What Is a Nakiri Knife Used for? Know Most Common Purpose of It

What Is a Nakiri Knife Used for?If you’ve been to Asian cuisine restaurants, you may have seen Nakiri knives in action. A Japanese-style knife, a Nakiri resembles a meat cleaver but is specifically made for cutting vegetables.

Having a Nakiri knife in your kitchen will definitely make your chopping tasks easier, but what is a Nakiri knife used for?

Unlike chef knives and cleavers, a Nakari knife has a much thinner blade that allows for a smooth and clean cut. In brief, cutting vegetables with regular knives often tears them apart and leaves behind an uneven surface, whereas a Nakiri knife will enable you to slice through vegetables with a perfect finish.

Continue reading to find out more about Nakiri knives!

What Is a Nakiri Knife and What Are the Benefits of Using It?

Nakiri Knife Using Benefits

Nakiri knives also referred to as ‘Nakiri bocho’ knives, were first produced in Japan during the 17th century. The literal translation of ‘Nakiri bocho’ is ‘knife for cutting greens.’ But what makes it better than other knives at cutting veggies? Below, we speak briefly about its specialties.

Straight Thin Blade

thin and straight blade

The most distinctive feature of Nakiri knives is their thin and straight blades. Its straight blade allows cutting all the way down to the chopping board, meaning that, unlike most knives’ back and forth movement, a Nakiri knife cuts only in one direction as it has to be used with an up and down motion.

Moreover, you can easily pick up the chopped vegetables or food with its wide blade and transfer it to a pan or bowl. But where a Nakiri knife truly shines is in its quality of cut. You can slice through food and vegetables almost effortlessly without causing tears or an irregular surface.

Angled Ryoba Edges

The edges of a Nakiri knife are angled from both sides of the blade, which is known as a ‘Ryoba’ edge in Japanese. Additionally, the beveled edges enable a straight and effortless slice through food and vegetables.


Unlike chef knives and cleavers, a Nakiri knife can be surprisingly easy to hold and maneuver thanks to its lightweight nature.

Therefore, having a Nakiri knife in your kitchen can allow you to finish all your prep work with ease. They can be used to cut through big and leafy cabbages and also for cutting herbs or mincing garlic, ginger, etc.

The Nakiri knife has several advantages, such as –

  • Its flat and thin blade allows cutting very thin slices of vegetables and food
  • The blade is long enough for cutting most vegetables
  • Nakiri knives can cut through delicate vegetables without squishing them
  • It cuts all the way down to the cutting board, which allows for a clean cut
  • You can avoid hitting the cutting board with your knuckles because of its broad and wide blade

Common Uses of Nakiri Knife

Although a Nakiri knife is not appropriate for non-veg food such as meat and bones, this knife is best for all types of vegetables and fruits. Some of the items that you can cut with a Nakiri knife are –

  1. Cucumber, aloe vera, and similar vegetables
  2. Cabbage, cauliflower, and other leafy vegetables
  3. All kinds of potatoes
  4. Vegetables such as mushroom, peas, broccoli, tomato, etc
  5. Nearly all fruits, including melons, pineapples, apples, pears, oranges, lemons

How to Use a Nakiri Knife?

How to Use a Nakiri Knife

It should be noted that a Nakiri knife works differently than most knives, such as chef knives and cleavers. On the bright side, it is very simple to use, and you should get used to it within a few applications. The basic techniques of using a Nakiri are –

1. First and foremost, you should hold the Nakiri knife firmly but grab just near the end of the handle with your pointer finger and thumb. This allows you to maneuver the knife more than when you’re just holding the handle.

2. Tuck in the fingers and thumb of your non-dominant hand and hold the food with the ‘claw’ formed. It will keep your fingers safe from a mishap.

3. Slice through the food with an upwards and downwards movement, instead of the regular rocking movement with other types of knives.

