What is a Utility Knife Used for in the Kitchen?
Not to be confused with the small, often retractable knife that fits in your pocket and is used for random tasks (like cutting fishing line), the utility kitchen knife is a multipurpose tool used for a variety of food prep tasks. The blade measures anywhere between 4 and 7 inches long, making it smaller than a chef’s knife but bigger than a paring knife.
Also referred to as the “tomato knife” or the “sandwich knife”, the utility knife is often one of two serrated knives included in a set. Serrated knives feature toothlike notches along the cutting edge of the blade, which require a sawing motion while cutting through food. While it may appear they have the potential to cut better and retain sharpness longer than straight-edged blades, they also have the potential to tear through the interior of soft foods and damage the final presentation. This is especially true if they’re in need of sharpening, which isn’t an easy task since each serration must be sharpened separately.
Straight-edged blades, on the other hand, allow you to make clean cuts without compromising the visual aesthetic of the dish you’re creating. Think perfectly sliced tomatoes for a BLT. That’s why at F.N. Sharp, we prefer to keep our utility knife – and even our steak knives – straight-edged and ready for business.
Available individually and in the 6-knife set of essentials, the F.N. Sharp utility knife features an exceptionally sharp, straight-edged blade that can be used to make quick work out of a variety of kitchen tasks.What is a Kitchen Utility Knife?
Top Uses for a Utility Kitchen Knife
Truly, the “jack (knife) of all trades”, the utility knife can be used as a “go-to” tool for nearly any kitchen task, from cutting through mid-sized fruits and veggies for a party platter to slicing up meats and cheeses for a photo-worthy charcuterie board,
Using a Utility Knife for Fruits and Veggies
Some of the best uses for a utility kitchen knife involve prepping fresh fruits and veggies. This handy knife is perfect for cutting produce with soft-to-medium firm skins or rinds like tomatoes, potatoes, apples, citrus fruits, cucumbers, zucchini and more.
Here are just a few ways a utility knife can be used to prep produce:
Slicing up Fruits & Veggies for Salads, Bowls, Flatbreads, Tarts & More
Fresh fruits and veggies can add a pop of color, flavor and nutrients to just about any meal, and the utility kitchen knife is the perfect tool for the job! Use this handy knife to slice and dice toppings for salads and sides, burrito and poke bowls, pizzas and flatbreads, tarts and more!
When brightening up green salads, think sweet vinaigrette drizzled over sliced strawberries and almonds with feta cheese atop a bed of baby spinach. Or sliced apples and chopped pecans with blue cheese crumbles atop a bed of baby kale or arugula. Or how about some segmented orange slices and chopped walnuts with crumbled goat cheese atop a bed of Romaine?
When adding extra flavor to burrito and poke bowls, think freshly sliced or diced avocado, mango and/or pineapple, thinly sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, radishes – you name it!
For flatbreads, pizzas and tarts, think sliced or diced onions, peppers, tomatoes and/or mushrooms, or get tropical with some diced ham, pineapple and banana peppers. Or how about some freshly sliced mozzarella, tomatoes and sweet basil drizzled in balsamic vinaigrette for a caprese-style treat?
Or how about some diced potatoes, celery, onions and boiled eggs for a creamy side salad? The options really are endless and limitless – especially when you have an F.N. Sharp utility knife on hand!
Slicing up Fruits for Homemade Fruit Salads, Salsas and Snacks
Whether your taste buds are craving fruit salad, fruit gummies, fruit leather, fruit jerky, fruit roll ups, or some dried or candied fruit, the utility kitchen knife makes it easy to create your favorite fruit snacks at home!
Slicing up Lemons & Limes for Cocktails and Other Garnishes
When life hands you lemons (and/or limes), slice them up with the utility kitchen knife! Whether you’re slicing these babies up for a refreshing cocktail or to serve as a garnish for your favorite recipes (like fish ‘n’ chips), the utility knife makes it as easy as (lemon) pie!
