How to Hold a Knife

Four Methods:Handle or Hammer Grip (Beginner)Blade or Pinch Grip (Professional)Guiding the Knife while CuttingGuiding the Knife while Mincing

Holding a kitchen knife isn't exactly rocket science, but the most natural technique is not necessarily the best one to use. Changing the way you grip and guide the knife can improve the speed and control you have while cutting ingredients.

Method 1
Handle or Hammer Grip (Beginner)

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    Wrap your thumb and index finger around the handle. Place your thumb just beneath the bolster of the handle. Wrap your index finger around the handle from the other side of the knife. Bend both fingers closer together until they meet.
    • Note that the bolster is the blunt piece of metal in between the sharp portion of the blade and the handle of the knife.
    • The handle grip is the option most beginner cooks naturally gravitate toward and it typically feels more natural than the blade grip. It also works well for cooks with unusually small hands. On the other hand, this grip style causes the wrist to fall out of alignment with the palm and fingers, thereby limiting the amount of control you have with the knife.[1]
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    Curl the other fingers onto the handle. Wrap your middle, ring, and pinky finger all the way around the handle, keeping them aligned with your index finger.
    • Hold your fingers close together to provide the greatest amount of grip and force. Ideally, there should be no visible space in between your fingers while they are gripping the knife.
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    Keep your hand firm. Cut food while keeping a firm grip around the handle. No finger should move beyond the bolster as you cut.
    • Many beginning cooks have the habit of extending the index finger over the blunt top edge of the knife while cutting. Doing so is ill-advised, however. The index finger alone does not provide enough force to help control the blade, and this finger can actually become sore while you chop if you hold it in this manner.[2]

Method 2
Blade or Pinch Grip (Professional)

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    Pinch the base of the blade. Grab the blade in between your thumb and index finger. Keep these fingers positioned at the point where the blade connects to the handle.[3]
    • If desired, you can pinch the base of the blade with your thumb, index finger, and middle finger. Some cooks find this position easier to work with than one utilizing only the thumb and index finger.
    • When using a knife with a notably thin blade, like a utility knife or a boning knife, it might be easier to pinch the base of the blade with your thumb and middle finger while resting the index finger over the blunt top of the blade.
    • Overall, the professional grip offers greater accuracy and control while cutting.
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    Position your middle finger behind the bolster. Bend the middle finger just behind the bolster of the knife. It should curl all the way around the top of the knife handle.
    • The bolster is the blunt metal strip connecting the blade to the handle.
    • When pinching the blade with both the index and middle finger, you will need to position the ring finger behind the bolster.
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    Rest the remaining fingers on the handle. Lightly wrap the remaining fingers around the handle of the knife, bending them all the way around the knife without gripping the handle tightly.
    • These fingers are positioned around the handle for the purpose of support. All of the actual strength used should be channeled into the fingers pinching the blade.
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    Keep everything loose. Your grip should remain just firm enough to hold the knife. Use as little force as possible to accomplish that task while cutting.
    • Gripping the knife with too much force can cause tension to build in your hand. When that happens, your hand is more likely to tire out, and the accuracy, safety, and speed of your cuts will diminish as a result.

Method 3
Guiding the Knife while Cutting

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    Grab the knife in your dominant hand. Pick up the knife and hold it using either the handle or blade grip.
    • Your dominant hand—the one you write with, etc.—should be the same hand used for holding and operating the knife. Your non-dominant hand will be responsible for guiding the knife during the process.
    • The blade grip is recommended if you feel comfortable with it, but this guiding technique can be used with both the blade and handle grips.
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    Hold the food with curled fingertips. Place the food being cut on top of your cutting board. Hold it in place with your fingertips.
    • Place your fingertips on the top surface of the food, then curl or bend your fingers slightly so that the fingertips are hidden beneath your knuckles. Holding ingredients in this manner will keep them stable while also minimizing the risk of cutting yourself.[4]
    • Due to the way the non-dominant hand looks, this is often referred to as the “claw” cutting position.
    • The food should be held in a stable position. Ideally, you should place it on the board with the flat side down. When there is no natural flat side, it is usually well-advised to begin by cutting off a portion or slice to create a flat space. That flat space should then remain face down on the board for the rest of the process.
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    Guide the knife with your knuckles. As you cut with the knife, try to guide the blade with the knuckles of your non-dominant hand.
    • Bring the blade down to the food and hold it at that level for the entire cutting process.
    • Before you actually begin to cut, lightly press the top knuckles of your index and middle finger to the smooth, flat side of the blade.
    • While cutting, gradually ease your entire hand back as you move the knife along the length of the food. Your knuckles should stay in contact with the blade the entire time.

Method 4
Guiding the Knife while Mincing

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    Hold the knife in your dominant hand. Grab the knife in your dominant hand using the blade or handle grip.
    • You will use your dominant (writing) hand to hold the knife while guiding the direction of the knife with your non-dominant hand.
    • The blade grip is recommended here, but this technique also works well enough with the handle grip.
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    Point the tip of the knife down. Place the tip of the blade directly on the cutting board.
    • The ingredient you plan to mince should be positioned beneath the sharp edge of the blade. The tip of the blade should lie completely past the bulk of the ingredient.
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    Press on the tip with your free hand. Hold the tip of the blade in place with two or three fingers.
    • Use your index and middle fingers for most circumstances. If it feels more comfortable to use three fingers, place your ring finger on top of the blade, as well.
    • Apply enough force with your fingers to keep the blade steady without making it totally immobile.
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    Rock the blade up and down. To finely mince an ingredient, use your dominant hand to lift the blade up and down while keeping the tip steady with your non-dominant hand. The result should be a distinctive rocking motion.
    • While rocking the blade up and down, you will also need to gradually move it from side to side.
    • As you rock the blade, it should run through the bulk of the ingredient at small intervals, creating a rough mince. The longer you rock the blade, the finer the mince will become.

Article Info

Categories: Cooking Knives and Blades