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Paring/utility knife recommendations?

  • j

Looking for a cheap paring knife and some type of utility serrated knife for tomatoes and things that my chefs knife and the paring knife aren't made for.

Any recommendations on something cheap? For the paring knife, what is more common, 3.5'' or 4''? Was looking at the Victorinox and Dexter-Russell knives in 3.25'' for around $5-8. Also saw the Wusthof Classic 3.5'' knife, for $40.. that much better for $30+ more than the cheap commercial knives?

Also saw some reviews on the F Dick 7'' Offset utility knife - around $25.. any opinion on this knife, or something better for the same price point or lower?

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    1. For cheap paring knives, both Victorinox and Dexter-Russell work just fine. I have a Dexter-Russell. That said, there are cheap Henckels Twin and Wusthof paring knives too, not forged of course. Here is an example:


      I have a Wusthof Blackwood Ikon paring knife - not cheap. For some tasks, it is better. For others, it is no better than my cheaper paring knives.

      Another paring knife to consider is the Kuhn Rikon. I don't own one, but many people like it:


      The only thing I am not sure is why do you say "Looking for a cheap paring knife and some type of utility serrated knife for tomatoes and things that my chefs knife and the paring knife aren't made for."

      What do you mean by your Chef's knife is not made for? Unless you are peeling a tomato, your Chef's knife is exactly the right tool for cutting a tomato

      10 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        "What do you mean by your Chef's knife is not made for? Unless you are peeling a tomato, your Chef's knife is exactly the right tool for cutting a tomato"

        Only if it's sharp, a dull Chef's knife will make tomato juice.

        1. re: mikie

          True, but then the problem is not the design of the Chef's knife.

          1. re: mikie

            While do not understand your knife issues ( I have sharpness issue so pretty much anything I own that I think can cut something is ultra sharp); I do like kuhnrikon knives as they are making them now. I think they are fun and not intimidating. My Mom does not share my knife interest, but I subtly brought in 2 kuhnrikon knives (a 7 in and a 10 in) that she now uses. ( If I could only "innocently" throw out her ultra dull, but favorite other knives)
            Beside that point, in terms of personal issues, a great chef knife is my hand, but a paring knife is several fingers working in tandem

            Some of us here are knife Ausrberger types. My Mom made me understand the "I just want a knife".

            I think kuhnrikon are a good start off place and T.J.Max (how that chain is called in your area may vary) sells them pretty cheap. Try one (they even come in 4 packs) out.

            I am a knife snob, oh geesh am it! But understand folks who just want a knife. I am suggesting the best I know for the first mentioned.

            Chemical.....not all folks are us.

            1. re: Quine

              can you sharpen those kuhn rikon knives just like a normal knife? wondering because of the nonstick coating.

              1. re: jrad

                I tk but am not sure that KR makes a sharpener for them.

                I just got a set for kick-around use and i love them - cuts well for small jobs, low maintenance, and colorful/fun. wish all knives came with a protective sheath - makes a huge difference (for me, anyway).

                EDIT: This KR sharpener apparently sharpens nonstick: http://www.amazon.com/Kuhn-Rikon-2940....

                  1. re: Quine

                    yes. :-) (and agree they're not shuns, but good enough for random things)

                1. re: jrad

                  "Edge" is non-coated. sharpable. They work well, really. And I do have Knife-Asbergers.

                  I am saying these are better than alot but sure are not Shuns.

                2. re: Quine

                  One of my best purchases at TJMaxx was a set of kuhnrikon knives, a set that had several serrated knives. One of those looks like a small bread knife with a rounded tip. It's great for cutting sandwiches and smaller pieces of bread. I have at least a half dozen small knives in various shapes. Some are sharper than others, some shapes are just better for certain tasks.

                  I keep one of the sheathed KR knifes at the dinning table, for the occasional task that needs something sharper than the tableware.

