knives allow you to create even, uniform slices, which gives it a competitive edge. As a result, this knife is the right tool to pick for ribbon or julienne vegetables. It is fast, and its smooth chopping motion and sharp blade deliver fast, clean results.

What Are The Different Types Of Nakiri Knives?

man chutting melon with nakiri knife

Two kinds of Nakiri knives are available. What distinguishes them from one another is the blade material. You can choose from stainless steel and high carbon.

The Nakiri knives made of high carbon are sturdier and more reliable than the stainless steel ones, but stainless steel knives are more resistant to rust and deterioration due to their higher chromium content.

Advantages Of Nakiri Knife

Here are some advantages of a Nakiri knife.

Blade Size

Nakiri knives have blades measuring approximately five to seven inches long, enough length to handle most greens and vegetables.

Cutting Performance

Thanks to their straight-edge blade, these knives can cut through any vegetable, ensuring a neat and clean cut of your greens and veggies.


You can use the Nakiri knife in various ways to cut vegetables, including thin slicing, dicing, and chopping. Professional chefs recommended it for its versatility.

Blade Performance

Nakiri knives have thinner, flatter blades so you can cut vegetables as neatly as humanly possible. And, since they are so thin, the blade is excellent, especially for soft vegetables like tomatoes.

What Is A Santoku Knife?

Santoku means a knife with three virtues. Santoku knives are usually petite (6 to 7 inches), making them easier to handle and control. The blade is asymmetrically ground, and each side has a 10 -15 degree angle. Santoku knives feel balanced and are often made of thick Damascus steel, making them more sturdy.

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Its blade shape is similar to a standard chef knife (also called a Gyuto knife); however, these Japanese knives are shorter than the typical chef knife. They were initially produced for home cooks to use in their kitchens and have become essential kitchen utensils, both in professional and home settings.

What Are The Different Kinds Of Santoku Knives?

cutting raw ribs with a Santoku knife

There are several Santoku knives on the market, but they don’t have any particular names or terms that differentiate them. Look at the material and size of these knives to determine the type.

Advantages Of Santoku Knife

The following are the advantages of a Santoku knife:

Blade Design

Santoku Japanese knives have a narrow sheep’s-foot blade and a straight edge. The design allows you to slice and dice different food items smoothly.


Santoku Japanese knives have three main uses: dicing, mining, and slicing. You can also use these knives to cut meat, fish, or vegetables.

Uses of Nakiri And Santoku

The Nakiri knife is a bit like a meat cutter. As mentioned earlier, it has a straight blade, giving it more strength to cut on the chopping board. It’s easier to cut food with a single hand using this Japanese kitchen knife because you are only cutting in one direction.

You get smooth cuts, and the knife won’t crush your vegetables. Comparatively, a Santoku blade has a thinner blade that is better for slicing, but you can also use it for dicing or mincing. They have fine flat blades, unlike Western-style rounded knives.

Santoku vs. Nakiri Knives – What Are the Differences?

The following are the key differences between both knives.


You can only use the Nakiri knife to cut greens and vegetables. In contrast, a Santoku knife is more versatile. You can use it to cut meat, fish, or vegetables or for cutting, mincing, and chopping.


Nakiri knives have a straight blade and squared-off tips. They are similar to cleavers, but they have a thinner blade to make it easier to cut delicate vegetables. On the other hand, a Santoku knife has a straight-edged blade and a narrow sheep-foot blade to facilitate its versatility.

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Nakiri knives and Santoku knives weigh almost the same, generally between 5 to 7.5 ounces.


Nakiri knives are slightly thinner than Santoku knives. The former has a sharpness level between 28 and 34 degrees, and the latter has a 20-30 degrees sharpness level.

Blade Length

Nakiri and Santoku knives almost have the same length blades, five to seven inches, which gives you enough control and balance.

Edge Type

Nakiri knives usually have double bevels to use the knife from either side. Contrarily, there are two edge types of Santoku knives, single or double bevel.


Santoku knives are more expensive than Nakiri knives due to their versatility and stronger blades.

Nakiri vs. Santoku: Which Is Better?

Which one of these blades is better is subjective and varies from chef to chef. Western chefs are more likely to use Santoku knives because they are so versatile. These knives are often used to replace a chef’s knife or Gyuto knife. They are thin, long, and sharp and can be used to cut various foods.

However, this doesn’t mean that a Nakiri knife is less valuable and isn’t a quality knife. These knives are great for cutting and slicing fruits, vegetables, and greens. In addition, they are safer than other knives because they have longer blades and no points.


If you’re searching for an all-purpose knife with more precision than a chef’s knife, opt for the Santoku. If you’re looking for an instrument specifically for cutting vegetables to add to your arsenal, consider a Nikiri. Depending on your requirements, you can also use both knives in your kitchen.

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