Nakiri Knife Cleaning and Maintenance Tips for Long-Lasting Use

Nakiri Knife Cleaning and Maintenence Tips

Like most knives, taking care of a Nakiri knife can prolong its usability. Some of the methods for keeping your Nakiri in its brand-new glory are given below –

a) Cleaning

Cleaning Nakiri Knife

In order to retain the sharpness of a blade, it should be cleaned and dried properly. Furthermore, if the blade of your Nakiri isn’t made from stainless steel, it could get rusted due to residual debris and water that haven’t dried after a wash.

It is fairly simple to clean a Nakiri knife; use soap to clean the surface but avoid touching near the edges with your fingers as the blade could cause an injury. Once you’re done washing it, wipe it dry with a towel or paper tissue.

b) Sharpening

Sharpening Nakiri Knife

You can sharpen a Nakiri knife in the same way as other knives. You could use a sharpening stone by rubbing the Nakiri’s beveled edges on it or use an electric sharpener. If you aren’t planning to do it yourself, you could periodically take help from a professional knife sharpener.

Points to Consider When Buying a Nakiri Knife

Apart from your requirements, there are several factors that you should consider before choosing a Nakiri knife. Some of them are as follows –

Material of the Blade

Most modern knives are made from stainless steel, including Nakiri knives. Stainless steel varies with differing quantities of carbon, i.e., high-carbon or low-carbon.

The key difference between them is that low-carbon blades lose their sharpness faster and require sharpening more frequently, whereas high-carbon blades can retain their sharpness for much longer and don’t have to be sharpened as often.

Finishing of the Blade

The finishing of a blade affects the cutting quality and other factors, such as food sticking to the blade when cutting food. You could opt for a hand-hammered Nakiri knife or get a knife with Granton edges, which create air pockets between the knife and the food, minimizing friction and leading to a cleaner cut.

Handle of the Knife

If you are dealing with a lot of slimy food, you should get a Nakiri knife that offers sufficient grip even in wet conditions. A slippery handle could cause injuries or affect cutting quality as you won’t get an optimal grip on it.

Length of the Blade

Most Nakiri knives are long enough and can cut through most vegetables. If you’re not sure about which size to get, look for at least 5″ knives.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is a Nakiri knife worth it?

If you cook a lot of vegetables, absolutely! Having a Nakiri knife should be a great addition to your kitchenware.

2. Is a Nakiri knife good for meat?

No, Nakiri knives aren’t ideal for meat. Although it can slice through chicken just fine, Nakiri knives are specifically designed and produced for cutting vegetable items.

3. How do you chop with a Nakiri knife?

Unlike the rocking movement with most knives, a Nakiri knife has to be motioned up and down all the way to the cutting board.

4. Do you really need a Nakiri knife?

Although it depends on the type of jobs you tackle, you could use a Nakiri knife just as your chef’s knife. It can mince garlic and chop herbs with ease. Moreover, its wide blade allows you to pick up the sliced food and transfer it into a fry pan or pot.

5. What size Nakiri knife should I buy?

Most Nakiri knives are long enough to cut through most veggies. However, if you have to choose, get a Nakiri knife at least 5″ long.

6. What is the difference between Nakiri and Usuba?

Nakiri knives have beveled edges on both sides, while the Usuba is beveled on just one edge. This nature of Usuba knives makes it harder to sharpen them in comparison to Nakiri knives.

7. What is a Nakiri knife good for?

A Nakiri knife would be perfect for chopping vegetables and delicate food with clean cuts.

8. How do Japanese knives differ from European Knives?

Japanese knives are generally lighter, thinner, harder, and often offer much sharper edges than European knives.

9. Can you use a Nakiri knife like a chef’s knife?

While a Nakiri knife can suffice for most chopping tasks, it won’t be as effective as a chef’s knife when cutting hard food items such as meat and bones.

10. Can you rock a Nakiri knife?

Although you can rock a Nakiri knife, it was originally designed to move upwards and cut downwards, all the way down to the cutting board.

Final Thoughts

Having a Nakiri knife will definitely ease your prep work in the kitchen. You could use it to mince onions for your soup or cut through a big, leafy cabbage.

Getting back to the question we started with, what is a Nakiri knife used for? We hope to have addressed your queries and the question in this article.

Best of luck!

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