              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                My experience is that a serrated "tomato knife" does cut a tomato more reliably than my chef's knife, though maybe the chef's knife would be superior if I were to get it sharpened. And the tomato/serrated utility knife is very handy for all kinds of other prep tasks: if it has a round end, it makes a good spreader and then slicer of sandwiches, especially ones made with crusty bread. I got a nice Wusthof one (the Gourmet 4101 12 cm) for $22. at a not-discount kitchen shop last week, and wondered why I hadn't done it sooner.

              3. I have a set of 4 little Henckels knives I got at Target for < $20. I've had them for about 5 years and they've been great! One is serrated and perfect for tomatoes. I hope this link works:

                1. I use my chef's knife for ALMOST everything but at times a paring knife is just the ticket. The Nogent 2 1/2" is so good I would recommend springing for it unless someone else makes something cheaper that is as nimble and takes as good an edge. It is very pointed and precise.

                  1. Maybe try cutcos? ::runs away::

                    I joke, I joke. Just get yourself a forschner/victorinox or two. Here's their tomato knife.

                    And their paring knife:
                    The wusthof will look and feel nicer than the forschner, but it won't cut any better. You can decide if that's worth it to you. The wusthof is also stiffer and heavier, which is not necessarily an improvement. Haven't tried the Dexter-Russell.

                    As paring knife length goes, either 3.5" or 4" are both common - one's not really any more standard than the other. It comes down to what you prefer. I like a shorter paring knife, but I only use em for paring and off-board work. If you intend to use one also as a utility knife, longer might be better for you.

                    As for the f dick - some people use offset serrated knives for pretty much everything. I'm not one of them, but if I were I would pick a longer knife, space permitting. Makes it more useful for bread and also as a slicer, for meats and such. They're essentially disposable - most people throw em away once dull and buy another. I have no experience with that particular knife, but F Dick generally makes good, functional knives at a decent price.

                    Or, possibly even better, get yourself a cheap-but-easy-and-effective sharpener and use your chefs knife to cut tomatoes. This should work well enough.
                    Pretty much everything you make in the kitchen will go easier with a sharper chefs knife. If your chefs knife is cheap enough, it may not take much of an edge even with sharpening - a forchner or dexter russell or f dick chefs knife should be reasonably affordable and sharpen up just fine.

                    1. I happened to come across this video just yesterday, in which Mark Bittman describes kitchen equipment he considers necessary, that can be purchased on a budget. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/20... (You have to click on the one entitled "Kitchen Starter Kit") He's doing his shopping in a NYC restaurant supply store, and makes note of inexpensive high-carbon stainless steel knives with plastic handles that he says are used by chefs. The paring knives, for example, run about $3. I've never used these knives, but I'm really curious as to whether anyone has, and what you have to say about them.

                      41 Replies
                      1. re: CindyJ

                        Cool. I go to a kitchen supply store in Chinatown too, similar to the one Bittman went too. I bought a few things there, a dough scraper for <$2 as opposed to typtical $5-10 ones, a thin rubber Sani-Tuff cutting board for <$30.

                        Now, there are plenty inexpensive kitchen knives in these stores. You can get a paring knife for $2 or less and I have seen it on sale for 99 cents. The cheap ones are of brands like Winco, Dawg... etc The slightly better and more expensive ones are the Dexter-Russell knives. I don't own the cheaper Winco, Dawg... brands, but the restaurant store owner told me that the Dexter-Russell ones are noticeably better, and I do have a few Dexter-Russell knives. Dexter produces good, solid and servicable knives. They are easy to sharpen and they take on a good edge, edge retention is not great (but not poor), but these knives are build with the honing steel in mind. I know Victorinox knives are also popular, but in that restaurant supply store I go to, they don't carry Victorinox. Short of the hundreds dollars Masamoto Japanese knives, the best knives it carries is the Dexter-Russell.

                        For a Dexter-Russell paring knife, a person is looking at $5-10 each I think...

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          I agree with Mr Bittman.Restaurant supply stores are the best place to buy your kitchen equipment.Not only are you not paying for fancy packaging,beautiful displays and ridiculous markups, you're supporting your local business.And Dexter-Russell/Victorinox knives are great for home cooks ,very low maintenance.

