Best Paring Knives Complete Buyers Guide 2017
When you need a knife that's going to make quick work of small intricate tasks like segmenting an orange, mincing a small shallot, deveining shrimps, or peeling a potato, only a sharp paring knife will do. The paring knife is one the most widely used kitchen knives after the chef knife. Every kitchen has one, and the paring knife uses in the kitchen are almost unlimited.
Unlike other standard kitchen knives, the paring knife comes in a variety of different styles with some having a curved blade, serrated blade, and there's even one with a hooked blade. However, even though the style of the paring knife may differ, they all have one primary use, and that's to tackle either very complicated or detailed prepping tasks or just those jobs that require a greater amount of control which larger kitchen knives just can’t offer.
Many chefs and culinary enthusiasts are in agreement that you don’t necessarily need an extensive set of kitchen knives, in fact only four types are all you really need. A good chef’s knife, boning knife, some type of serrated knife and finally a paring knife will cover virtually all of your basic food prep needs in the kitchen.
In this buying guide, we will be focusing on the paring knife and we're going to highlight everything there is to know about this small kitchen knife so you can make an informed purchase and buy a paring knife that's going to last you a lifetime.
Why You Need A Paring Knife?
Nearly every cutting task can be accomplished with a good chef's knife, whether it’s dicing up an onion, or breaking down a whole chicken, the good ole trusty chef knife has got you covered. However, there are some prep tasks that are simply too delicate and require a more hands-on approach, for these situations you need to reach for the paring knife.
Because paring knives are so small, they can offer different grips as well as various methods of cutting that you just can't-do with a bigger chef knife. For example, you can use a paring knife for mincing a small shallot or you can remove the seeds from a jalapeno or any other delicate or a small task the paring knife is probably going to be the knife for the job.
A Quick Overview of the Best Paring Knives
Full paring knife review at the end of the article.
Henckels Int. Classic Paring Knife
Wüsthof Classic Paring Knife
Victorinox Paring Knife
MAC Professional Paring Knife
Global Western Style Paring Knife
Shun Sora Paring Knife
How To Choose A Good Paring Knife
The qualities to look for in the best paring knife are exactly the same as any other kitchen knife, even though it’s smaller it still shares the same characteristics as other knives. However features such as a bolster and good balance aren't so important when buying a paring knife, because most of the prep work is done in the hand. Below we've listed some desirable features that a good paring knife should ideally offer.
The tang of the knife is the part that runs through the handle when you look at a knife if it’s a full tang you should be able to see metal sandwiched in between the handle. Basically, the knife is all one piece, the blade continues all the way to the butt of the knife. A full tang is much more desirable on a larger knife, a chef's knife, for example, needs to be much more durable and the full tang provides this extra durability. Due to the smaller size of a paring knife, the tang isn't as important, this small peeling knife isn't breaking through bones or dicing up a hard squash.
What you will find is that many of the best knife manufacturers will design knives that have a full tang, and this is often associated with a better quality of knife. If a paring knife has a full tang the chances are it’s of better quality, but on the flip side, you can find some excellent Asian style paring knives that will only have a partial tang. Bottom line, don't get yourself to hung up on a full tang or partial tang paring knife, you're better off focusing on the overall build quality.
The weight of a paring knife isn't an important factor, in fact, it could be a hindrance. Most tasks using the paring knife require in hand work, so a lighter knife is going to be far better than a heavier one. You need to be able to move the knife around in your palm easily. When it comes to the weight of a paring knife there is no right or wrong answer, choose the weight that feels right to you, we all have different sized hands and a knife that is heavier for one may not be for the other.
The quality of the blade is a much more important factor when buying a good quality paring knife. Most of the work you'll be doing will be in your palm so you will need a handle that's going to offer a good grip and is designed to fit snugly in your hand.
Best Paring Knife Size?
Your classic paring knife will range between 2 to 4 inches (6cm – 10cm) in length and taper to a point with the typical style resembling a scaled down chef’s knife. We recommend a paring knife blade length between 3 to 3½ inches. Sure, there are larger paring knives available but once you get longer than 4 inches, you really start getting into utility knife territory, and it then gets difficult to do intricate in-hand work.
Paring Knife Types And Their Uses
Paring knives come in various shapes, sizes and styles (yes, there are different styles of paring knives) so when choosing the best paring knife for the job in hand, some are going to be the better choice. It all sounds confusing, but don't fret, because we have done the hard work for you and listed all of the popular classic paring knives and their uses in the kitchen.
This paring knife resembles a scaled down chef’s knife and is perfect for general kitchen paring tasks
This is a classic looking paring knife that's best suited for trimming and peeling fruits and vegetables.
This paring knife is perfect for deboning a small bird such as a quail. It's really just a scaled-down version of the boning knife.
The serrated blade on this paring knife makes it the best choice when it comes to cutting hard-skinned fruits or even slicing wafer thin pieces of tomato.
The curved blade of this paring knife makes it the perfect choice for peeling an apple or for more intricate kitchen work like turning potatoes, fluting or other precise carving tasks around the kitchen.
If you need a knife to remove eyes from potatoes or for pitting fresh olives this is going to be the best paring knife for the job. Best suited for large-scale professional kitchens it's rarely used by the home cook.
How Do You Hold A Paring Knife?
The way you hold a paring knife is completely different to how you hold a chef's knife or any other larger sized kitchen knife. Whether you're peeling, slicing, or trimming, due to the small size of this knife you need to make sure you have total control of the blade. The grip should be firm but comfortable and you'll want the knife to feel balanced and ultra secure in your hand, one slip would mean a trip to the ER.
