CKS 002| How To Hold A Chef's Knife

An important cornerstone of all great knife skills techniques, this video will teach you how to hold your chef's knife in a professional grip.

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jacob burton's picture

@ GreenBake,

It's not so much the curvature of the knife as it is the width of the blade (from top to bottom) and what type of cut I'm making. For example, when I use a chef's knife or cleaver, I'm always using the professional pinch grip as shown in the video above or in the video "Asian Style Dice and Julienne." As a general rule of thumb, you always want to hold a knife with a thicker blade in a one or two finger pinch grip because it will give you more control over where that blade is going.

However, when I'm using a knife with a thinner blade, like a utility knife or a boning knife, I usually grab the blade with my thumb and middle finger and then rest my index finger on top of the blade. This has two purposes:

  1. When butchering, I'm trying to separate muscles or disconnect flesh from the bone (read intricate cuts with little space). I have fat hands and fingers, so if I hold my knife in a professional pinch grip, my knuckles and fingers get in the way.
  2. I always put my index finger on the top of my knife when I'm performing a cut that utilizes the tip of my blade. This makes the knife an extension of my finger, and allows me to control where the tip of the knife is going. A good example of this is in my video of how to slice mushrooms and how to butcher a chicken. In the video on how to dice, julienne, buronise and battonet, you'll notice that I'm holding the knife in a regular pinch grip, which gives me more control of the "sweet spot" (the middle portion of the knife used for slicing).

As far as the curvature of the blade is concerned, that's just personal preference. I really like the ergonomics of the Ken Onion Shun, but that's just because it feels good in my hand. Everyone's hands are different so choose your knife accordingly. Also, the curvature on the Ken Onion Shun is much more dramatic then that on their classic 10" chef's knife. Again, it's all about what feels right in your hand and what you use your knife for the most.

chef humes's picture

when i seem to cut large meats my hands don't get in the way, that's because my hands are small making it easier for me to work with knives. i hold the chef knife more with my index on the top of the chef knife and my hand on the handle. this may not be professional but it makes cutting easier and allows your wrist to do the work.

jcegerton's picture

Hi Jacob,

Could you tell me if the knife you're using there is really a 10 inch?

It looks like an 8 inch, but it could be the video.

Kind regards,


Malisa's picture

Hi Jacob,

I have quite a few hand-me down knives that I'm looking to replace. Many that no longer hold an edge even after sharpened...(they have been in my family for years.) Didn't think knives could get to that point, but being as old as some of them are 50+ years who knew... but I digress, I was wondering what would be a low cost set you would recommend? The major knife companies we have around here are Cutco and Rada. But they are a bit out of my budgets league...I also would like to par (pun intended) down my set to what I would really use verses just having a huge set of knives that would spend most of their time collecting dust.

jacob burton's picture

Hey Malisa,

I get most every job done with one of three knives; 10" chef knife, 7" utility knife, and a decent bread knife. A good, inexpensive brand that I commonly recommend is Mundial.

If you haven't already, I would recommend listening to the Stella Culinary School Podcast Episode One, where I talk about basic knife skills and why my two go-to knives are a Chef's Knife and Utility Knife.

Let me know if you have any more questions.