                          1. re: petek


                            I don't get that part. How am I supporting my local business more? I can buy my knvies from a local restaurant supply store or a local William-Sonoma store. Aren't they both local?

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              Or the local knife shop in the mall? I've bought Victorinox knives there at a good price (often marked as 'sale').

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics


                                Oh, I think I may now understand. You mean support local small mom and pop stores and not large establishments. Is that what you mean?

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  Exactly. I'm not saying that we shouldn't shop at big box stores they do serve a purpose and employ hundreds of locals,but why not support Ma& Pa if they can offer you better service and price.

                            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              ChemicalK... I've always considered you to be one of our resident "knife mavens," so help me understand, please, what someone would be sacrificing if his/her knives were these "low-end" knives we're talking about, rather than those that are much, much more expensive. And what do you mean when you say they're "built with the honing steel in mind"?

                              1. re: CindyJ

                                Thanks Cindy,

                                There are plenty people here know a lot more about knives, but I will answer as much as I know. Why? Didn't you think I know about seasoning wok? :P

                                It depends on the definition/classication of "low-end". There are some knives which I consider as poor knives like some of the "Tools of Trade", "Henckels International", "KitchenAid" knives. These knives have troubles forming good edges. There are functional workhorse knives like "Dexter-Russell", "Victorinox Forschner". I consider these as good solid knives. They are very popular in restaurant supply stores.

                                There are many things which can change as we go to a lower end knives, but the most obvious ones are: (a) ability to form a nice edge at a low angle and (b) ability to make the edge last.

                                JuniorBalloon sometime ago asked "Why would I need a new knife?". At the end, he bought and liked his new knife. I then asked him to role-play as another person to answer his own original question. I thought his answer is excellent and here is what he wrote:


                                Right, about the "built with the honing steel in mind" comment. I was trying to say that Dexter-Russell knives do not hold their edge for extensive peroids of time. This is because the steel is not very hard. On the other hand, softer steel knives are easier to maintain using a honing steel.

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  You wear many toques around here, ChemicalK -- and Wok Master is certainly among them. I am forever in your debt for walking me through the wok-seasoning process. My wok is beautifully seasoned, and it's a joy to use. And I must admit, I'm in awe of your knife sharpening skills and knowledge. There are some skills I may never acquire, and I believe stone-sharpening knives is among them. But now I know I don't need to spend a fortune on workhorse knives, and when I'm next in NYC, I'm definitely going to spend time at one or two restaurant supply stores.

                                  1. re: CindyJ

                                    Ok, you absolutely flattered me, Cindy. I am glad that the wok is working out for you. Stone sharpening can be as easy and as difficult as it comes. I think it is one of those "easy to learn, hard to master" thing. The key s(in my opinion) are to have (a) a sharpening stone and (b) a cheap knife for practice.

                                    Restaurant supply stores are really nice. They are full of selection with very reasonable prices. Yes, restaurant quality knives are inexpensive, and dollars for dollars they are better than most knives you find in department stores. Alternatively, there are restaurant supply stores on line too. Here is one that I bought items from:


                                    Its website is kinda of messy.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      Which restaurant supply stores do you like best in NYC?

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          When you said, "I go to a kitchen supply store in Chinatown too, similar to the one Bittman went too" I assumed you meant Chinatown in NYC. Did you mean Philly? Somewhere else?

                                          1. re: CindyJ

                                            Wow. How did you guess that? Yeah, I went to Philly Chinatown and there is a kitchen supply store there.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              I must be psychic! Either that, or I recall that some time ago you had mentioned shopping for something (a wok, maybe?) in Philly's Chinatown. Do you live in the Philly area?

                                              1. re: CindyJ

                                                No, I live in New Jersey. 40 min drive to philly :)

                                                  1. re: Quine

                                                    Eastward? Is that a town in New Jersey? I am pretty poor about geography. Either way, I live close to (but not in) Trenton.

