The Difference Between a Santoku Vs Chef Knife

Santoku and Chef knives are both commonly used in kitchens because of their great features. They all have high quality and corrosion resistance, but what is the difference between a Santoku vs Chef knife? This post will clarify the differences in features, best uses, and caring for these 2 knives. 

The Difference Between a Santoku Vs Chef Knife


SantokuChef knife
  • Originates from Japan
  • Has flutes on the blades
  • Made of stainless & hard steel
  • Thinner than the Chef knife
  • Single & Double  bevel
  • Ranges from 5 to 7.9 inches
  • Should be sharpened at 10 to 15 degrees by whetstone 
  • Made in Germany and France
  • Have a bolster
  • Made of carbon steel
  • Weighs more than the Santoku
  • Double bevel
  • Around 6 to 12 inches
  • Should be sharpened at 15 to 20 degrees by whetstone or steel
Best uses
  • Slicing thin slices of meat or cheese
  • Cutting meat, even thick cuts of meat


The first difference between these two types of knives is their origin. The Santoku knife originates from Japan, while Chef knife is made in Germany and France.

Unlike the Chef knife, the Santoku has flutes on the blades and usually does not have a bolster.

The Santoku blade is made of stainless & hard steel, thinner than the Chef knife. Meanwhile, the Chef knife is made of carbon steel. Its spine is also designed to be thicker, so it weighs more than the Santoku.

While Santoku’s front blade curves down to form a straight line with the lower blade, Chef knife has both front and back blades curved to form a tip.

The Santoku is designed with single or double bevel, while the Chef bevel is just available on both sides

The next difference is their sizes. The Santoku knives are usually smaller than the Chef ones. It ranges from 5 to 7.9 inches, while the Chef knives have a size of around 6 to 12 inches.

Designed with a single bevel and without bolster, the Santoku knife is easier to sharpen. It’s recommended that a Santoku knife should be sharpened at 10 to 15 degrees, while the Chef knife is 15 to 20 degrees.

Whetstone is a great choice for both knives as it sharpens the blade in no time. The edges are also finished, and there are no scratches after sharpening.

You can use steel to sharpen the Chef knife, but not with the Santoku one, as it can damage the thin star blade. Before sharpening, you should check the manufacturer’s instructions.

Best Uses

Santoku Knife

The meaning of the word ‘Santoku’ in Japanese is “three virtues” or “three uses”, which are chopping, dicing, and mincing. Since the blade is quite thin and light, it is easy to use in slicing thin slices of meat or cheese. It is suitable for dishes prepared with aesthetics and precision. 

However, you should avoid using it to chop meat bones, frozen foods, or hard seeds. The thin blade can be chipped after a long time if you use it on the above foods. Because of its small size, the handle and the blade are designed seamlessly, making it suitable for people with small hands.

Chef Knife

A Chef knife is so versatile that it is present in every kitchen. It is a perfect choice for cutting meat, even thick cuts of meat. Although its spine is quite thick, it can still handle thin slices, but not as smooth and thin as the Santoku knife can.

It can also mince or slice foods. Like Santoku, it will be best not to use it in peeling fruit or cutting hard foods such as frozen foods. The Chef knife comes in various blade types, including a saw blade, so you can easily slice bread.

Which Knife Is Better?

Depending on your needs, you can choose Santoku or Chef knife. If you regularly cook detailed and fancy dishes or use them for slicing cheese or thin slices of meat, then Santoku will be a perfect choice. Slicing or chopping vegetables for soups is always easy with Santoku.

However, if you regularly process cut meat dishes (chicken thighs, chicken wings, etc.) or need to mince meat, the Chef knife is a better choice. It also comes in various blades, so if you want to cut bread, it will be easier than using a serrated blade.

Thus, it’s best to own both knives. Although the chef knife is more versatile, the Santoku is more affordable for dishes requiring precise thickness. Both are of good quality, so you should have two in the kitchen.

How To Sharpen a Knife Correctly?

Step 1: Soak the whetstone in water for at least 15 minutes. This helps the stone to be moist enough and minimizes scratching. 

Step 2: Use your dominant hand to hold the knife handle, the other hand on the knife spine. Press the end of the blade against the whetstone to create an angle of 10-15 degrees for the Santoku knife and 15-20 degrees for the Chef knife.

Step 3: Pull the knife down so that only the tip touches the grinding stone, then pull the knife back to its first place. Repeat it 5-10 times. What’s important is maintaining a consistent angle, not speed.

Step 4: Wash the knife with water to remove the abrasive powder on the knife and accurately check the sharpness of the knife.

Step 5: If it’s double-level, do it on both sides. Finally, rinse and dry the knife.

Can I Use A Santoku For Mincing Garlic Or Onion?

Chef knife is a better choice for mincing garlic and onion because it weighs more than the Santoku knife, and its spine is also thicker. If you use the Santoku to mince garlic and onion for a long time, it will be difficult to cut thin slices of meat or cheese as before.

To Wrap Up

Overall, the difference between a Santoku vs Chef knife lies in features, uses, and caring. The Santoku is thinner and lighter, so it is suitable for slicing, while the Chef knife is often used for chopping because it is heavier.