Nakiri Knife vs Santoku Knife: What’s the Difference?

If you ever find yourself lucky enough to be in a professional kitchen, you’re likely to spot two types of knives, nakiri knives and santoku knives. Both of these knives are of Japanese design and their uses occasionally overlap. However, they have distinct differences that make them ideal for different uses in the kitchen.

Nakiri knives are designed to chop vegetables with precision. They feature a straight edge and an extremely thin blade that cannot be used on tougher foods. Santoku knives are versatile, curved-blade knives that can be used for everything from meats to vegetables. 

Before picking your next knife, it is important to learn about the differences between the two, their uses, and their limitations. This will allow you to pick the best knife for you and your chopping needs.

What Is a Nakiri Knife?

If you’ve ever watched a cartoon that features a kitchen, you’ve probably seen a nakiri knife. These knives are frequently used in animations due to their exaggerated square shape, but this shape has an actual function in the kitchen. 

Nakiri knives are a traditional Japanese knife that is designed to be used for chopping vegetables. It has a straight edge and a blunt tip with no curve to it. This sets the nakiri knife apart from others because it only allows for a certain cutting style. 

Instead of rocking the knife back and forth along a curved edge, the way you do with a chef knife, the nakiri knife only works for a rapid up and down motion. This makes it ideal for rapidly slicing vegetables into uniform pieces. 

It also has a thin blade which makes it lightweight and easy to work with, allowing for precise and rapid chopping. However, this means that it is a more delicate knife and should not be used for things like meats or tough vegetables like sweet potatoes.

What Is a Santoku Knife?

The santoku knife is another knife of Japanese design. However, unlike the nakiri knife, the santoku knife has a curved edge and is reminiscent of the classic chef’s knife.

Santoku knives are designed to be used for slicing meats, cheeses, and creating the very fine slices needed when preparing many vegetables and seafood. They also have a slight curve which makes cutting with a rocking motion easier and more fluid.

Although they look very similar, there are differences between a chef’s knife and a santoku knife. For one, a santoku knife does not have a sharp tip. The dull edge curves down to meet the blade but does not come to a point. This means that the tips cannot be used for cutting.

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The blade of a santoku knife is also much thinner than that of a traditional chef’s knife. This allows the chef to make finer cuts and to cut with more precision.

Comparison Chart: Nakiri vs. Santoku

Nakiri KnifeSantoku Knife
Blade ThicknessThinThin
Blade TypeStraightCurved
ShapeSquareTraditional, blunt tip
UsesVegetablesMeats, Cheeses, Seafood, Vegetables

What Are The Differences Between Nakiri and Santoku

There are several differences between nakiri and santoku blades. These differences significantly affect how the blade can be used and the results that you will get when using it.


The nakiri knife is traditionally used to chop and slice vegetables into thin, uniform pieces. The flat blade makes it easy to do a rapid up and down motion without needing to rock the blade back and forth.

Santoku knives are more versatile and are typically used whenever a very fine cut is needed. They can be used for meats, cheeses, and vegetables. These knives are commonly seen in seafood restaurants where the fine edge of the blade helps to slice delicate foods, like scallops, without damaging them.

Blade Design

Nakiri knives are designed with a flat blade. This allows the chef to rapidly chop the vegetables without having to rock the blade back and forth. This makes for more even cuts and a faster chopping time compared to other knives.

Santoku knives have a slightly curved edge. This means that you can use the rocking technique when cutting with these knives. This allows you to cut foods other than vegetables including meats, cheeses, and seafood.

Blade Length

Nakiri knives are typically six to seven inches in length. This makes them long enough to stretch all the way across multiple vegetables, but not so long that they are difficult to handle. Remember, these knives are designed for rapid and accurate cutting, not to be exceptionally powerful.

Santoku knives are roughly the same size but are typically on the slightly smaller end of things. These knives range from five to seven inches in size. This is smaller than the average chef’s knife and allows the user to have more precise control over the blade. 

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When maintained properly, the fine edge of both the nakiri and the santoku knife is extremely sharp. However, since the nakiri knife has a flat edge, you may need different equipment to sharpen it.

Edge Grind

Traditionally, both nakiri and santoku knives are double-beveled. This means that both edges of the knife have been ground down to form one incredibly sharp edge. This makes both of these knives ideal for precise cuts and helps them to hold their edge.

When you sharpen your knives, make sure to sharpen both edges evenly to maintain the double-bevel edge grind.


Out of the two, nakiri knives typically weighs slightly less than a santoku knife of a similar size. This is because they are designed to have thinner, more delicate blades. This allows the knife to make finer cuts and move rapidly through vegetables.

Santoku knives weigh slightly more but are still designed to be lightweight. This allows for easy maneuvering and makes it an extremely versatile knife that every chef should have in their kitchen.


The price of each of these knives will depend on where you purchase them from. If you purchase high-quality knives from a traditional Japanese knife maker, you can expect to spend several hundred dollars per knife.

If you purchase them from your local grocery store, you can expect to pay less than $30 per knife. The exact price will depend on where you source your knife from and the quality you are looking for.


Both nakiri knives and santoku knives are invaluable in every chef’s kitchen. The nakiri knife allows you to cut vegetables with precision and efficiency. The santoku knife is one of the most versatile knives available and can be used to cut everything from cheeses to seafood with its fine, double-beveled edge.

No matter which knife you purchase, the most important thing is to purchase it from a reputable seller. This seller will ensure that your knife is balanced and sharpened properly allowing for accurate cuts and a knife that will last for years.