How to Use a Nakiri Knife?

A nakiri knife is one kitchen item you cannot help but fall in love with when you use one. Have you ever wondered how chefs cut up frozen veggies? That’s a nakiri knife at work!  Its magic will keep you spellbound, except something else snaps you out of it. This knife can slice cheese also vegetables, leaving you marveling at how it cuts things straight.

What is a Nakiri Knife?

The nakiri knife originates from Japan, where it is also known as nakiri Bochco. Before the Japanese opened their borders to the outside world centuries ago, they used kitchen knives like the samurai swords. If you have seen a samurai sword, imagine cutting all your vegetables with a baby samurai knife and brandishing it like a trained samurai warrior!

Once the government ended restrictions on imported items, Japanese knife makers admired foreign knives and decided to pattern their own after the alien products. But to make it different, they made nakiri knives thinner but sharp enough to cut through any veggie straight down to the cutting board. Even after four centuries, the nakiri knife has remained useful and a favorite for many chefs.

Simple Ways to Use a Nakiri Knife

Nakiri knife may look like a kitchen knife, but you have to learn how to use it to get the best result. You don’t need to be a professional cook to wield it. Forget about those samurai skills; you can master the techniques in no time at all.

1. Use the Knife for the Purpose


It is normal to struggle with the temptation to cut your meat or steak with a nakiri knife. You may get the ideal result, but that won’t be a good idea in the long run. It wouldn’t make sense to use the unique ZWILLING nakiri knife to cut steaks.

Cutting foods other than veggies may damage the edges, and you don’t want to keep replacing your nakiri knife now and again. Use a butter knife, fillet knife or meat cleaver when you need them but use a nakiri knife only when you are cutting veggies.

2. Cut from Top to Bottom Only


This is not like your usual meat cleaver or butcher knife that you cut and pull with force. A nakiri knife is best for slicing through vegetables. The edges are usually so sharp that once they come in contact with veggies, they go right through with ease. An example of such an effective knife is the Shun premier nakiri knife.

That means your hand must move in up and down directions only, not sideways. Any other movements may end in disaster, and you may not get that straight cut typical of a nakiri knife.

3. Keep Your Fingers Out of the Way

You can trust a nakiri knife to do a good job any time, but remember that it can chop off your fingers if they stand in the way. Always keep your fingers bent away from the path where the knife will go.

Accidents can happen in the kitchen, but when they involve a nakiri knife, the results are too painful to bear. As a result, make sure you keep your fingers out of the way when cutting veggies.

4. Sharpen the Blade

It doesn’t mean doing that every day but, as a rule, a dull knife is ineffective and may cause kitchen accidents. Once there are signs that the blade is getting blunt, sharpen it, or you may forget.

You don’t want to start cutting your veggies the next time only to realize that the edges are dull. That would make you upset and hungrier, especially if you are a vegan. The next meal is essential, so always keep your nakiri knife sharp.

5. Maintain a Firm Grip

The first chopping rule is to maintain a firm grip while you keep an eye on what you are doing. A pinch grip is the best method for holding a nakiri knife. It involves placing the knife in your hand with your thumb and wrapping three fingers around the handle. The index finger remains on the top part of the blade. This grip will give you precise control, and the slicing will be accurate and smooth.

6. Use a Cutting Board

Cutting board

To avoid scratching the surface of your kitchen cabinet or damaging the edges of the knife, use a cutting board. Place it on a flat surface and put your vegetables on it before slicing. This will make sure the nakiri knife does not go beyond the expected distance. A good example of a vegetable cutting board is the Farberware bamboo cutting board.

A cutting board with a depressed or round surface is a bad idea as this can trigger accidents or cause rough slicing.

7. Use Less Force on the Knife

Keep in mind that you are not using cleavers, but a nakiri knife, or else may apply considerable force and ruin the edges of the blade. Nakiri knives are lighter than traditional kitchen knives, so they need exceptional control during cutting.

Chop your veggies using a small amount of force, but make sure it is strong enough to cut up the item in one movement. The sharp edges do all the work, and with a little strength, your vegetables respond without excessive force.

Final Words

A nakiri knife makes cutting veggies fun and professional. You will even lose track of time in the kitchen once you get hold of a nakiri knife. And like the Japanese samurai, you move your knife up and down while you watch your veggies give way.

Even if you are new to using this type of kitchen knife, the smooth movement and the cut vegetables will make you fall in love with a nakiri knife.

You don’t have to wait for professional chefs to perform those kitchen magic anymore. With a nakiri knife, you will cut and cook like a pro anytime you wish. You can get the exact size and version of your choice in the market.

Whatever your budget may be, there is a nakiri knife for you out there. This knife is one of the best items to have in your kitchen, and it can turn boring kitchen activities into something fun.

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Erika Barajas

My name is Erika Barajas, a chef, writer, and editor at I am interested in food, cooking, and crafts. As a chef, I am very passionate about writing about culinary stuff that helps others in the kitchen. I would like to dedicate my time and effort to helping others make the best choices in kitchen appliances.

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