Chef or Santoku? What's the difference?

If you don’t know much about knives, being introduced to the myriad of options available can be complicated. There are dozens of different types of blades and some, like the chef's knife and the santoku, seem to be quite similar on the surface. Find out more about chef's knives and santoku knives, how the two differ, and which is the right option for your kitchen needs.

What is a chef's knife?

A chef's knife is a large traditional knife made of materials such as stainless steel or wrought iron. These tend to be all-purpose tools with a broad blade and a heavier construction so you can use a lot of force in every cut. These knives come in a range of sizes, from six to twelve inches depending on preference.

What is a santoku knife?

A Santoku knife originates in Japan, with the name translating to the term “Three Virtues”. This refers to the way that a Santoku is ideal for chopping, dicing and mincing ingredients. One of the important aspects of a Santoku is the incredibly thin blade for more precise and delicate cuts, with a lighter overall weight to help chefs and cooks to manoeuvre the blade more easily.

The differences between a chef's knife and a Santoku knife

There are a few major factors that differentiate between the two knives, including:


The two knives have very distinct functions. A Santoku is specifically designed for precision cuts and slicing, with a lighter weight helping the chef to move the knife around smaller ingredients and complete more delicate cuts. A chef's knife, on the other hand, is for larger and more general cuts, such as cutting potatoes or carrots in bulk ahead of service.

Sides of the blade

Chef's knives only come in a double-bevel appearance. This means that the two sides of the knife taper down to a point, being the sharp part of the blade. On the other hand, a Santoku comes with scalloped edges that cut inside, leaving an air pocket at certain points between the ingredient and the blade. This means that the ingredient falls away from the knife more easily, making it easier to see the next cut a knife makes.


In general, a Santoku knife is relatively small. With a size of five to eight inches, the Santoku is both thin and short, which contributes to the ease of manoeuvre. A chef's knife is a stark contrast to this, with the size of the blade going as high as twelve inches. This is important for cutting larger ingredients such as entire sides of meat.

Try Chefs Edge

Whether you’re looking for a chef's knife or a Santoku, Chefs Edge has a wide range of knife options from reputable manufacturers and designers. Take a look at our carefully curated selection to find the best option for you.