Steak Knife Vs Paring Knife: What’s The Differences?

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 07/19/21 •  7 min read

Two knives often interchanged in use are the paring and the steak knives mainly because of their size and shape.

The Steak knife, as the term implies, is used for slicing cooked steak. On the other hand, the Paring knife is used to pare or peel off the skin from fruits and vegetables. Because the two are almost the same and can be straight-edged or serrated, some people use them interchangeably. But these are very different from each other, especially at their core (the steel used).

Despite the likeness, these two are completely different:

 Steak KnifeParing Knife
CategoryFor special use





(one of the four kitchen must-haves)

FunctionFor slicing cooked meat


in the dining table

For peeling fruits and vegetables and mincing herbs and aromatics


Also for trimming meat and seafood

Kinds of Food to CutCooked meatMeat, Seafood, Poultry,


Fruits and Vegetables

Blade ProfileNarrow and medium-lengthShort and narrow
Handle FormFlat/StraightFlat/Straight
VariantsStraight-edged or serratedStraight-edged or serrated


Standard, Bird’s Beak, Sheep’s Foot, etc.

Overview Of The Paring Knife

The paring knife is usually the smallest blade a chef will have in their arsenal.

It comes in various shapes but is always a small blade with a sharp edge designed to peel vegetables and chop small ingredients.

This is a valuable tool in the kitchen as it handles tasks that a chef or utility knife will be too large to do.

When precision is needed, a chef will usually need their paring knife to do the job.

Whether precision is required for peeling vegetables, carving garnishes, or making precise cuts and slices, the paring knife is the tool for the job.

As mentioned earlier, there is a wide variety of paring knives out there.

The different shapes of the blade all have different uses, and some chefs even have multiple types of paring blades in their kit.

Below, we take a quick look at the different types of paring knives out there.

Types Of Paring Knives

Bird’s Beak

This is also referred to as a curved paring or tourne knife, and it is most recognizable by the shape of the blade.

It has a round shape, similar to a bird’s beak.

These blades were designed for peeling large fruits and carving and creating garnishes.

Sheep’s Foot

These are some of the larger paring knives out there.

It features a rounded tip with a straight edge and is made for cutting and chopping julienne fruits and vegetables.

Since the blade is straight, it isn’t ideal for a rocking-chop motion.

Instead, it is designed to be lifted and down to create straight and even cuts.

Spear Point

This is the most common shape of the paring knife.

It features a small blade that is curved on the top and bottom like a spear.

These blades are used for various precision tasks such as deveining shrimp, peeling vegetables, and carving garnishes.

Overview Of The Steak Knife

Despite them being very important, the steak knife is one of the most overlooked pieces in a kitchen collection.

This is because they aren’t used for prep.

Instead, these pieces of cutlery are used when it comes time to eat the food.

Typically, these blades have a serrated edge designed to cut through thick pieces of meat like steak.

They are sharper than dinner knives and are usually only used for cutting meat.

Steak Knife Vs. Paring Knife – What’s The Difference?

The Blade

The main difference between these two knives is the blade.

As we mentioned earlier, there are various paring knife shapes out there, and each of them has its own uses.

On the flip side, there is only one type of steak knife blade.

It is similar to a dinner knife, but the difference being it is serrated.

Occasionally, you will run into one of the blades that aren’t serrated, but they are typically serrated.

This allows the blade to cut through thick chunks of cooked meat with ease, whether it be chicken, pork, or beef.

Paring knives will generally have sharper edges than steak knives, largely depending on the brand and model.

However, a quality shared by the two blades is that they are both small.

Since steak knives are designed for eating, and paring knives are designed for tiny ingredients, they generally have smaller blades designed to handle these ingredients.


There are many ways to make a blade, and different brands have different techniques.

However, a paring knife will generally have better construction than a steak knife.

They are made for kitchen prep, while the latter is made for when food is actually served.

Because of this, a paring blade will generally be the better quality blade in a set.

A lot of these knives are forged in construction.

This means it is made from a single piece of steel that is heated and hammered until it takes the shape of the blade.

From there, the blade is sharpened to a specific angle and edge before being attached to the handle.

A steak knife is typically stamped.

This is because it is common for these knives to come in a set, and forging each piece would end up jacking up the cost a whole lot.

They will typically be a bit flimsier and made of materials that aren’t as high-quality as their paring counterparts.

But as long as it can easily cut through thick pieces of meat, then you don’t have to worry about it too much.


Another main difference between these two blades is how they are used.

An easy way to remember things is that a paring knife is used in the kitchen when food is being prepared, and a steak knife is used in the dining room when it’s served.

They are made for completely different purposes and are, in turn, completely different knives.

This is why they cannot be compared.

Quality steak knives need to meet much more different parameters than a quality paring blade.

A paring knife is a versatile kitchen tool.

It can be used for peeling vegetables, fruits, deveining shrimp, making garnishes, and making precise and accurate cuts.

If you have the right shape, it can even be cut and slice julienne vegetables for straight and consistent slices.

Can You Use Paring Knives For Eating?

People have a common question of whether they can use the paring blades in their kitchen to cut steaks.

The quick answer is yes; a lot of different people do it all the time.

Usually, you can buy steak knives as an individual set in any kitchen cutlery shop out there.

You can also get a set of these for free when you buy a complete kitchen cutlery set.

So, it should come as no surprise that there are actually a fair amount of people who don’t have steak knives in their kitchen.

And if they need to cut and slice thick pieces of cooked meat, what should they use?

Well, paring knives are a perfect candidate for the part!

More specifically, a spear point or sheep’s foot blade would be a great choice.

This is because they have very sharp edges and are small and easy to control, so you can easily use them at the dinner table.


So with that, our comparison of these two tiny tools comes to an end.

As you can see, both of these blades are designed and made for completely different tasks.

One is used as a tiny kitchen tool for peeling ingredients and making precise cuts.

The other is made to be used while eating to slice up the thicker chunks of cooked meat.

Both of the tools would make excellent fits in your kitchen and serve different purposes.

So, the next time you’re out shopping for a blade to complete your collection, consider getting a quality paring knife or a set of steak knives!

Either way, you’ll be getting many useful blades that are essential in many kitchens around the world.

Ryan Leavitt

Hi my name is Ryan Leavitt a Marine Corps Veteran and currently an over the road trucker (Long Haul). I am no expert chef but am enjoying preparing my own meals on the road and testing all the different knives.

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