How To Use A Santoku Knife (Simple Guide)

How To Use A Santoku Knife

The Santoku knife is a versatile kitchen tool that can streamline your food preparation process. 

With its unique design and sharp blade, this Japanese knife is perfect for slicing, dicing, and mincing a wide variety of ingredients. 

In this blog post, we will explore the proper techniques on how to use a Santoku knife effectively. 

Whether you’re a professional chef or a home cook, mastering the art of using this knife will elevate your culinary skills and make your time in the kitchen more efficient. 

So, let’s get started.

How To Use A Santoku Knife (Simple Process)

WUSTHOF Classic IKON 7″ Hollow Edge Santoku Knife 1 1

A Santoku knife is a versatile Japanese kitchen knife that’s known for its precision and ability to handle a wide range of cutting tasks. It’s a great tool to have in your kitchen arsenal, and using it properly can make your cooking experience more enjoyable and efficient. Here’s a full guide on how to use a Santoku knife:

1. Safety First

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

Before you begin, ensure your knife is sharp. A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one because it’s more likely to slip and cause accidents. You can use a sharpening stone or a knife sharpener to maintain its edge.

2. Choose the Right Cutting Surface

Henckels Zwilling Twin Signature Hollow Edge Santoku Knife e1696755629673

Use a soft cutting board made of wood or plastic to prevent dulling the blade. Avoid hard surfaces like glass or granite.

2. Grip

Hold the Santoku knife by its handle with your dominant hand. Your thumb and index finger should grip the blade’s bolster (the thick part of the blade where it meets the handle), while your other three fingers wrap around the handle.

Your non-dominant hand should hold the item you’re cutting, using a “claw” grip to protect your fingers from the blade.

Hold the knife at a slight angle (about 15-20 degrees) to the cutting surface for better control and precision.

3. Cutting Techniques

a. Slicing

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

For slicing tasks like vegetables, meats, or fish, use a smooth, controlled motion. Place the tip of the knife on the cutting board and rock it back and forth while moving it forward.

b. Dicing

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

To dice ingredients like onions or carrots, start by making even slices, then stack the slices and cut them into strips. Finally, turn the strips and chop them into small cubes.

c. Chopping

Image showing a person using a Santoku knife for chopping herbs

For chopping herbs or nuts, hold the tip of the knife on the cutting board and lift the handle up and down in a rocking motion. Keep your fingers tucked in and use your knuckles as a guide to prevent injury.

d. Mincing

Image showing a person using a Santoku knife for mincing garlic

When mincing garlic, herbs, or other small ingredients, use a similar rocking motion as chopping but with a finer, quicker movement.

4. Pay Attention to Food Texture

Adjust your technique based on the texture of the food you’re cutting. For example, use a rocking motion for soft herbs and a slicing motion for tougher ingredients.

5. Clean and Dry Immediately

After use, wash the knife by hand with warm, soapy water, and dry it promptly to prevent corrosion.

Care and Maintenance Of A Santoku Knife

To keep your Santoku knife in top condition, it’s important to practice proper care and maintenance. Here are some tips to help you maintain your Santoku knife:

Hand washing

Always wash your Santoku knife by hand rather than putting it in the dishwasher. Dishwasher heat and chemicals can damage the blade and handle. Use warm, soapy water and a sponge or soft cloth to clean the knife thoroughly.

Immediate cleaning

Try to clean the knife immediately after use to prevent food residue from drying and sticking to the blade.

Avoid abrasive materials

Never use abrasive materials such as steel wool or abrasive sponges on the knife, as they can scratch the blade and damage the finish.

Cutting surface

Use a soft cutting surface, such as wood or plastic, to minimize the risk of chipping or dulling the blade. Avoid cutting on hard surfaces like glass, stone, or ceramic.

Proper cutting technique

Use proper cutting techniques to avoid twisting or prying the blade. A Santoku knife is primarily designed for slicing, dicing, and chopping, not for heavy-duty tasks like cutting through bones or frozen food.


Regularly use a honing rod or sharpening steel to maintain the edge of your Santoku knife. Honing realigns the blade and keeps it sharp. Hold the knife at a 20-degree angle and run it along the honing rod several times on each side of the blade.


When the knife becomes dull, use a whetstone or a knife sharpening system to sharpen the blade. If you’re not confident in your sharpening skills, it’s a good idea to seek professional sharpening services.


Store your Santoku knife in a knife block, magnetic strip, or blade guard to protect the blade from damage and to keep it safely stored when not in use. Avoid storing it loosely in a drawer with other utensils, as this can lead to nicks and dulling.


To prevent rust, it’s a good idea to occasionally apply a thin layer of food-safe mineral oil to the blade. Make sure to wipe off any excess oil before using the knife.

Be cautious

Be careful when handling your Santoku knife, and avoid dropping it on hard surfaces, as this can damage the blade or the tip.


Should I use a cutting board with my Santoku knife?

Yes, always use a soft, wooden, or plastic cutting board to protect both the knife’s edge and your countertop. Avoid using hard surfaces like glass or granite, which can dull the blade.

How do I maintain the sharpness of my Santoku knife?

Regularly hone your Santoku knife using a honing rod to realign the blade. To sharpen it, use a whetstone or professional knife sharpener. Avoid using honing steel, as it may not be suitable for Santoku knives.

Can I use a Santoku knife to cut through bones or frozen foods?

No, Santoku knives are not designed for cutting through bones, frozen foods, or hard items. Doing so can damage the blade. Use a dedicated cleaver or bone saw for such tasks.

How do I clean and store my Santoku knife?

Hand wash the knife with mild soap and warm water, then dry it immediately. Avoid putting it in the dishwasher, as the high-pressure water and detergents can damage the blade. Store it in a knife block, magnetic strip, or blade guard to protect the edge.

Are there any safety tips for using a Santoku knife?

Always keep your fingers and hands away from the cutting path, and use a proper cutting technique to reduce the risk of accidents. Make sure your knife is sharp, as a dull blade can slip and cause injuries.

Wrap Up

Using a Santoku knife can elevate your cooking experience and make tasks in the kitchen easier and more efficient. 

By following proper techniques and handling the knife with care, you can achieve precise cuts and create beautifully crafted dishes. 

Practice slicing, dicing, and mincing to master your skills. Keep the blade sharp and maintain it regularly for optimal performance. 

With the right knowledge and practice, using a Santoku knife will become second nature, making you a more confident and skilled cook. 

So, grab your Santoku knife and start experimenting with new recipes today!

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