Food and Recipes Kitchen Assistant How Often Should You Sharpen Your Knife? And Other Essential Knife Tips to Know Keep those critical kitchen tools sharp with our useful tips. By Marissa Wu Marissa Wu Marissa Wu is a writer with a love for home, food, travel, and art stories. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University. When not editing and producing articles or updating the homepage, she's trying new recipes, jolting along in her manual transmission car, Fitz; hammering out a manuscript on her 1930s Royal Aristocrat typewriter, Georgie; and making film photographs with her Rolleiflex, Cecil. She's currently an Associate SEO Editor for PureWow. Southern Living's editorial guidelines Updated on January 17, 2023 Fact checked by Khara Scheppmann Fact checked by Khara Scheppmann Khara Scheppmann has 12 years of marketing and advertising experience, including proofreading and fact-checking. She previously worked at one of the largest advertising agencies in the southwest. brand's fact checking process Share Tweet Pin Email In This Article View All In This Article How Often Should You Sharpen Your Knife? How Do You Know When a Knife is Sharp (and When it's Not)? Why is a Sharp Knife Important? Avoid These Common Knife Technique Mistakes Top Tips for Knife Safety Knife Size and Type Matters How to Use a Honing Steel Good Honing Technique A knife has the power make or break our cooking experience. A good one will make us feel proud for julienning a carrot with ease. A bad one will have us bemoaning our now extremely squished, deformed tomato that spilled out of its skin. So, how often should you be sharpening your knife, and how do you know if it's sharp at all? If that mutilated tomato isn't giving you a big enough hint, here's exactly what you need to know about knife sharpening, according to an expert. Getty Images How Often Should You Sharpen Your Knife? You should generally sharpen your knives at least every two weeks, though it depends on how often you use them. Your daily, go-to knives should definitely get a sharpening, but for those that you only use once in a while, that's up to you. How Do You Know When a Knife is Sharp (and When it's Not)? If you're not sure if your knife needs sharpening, try the paper test. All you need are the knives in question and a sheet or two of printer paper. "I use a single sheet of paper and cut downward away from myself, and if the knife does not glide through the paper, it's a good indicator that it's dull," says Tisha Cherry, Ninja partner. "You can also test the sharpness with softer fruits, like tomatoes. Sharp blades will slice through tomatoes without much force and will not squish or tear." Why is a Sharp Knife Important? It all comes down to safety. A dull knife can make way for accidents as you wrestle with food on a blunt blade. "A sharp knife easily glides through ingredients, which makes food prep faster, safer, and makes for better pictures," Cherry shares. "Sharp knives also yield more precise and uniform cuts, even cooking, and preserve the texture of food to get the most out of ingredients." Avoid These Common Knife Technique Mistakes The most common error, according to Cherry, is using a dull knife. If the thought of hand-sharpening your knives intimidates you, rest assured that the process is easy. However, there are motorized sharpeners, as well as tools like the Ninja Foodi NeverDull Knife Block, which has a built-in sharpener that takes the guesswork out. "People also tend to cut corners when it comes to proper care," Cherry continues. "For instance, using the wrong surface for cutting (polyethylene cutting boards, marble, glass, ceramic, china, tile, granite, stainless steel or other metal, porcelain, laminate) can damage blades. Additionally, failing to dry your knives after washing or leaving acidic foods such as tomatoes, lemons, and mustard on the knife blade can tarnish it." Top Tips for Knife Safety When using a kitchen knife, follow these three tips for knife safety: Avoid touching a knife's sharp blade edgeCarry knives with the blade edge pointing downWash with the blade facing away from you Knife Size and Type Matters No, you really shouldn't make your chef's knife the ultimate jack of all trades. Different knives are made to handle specific types of food and textures, and making sure you're using the right one means better results and experience—plus, it keeps you safe. Cherry breaks down some of the types of knives and what they're best used for. Chef Knife Multi-faceted knife for all types of food preparationChop an assortment of vegetables, fruit, meat, nuts etc. Bread Knife Serrated knife designed to cut through items with a hard exterior and soft interiorSlice breads, pastries, bakes, melons, tomatoes, etc. Santoku Knife Straight blade with dimples on the side to prevent items from stickingDice or mince starchy or moist produce like potatoes, garlic, fruits, etc. Boning Knife Long and thin blade that provides flexibility while working in the kitchenFilet, skinning fish, poultry, etc. Utility Knife Versatile blade that is an all-around agile knife, made for petite foods Prep citrus, chop vegetables, cut sandwiches, etc. Paring Knife Short-bladed knife used for intricate cutting, peeling, dicing, and mincing Peel fruits, vegetables, strawberries, and chop smaller produce Steak Knife These knives cut effortlessly through meats without tearingSlice through cooked proteins and denser produce Shears Sharp scissors used for miscellaneous kitchen tasksSnip herbs and chives, break down poultry, prep ingredients, etc. How to Use a Honing Steel Many knife block sets will come with a honing steel, and contrary to a popular belief, the honing steel is not a knife sharpener. Rather, its purpose is to re-align the knife blade. "With natural use over time, the edge of a knife can become dull, roll over to one side, become indented and/or get microscopic, jagged edges," Cherry says. "The honing steel realigns the metal instead of removing metal and creating a new edge like a true sharpener. While the honing steel realigns those jagged edges, the results may not last very long." You might be wondering if you can sharpen a serrated knife—Cherry asserts that the best way to care for them is to avoid sharpening them completely. As long as you maintain them well, a honing steel is useful in caring for their teeth. "A honing steel can be used to restore the teeth of the serrated knife by moving the knife up and down the rod in between each of the serrations," she says. "It is a tedious process, hence maintenance is key!" As for how often you should hone your knife, that depends on use. A home cook should hone theirs approximately every three to four uses, if they're using their knives regularly. Good Honing Technique Honing your knives is simple. Cherry advises following these steps. Set the honing rod onto a stable countertop with a towel placed at the tip for stabilityThe honing rod should be 90°F to the countertop and should not move when in useThe knife's edge should be shallow at first, around a 20 to 30 degree angle to the rod; start at a smaller angle first, then widen out if unsureSlow, gentle pressure against the rod is needed to see the best results Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Southern Living is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy. Jay S. Knives cooks love: selection. Care. Techniques. Recipes.