Santoku vs Gyuto: Which Do I Need?

In the world of Japanese knives, you’re going to come across a lot of names for different blades. Sometimes, at first glance, these blades may look the same so you might think that they can be used for the same purposes.

It’s true that a lot of knives look similar but there are design intricacies that make each one suitable for different tasks.

The santoku and gyuto knives are often confused owing to how similar they are. However, there are key differences that make them suitable for different things.

The santoku knife has a flat tip and a shorter blade; it’s generally used for cutting fruits and vegetables and making straight cuts. On the other hand, the gyuto knife is typically longer with a pointed tip and is used for meats and the rocking motion technique known as rock chopping.

In this guide, we’ll be looking at gyuto vs santoku - what each knife is capable of and which you should get for your kitchen.


Table of contents


What Is a Santoku knife?

A santoku knife is a large, multi-purpose blade that’s often found in a professional set of Japanese kitchen knives. The blades are generally shorter than that of a gyuto but still longer than things like a paring or utility knife. Normally, a santoku's blade length wouldn’t be any longer than 21cm.

The blades are flat and wide with a rounded tip, giving it a rather unique blade shape. This means that you wouldn’t use a santoku knife for piercing or stabbing into food. What’s more, since the blade doesn’t have a curve, you wouldn’t use this knife for the rocking motion cutting technique.

Instead, santoku blades are ideal for making long, smooth, straight cuts. Since the blade is wider, they’re also ideal when you need to transfer food or for chopping.

The santoku is a type of Japanese knife which means that it is incredibly hard and thin with an extremely sharp edge. Depending on the type you buy, it might have a hollow edge which makes the blade even sharper.

In recent years, most santoku knives have become incredibly popular among both professional and domestic chefs. For this reason, there is a lot more choice today than there ever has been. These knives come with various types of handles, and different metals and come in a range of lengths meaning you can find something that perfectly matches your needs.


Pros and Cons of the Santoku Knife

There are a lot of good things about the santoku knife but you must remember that there are some things about this knife that might make it unsuitable for what you need it for. Here are the pros and cons you’ll need to think about.

Pros

● Santoku knives are much more lightweight than gyutos.

● The hard, thin blade makes the santoku very fast at chopping tasks.

● The blade is very narrow and this makes it ideal for precision work like finely dicing and slicing.

● The santoku boasts excellent edge retention so you won’t need to sharpen it as frequently.

● When you do need to sharpen it, the santoku is one of the easiest blades to work with as it doesn’t have a bolster getting in the way.

● You have excellent control when chopping with this single bevel knife.

Cons

● The lack of a bolster means that you may injure yourself more easily with a santoku blade.

● These are very flexible knives which can make certain jobs like cutting meat, a lot trickier.


What Is a Gyuto Knife?

The gyuto is essentially a Japanese chef’s knife. While a lot of people used a western chef’s knife, the Japanese jumped on this trend and created the gyuyo; a much harder, single-bevel version of the European classic.

In terms of design, gyuto knives don’t differ all that much from their western cousins. They have the same shape and are used in exactly the same way. If you were to take a thick, double-bevelled gyuto and place it next to a traditional German chef’s knife, it would be incredibly difficult to spot the difference.

Gyuto knives tend to have longer blades that are double-bevelled. They can be as long as 35cm but it’s more common for them to be around 20cm, on average which is at the larger end of the scale for a santoku knife. These knives also have a curved edge which makes them the better choice for the rocking motion technique.


Pros and Cons of the Gyuto Knife

As with the santoku knife, the gyuto is a multipurpose blade that comes in very handy in the kitchen. However, there are some plus points and downsides that you’ll need to think about to determine if this is the right knife for you.

Pros

● Gyuto knives are thicker than santokus and so are far more durable and robust.

● In terms of versatility, the gyuto is far superior to the santoku and it can be used for everything from meat and fish to veggies and fruits.

● Unlike the santoku, gyuto knives have a bolster which makes them generally safer with less risk of an accident.

● Gyutos typically come with a thick handle which offers a better grip.

Cons

● Since the blade of the gyuto is curved, this means that you don’t have as much control over the cut.

● With a thicker handle, the gyuto feels heavier.

● Gyuto knives are not made from as hard steel meaning that you will need to sharpen them more frequently.


What's the Difference Between Santoku Knives and Gyuto Knives?

So, now that we have gotten ourselves familiar with both the santoku and gyuto knives, it’s becoming clear that there are some key differences. Of course, these are both multipurpose knives that will see a lot of use in the kitchen but there are two main differences.

The first is the tip; santoku knives have a flat tip whereas the gyuto has a pointed tip. If you’re looking for a knife to pierce foods then you’d opt for the gyuto.

The second major difference is the curve of the blade, or lack thereof. Santoku knives have a straight-edged blade whereas the gyuto has a curved edge. This means that each knife is better suited to different cutting techniques.


Best Uses For a Santoku Knife

While santoku knives may not be quite as versatile as the gyuto, they’re still extremely diverse and can be used in so many different ways.

Primarily, you would use this knife for things like mincing, dicing and slicing. Since the blade is typically shorter than that of a gyuto, you’ll have much greater agility when doing these types of tasks. The result is less hand fatigue which would otherwise be quite problematic as you’d have to chop as opposed to using the rocking motion technique.

Santoku knives are great if you’re looking for something light, comfortable and easy to use. They’re pretty adept in most situations and can be used for almost any recipe that requires the use of a knife. The only time we would advise against using a santoku would be for heavy-duty tasks like boning or hard fruits such as pineapple.


Best Uses For a Gyuto Knife

The gyuto knife is a much more heavy-duty multipurpose knife that can be used in several ways. It will work well when cutting fruits and vegetables but also excels when it comes to cutting meat and fish.

Since the gyuto features a curved blade, this should be your go-to tool when you want to use the rocking motion technique which would be impossible with the straight blade of the santoku knife.


Santoku vs Gyuto: Which One Do I Need?

In all seriousness, we would suggest having one of each of these types of knives if you want your kitchen to be as versatile as possible. However, if you’re only looking to purchase one knife then you’ll need to decide between the two.

Gyutos are Japanese chef’s knives and so if you’ve been used to using a European chef’s knife, you might find the gyuto easier to use. Moreover, these are slightly better in terms of versatility especially if you work with a lot of tough-skinned veggies and meats.

That said, if you like a lightweight and agile knife then you might prefer the santoku. One thing that appeals to a lot of people is that the santoku is also slightly cheaper.

It all boils down to personal preference and how you intend to use the knife. But now you know the difference, it should be much easier to make the right decision.


Final Thoughts

People often get confused between the santoku and gyuto knives. They do have a slightly similar appearance apart from the curve of the blade and the different shaped tips. What’s more, since these are both multi-purpose knives, it can be difficult to choose between them.

Which to buy? Gyuto or santoku knife? Generally speaking, a gyuto is more versatile than a santoku. That said, for making straight cuts with a lightweight knife, the santoku is superior. It’s all about what you prefer and how you’ll use the knife since both of these blades have their own pros and cons.

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