                                                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    Okay. I won't hold that against you. :) There was a time when I worked close to (but not in) Trenton. That is, if you consider Princeton close to Trenton. :)

                                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                                      :) Princeton is close to Trenton, but I right next to it. Trenton is a tough place. I don't think you last an hour there. :P

                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        I don't think I'd even want to try. :)

                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                          Trenton is tough ... it's a shame and it has potential but unfortunately I don't think it will reach it unless the economy really turns around. Trenton really took things hard between 2006-today, with the downturn. Areas that had been marginal tipped over the edge. I came close to buying a gorgeous mansion on Fisher place for a flip - but all those boarded up row homes half a block away just scared me off from doing so. I also very nearly bought a place on the river on the Island but it was a short sale and the lenders botched the deal up. Ah well.

                                                          I'm guessing that you are in Hamilton or Ewing? I used to have a place in West Trenton actually. We're still very close to you - in Bristol Borough.

                                                          If you like Indian food, please try out Cafe Bombay here in Bristol. In my experience, Gigi is the finest chef of Indian cuisine, simply without peer, and a very nice man.

                                                          In Trenton, you may wish to try Guatelinda at 1234 South Clinton - the Pork Adobada is AMAZING and a bargain at $7. Both restaurants are byob.

                                                          1. re: jkling17

                                                            "Trenton is tough ... it's a shame and it has potential"


                                                            Potential of what? Potential to be a safer city or potential to be tougher Heh heh hehe

                                                            Yes, I live at Ewing. Very very smart you are.

                                                            Oh I actually don't know about Cafe Bombay. I know about Palace of Asia and Taste of India of course.

                                                            What is "Guatelinda at 1234 South Clinton". Indian or what?

                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                              Oh sorry - Guatelinda is authentic excellent Guatamalan food.

                                                              You probably already know about the great Mexican place in Ewing over on Parkway right by the railroad bridge? Mexcican Mariachi Grill? Their fish tacos are heaven. We're very close friends with the owners. Wonderful people.

                                                              Yeah Trenton ... ah well. It is what it is, as they say. I would have loved to buy one or more of those old Victorians but not with the city heading into the same nasty direction it's been going for years. And not with the high taxes! That's why I bought here in PA a few years ago. I just can't justify playing NJ taxes anymore.

                                                              But Trenton etc has things to offer. Amici's in Trenton is some of the best Italian food around. They are pretty close to Guatelinda. The wine list is reasonable and good. When they have fresh mint - the Mohitos ... Oh my!


                                                              1. re: jkling17

                                                                This is really great. I didn't know about Guatelinda.

                                                                As for Mexcican Mariachi Grill, I heard about it and drove by there many times, but haven't gone there. I really should, but I went to Taqueria El Mariachi instead based on yelp's recommendation:


                                                                Taqueria El Mariachi is popular and authentic in the sense that almost everyone customers there are Mexicans, and the serving size is ridiculously huge. The carne asada I order is not quiet as I expected. The meat was very rough, quiet different than those I had in California (I lived in California for a long time). Still I will revisit Taqueria El Mariachi again. It may grow on me.

                                                                Property tax of New Jersey.... yeah.....I understand.

                                                                I have to try Guatelinda. This one, right?


                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                  Yes that is the Guatelinda (and my review). You will probably be the only non-latinos there, as is generally the case when we go. We have tried Taqueria and most of the others as well - and prefer Guatelinda. Tell Carlos (the owner) when he asks (and he will) that Jeff sent you :-) Most of the time he is there, or if he isn't his sister will be. The carne asada (cerdo not beef) is very flavorful and tender and is the best that I've ever had.

                                                                  Ah so you haven't yet been to Mexican Mariachi ... you'll love it. Note that you can order individual tacos and this allows you to order a sampling. The fish taco is our favorite but we also love the steak tacos, and everything else. And I'd also recommend that you order one chorizo quesadilla to share among a bunch of people, as it is quite rich and flavorful.

                                                                  Their desserts are fantastic: flan, tres leches and a "choco-flan" - a layer of chocolate cake with a laer of flan on top. This is one of the dishes quite literally invented by our friend! You'll never see this anywhere else. Hopefully they will also soon be producing the "Mariachi pie" at some point soon - this is his mothers family recipe and is beyond my abilities to describe it - other than the fact that it is delicious. It's a "kind of" pecan pie but that doesn't really help you understand what it's like.

