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The only knives you need in your kitchen and how to use them

These essential styles can do 99% of all jobs in the kitchen.
/ Source: TODAY

Cooking is so much more fun with a sharp knife! Ingredients cook more evenly because they are cut more evenly, prep goes by in a flash and, you know, it's safer, too. You're less likely to cut yourself with a sharper knife since you don't have to use as much pressure to slice and dice ingredients.

People always asks me, "What is the best knife?" and I always answer, "What is the best shoe?" It's impossible to know until you actually hold it in your hand.

Yet, sharpness and feel are only half the game. You need to have the right knife for the right job to take your cooking to the next level. The good news is you don't need a big knife block or drawer full of cutting tools to make a great meal. There are only three knives that you really need. These essential styles can do 99% of all jobs in the kitchen.

Simply put, you are only going to be as good in the kitchen as your knives are. Your food will taste better and, ultimately, spending time in the kitchen will be way more fun!

Sur La Table has knife skills classes year-round, and also offer knife sharpening for even the dullest blades!

Joel Gamoran is the National Chef for Sur La Table.

Chef's Knife

Ladies and gents, meet the workhorse of the kitchen. 90% of the jobs in the kitchen can be done with this knife, so investing in a good one is a no-brainer. It can slice everything from onions to herbs, take down the heaviest butternut squash and crack through the joints on a chicken like butter.

I like to lay mine flat on the cutting board to smash things like garlic, ginger and lemongrass. I also use the dull side of the knife as a makeshift bench scraper, getting every last bit of my ingredients into the pan.

A great chef's knife feels like an extension of your arm. Without it, cooking is an uphill battle, but with a good one, cooking goes from chore to fun, instantly.

Caramelized Thai-Style Hot Wings

Serrated Knife

You may know this knife as a bread knife. The teeth on this knife and the thin length of the blade allow it to do jobs all other knives cannot. You're probably wondering if you can you sharpen your serrated knife. The answer is yes, but unless you are using grandma's from 1952, you most likely don't need to.

Strong, chewy, rustic loafs like French bread, baguette and ciabatta are obviously no problem for a strong serrated knife, but it also has a more gentle and delicate side. The serrated knife won't squish or bruise fragile fruits and vegetables like peaches and tomatoes. Instead, it glides right through and can make razor-thin slices. This knife even has a sweet side: The teeth are perfect for cutting blocks of baking chocolate and cutting horizontally through moist cakes.

The serrated knife might look scary with its prehistoric-looking teeth, but this knife has everything you need for some of the more delicate jobs in the kitchen.

Brown Butter Matzo Brei Pie

Paring Knife

"The little one": Most people don't even know the name of this small-but-mighty knife. A paring knife can go places big knives can never go. It is meant for jobs off the cutting board, while you are holding an ingredient, like taking the segments out of a grapefruit or hulling a strawberry.

But, like the chef's and serrated knife, the paring knife has surprising applications. It cuts vegetables like shallots and garlic into tiny pieces, peels citrus for cocktails and removes avocado pits like a pro. The paring knife is unassuming — the underdog of the knife collection — but you definitely need it for more precise kitchen tasks.

Now that you've got the knives down, here are six more cooking tools you need in your kitchen — plus, some unexpected uses for them:

Silicone Baking Sheet

You know to use this tool for baking, but did you know you could use it to stop your cutting board from sliding around as you slice and dice? Now you do.

Fine Grater

You already use your Microplane for grating ginger, cheese, butter and even chocolate, but you can also use it to catch seeds when you're squeezing juice out of a lemon.


Tongs are an essential grilling tool, but you can also use them to squeeze limes (through the back end of the tool) to get more juice out.


The peeler's job is self-explanatory, peeling skin off of fruits and veggies, but you can also use the tip to remove pesky potato eyes.

Spider Skimmer

It may look out of the ordinary, but this tool is a fantastic kitchen staple. Constructed of durable stainless steel, the skimmer is perfect for boiling potatoes, deep-frying, blanching veggies and more.

Cutting Board

This cutting board is made from pure, sustainably-sourced maple wood. It's reversible to limit time between washing, and the integrated handgrips make for easy moving while cooking.