Peeling and Segmenting Oranges and Other Citrus
Aside from being a delicious treat on their own, oranges and other citrus fruits can also be considered one of the four elements of cooking – Salt, Fat, ACID, and heat, as explained by famed Chef Samin Nosrat in her book and Netflix series.
The utility knife is the perfect tool for peeling, slicing and segmenting oranges and other citrus to add a bit of acidic tang to your favorite recipes. In the above video, Chef Justin Grimm shows us how to cut, peel and segment oranges using the F.N. Sharp Utility Knife. You can also use this technique for other citrus fruits, like lemons, limes and grapefruits!
Cube Up an Orange for This F.N. Sharp Recipe:
🔪 Oven-Baked Salmon With Cucumber Salad
Slicing and Dicing Avocado
There are so many ways to enjoy the nutrient-packed avocado. You can dice it up for your salad, guacamole, burrito or poke bowl, or slice it up for your avocado toast or sushi rolls, or make a pretty avocado rose to garnish your favorite dishes!
In the above video, Chef Justin Grimm shows us the easiest way to slice and dice an avocado using the F.N. Sharp Utility Knife – plus how to turn your avocado slices into that pretty rose garnish!
Slicing and Dicing Jalapenos
Ah, the jalapeno – it’s one of the best peppers for adding some spice to your meals, but how do you cut the darn things? In the above video, Chef Justin Grimm shows us how to cut jalapeno peppers into julienne strips and a uniform dice using the handy F.N. Sharp Utility Knife.
Slicing and Dicing Tomatoes
With the nickname “tomato knife”, it’s no surprise the utility knife comes in handy when slicing up tomatoes of any size! Use it to perfectly slice beefsteak tomatoes for BLTs, burgers, and other sandwiches, or use it to slice and dice cherry tomatoes for omelets, frittatas, salsas, bruschettas and more! In the above video, Chef Justin Grimm shows us how to quarter and dice cherry tomatoes using the F.N. Sharp Utility Knife.
Slicing and Dicing Shallots
Not to be confused with scallions (the green onion), shallots are another onion variety that can pack a lot of flavor into a variety of dishes. While this may be the smallest of onions, it’s still mighty enough to make you cry as much as the infamous yellow onion.
But have no fear and shed no tears because slicing, dicing and mincing shallots is easy with the (F.N. Sharp) utility knife! In the above video, chef Justin Grimm shows us how to cut shallots into a uniform dice to add some flavor to your favorite recipes!
Dice up Some Shallots for These F.N. Sharp Recipes:
🔪 Caramelized Onion Dip
🔪 Grilled Chicken & Peach Saltimbocca Kebabs
🔪 Greek Lemon Chicken Kebabs With Talatouri Sauce
🔪 Instant Pot Asian Honey Chicken
🔪 Paprika-Spiced Vermouth Chicken With Velouté Sauce
🔪 Sausage Stuffed Delicata Squash With Parmesan Crisps
🔪 Béchamel Vegetable Lasagna
🔪 Saffron Risotto alla Milanese
Getting to the Heart of an Artichoke
Fresh artichoke hearts are delicious, but it's a vegetable that can certainly seem hard to tackle. In the above video, Chef Justin Grimm shows us how to easily get to that tasty heart with the F.N. Sharp Utility Knife.
Slice into an Artichoke for These Recipes:
🔪 Paleo Chicken With Artichokes & Roasted Red Pepper Saute
🔪 Steamed Artichokes With Sweet & Tangy Agave Mustard Dip
Using a Utility Knife for Cured Meats and Cheeses
Cutting medium to hard blocks of cheese into slices or cubes is a breeze with the utility kitchen knife – especially if it features a sharp, straight edge. This means clean, smooth lines on all cut sides, making it a great tool for creating cheese cheese platters. Even softer wheels of cheese can be cleanly sliced into perfect wedges with this handy knife.