                                                                  If you like heat, their volcano salsa will "bite you back". I really like spicy food but I prefer their mild salsa only because it is tomatillo based and is a really nice change. I cook up enough spicy stuff at home reguarly.

                                                                  And if we really want a spicy meal we'll do Cafe Bombay. Note: their spice is 1-10 and 8-10 is no joke - you better be ready for some serious heat if you order one of those :-)

                                                                  1. re: jkling17

                                                                    ......shh (be quiet)... now people will know your name. :)

                                                                    Volcano salsa sounds scary :) I can eat some heat, but probably not Latino heat. Let's face it, the definition of very hot in Japanese cuisine is not the same as very hot in Indian cuisine -- just an example.

                                                                    I will have to try either the Guatelinda or the Mexican Mariachi soon. Thanks.

                                                                    1. re: jkling17


                                                                      I went to Guatelinda last Friday. I forgot to tell you that I don't speak or read Spanish. Good thing you have mentioned "Adobada" because I was hunting for that word in the menu. The waitress ask me if I want a drink and I said yes. From there, it was 2-minutes of "He said, she said" because we don't understand each other. Finally, I just tell her to pick one for me. It was a malted milk drink much like Horlicks.

                                                                      I think I got the Choriza Adobada. It was pretty good, but I will have to try it one more time to be sure. Have you been to "Taqueria El Mariachi"? That was the previous one I went to.

                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                        LOL. If either of the owners were there - Carlos or his sister - they would have helped - In English. For drinks we usually bring some beer along but my GF always gets a diet coke. I'm not sure if we've had the milk drink or not but I've had things like that in the past and they are ok - not my favorite type of thing. I'd rather have one of their fruit drinks but that's me.

                                                                        The adobada preparation we like the best is listed under CERDO (Pig) and I'm pretty sure it's called carne adobada. Choriza is a type of sausage so perhaps that's something new? Was the preparation thin fillets of pork that were deeply flavored with a spice rub - and possibly marinaded before that? A bit reddish, and quite tender?

                                                                        We've been to Taqueria El Mariachi. It was good as well, but we prefer Guatelinda. Perhaps we'll have to give T another shot at some point.

                                                                        1. re: jkling17

                                                                          I only saw two kinds of adobada. One of them is the carne adobada. I got the other one. may be it was not "Choriza". I forgot the name. In my case, it is deep fried pork ribs. Definitely fried, and definitely pork ribs. There were the usual: shredded lettuce, black beans, rice.

                                                                          "From there, it was 2-minutes of "He said, she said" because we don't understand each other. Finally, I just tell her to pick one for me. "

                                                                          <-- for a moment, I gained insight of what "marriage" is.

                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                            Ribs ... ah ... wrong thing. sorry. They also have larger plates for about 10-12, where they will have some carne adobada, along with other meats. And if I'm particularly hungry sometimes I'll order one of those.

                                                                            Dynasty buffet by the Franklin Mills mall has very good beef ribs. We hit this place usually once a week. They have a lot of really good stuff. My favorites include the duck, sushi, sashimi, pork chops, fresh fish (different types), tilapia, oysters and clams in black bean sauce. Hands-down it's the best buffet that I know of in the area. There is one other over there that's good but their sushi/sashimi isn't remotely as good as Dynasty.

                                  2. re: CindyJ

                                    On a Princess Cruise the executive chef gave a seminar and said he and all the kitchen staff carry a Victoronix paring knife (also used for carving those intricate fruit and veggie sculptures) which can be bought for under $5. I went to a restaurant supply place and found them for $3.50 each.

                                    1. re: monku

                                      Yet another endorsement for Forschner/Victorinox.

                                      I prefer the Rosewood line over the Fibrox, but the nicer wood-handled parer costs about double over the plastic. ($8 vs $4) But that's purely a personal decision. I'd rather pay the extra couple of dollars to boost my enjoyment of holding the knife for the next 10 yrs or more. Very little extra cost for much higher personal benefit, for me.

