How To Care For A Santoku Knife (Comprehensive Guide)

how to care for a santoku knife

Caring for a Santoku knife is essential to maintain its sharpness and longevity. 

In this blog post, we will provide you with clear and concise instructions on how to properly care for your Santoku knife. 

By following this easy guide, you can ensure that your knife stays in top condition for all your culinary needs. 

Let’s dive right in!

A Guide on How To Care For A Santoku Knife

A sharp Santoku knife with a scalloped blade resting on a wooden cutting board, in the midst of preparing food. The knife has a dark handle and the blade is shiny, reflecting the ambient light. In the background, there’s a person’s hand holding food, possibly preparing to chop or has just finished chopping. The setting appears to be a kitchen with low lighting, creating an intimate or focused atmosphere. The surface underneath the cutting board is dark and contrasts with the lighter color of the wood.

Caring for a Santoku knife, or any high-quality kitchen knife, is essential to ensure its longevity, maintain its sharpness, and ensure safe and effective use in the kitchen. Here’s a full guide on how to care for a Santoku knife:

1. Hand Washing

Always wash your Santoku knife by hand with warm, soapy water immediately after use. Avoid putting it in the dishwasher, as the high heat and harsh detergents can damage the blade and handle.

2. Use a Soft Cloth

After washing, use a soft cloth or towel to dry the knife thoroughly. Avoid air-drying as this can lead to water spots and potential rust.

3. Cutting Surface

Use a cutting board that is gentle on your knife’s edge. Wooden and plastic cutting boards are better choices than glass or stone, which can quickly dull the blade.

4. Cutting Technique

Santoku knives are versatile and suitable for various cutting techniques. However, avoid twisting or prying with the knife, as this can damage the edge. Instead, use a rocking or slicing motion.

5. Honing

Regular honing helps maintain the knife’s edge between sharpening sessions. Use a honing rod or honing stone to realign the edge. Hold the knife at a 20-degree angle and stroke it along the rod from the base to the tip.

6. Sharpening

Image demonstrating a person wearing safety goggles and sharpening a Santoku knife with a sharpening stone.

When your Santoku knife starts to feel dull or doesn’t cut smoothly, it’s time to sharpen it. You can use a sharpening stone or an electric knife sharpener. If you’re unsure about sharpening, consider having a professional do it for you.

7. Storage

Proper storage is crucial to prevent accidents and protect the blade. Use a knife block, magnetic strip, or a knife roll to keep your Santoku knife safely stored. If using a knife block, ensure that the slots are wide enough to avoid damaging the blade when inserting or removing it.

8. Oil the Blade

To prevent rust, it’s a good practice to lightly oil your Santoku knife periodically. Food-safe mineral oil or camellia oil is suitable for this purpose. Apply a thin layer to the blade and wipe off any excess.

9. Protect the Tip

The tip of a Santoku knife is relatively delicate compared to other knife types. Be mindful not to drop or bump the tip on hard surfaces, as it can break or chip easily.

10. Avoid Bones and Frozen Food

Santoku knives are not designed for heavy-duty tasks like cutting through bones or frozen foods. Avoid using your Santoku knife for such purposes to prevent damage to the blade.

11. Regular Inspection

Inspect your Santoku knife regularly for any signs of damage or wear, such as chips, cracks, or loose handles. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage.

12. Maintenance Schedule

Develop a maintenance schedule based on your knife’s usage. Regularly hone the blade and sharpen it as needed, and clean and oil the knife after each use.

Choosing the Right Cutting Techniques for Your Santoku Knife

Choosing the right cutting techniques for your Santoku knife is essential for maximizing its effectiveness and longevity. This guide will cover various cutting techniques and tips for using your Santoku knife effectively:

1. Rocking Motion

The Santoku knife is designed for a rocking motion, similar to a chef’s knife but with a shorter blade. This technique is excellent for slicing, dicing, and chopping. Here’s how to use the rocking motion:

  • Start with your guiding hand (the one not holding the knife) gripping the food and using your knuckles as a guide.
  • Place the Santoku knife at a slight angle to the food.
  • Keep the tip of the knife on the cutting board and use a gentle rocking motion, moving the knife up and down while maintaining contact with the cutting board.
  • Use your guiding hand to move the food incrementally, keeping your fingers tucked away to avoid accidental cuts.

2. Slicing

someone Slicing onions with Santoku knife using a smooth, controlled motion.

Slicing is ideal for cutting thin, even pieces of food. Use your Santoku knife for slicing fruits, vegetables, and boneless meats:

  • Place the food item on the cutting board.
  • Hold the Santoku knife with a firm grip and use a smooth, controlled motion to cut through the food in a straight line.
  • For consistent slices, maintain a consistent angle and apply even pressure.

3. Dicing

Image featuring a person using a Santoku knife for dicing, creating even slices and chopping them into cubes.

Dicing involves cutting food into small, uniform cubes. This technique is commonly used for onions, carrots, and other vegetables:

  • Begin by slicing the food into even-sized strips.
  • Stack the strips together and cut them crosswise into cubes, using a slight rocking motion.
  • Keep your fingers tucked and use your knuckles as a guide to prevent accidental cuts.

4. Julienne

Image showing a person using a Santoku knife for slicing carrots into thin strips about the size of matchsticks

Julienne is a fine cutting technique often used for creating thin, matchstick-sized strips of vegetables, like carrots or zucchini:

  • Start by slicing the food into thin planks.
  • Stack the planks together and cut them into matchstick-sized strips.

5. Precision Work

The Santoku knife’s pointed tip makes it suitable for delicate tasks like deveining shrimp or deseeding peppers:

  • Use the tip of the knife for precision cuts and detail work.
  • Be extra cautious when handling small, delicate items.

6. Scoring

Scoring is a technique used to make shallow cuts on the surface of food, like meat or fish, to help with marination or cooking:

  • Place the food on the cutting board.
  • Make shallow, parallel cuts on the surface at an angle, creating a diamond or crosshatch pattern.

7. Herb Chopping

Image showing a person using a Santoku knife for chopping herbs

The Santoku knife’s sharp blade makes it ideal for chopping herbs finely:

  • Gather the herbs into a tight bundle.
  • Use a rocking motion to chop the herbs with the Santoku knife, moving from one end of the bundle to the other.


Can I put my Santoku knife in the dishwasher?

No, it’s not recommended to put your Santoku knife in the dishwasher. The high heat and harsh detergents can damage the blade and handle. Hand washing is the best way to clean your knife.

How often should I sharpen my Santoku knife?

The frequency of sharpening depends on your usage, but a general rule of thumb is to sharpen it every few months with regular honing in between to maintain the edge.

What’s the best way to store my Santoku knife?

Store your Santoku knife in a knife block, magnetic strip, or a knife roll to protect the blade and prevent accidents. Make sure the storage method you choose doesn’t damage the edge.

Can I use my Santoku knife to cut through bones or frozen food?

No, Santoku knives are not designed for heavy-duty tasks like cutting through bones or frozen foods. Using them for such tasks can damage the blade.

How can I prevent my Santoku knife from rusting?

To prevent rust, dry your knife thoroughly after washing, and periodically apply a thin layer of food-safe mineral oil or camellia oil to the blade.

Wrap Up

Caring for a Santoku knife is essential to maintain its sharpness, longevity, and safety in the kitchen. 

By following proper cleaning, storage, and maintenance practices, you can ensure that this versatile kitchen tool continues to serve you effectively. 

Regular honing, occasional sharpening, and a gentle hand are key to keeping your Santoku knife in peak condition, allowing you to enjoy precise and effortless culinary experiences for years to come.

Similar Posts