What is the Difference Between Nakiri and Santoku Knives?

by Ryan Shaffer October 20, 2020 4 min read

nakiri and santoku japanese knives

What Is the Difference Between Nakiri and Santoku Knives? 

There are many types of knives available you might like to add to your collection. But if you are a genuine knife enthusiast and/or a professional that frequently uses knives, your set of knives isn't complete unless you have at least one Japanese knife in your collection.

The Nakiri and Santoku are the two types of Japanese knives used the most in the western world. While you would definitely benefit from owning both, if you're only looking to buy one, knowing the differences between the two can help you make an informed decision. Here, you'll read an overview of each knife and the differences between them.

Nakiri Knives Overview

The term "Nakiri" signifies a knife you use to cut greens or vegetables when translating it from Japanese. The Nakiri knife is characterized by its straight-edge blade design that will additionally have some squared-off tips. The design of the blade allows you to cut through the vegetables all the way when you use a horizontal pull/push motion. Plus, you can achieve thinner and highly even slices because of the knife's straight blade. Its length is around 6.5 to 7 inches.

Also, you can use a smoother chopping stroke when slicing without rocking the blade because of its edge. People appreciate that the blade allows them to cut vegetables more precisely without squeezing them (i.e. tomatoes). The blade is lightweight and super simple to get razor-sharpness.

The Nakiri knife allows you to make even slices with thin, uniform cuts. If you're looking for julienne or ribbon vegetables, this knife is your tool. It's fast and designed for speed. It delivers much quicker results with its clean chopping motion. And, its flat edge provides clean cuts, making thorough contact with the cutting board. No longer will you have to deal with pieces of onion or bell pepper sticking together.

Benefits of Nakiri Knives

The main benefits of using a Nakiri knife are:

  • More fluid chopping with its straight edge
  • More even and thin slicing
  • Perfect for delicate vegetables

Santoku Knives Overview

This Japanese knife is a multipurpose knife that's extremely resourceful in the kitchen. The term Santoku, in Japanese, refers to a knife of three virtues. You would normally use it for cutting meat, vegetables and fish.

The Santoku knife generally has a shorter length (6 to 7 inches), making it simpler to handle. It also features a symmetrically ground blade with a 10 to 15 degree blade angle per side. Also, many individuals love that it feels more balanced and that it's frequently made from a thick Damascus steel, making it more durable.

The shape of its blade is similar to a regular Chef's knife (also known as a Gyuto). These knives were originally designed for home use and tend to be a little shorter than the chef’s knife.  Now days you will find them as fixtures in both home and professional settings. 

Benefits of Santoku Knives

A few benefits of Santoku knives are:

  • Well-balanced feel
  • More versatile knife
  • Useful for detail work in addition to chopping and slicing

Difference Between the Nakiri and Santoku Knives

Here's a brief look at the primary differences between the Nakiri and Santoku knife:


  • Best use: Fruit and vegetables
  • Blade length: 6.5 to 7 inches
  • Blade design: Long, thin, straight squared edges
  • Cutting action: Slicing, straight up and down
  • Edge grind: Double-bevel
  • Sharpness: 28 to 34 degrees total
  • Price: Slightly less expensive
  • Weight: 5.0 to 7.5 ounces


  • Best use: Fruit, vegetables, fish, meat and cheese
  • Blade length: 6 to 7 inches
  • Blade design: Long, thin, straight edge with rounded tip
  • Cutting action: Slicing, rocking, straight up and down
  • Edge grind: Some are singles; most are double-bevel
  • Sharpness: 20 to 30 degrees total
  • Price: Slightly more expensive
  • Weight: 5.5 to 7.5 ounces

Uses of Nakiri and Santoku

The Nakiri knife looks a little like a meat cleaver. Since it has a straight blade, it gives you a lot of strength required for cutting on the chopping board.

You can do it without pulling or pushing things, unlike other knife types. So, as you're making it in a single direction, it's easy to cut food in a more controlled manner. And, you'll end up with smooth cuts, while not breaking your vegetables.

The Santoku knife comes with a bit thinner blade and is suitable for better slicing. You can also use it for dicing and mincing. The Santoku knives' blades are very flat, unlike certain Western rounded knives.

Nakiri vs Santoku - Is One Better Than the Other?

This is a very subjective question. Santoku knives are a lot more popular with Western chefs, on the whole. This is likely due to them having all-purpose features. They’re frequently used as a replacement for a Chef’s knife (Gyuto). They’re thin, long and sharp - ideal for cutting various foods.

However, this doesn’t make lower the value of a Nakiri knife. They’re perfect for chopping and slicing vegetables, greens, and fruits. Because they have a tall blade and no point, they are typically the safer choice in your kitchen if you’re using the knife to slice your vegetables.

At Hasu-Seizo, we specialize in artisan Japanese knives.

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