What Is A Channel Knife Used For?

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 03/16/21 •  5 min read

A Channel Knife is used for cutting twists of citrus rinds which will be used as a garnish on cocktails or along the rims of glasses. This resembles a can opener in that it has a hole in the middle where the V-shaped blade is and is slightly bent at the end.

Cocktails are delicious.
But if there’s one thing that makes these drinks fun, it would have to be their garnishing.

And it wouldn’t be possible without the Channel knife.

The only trouble with this tool is that it is quite task-specific.

Unless you like serving fancy cocktails when you have dinner parties at home, this is something meant for bartenders and restaurateurs only.

However, many manufacturers figure out ways to add applications to this ‘one-dimensional’ implement like putting serrations on the tip for scraping ice and scoopers on the other end of the handle for carving melons and cucumbers.

To know more, read on…

What does it look like?

This one may look complicated to use, but it is a very simple and straightforward tool.

A simple channel knife does not look like a common household knife that has a spine and blade on the opposite side.

Instead, it has an indentation in the middle of the blade that will assist in making very thin peels.

Common models have a v-shaped metal projection up to the end of about 6 to 12 mm.

The v-shaped projection inside the metal surface is very sharp and used to be pointed toward the item to be peeled.

Channel knives have the same handle or grip as a paring knife.

Though some manufacturers create a special handle to have a better grip while in use.

Like the usual knife, the handle could be made from quality plastic or varnished wood.

If you are left-handed, make sure to check the direction of the blade, as some models are only for right-handed use.

The one with the standard v-shaped metal blade is ambidextrous, which left or right-handed people will find easy to use.

What is it used for?

It is used for making citrus twists, making this an essential garnishing piece.

The most common citrus fruits used are lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit.

Some models may be able to make thinner or thicker results.

The standard v-shaped cut will be able to make a 1/4 inch wide and same with depth and does not include the white pith.

Professionals usually do it in a spiral direction in order to maximize the rind that can be taken from the fruit.

Aside from citrus twists, a channel knife can also assist in creating a much more uniform strip.

If used for garnishing, it can make an indent on the sides creating a flower shape when chopped thinly.

The most used vegetables for this are carrots and cucumber.

If used for cooking, it can easily create vegetable pasta with zucchini for keto diet dishes.

There are variants that include a lemon zester on top, which gives a much thinner peel that you can use on certain dishes to balance the flavor.

They are usually added to desserts to balance out the sweetness, such as flans and caramels.

Some use the lemon zest as a replacement for lemongrass on Asian cuisines.

Professional food carvers may also use this knife for intricate displays, where pumpkin is usually used.

Aside from this, to add an extra touch on foods that need butter on top like pancakes, use it on frozen butter to make a swirl design.

Taking Care of the Knife

In the past, channel knives are made from steel that low corrosion resistance.

Especially with this kind of knife, it mostly deals with water or acidic citrus fruits such as oranges or lemons.

In case you still own a knife like this, immediately wash it after use and wipe it with a dry towel to avoid rust or stain.

Since most channel knives are now made from stainless steel, it is now easier to maintain with the combination of sponge and soap, or by dropping it in a dishwasher.

The ones made from stainless steel are far more durable and do not require constant sharpening.

Speaking of sharpening, dull channel knives will result in uneven thickness with shorter strands.

Because of the channel knife’s unusual shape, it may be challenging to sharpen them.

Channel knife users suggest using sandpaper.

Some also consider buying a new one instead, as there are a lot of cheap channel knives available in the market today.

Where to buy

Even if this is an essential tool for garnishing, some suggest that it does not need to be very high quality, unless used on a regular basis such as in bars and restaurants.

Some may also find it hard to sharpen, where disposing and purchasing a new one is easier.

A basic model should be able to deliver the same results as the higher ones.

It may differ when talking about long-term use, and cheap ones may only last after a few use.

If you would like to buy an expensive one, consider how long or how often you will use it.

It will help in determining if the purchase will be worth it.

Online shopping has grown more and more famous, that even an item for professionals like this knife can be easily purchased.

One of the best features of online shopping is the customer reviews, which can definitely help a buyer to decide on what is better than the other.


A channel knife may not be needed by an ordinary household, but it would be nice to have a nicely garnished meal at times! It gives a new take on commonly cooked dishes.

When drinking with friends, a garnish can make cheap cocktails look extravagant.

Maybe this knife is all that you ever need to give your drinks and dishes a restaurant-quality feel!

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.