You may know the most dangerous thing in a kitchen is a dull knife, but this common way of holding it increases the danger even more.
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Close up shot of black man holding sharp knife cutting cucumber
Credit: Adobe Stock

The chef's knife can be a mysterious tool. When a professional wields one, precision knife cuts seem inevitable. But when you pick one up, well, that precision seems elusive. What is it that they're doing that you're not? The quick answer is that it has a lot to do with how you're holding your knife.

The chef's knife is a chef's best friend for a reason. It's a versatile tool that can handle a multitude of kitchen tasks. However, it works best when you hold it correctly. Before we get into that, let's tackle the wrong ways to hold a knife.

Common Knife-Holding Mistakes

1. Putting Your Index Finger on Top of the Blade's Spine

It feels natural to put your forefinger on top of the blade of the knife, but in reality, it's not a safe way to hold a knife. It may feel like that finger on top is stabilizing the knife, but it's actually taking away from your overall grip control, making it easier to slip. Your forefinger in this position simply isn't strong enough to control or move the knife.

2. Gripping Your Knife at the Back of the Handle

The further away from the blade your gip is, the less control you have over it. Plus, gripping the knife at the back of the handle requires a lot more work from your hand, which could fatigue all of those little muscles and tendons.

3. Using Your Free Hand to Push Down on the Blade

You are better off using that hand to securely hold the food you are cutting. If the food isn't stable while you are cutting, chances are it will slip away under your knife causing you to slip and potentially injure yourself.

The Safest Ways to Hold a Knife

1. Full Handle Grip

Caucasian senior man in home kitchen while cutting a ripe red wa
Credit: Adobe Stock

This is a good option for beginners. All fingers are wrapped around the handle. This isn't the strongest grip, but might be safest to start with if you're just getting used to using a bigger knife, such as a chef's knife.

2. Pinch Grip

This is the grip used by most professional chefs. To accomplish it, grip the handle close to the blade, place your thumb on one side of the blade and your index finger on the other side, pinching the blade. Bend your index finger a bit so that it curls up on the side of the blade, well clear of the bottom of the knife to prevent injuries. This grip gives you ultimate control of the knife.

Bonus tip: Keep your knife sharp. A dull knife only leads to injuries. A good rule of thumb is to sharpen them every few months, especially if you use them often. As soon as they become hard to use, that's a good sign that they need to be sharpened.