How to Hold a Knife and Use it Like a Pro (Video)

So, you’ve picked out your new favorite chef’s knife and you’ve got a special someone coming over. Maybe you’ve decided to make this amazing steak meal or this chicken teriyaki dish to wow. The problem is, even though you’ve got the knife, you don’t know how to hold it without possibly injuring yourself.

To remedy that situation, we asked Eytan Zias, owner of Portland Knife House, to tell us everything about how to hold a knife and it properly (because  losing a finger is typically not a good idea).

How to Hold a Knife

In the video above, we use a standard chef’s knife, but the technique will apply to most any kitchen knife. Rhe first (and really the only) thing you need to know about holding a knife can be summed up in two words: pinch grip.

how to hold a knife pinch grip 2

“We show people that, with two fingers, as long as your knife is sharp, you can cut pretty much anything,” Zias explains. The rest of your hand closed around the knife handle is for stability.

How to Use a Knife

Once you’ve got it in your paw, you’re going to need to know how to use it. According to Zias, it all boils down to just a few techniques. This entire time you’ll be using a pinch grip. An important tip, he adds, is that you want to keep your fingers pulled back and instead run the knife blade against your knuckles. “Keeping your finger out is a good way to chop it off,” he notes.

For ease, let’s pretend we’re cutting a carrot. First, Zias says, you’ll want to find or create a flat space (rolling produce is never a good thing when sharp knives are involved).

how to hold a knife use push cut

To begin breaking the carrot down, you’ll use what’s called a push cut, where you take the knife and move it in a forward direction over the item.

Next, you’ll want to run through the board in order to break the carrot down more, Zias says. This involves keeping the knife in a more or less stationary position and chopping while pushing the item through.

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Finally, you’ll get to the mincing phase, where you move the knife in a half moon back and forth across the item while chopping.

With these three techniques, he says, you can cut almost anything that you’ll see on the cutting board in front of you. Speaking of which, cutting boards are important, too, to know what kind of cutting board to have so that you don’t wreck your knife.

how to hold a knife use mincing

Zias says end grain wood is the best, followed by side grain wood and then plastic boards. “You want something soft enough to make a mark,” he points out..

Plastic will work until there are too many grooves and marks, then you’ll run the risk of breaking the knife in some way. Marble, glass, and anything harder than the knife blade are to be avoided.

A final tip for holding your knife, Zias says, is to turn the blade over if you’re going to scrape the board to move cut up objects. If you don’t, you’re going to have a dull knife sooner than you can say “chicken fricassee.”

If you still don’t have a quality chef’s knife, Zias will teach you how to pick one out in this video.

Video by Tomas Patlan/The Manual.