Because most of the prep work is done in your hand and on smaller food items the knife requires much more control. The correct method for holding a paring knife is to have your fingers firmly wrapped around the handle with the blade facing inward, towards your thumb. Your thumb should be left free so that it can help guide the cutting process; use your thumb as a guide for where the blade is heading.
Best Paring Knife Brands
There really isn't a top brand name for paring knives but there are some well known general kitchen knife manufacturing companies that produce good quality knives. The list is almost limitless but we have narrowed down the paring knife brands to just six that produce a paring knife that we feel is better than the rest. Victorinox, Global, Wüsthof, Shun, MAC, Henckels are our top picks, all are excellent kitchen knife brands from Germany and Japan that produce some of the best kitchen knives in the world.
Good Paring Knives the Best of the Bunch (2017 Picks)
With so many good paring knives in the marketplace we obviously couldn't list them all, however, we have narrowed down our list and have picked out a selection to keep almost everyone happy. From a cheap, budget paring knife, an Asian style, a hybrid and everything else in-between, this is the best of the bunch!
All of these knives are exceptional and offer high quality, durable blades that will last for years to come. So with without further ado, let's take jump in and take a look at the best paring knives (listed in no particular order).
J.A. Henckels International Classic Paring Knife
J.A. Henckels has been around since the early 1700’s and is known worldwide for manufacturing some of the best kitchen knives in today's marketplace. Their main hub for producing knives is in Solingen, Germany and at the time of writing, they manufacture 11 different styles of kitchen knives. Strangely enough, this classic paring knife is made in Spain, but it has been manufactured from German steel, is this bad, no we don't think so if it was China we would think differently.
The knife fully forged from a chunk of German steel which offers durability and a seamless full tang triple riveted handle construction. The handle has been made from a synthetic plastic material, it’s not wood, to be honest, many knife manufacturers use plastics for their handles because it’s more durable and isn't prone to cracking.
The extra sharp edge holds well providing long-lasting sharpness. This paring knife features a bolster which provides a bit more weight and added safety.
Wüsthof Classic Paring Knife
We love the look of the Wüsthof Classic Paring Knife, it’s like a “mini-me” of their full-sized chef knife. The knife has been manufactured in Solingen, Germany from some of the best German high carbon stainless steel, and the full tang construction and triple riveted handle is extremely durable; it doesn't get any more classic than this.
Even though the Wüsthof paring knife has its classic looks it has benefited from the latest blade technology to produce a blade that’s sharper by 14 degrees on each side. If you're shopping for a well-made paring knife you should take a closer look at the Wüsthof, it’s one of the best!
Victorinox Paring Knife
The Victorinox 3¼-Inch Paring Knife is our favorite and it’s the cheapest of the lot. The Victorinox paring knife has a fine, pointed tip and a sharp blade that effortlessly pierces the skin of fruits and vegetables without resistance. The ergonomic polypropylene handle (plastic) offers an excellent grip and is comfortable to hold.
The 3¼-inch stamped blade is the perfect size for in hand work or for using on a cutting board, it’s easy to control and makes quick work of delicate tasks. The Victorinox knife range is a favorite with professional chefs and culinary students due to its cheap price point and quality build.
This knife is only a partial tang but that doesn't mean the knife isn't durable. Sure, it's not going to last a lifetime but expect a few years of use before the knife needs to be replaced; for under 10 bucks it’s a steal.
MAC Professional Paring Knife
The MAC paring knife is a very underrated knife, we’re not sure why it isn't more popular, as far as we are concerned MAC produce some excellent quality kitchen knives. The MAC professional paring knife features the desirable full tang construction, a bolster, and a triple riveted Pakkawood handle.
The MAC Professional has been constructed from high-quality, durable molybdenum high-carbon steel, that holds a razor-sharp edge extremely well. It's slightly heavier than some of the others on the list of recommendations which makes it the better choice for cutting board work; mincing shallots or removing the skin from an orange with precision is where the MAC excels.
The price of the MAC might be off-putting to some, but it truly is a paring knife that will last a lifetime with proper care and regular sharpening. You could easily end up spending double or even triple on multiple cheaper paring knives that will last no more than 12 months.
Global Western Style Paring Knife (GS-38)
Our next recommended paring knife is what we like to call a hybrid style, this marries together the best of Asian and Western knives to produce a knife that’s… well, a hybrid. Global revolutionized the kitchen knife industry by manufacturing a range of Japanese kitchen knives that merged trendy with functionality and affordability.
The Global Western Style Paring Knife is a popular knife and a favorite with professional chefs around the globe. This particular paring knife has been hand sharpened to a 15% angle; trust us, it’s razor sharp.
It may not look it, but the Global paring knife is extremely lightweight, mainly due to the thinner blade and hollow handle that's been precisely weighted, this gives you much more agility with less hand fatigue and makes this knife one of the lightest on the list.
Shun Sora Paring Knife
We might have saved the best to last, if you want the crème de la crème look no further because the Shun Sora Paring Knife is what you're looking for. Shun are among some of the best some of the best Japanese kitchen knife manufacturers and their fully forged knives are sort after by avid home cooks and professionals worldwide.
The Shun Sora Paring Knife has been forged in Seki City, Japan, which is referred to as the knife making capital of Asia. The 3 1/2-inch blade has an inner core that's been crafted from VG-10 stainless steel, making this knife one of the hardest on our list of recommended paring knives. The outer steel on the blade is slightly softer than the inner core creating a san mai edge that provides stain resistance and a 16-degree cutting edge on both sides.
The handle has been made from a distinctive, hard wearing Pakkawood, which we think gives the paring knife a traditional Asian look. The handle is shaped slightly differently to western style paring knives, the Shun Sora features a D-shaped contour which is beneficial when you're gripping the handle and working in the palm of your hand on small prep tasks.