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7 Paring Knives That Will Make You Excited to Work on Your Knife Skills

These knives are total game-changers in the kitchen.

woman slicing lime with paring knife

Somewhere between the first day and second day of culinary school, I quickly realized I was going to flunk my way out if I didn’t have a heck of a paring knife. A paring knife is a versatile kitchen knife that makes things like peeling oranges, mincing garlic, deveining shrimp, coring tomatoes, and testing the doneness of cooked veggies an absolute breeze in the kitchen.

Sure, you could just hope that generic paring knife that came in your $12 discounted knife block will do the trick. Or, you could invest in a stellar paring knife à la carte and thank us later. You're not in your dorm room anymore, and investing in solid kitchen tools from cutting boards to ceramic pans can make a world of difference. When you buy poorly made knives, the blade will go dull quickly, the tip might not be pointy enough for detail work, and/or it can rust in a couple of months.

Ready to get shopping and chopping? Read on.

What to Consider

When buying a paring knife, there are a few key things to consider. First, the blade size should hover at around 3.5 inches, with a handle that’s perhaps a touch longer and comfortable to hold. Paring knives generally cost anywhere from $10 to $60. It's important to note that paring knives come standard in most knife sets.

The sharper a knife is, the easier it will be to work with, so we recommend buying knives made from high carbon stainless steel as they hold a great edge. Carbon steel is also great too and slightly more affordable (say, around $10, as opposed to $15-plus for high-carbon stainless steel). While paring knives' longevity depends on how frequently you use them, it can last for years if you take good care of your paring knife. Speaking of which, yes, you should be honing and sharpening your paring knife regularly (we recommend this sharpener from Mercer with two grit levels).

How We Chose

Over the years, we’ve come to learn what our favorite paring knife is for making potato gaufrettes and mincing garlic from endless hours of cooking in our own kitchens. But for this choppy assignment, we took it to the next level. We spent hours creating pretty garnishes like strawberry fans, chili “flowers,” and radish rosettes that only the best paring knives could achieve. In addition to peeling, slicing, and poking up a storm, we searched the internet high and low for trustworthy reviews on sites like Cook's Illustrated and Wirecutter, along with reading customer reviews online.

We also used the tip of many a paring knife to check the doneness on baked salmon throughout our product testing to ensure the tip wasn’t a dull, rounded flop and practiced making lemon curl garnishes more times than we'd care to admit. Last but not least, we endured the toil that is concassé-ing a tomato (that’s chef speak for peeling, seeding, and dicing the beloved red fruit), all in an effort to give you only the very best paring knives to choose from.

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Best Overall
Wusthof Classic Paring Knife
Wüsthof amazon.com

OK, so it’s $60. We’ll get that out of the way first. But you will never meet a paring knife more skilled than this one in all of your culinary travels. It has an ergonomic handle, a finger guard to help keep you safe while you NPR podcast ‘n’ cook, and the full-tang knife is made with superior craftsmanship that will keep you happily cooking for many years to come.

As one happy Amazon customer put it, “this is the first thing I have bought for my wife that generated unquestioned excitement and enthusiasm.” Hear, hear!

More: Durable, Versatile Dutch Ovens for Browning, Simmering, and More

Mercer Culinary Genesis 3.5-Inch Paring Knife
Mercer Culinary amazon.com

This was the paring knife that helped me secure a passing grade on that ever-terrifying knife skills exam in culinary school. With a grippy handle, it’s easy to fall into a rhythm of mincing garlic or peeling various ingredients at Top Chef speeds.

Some 6 years after culinary school, I'm pleased to report the paring knife remains rust-free thanks to the high-carbon stainless steel and the taper-ground edge keeps you working efficiently and with superb stability.

Budget Pick
Victorinox Swiss Army Cutlery Straight Paring Knife
Victorinox amazon.com

We see why Wirecutter gave this knife top accolades after testing 20 different paring knives for 45-plus hours, calling it both “comfortable” and “sharp.” Personally, for under $8, we think it's hard to argue against this paring knife, but we find it just a little too light for our liking, as we notice enhanced control of our cuts benefits from just a little more weight.

Great for Heavy Users
Santoku & Parer
Togu Knives toguknives.com

If you know you’re a regular home cook, you don’t want to worry about sharpening your knives regularly. That’s why we love this subscription service that sends you two sharp knives — a Santoku (the Japanese version of a chef’s knife) and a paring knife — and replaces them every 8 weeks with a newly sharpened and polished set.

This paring knife was adept at handling delicate tasks like making that aforementioned radish bud, and it peels ginger like a champ. With the knives constructed out of high-carbon stainless steel, they’re built to last, and while hand-washing is recommended, it’s ok to throw them in the dishwasher when you’re doing a little brunoise action for the evening.

FYI: This knife has a blade that’s just a little longer than 3.5 inches.

Kuhn Rikon Straight Paring Knife
KUHN RIKON amazon.com

If you have big hands or are simply more comfortable with a slightly larger paring knife, Kuhn Rikon’s 4-inch blade is an excellent choice. The stainless steel blade is designed to last for years, and we especially like the nonstick coating that helps you avoid garlic-on-blade syndrome.

Bonus: The sheath not only makes for safer storage, but it also makes this paring knife an excellent pick for a camping trip when you want to have a knife on hand for cutting rope or whittling wood.

Favorite Bird-Beak
TUO Bird-Beak Paring Knife, Handy Peeling Knife
TUO amazon.com

If you like getting fancy in the kitchen with photo-worthy decorative flourishes, you’ll want to add a bird-beak paring knife to your toolkit. Made from high-carbon stainless steel, this super sharp blade delivers precise cuts if you want to make food art for the kids or elegant radish buds for dinner parties (remember those? Hallelujah!).

You can also use a bird-beak model for removing blemishes from fruits and veggies, say, a bruised spot on a fresh peach or nectarine.

Best Serrated
WÜSTHOF Fully-Serrated Paring Knife
Wüsthof amazon.com

If you’re in the market for a serrated paring knife with tooth-like prongs ideal for things like cleaning up the edges on cakes or tearing into a fresh loaf of pandemic-perfected sourdough bread, good luck finding one better than this.

From a culinary brand you can trust, it may be on the pricier side, but we love the clean slice the serrated blade makes on bread or soft fruits and veggies, the durable full tang construction, and the easy-to-grip handle.

Plus, trusty kitchen companion Cook’s Illustrated agrees.

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