How to Hold a Chef's Knife

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.

How to Hold a Chef's Knife
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.)

Alison Conklin

Why Does It Matter How You Hold Your Knife?

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!

Two Ways to Hold Your Knife

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
Alison Conklin

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
Alison Conklin

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 feel a little unfamiliar and awkward at first, 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!

Practice Your Knife Grip With These Recipes!