Santoku vs Chef Knife – And What Makes Them Unique 2021

Santoku vs Chef Knife

Everyone needs a good chef knife for their kitchen. The best thing you can do when spending money on a chef knife is to buy the best quality knife possible, and the best place to start when talking about knives is to understand the two main chef knife types; Western Style Chef Knife and Japanese Style Santoku knives.

Though the differences between Santoku and Chef knives may seem subtle at first, there are some key differences that set them apart from one another, making one the right choice over the other depending on your needs and preferences.

Read on, to find out more about the difference between these two knife styles and what makes them so unique from each other!

Santoku Knife Use, Features, Advantages and Limitations:

Shun Sora Santoku 7 inch Knife
Shun Sora – Santoku Granton Edge 7 inch Knife

Santoku is a Japanese word that means “Three Uses i.e. chopping, slicing, and dicing.”

The knife has a thinner flat blade that is great for chopping, slicing and mincing fruits and vegetables, especially vegetables like carrots, onions, cucumbers and celery. In addition, they are also very useful for cutting herbs and other small objects.

These knives are known for their versatility, which allows them to perform well in many different kitchen tasks beyond chopping vegetables. If you are a beginner in cooking and want to make something different and unusual to make your kitchen proud, Santoku knives are the best choice for you to try out.

It is an excellent solution for someone who enjoys cooking.

Check out our article on Gyuto vs Santoku Knife


Originated in Japan in the 20th century

Lighter in weight mostly, 5.5 ounces

Precise Slicing

Usually have no bolster

Often single or double beveled

Durable Thinner Flat Blade Often features Granton edge (Oval dimples along the knife blade)

Have a Length of 5”-7.9” inches


Santoku knives are great for chopping, dicing, slicing, and mincing.

Durable Steel that is corrosion resistant.

Lighter in weight than Western Style Chef Knife.

A flat blade that helps in chopping.

Great for cutting vegetables, fruits, Sea Food.

Santoku knives are faster to use as compared to Chef Knife.

Great for small hands because of their shorter length


Cannot cut through tough pieces of meat.

Santoku Knife requires additional care.

Too much sharpening may damage them.

Santoku knives are extremely sharp. Therefore, there’s always a chance of injury.

Chef Knife Use, Features, Advantages and Limitations:

Wüsthof Classic 8 Inch Western Style Chef Knife
Wüsthof Classic – 8 Inch Western Style Chef Knife

Chef knife is one of the most commonly used kitchen utensils in the world.

A chef knife is made up of three parts: the handle, the blade, and the bolster. The bolster is where the handle connects to the blade. The bolster also helps create a balance between blade and handle. Some chefs prefer to not have a bolster at all, while others prefer that their knives have a bolster.

Having a bolster has its benefits and drawbacks. For Instance, a bolster in a knife can provide finger protection, but at the same time, it makes it difficult to sharpen the knife. Moreover, these knives have a curved blade that cuts through food with less friction than straight blades.

Lastly, chef knives have a relatively heavyweight in relation to their length and width, which makes them perfect for heavier cuts of meats and poultry. If you are going to be doing a lot of chopping, a chef knife will make your cooking much easier.

Today, Chef Knife is made by three major manufacturers- Wüsthof, Henckels, and Shun. All these 3 brands have their own reputation.


Originated in the 18th Century by Peter Henkel.

Heavier in weight as compared to Santoku Knives. Mostly, 9 ounces.

Have a bolster.

Stainless Steel thick blade.

Only double beveled.

Great for cutting meat.

Have a length of 8-12” inches.


Chef knives can easily cut through tough pieces of meat.

Designed to chop or slice food.

A curved blade makes it easier to sharpen the knife.

Chef knives are best for cutting meats that have some fat on them.

High-quality stainless steel.

Easier to maintain.


Chef knives can slice and dice fruits, vegetables but they are not as efficient as Santoku knives.

Not as sharp as Santoku knives.

Not recommended on frozen items.

Avoid using on large meat bones.

Keep away from Dishwasher.

Expensive than Santoku knives.

Check out our article on Carving vs Chef Knife

Santoku vs Chef Knife, Differences:

Shun sora cutting Tomatoes
Shun Sora – 7 inch Knife cutting tomatoes on wooden board

Let’s take a look at these two popular types of knives side by side to find out what makes them different from one another.

Blade Length:

Western-style knives tend to be the standard 8” inch blade with a thin rectangular handle. Whereas, Japanese style Santoku knives tend to be either 5” or 7” inch blades.


Chef knives are heavier than Santokus; one reason for that is that most Western-style chef’s knives have blade bolster, which adds weight. They also tend to have thicker blades as well as handles.


Santoku knives, also called “three virtues knife” are used for chopping, slicing, dicing. On the other hand, Chef Knives are mostly used to cut tough pieces of meat due to their curved blade.

Blade Sharpening:

Chef knives are sharpened to 15-20 degrees on both sides. However, Santoku knives are sharpened to 10-15 degrees. It’s best to use a whetstone to sharpen Santoku knives. As opposed to that, Chef Knives require honed steel for sharpening.


Santoku and chef knives both are easily dulled, requiring special attention to keep them sharp. A dull blade requires you to put more force, which can injure your fingers and/or the ingredients. And if the blade is made of softer steel, it may even crack under pressure.

In order to keep your knives sharp for a longer period, follow these instructions:

  • Don’t submerge it in water or leave it in a sink full of suds.
  • Also, don’t use soap on its blade because that can cause serious damage.
  • Wipe the blade clean after using it then rinse it with water and wipe dry with a towel before putting it away.

Check out our article on Best Steak Knives

Final Thoughts on Santoku vs Chef Knife:

Choosing a kitchen knife is a tough job. One false move and you may end up buying something you don’t need or regretting the purchase.

In order to choose the best knife, you have to take into account the type of food you want to prepare. Because both knives serve different purposes.

Santoku knives are designed for light-duty chopping and slicing. They’re easier to handle than chef knives because they’re lighter and smaller, and their blades center on the handle, which makes them easy to use. However, if you often encounter tough meat or crush bones, the chef knife is the better choice.

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