Lessons > Handling a Chef's Knife

★★★★★ (320)

Lesson Overview

The old saying ‘you are what you eat’ is not quite accurate. If you want to be in control of what you eat, then, more accurately, ‘you are what you cook’ and if you are not cutting, this means you are not cooking. It’s that simple.

All too often people choose not to cook because the slicing and dicing of ingredients is too much of a challenge and; therefore, considered a chore. People who know how to handle a knife effectively and with confidence naturally cook more and, in turn, people who cook more generally lead healthier lifestyles. For this reason, knowing how to handle a knife is perhaps one of the most important life-skills.

In this lesson, you will learn how to cut using a chef’s knife. You will learn how to grip a chef’s knife, how to position your guide hand and the mechanics of the rolling technique. Most new cooks feel intimidated by a sharp blade, so we will demonstrate a safe and effective way for you to practice this skill before you even pick up your knife. Once you are comfortable, we will show you how to practice cutting with your chef’s knife. We will also show you various ways to position your knife and hands based on the ingredient you are cutting. And finally, we will show you how to hone your knife in order to keep it nice and sharp.

We cannot over-emphasize the importance of this lesson which will, in a very short time, put you on the most effective path to good cooking. It is an exhilarating feeling once you learn how to properly handle a chef’s knife and once you do, you will be able to easily and confidently move on to more challenging techniques to create a variety of delicious dishes.

Lesson Objectives

At the end of this lesson you'll be able to:
  • properly grip a chef’s knife
  • perform the rolling technique safely
  • describe the up-and-down chopping technique
  • define the pivot chopping technique
  • learn how to keep you knife sharp through honing

Course Syllabus

START: Watch Lesson Platform Tour
1. Introduction: Handling a Chef's Knife 4 mins
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2. Complete Your Self Assessment 2 mins
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3. The Knife Grip 1 min
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4. The Rolling Technique 2 mins
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5. Positioning Your Guide Hand 2 mins
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6. The Bench Scraper Practice Activity 12 mins
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7. Cutting with a Chef's Knife 20 mins
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8. Other Methods of Using the Knife 3 mins
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9. How to Hone Your Knife 5 mins
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10. Lesson Quiz 15 mins
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Finish Line 1 hr 6 mins Total Time

Practice Recipes

A few of the practice recipes you'll learn in this lesson.

Prerequisites & Related Lessons

Please consider these additional lessons to support your learning and discovery. Some of these lessons are prerequisites that may help contextualize what you are learning and form a baseline of knowledge and skill. Other lessons are related and may help you explore next steps or dive deeper on a learning topic.
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Selecting a Knife Set

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How to Cut Using a Chef's Knife

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Thumbnail knife sharpening with a whetstone

Knife Sharpening w/ a Whetstone

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What People Are Saying

Donavan W "Great lesson." Donavan W. ★★★★
Scott C "Strait forward, easy to follow and absorb." Scott C. ★★★★★
Tamara D "I'd rate this lesson a 5. It was very helpful as well as interesting." Tamara D. ★★★★★
Maj-britt A "I Learned a lot of theory, now to practice on flour lol. That is a good idea, I was worried I had to cut a ton of vegetables that I would nerver have time to eat." Maj-britt A. ★★★★★
Elizabeth W "I feel much more confident handling my chef's knife safely. Great lesson!" Elizabeth W. ★★★★★
Sandra C "Always hated using knife because I often nicked myself. Even enjoyed cutting the 10 feet of celery in this lesson. My technique is not perfect yet but have the knowledge now and desire to improve. Also now know how to hone my knife, always had hubby do it. Thanks!" Sandra C. ★★★★★
Scott S "This lesson was very helpful! I now know a lot more about using a knife than I did before and, while I'm still not perfect, I have much more confidence in my knife skills and safety." Scott S. ★★★★
Adaire O "This was educational and fun! I loved how the lessons have activities/tasks that we can do at home and found them (especially the recipes!) fun to complete. This, coupled with the awesome video instruction, really accelerated my performance level quickly. The program's focus on safety was greatly appreciated, since I have been a bit hesitant when it comes to knives. I became more and more comfortable and confident with each lesson and look forward to learning more!" Adaire O. ★★★★★


28,738 students from beginner to advanced have completed this lesson from 76 countries.