The medium size of the utility knife also offers superior control when slicing cured meats like hard salami, pepperoni and summer sausage into uniform pieces.
Using a Utility Knife for Chicken, Pork and Seafood
The utility knife also comes in handy when preparing your favorite proteins. Need to slice up some chicken breasts, pork chops or fish fillets into smaller pieces for tacos, stir frys, and other skillet meals? Reach for that F.N. Sharp Utility Knife! It can even be used to prepare shellfish, like deveining shrimp!
Check out this video to see how to use the utility knife to devein shrimp:
Put That Utility Knife to Work With These F.N. Sharp Recipes:
🔪 Peel and devein some shrimp for these easy shrimp recipes inspired by Forrest Gump!
🔪 Cut chicken breasts into halves for this Instant Pot Asian honey chicken recipe.
🔪 Slice up some cooked pork with this recipe for blackened pork tenderloin.
🔪 Slice up some fish fillets for these Mahi-Mahi fish tacos with mango salsa.
Other Uses for a Utility Knife in the Kitchen
For smaller, quick jobs, the utility knife is hands down the star of the kitchen. Use this knife to quickly chop nuts, like with this recipe for this recipe for Greek rice pudding or this recipe for chocolate swirl banana bread, When it comes to garnishing, the utility knife is great for quickly rough-chopping herbs and other greens, like with this recipe for Basil and Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Breasts.
The utility knife is also the perfect tool for slicing bagels, buns, and loaves of bread, and can be your go-to for slicing sandwiches in half without ingredients slipping out of the sides. You can even use your utility knife to slice up a big, juicy steak, like with this recipe for Espagnole T-Bone Steak & Potatoes!
More Culinary Essentials: 6 Types of Knives to Keep in Your Kitchen
How to Care for a Kitchen Utility Knife
Whether you’re a professional chef or home cook, you should know your knives are the most important tools in your kitchen. From start to finish, everything you make is easier with good, quality knives. Proper care, cleaning, and regular sharpening will guarantee superior usability for years to come.
Be sure to follow the rules of kitchen knife safety, including keeping your knives out of the dishwasher or a sink full of dishes and always storing them so they aren’t touching other utensils, preferably in a knife block like this beauty from F.N. Sharp which is available individually and with F.N. Sharp’s 6-knife and 3-knife sets.
Knife Knowledge 101: The F.N. Sharp Guide to Knife Storage
How to Sharpen a Utility Knife
As with any knife, regular use of your utility knife will inevitably lead to a dull blade, while other factors like the type of cutting surface you use and how you care for your knives can determine how quickly that happens. This is why choosing the best cutting board, following the rules of kitchen knife safety, and properly caring for your knives is important for prolonging that sharp edge.
When the time comes to sharpen up that edge – and it will – you’ll find many ways to sharpen your kitchen knives, but each method takes some know-how and a bit of practice. The most common method is using a sharpening steel, which is a hand-held metal rod that you slide the edge of your blade against in an up and down motion (you’ve probably seen this done in cooking shows on TV). While this may help make your blade feel sharper, it doesn’t really sharpen your knife – it simply straightens (or ‘hones’) any edges that have become bent or curled with prolonged use.
Another sharpening option is a whetstone, which is an abrasive block that can sharpen the edge of the knife by repetitively moving the edge of the blade back and forth against the coarse surface. The stone needs to be soaked in water prior to use and continually moistened during the sharpening process.
When honing or sharpening your kitchen knives, you’ll also want to make sure you place the blade against the rod or stone at equal angles for each side so you don’t end up grinding the blade down unevenly. The angle you choose should be specified by your knife – for example, all F.N. Sharp knives (except for the bread knife) feature a double bevel edge sharpened at 26 degrees, or 13 degrees per side.
The more you use your utility knife, the more you’ll discover new ways to use it in your kitchen – just be sure to take good care of it and keep it sharp!
Get All of the F.N. Sharp Essentials: The 6-Knife Set & Magnetic Knife Block