                                      1. re: Eiron

                                        Last night at Fogo De Chao I noticed they all use the Forschner 10" plastic handle chefs knife for tableside carving.

                                        1. re: monku

                                          Yeah, for most restaurants it makes sense to use NFS-certified cutlery that can be sanitized via their normal machine washing process.

                                          Wood handles are sometimes used for the "show-off" stuff, like carving roasts at the table, or on a buffet line. I just saw two old well-used wood-handled meat carvers at the thrift store. I would've bought them if the hadn't been off-set blade models. The handles looked like crap, though.

                                          1. re: Eiron

                                            I was in the restaurant business and after closing down several for the company I ended up with a couple dozen 10" chef knives with wooden handles. Over the years I've honed my sharpening skills on them and just give them to friends and family who had no clue what it was lime to use a sharp knife. Now I've got about four sitting sitting around and still can't justify buying anyore good knoves.

                                        2. re: Eiron

                                          I picked up a Victorinox forged paring knife at BB&B last week on clearance for $12 (compared to $30 regular price). Nice knife, though it wasn't particularly sharp out of the box. I found very little online about the forged Victorinox knives - a little less expensive than Wusthof and Henckels, but not much.

                                          I'm hoping it sharpens up ok - otherwise I'll try one of the Forshcner versions... lol

                                          1. re: KaBudokan

                                            I remember you mentioning that knife in an earlier post. I don't think I've seen one of the forged Victorinox blades. Do you have a web link or a picture?

                                            1. re: Eiron


                                              Here's the list of available open stock knives at BB&B. The paring knife I got is actually a 3 1/2" knife, which is not listed here.

                                              I think I mentioned in that other thread, there was also an 8" slicer on clearance for $30 (after a 20% off coupon) I thought about getting. I may swing in there this weekend and see if they knocked it from 50% off to 75% off, in which case I can't in good conscience let it set there! lol

                                              1. re: KaBudokan

                                                Come to think of it. Here is a question to all. We know Victorinox Forshner stamped knives are excellent for their quality and price, but what about the Victorinox forged knives? They are not that much cheaper than Henckels, Wusthof, Messerimester, F. Dick. Prices are much less of an issue when we are talking about about these forged knives, quality will be. Any reason to get Victorinox forged knives now?

                                    2. I just recently bought a Sanelli 4-in paring knife for $15.75(Cdn) and it is fantastic. I highly recommend it.

                                      1. Thanks for all of the replies everyone.

                                        I ordered a Sanelli 4'' paring knife because I found it cheap ($15) and have been wanting to try out one of their knives.

                                        Anyone have recommendations for a honing steel that works well with these commercial type knives (Victorinox, Dexter-Russell, etc..)? Something cheap, preferably ;) Amazon if possible as I have a gift card that needs to be used.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: jrad

                                          Victorinox and Dexter-Russell knives are very easy to take care of. Most honing steels should work.

                                          Assuming you are a residential cook and not a professional Chef, I would advise getting a ceramic honing rod or a smooth honing rod if you can. If not, try to get a fine grit honing rod and not a medium grit honing rod.

                                          I would suggest something like this:


                                        2. At pretty much the same price point for a 10" chef's knife, is Victorinox or Dexter-Russell sani safe better than one another?

                                          Does one sharpen/hold an edge better?

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: jrad

                                            I answer this in a different post. Hope it is not too redundent. A Dexter-Russell blade is a bit easier to sharpen, just a bit, while a Victorinox blade holds an edge slightly better.

                                            1. re: jrad

                                              The SaniSafe line is not Dexters most comfortable handle. I found a SofGrip 10" chef at the swap meet and the comfort blew away the SaniSafe.

                                              As C/K said Dexters sharpen very easily.


                                            2. Lamson & Goodnow have a nice 5.5" tomato knife with a rosewood handle on clearance for $20. I don't have it, but I have another Lamson stamped knife which I use for tomatoes which I like a lot. I would buy Lamson again.