Santoku Knife vs Chef Knife


You are now wondering which one is better between a santoku knife vs chef knife. Both are quite popular among experienced home cooks and professional chefs who regularly use different types of knives. However, santoku knives and chef knives have very different designs and blade shapes, hence they offer different uses and benefits.

In this article, you can find out more about

  • What are santoku knives and chef knives?
  • The distinctive features of a santoku knife vs chef knife,
  • The uses and benefits of each knife type, and
  • Which one is the more recommended knife for your kitchen.
  • Overview

    A santoku knife is essentially a general-purpose kitchen knife that originated in Japan. According to Wikipedia, it is called as santokubochoor “three virtues” in the country of origin, referring to the three cutting tasks that can be performed very well by the knife: slicing, mincing, and dicing. See also: Cooks Knife vs Chef’s Knife.

    The original santoku knife is a well-balanced knife. The handle and blade are harmonically designed by matching the blade width and length with the tang and handle. This allows for quick and nimble movements.

    On the other hand, a chef knife is a western version of a general-purpose kitchen knife. It was originally made for slicing and disjointing large beef cuts, but it is now a lot more versatile and used for various tasks. The western chef knife actually has two versions, the French one has a straight blade until the end whereas the German one has a continuously curved blade along the cutting edge.

    Blade Shape and Geometry

    A santoku knife is characterized by the spine of the blade which turns down at the tip to meet the cutting length. Hence, it doesn’t have a pointed tip. This design is also known as the sheep’s foot tip. Meanwhile, the cutting edge is typically straighter than western chef knives, from the base to the tip. The angle is between 12 to 15 degrees.

    Also, a santoku knife may have a granton edge. This is more of an optional feature. It has dimples of scallops on the blade’s sides which prevent things from sticking without altering the blade’s cutting performance.

    On the other hand, all western chef knives have a straight spine. The French chef knives have a straight cutting edge which only curved up at the tip. The German chef knives have a curved cutting edge which starts from the end to the tip. A chef knife has a pointed tip. The angle is between 20 to 22 degrees.

    Composition and Size

    Both santoku knives and chef knives can be made from stainless steel, carbon steel, or ceramic. However, stainless steel is the most common choice. It is generally easy to maintain.

    Santoku knives are generally smaller and lighter. Their sizes range from 5 – 7 inches. Meanwhile, chef knives are usually larger, although the sizes range from 6 – 14 inches. The most common sizes are 8 inches (for home cooks) and 10 inches (for professional chefs).


    The different blade shapes encourage different styles of usage. They hit the board differently. With a santoku knife, you will feel more comfortable in a chop-chop-chop motion. The straight and flat cutting edge makes it ideal for chopping and mincing and perhaps dicing.

    Meanwhile, the curved cutting edge of a chef knife is more suitable for slicing. The knife moves in a back-and-forth rocking motion. The French version is especially versatile, as it has a flat part suitable for chopping while the curved tip is great for slicing.

    Santoku Knife vs Chef Knife

    Santoku KnifeChef Knife
    - Originated in Japan- Originated in the west with French and German versions
    - Sheep’s foot blade design with a flat cutting edge and curved spine- Drop-point blade design, a curved cutting edge and straight spine
    - The tip is not pointed- Pointed tip
    - Generally smaller and lighter- Generally bigger and heavier
    - Suitable for back-and-forth rocking motion- Suitable for chop-chop-chop motion


    A chef knife is generally more versatile due to the larger size and blade shape. It is suitable for slicing and chopping motions. It can handle a variety of tasks well. However, if you prefer a light knife for quick and precise chop-chop-chop, a santoku knife makes a great alternative.

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