The Santoku Knife – Types, Uses and Maintenance

The Santoku knives are, perhaps, the most well known Japanese knives in our kitchen. This is because the Santoku knives are the most used among Japanese chefs. In this post, I’ll explain more about the Santoku knives, the different types or styles of the knife, their most frequent uses, and their maintenance.

The name Santoku, means three good things, or three virtues because with this knife, one can cut, slice and chop. Furthermore, you can use it for three types of food: vegetables, meat and fish.

In one of your last posts, Discovering the secret of the Japanese Whetstones, we talked about the importance of knives and caring for and sharpening them in the Japanese culture. The daily care and sharpening of a knife is fundamental in order to maintain its maximum performance.

Santoku Knife: Types

The blade of the Santoku knife normally has a length of about 13 to 30 cm. Although each manufacturer can adapt the knife to their needs, you should be able to find a Santoku knife no shorter than 10 cm.

The blade of the Santoku knife and its handle are designed to work in harmony as the width of the blade and its weight are matched to the weight and size of the handle. It is considered a well balanced knife.

The Santoku knife is normally lighter, thinner and shorter than traditional western chopping knives.

The Santoku Knife: Material

Among Santoku knives there are three different types of material with which the blade is created. They are distinguished between steel, Damascus steel, and ceramic. In our store we carry these three types:


Miyabi 4000FC Santoku knife, ref: 33957-181

Miyabi 4000FC Santoku knife, ref. 33957-181

Damask steel

KAI SHUN DM-0727 Santoku knife

KAI SHUN Santoku knife, ref. DM- 0727


Kyocera fj-150 Fuji Cuchillo Santoku

Kyocera Fuji Santoku knife, ref. fj-150

The Santoku Knife: the blade

The Santoku knives can have a blade edge that is smooth or honeycombed. Those that are honeycombed are those that have grooves that prevent the food from sticking to the side of the blade by allowing air to enter in between the metal and the food itself. It reduces the surface area that would rub against the food causing friction, thus facilitating cutting.

Smoothe blade

KAI 6716S Wasabi Black Santoku knife

KAI Wasabi Black Santoku knife, ref. 6716S

Hollow blade

Wüsthof Classic Ikon Santoku knife with hollow edge, ref: 4172/14

Wüsthof Classic Ikon Santoku knife, ref. 4172/14

The Santoku Knife: the handle

The handles of Santoku knives can be of metal, synthetic material or of wood. Whatever your selection, all feel very comfortable.

Metal handle

Global G-48 Santoku knife, hollow edge

Global Santoku knife, ref. G-48

Synthetic handle

Masahiro Santoku knife, ref. M-14923

Wood handle

Miyabi 5000MCD Santoku knife, ref. 34374-181

The Santoku knife: Uses

These knives are basic and are not ideal for cutting hard foods like bones and spiny and thorny foods. There are other knives to complete that task, but if you take care of your Santoku knife and use it in the way it was intended, it can last a lifetime.

It is important that you use a cutting board with a flat surface that is either soft or medium, but never on surfaces that are hard like steel, marble or slate. This surface could damage your Santoku knife if you attempt to cut on it.

The Santoku knife: Maintenance

After each use, it is important to wash the knives with water and soap and to dry them well. The knievs can be kept in a wooden knife block which will protect the knives from dust and debris. You can also keep your knives on a magnetic bar or in any other container or case that protects your blades from damage.

It is also important to keep the knives sharpened and to use a whetstone to sharpen them. This will allow you to keep your Santoku knife in the best possible condition.

Which is your favourite Santoku knife? Discover all our range.

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