Knives & Cutting Boards 101

In this category “Kitchen Tools”, I’m sharing some of my favorite tools that I use constantly in my own home kitchen. I’ll also include links to purchase so that you can get started shopping, or just go learn more about the products I mention. I’m adding some resources for further research on each topic, plus a few different budget-levels to work with. This post covers my recommended knives, cutting boards, and links for learning about knife skills, knife sharpening, and care for your knives and cutting boards.


You’ve probably been told by now not to go buy a big knife block with a bunch of knives. In fact, if you’ve had a big knife block you already know you won’t use most of them. Any chef will tell you it is better to spend your money on two or three higher-quality knives. After chucking my big knife block many years ago, I am in agreement with this advice.

I own and use the following knives, which are excellent quality at a price-point that works for me. I purchased them over a period of years so that I could off-set the impact of the cost and still have very nice knives. You can go higher-end if you can swing it. Be sure to think about what knives you always pick out of your block now, what you use them for, and go from there.

I have three Dalstrong knives that I love. I have a five-inch “Utility” Knife ($60), a six-inch “Nakiri” Knife ($120), and a seven-inch “Santoku” knife ($120).

My three go-to knives. They all come with a nice sheath to protect the blade. The chef’s knife sheath is looking rather beat-up after several years, demonstrating the value it has protecting the knife!

The Utility Knife is great for working on smaller jobs, peeling, and paring. It also works great with my small cutting boards (see below).

The Nakiri Knife is a dream for cutting vegetables. It feels sturdy and gives me excellent control, making my work faster and with precise results.

The Santoku Knife can be used for any job in my kitchen. It is a fairly standard chef’s knife of nice quality, and like all of the Dalstrongs I own, it feels good in my hand, looks beautiful, and I use it almost every time I cook.

Budget Options:

Here’s a set of three useful knives that might help you get three at a lower price ($130 for all three)

This set also lives in my kitchen for a few reasons. It takes up very little counter space. It has a good number of useful knives, including a bread knife, a paring knife, and six steak-knives, among others. It complements my three higher end knives, giving me a few more to work with when I am cooking and prepping a lot of dishes at once, or for when friends and family join me working in the kitchen.

You may or may not find this set appealing, but the price is great for a starter set, and the size is great for smaller kitchens or over-crowded countertops.

Cutting Boards

I tend to have more tools and utensils than most people would have or want. However, I find all of my cutting boards useful for different things. Think about your counterspace, knives, and what you cut most often when you select your assortment of cutting boards.

Well-worn, I use all of my cutting boards a lot so they look a little broken in, but I swear by all of them.

The wood boards double as serving trays for cheese or charcuterie. I have them in several sizes, depending on what I’m using them for. Get bamboo if you’re looking for a very moisture-tolerant and sustainable wood. They’re beautiful looking and not too expensive! Here’s a set of bamboo boards in a nice variety of sizes ($28 for four boards).

I use the larger plastic ones for anything that could leave behind bacteria (seafood, meat, poultry), and for things that either leave residual odor (onions, garlic) or are extra juicy (tomatoes, for instance) because these boards can be thoroughly washed and sanitized by hand or in the dishwasher, and they are flexible for draining liquids away. This is a set for about $15 that has four boards that are dishwasher safe and non-slip.

The set of baby boards (mine happens to be flower shapes) might be one of my top five most useful things in my kitchen. They can go right in the dishwasher. There are several of them so no shortages if you’re prepping lots of things. They’re great for small jobs like citrus or other fruit, garlic, and a million other things. Most of all, I love that I always can grab a clean cutting board that doesn’t take up much counter space when I’m prepping for lots of dishes. I use a napkin holder to store them with a small footprint. Here’s a similar set ($13 for three boards).

Resources for further learning

Basic Knife Skills

Caring for your Knives

Caring for your Wood Cutting Boards

*Note that when you purchase products using the links above, you help to support my mission to help people learn about and love home cooking. This post is not sponsored by any specific brand, but rather represents what I actually use and have selected to feature. Thanks for your support!

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