How To Hold A Santoku Knife (Expert Tips)

how to hold a santoku knife

The Santoku knife is a versatile and efficient tool that can elevate your culinary skills to new heights. 

But mastering the proper technique for holding this Japanese blade is crucial for safe and effective slicing, dicing, and chopping. 

In this blog post, we will guide you through the steps to hold a Santoku knife correctly, ensuring precision and control in your kitchen endeavors. 

Let’s dive in.

Steps on How To Hold A Santoku Knife

A person is using a Santoku knife to slice mushrooms on a wooden cutting board. The knife has a sharp, pointed blade with indentations along the side to reduce friction and sticking. Several sliced mushroom pieces are scattered on the wooden cutting board, indicating ongoing preparation. One whole mushroom is visible on the right side of the cutting board, awaiting slicing. The background is white and uncluttered, focusing attention on the food preparation activity.

The Santoku knife is a versatile Japanese knife known for its sharpness and ability to handle a variety of cutting tasks. Here are the steps to hold a Santoku knife correctly:

Step 1: Gather Your Tools

Before you begin, make sure you have the following:

  • A genuine Santoku knife
  • A stable cutting board
  • A non-slip mat (optional, for added stability)
  • The ingredient you want to cut

Step 2: Stand and Position Yourself

Position yourself in front of your work area:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart for balance.
  • Place the cutting board on a stable surface, like a countertop.
  • If desired, use a non-slip mat under the cutting board to prevent it from moving.

Step 3: Prepare Your Knife

Ensure your Santoku knife is clean and dry. Check for any damage or dullness in the blade. If it’s not sharp, consider sharpening it before use.

Step 4: Proper Knife Grip

Hold the Santoku knife correctly:

  • Hold the knife handle with your dominant hand.
  • Place your thumb and index finger on opposite sides of the bolster (the thick metal part where the blade meets the handle).
  • Wrap your remaining three fingers securely around the handle.
  • Keep your palm in contact with the top of the handle.
  • Place your thumb on the spine of the blade, opposite your index finger on the handle. Your thumb should be near the blade but not touching it.

Step 5: Maintain Proper Wrist and Arm Alignment

Ensure your wrist is straight and in line with your forearm. Avoid excessive bending of the wrist, as this can lead to strain and discomfort.

Step 6: Control the Blade

Place the tip of the Santoku knife on the cutting board, and use your non-dominant hand to guide and hold the ingredients you’re cutting.

Step 7: Use a Rocking Motion

Santoku knives are designed for a chopping or rocking motion:

  • Move the knife up and down while keeping the tip in contact with the cutting board.
  • Use your non-dominant hand to pivot and move the food for consistent cutting.

Step 8: Apply Gentle Pressure

Allow the sharpness of the blade to do the work for you. There’s no need to apply excessive force. Use gentle, controlled pressure as you cut through the ingredients.

Step 9: Safety First

Be mindful of your fingers:

  • Keep them tucked away from the blade’s path.
  • Use a claw-like grip with your non-dominant hand to hold the food securely while keeping your fingers safe.

Step 10: Slicing, Dicing, and Chopping

Utilize the Santoku knife for a variety of cutting tasks:

  • Slicing: For thin, even slices.
  • Dicing: For creating small, uniform cubes.
  • Chopping: For larger, coarser cuts.

Step 11: Blade Maintenance

After use, clean the knife carefully with mild soap and water, and dry it immediately to prevent corrosion. Regularly hone and sharpen the blade to maintain its sharpness.

Step 12: Storage

Store your Santoku knife in a knife block, on a magnetic strip, or use a blade guard to protect the edge and prevent accidents.

How to Choose the Right Santoku Knife

Santoku knives are Japanese-style knives known for their versatility in the kitchen. Here are some key factors to consider when selecting a Santoku knife:

Blade Material

  • Stainless Steel: Stainless steel blades are rust-resistant and easy to maintain. Look for high-carbon stainless steel for a sharp edge that retains its sharpness over time.
  • Carbon Steel: Carbon steel blades offer excellent sharpness and edge retention, but they require more maintenance and are susceptible to rust.

Blade Length

Santoku knives typically come in blade lengths ranging from 5 to 7 inches. Choose a length that feels comfortable and suits your cutting tasks. A 6- to 7-inch blade is a good all-around choice.

Blade Shape

Santoku knives have a flat edge and a shorter, wider blade compared to Western-style chef’s knives. The flat edge allows for a rocking motion while chopping, slicing, and dicing.

Handle Design

Pay attention to the handle design and material. Santoku knives may have Western-style handles (often made of synthetic materials) or traditional Japanese handles (typically made of wood).

Choose a handle that feels comfortable in your hand and provides a secure grip.


A well-balanced Santoku knife should have equal weight distribution between the blade and the handle. This ensures better control and reduces fatigue during extended use.

Blade Thickness

Consider the thickness of the blade. Thinner blades are better for precision slicing and chopping, while thicker blades are more robust and suitable for tougher tasks.

Edge Grind

Santoku knives often come with a double bevel edge, making them suitable for both left-handed and right-handed users. However, some Santoku knives have a single bevel edge, which requires specific techniques and is typically used by more experienced chefs.

Brand and Reputation

Research reputable knife brands and read reviews to ensure you’re purchasing a quality Santoku knife. Well-known brands often provide better craftsmanship and durability.


Set a budget for your Santoku knife purchase. While high-end knives can be a significant investment, there are also excellent options available at more affordable price points.


Consider how easy it is to maintain the knife. Some knives require more frequent sharpening and care than others. Sharpening or honing may be necessary to maintain the edge.


Why is it important to hold a Santoku knife correctly? 

Holding a Santoku knife correctly is essential for safety and efficiency in the kitchen. It ensures precise and controlled cutting while reducing the risk of accidents.

How should I hold a Santoku knife for chopping and slicing? 

Hold the Santoku knife with a firm grip on the handle. Your thumb and index finger should be positioned on either side of the blade’s bolster or heel. Your other three fingers should grip the handle. This grip allows for control and stability.

Is there a specific hand position for holding a Santoku knife? 

Yes, your hand should be positioned so that your knuckles are against the side of the blade. This helps guide the knife and keeps your fingers safe.

Should I use a pinch grip with a Santoku knife? 

Yes, a pinch grip is recommended when holding a Santoku knife. It involves pinching the blade’s bolster or heel between your thumb and index finger while wrapping your other fingers around the handle. This grip offers better control and precision.

What is the best angle to hold a Santoku knife for cutting? 

Hold the Santoku knife at a shallow angle, around 15 to 20 degrees, when slicing or chopping. This angle helps the knife cut smoothly through the ingredients.

Can I use a Santoku knife for rocking motion cuts like a chef’s knife?

While Santoku knives are not designed for the rocking motion commonly associated with chef’s knives, you can still use them for up-and-down slicing and chopping motions.

Wrap Up

Mastering the art of holding a Santoku knife is a fundamental skill for any aspiring home chef. 

A proper grip and technique not only ensure safety in the kitchen but also enhance your culinary precision. 

By adopting the pinch grip, maintaining the right angle, caring the santoku knife, and practicing various cutting techniques, you can elevate your culinary prowess. 

So, grab your Santoku knife, practice diligently, and watch your cooking skills flourish as you confidently wield this versatile tool in the kitchen. 

Happy cooking!

Similar Posts