How to Hold a Chef’s Knife

TipsHow To

Are you just not sure you're holding your chef's knife right? Do knives in general mystify you? Here are two of the most common ways to hold your chef's knife.

Photography Credit: Alison Conklin

A chef’s knife is asset in the kitchen when properly held and wielded. There is little that is more frustrating in the kitchen than using the wrong tool for the job.

But if using a large and probably heavy knife is an unfamiliar activity for you, never fear!

With practice comes familiarity, and with familiarity comes skill. (I’m reminded of the scene of Meryl Streep as Julia Child in the film Julie and Julia, when she repeatedly chops onions to get the technique right. And ends up with mountains of onions.)


Learning how to grip and use your chef’s knife properly can keep you and your fingers safe. With practice, it can also help you chop more quickly and efficiently, just like the pros!

When you first start learning how to work with knives, this can feel really strange, as though you are doing something wrong. In time, you’ll begin to feel more comfortable with your knife grip and the skills that come with practice.

But no matter what your culinary comfort level, we can all benefit from honing these skills and refining them. Pretty soon you’ll be chopping, slicing, dicing, and mincing in no time!


For the purposes of most home cooks, there are two ways you can go about doing holding the knife:

  • The handle grip
  • The blade grip

These also go by myriad names but the descriptions match.

How to Use a Chef’s Knife handle grip

Handle grip, or all-purpose grip

Your entire hand is around the knife handle itself with the fingers tucked behind the back of the blade, behind that spot called the bolster—that’s the part where the metal meets the handle). It’s more common hold for beginning cooks, or cooks who have small hands.

  • Pro: It’s comfortable
  • Con: Doesn’t allow you for much control when you’re trying to do some more precise cuts.

The Blade Grip for a Chef's Knife

Blade Grip, or Pinch Grip

The second grip–blade grip–is preferred for those who have some experience. The thumb and index finger are in front of the bolster directly on the blade, pinching it to help stabilize the knife while cutting. It may look a little freaky, but it’s actually a pretty controlled grip.

  • Pro: More control over your knife, which leads to faster, cleaner chopping
  • Con: Takes a little getting used to!


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Carrie Havranek

Carrie Havranek is a former Associate Editor of Simply Recipes and the author of the cookbook Tasting Pennsylvania (2019). She lives in Easton, Pennsylvania and goes out of her way for farmers' markets, new ingredients, yoga, and walks in nature.

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No ImageHow to Hold a Chef’s Knife

  1. JM

    I was five or six when my parents taught me how to use a knife. Never looked back.

  2. Christina

    ‘Blade grip’, hands down, is the way I use my knives (Santoku, 8″ Chefs, etc.).

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  3. Peter

    Actually i find the blade grip more comfortable than the Handle grip. You should also talk about blade length. I use a 6 inch Chef and Santkou knife as I don’t have big hands and find the Smaller length perfect. I have a 8 inch as well and I find it just too big to use. And as Karen states a video would be of help

  4. Karen

    A video would be helpful too!

    Show Replies (1)
How to Hold a Chef's KnifeHow to Hold a Chef’s Knife