6 Knife Skills That Will Make You Feel Like a Pro

Behind every confident cook is a sharp knife that makes easy work of all that slicing and dicing. Here's how to master the moves that'll save you time and energy in the kitchen.

Photo By: Evi Abeler

Photo By: Evi Abeler

Photo By: Evi Abeler


Photo By: Evi Abeler

Photo By: Evi Abeler

It Starts With the Right Grip

Before you start cutting, make sure you have a good hold on your chef's knife. Most novice cooks make the mistake of only gripping the handle. For the best control, you need to grasp the knife at the bolster (where the blade meets the handle); your thumb should be pressing on one side of the blade and your pointer bent and pinching in on the other. Curl your remaining three fingers up around the handle, grasping it gently. The knife should feel comfortable and balanced in your hand.

Protect Your Fingers

When using a chef's knife, keep your digits out of harm's way by holding food steady in a claw grip with your fingertips safely curled under the knuckles. Ready to slice? Place the tip of the knife on the cutting board, put the food under the blade, and raise the heel of the knife up and down, sliding the blade against your knuckles as you go and moving it back and forth in a circular motion.

Keep the Tip on the Board

To mince herbs or garlic, give them a rough chop, then hold your chef's knife in one hand and lay the other hand flat across the tip. Use a rocking up-and-down motion to cut, keeping the tip on the board until the food is finely minced.

Crush With the Side of the Blade

Try this trick to remove garlic skins: Put a clove on your board, lay the side of a chef's knife on top and press down hard with the heel of your hand. The papery skin will fall away. To make a garlic paste, chop the clove, sprinkle with salt and then, holding the blade at an angle close to the board, drag it over the garlic several times. The wide flat blade is also ideal for transferring ingredients from your cutting board to your pan: Just slide it under whatever you've diced or minced and scoop it up, using your hand to ferry errant pieces on top.

Hack With the Back of the Blade

No lobster cracker? Use the back of a chef's knife (called the spine) to crack the claws. Simply turn the knife over and give a gentle whack. This strong straight side is also good for loosening a jar lid (tap the side a few times to help release the seal) and for scraping up scraps of dough and other debris from your work surface when it's time to clean up.

Let Your Thumb Be Your Guide

For small precise tasks where you want to limit waste (like coring fruit), opt for a paring knife. Grip the handle with your fingers and point the sharp blade inward, toward you, using your thumb to guide the knife. Halve or quarter the food, then, holding the knife close to the blade for the most control, maneuver the tip around the core. For small fruit, like strawberries, insert the tip at a 45-degree angle around the green top and, with your other hand, rotate the berry to hull.