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Credit: Reviewed.com/Lindsay D. Mattison

The Best Paring Knives of 2022

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Credit: Reviewed.com/Lindsay D. Mattison

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Editor's Choice Product image of Wüsthof Classic 3 1/2-Inch Paring Knife
Best Overall

Wüsthof Classic 3 1/2-Inch Paring Knife

The blade made quick work of every task we threw at it (including a perfect apple peel and beautiful orange segments). We knew it was a shoo-in for top paring knife. Read More

Pros

  • Perfectly balanced handle
  • Sharp
  • Easy to maneuver

Cons

  • Expensive
Editor's Choice Product image of Victorinox 3-Inch Paring Knife with Straight Edge
Best Value

Victorinox 3-Inch Paring Knife with Straight Edge

We know we said you get what you pay for, but this knife seems to be the exception to the rule. Read More

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Sharp
  • Good value

Cons

  • Not as durable
Product image of Global GS-38 Classic 3.5-Inch Paring Knife

Global GS-38 Classic 3.5-Inch Paring Knife

A sturdy knife with an ultra-sharp edge. The hollow handle perfectly balanced the not-too-short but not-too-long blade, keeping us in control as we used it. Read More

Pros

  • Sturdy
  • Sharp
  • Balanced blade

Cons

  • Didn't ace every test
Product image of Mercer Culinary Genesis 3.5-Inch Forged Paring Knife

Mercer Culinary Genesis 3.5-Inch Forged Paring Knife

The blade was impressively sharp for the price, and it did well on most of our tests. But the bulky handle felt heavy, and the shape made peeling and deveining shrimp awkward. Read More

Pros

  • Sharp
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Bulky handle
Product image of Zwilling J.A. Henckels Four Star 4-Inch Paring Knife

Zwilling J.A. Henckels Four Star 4-Inch Paring Knife

A great handle make this a standout knife, though the four-inch blade is a touch long for some pairing jobs. Read More

Pros

  • Smooth and comfortable handle

Cons

  • Too long for jobs requiring precision

When it comes to essential knives, the paring knife is my number two pick. While the chef’s knife might be a total kitchen workhorse, that paring knife is more maneuverable. It effortlessly handles precision-oriented tasks that often take place off the cutting board, like peeling apples and deveining shrimp. Given a choice of any knife, I’ll reach for a razor sharp paring knife—like our top pick Wüsthof Classic 3.5-inch High Carbon Steel Paring Knife (available at Amazon)—anytime I’m looking to make a cut that requires a high level of control.

Some cooks say that, since you don’t use it as often, you should buy a cheap paring knife and replace it when it gets dull. That’s certainly an option–and we’ve provided a few value picks that will fit that bill. But, after testing 10 top-performing 3- to 4-inch paring knives, we found that they’re like most things: with one notable exception, you generally get what you pay for.

Here are the best paring we tested knives ranked, in order:

  1. Wüsthof Classic 3.5-inch High Carbon Steel Paring Knife
  2. Victorinox 3.25-inch Paring Knife
  3. Global 3.5-inch Western Style Paring Knife
  4. Mercer Culinary Genesis 3.5-Inch Forged Paring Knife
  5. ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Four-Star 4-Inch Paring Knife
  6. J.A. Henckels International CLASSIC 4-inch Paring Knife
  7. Kuhn Rikon 4-inch Nonstick Paring Knife Colori
  8. Opinel No 112 4-inch Paring Knife
Credit: Reviewed.com/Lindsay D. Mattison
Best Overall
Wüsthof Classic 3 1/2-Inch Paring Knife

The Wusthof Classic 3.5-inch High Carbon Steel Paring Knife is on the high end of knives we tested (coming in just under $50), but it’s completely worth it. It immediately pulled away from the pack with its perfectly balanced handle and streamlined design. In addition to great maneuverability and a high level of control, it comfortably hung out in my palm as I peeled and deveined shrimp. When the sharp blade made quick work of every task we threw at it (including a perfect apple peel and beautiful orange segments), we knew it was a shoo-in for our top pick as Best Overall.

Pros

  • Perfectly balanced handle

  • Sharp

  • Easy to maneuver

Cons

  • Expensive

Credit: Reviewed.com/Lindsay D. Mattison
Best Value
Victorinox 3-Inch Paring Knife with Straight Edge

There’s nothing to hate about the price tag on the Victorinox 3.25-inch Paring Knife—especially considering how well it performed on our tests. Its ultra-lightweight design made it easy to use off the cutting board and it only slightly lagged behind our top pick. After making quick work of coring strawberries without tiring our hands and peeling apples without so much as a snag, we knew this sharp, stainless steel blade rivaled most of its more expensive competitors. We know we said you get what you pay for, but this knife seems to be the exception to the rule. Because of that, it solidly landed our pick for Best Value.

Pros

  • Lightweight

  • Sharp

  • Good value

Cons

  • Not as durable

How We Tested

The Tester

Hi, I’m Lindsay Mattison, a trained professional chef. I tend to use a chef's knife for most of my cutting tasks, but I couldn't live without my trusty paring knife. It’s small, it’s sharp, and it’s perfect for any task that requires a lot of precision–like carving tomato roses! Okay, maybe those should stay on the ‘90’s buffet line, but in all seriousness, the paring knife is an essential part of my knife kit. I've had a personal favorite for years (you'll read about it in a minute!) and I want to help you find yours.

The Tests

We chose 10 paring knives between 3- to 4-inches in length—an adequate size to perform all the classic paring knife tasks while still being short enough to control. We were looking for a knife that could handle off-the-cutting-board tasks like peeling fruits while still being comfortable to hold for precision tasks (like mincing shallots). Our tests were designed to evaluate sharpness, comfort, and control.

Any good knife should be sharp out of the box, but the paring knife needs a nice edge to handle slicing food in the air. We peeled apples and segmented oranges to see how well each knife could handle the in-air tasks before mincing shallots to see how sharp it was on the board.

It's also important that a paring knife feels comfortable in our hands as we work suspended in the air. In addition to assessing how easily it peeled apples in a circular motion, we wanted to know how it felt sitting standby in our hands. In a restaurant setting, you don't always have time to set down your knife in between tasks. So, while we were peeling the shrimp with our fingertips, we checked to see if the knife sat comfortably in the palm of our hand while still being ready to spring into action when it was time to devein.

Finally, the knife had to have a nice balance between the blade and handle lengths, giving us the maximum amount of control as we used it. We assessed the shape, both on and off the cutting board, and determined if it could easily get into tight places. After coring strawberries—choking up on the sharp blade—we knew if each knife could cut with precision while still being safe to use.

What You Should Know About Paring Knives

A paring knife is a small but mighty knife that usually measures between 2.5 to 4-inches long. Cooks often use these when a regular chef’s knife is too large and they are perfect for precision-based cutting tasks. Paring knives are easy to manage and especially convenient for slicing, coring, and peeling.

What Is A Paring Knife Used For?

A paring knife is very versatile and can be used for preparing meats, fruits, or vegetables. Some popular uses for paring knives include deveining shrimp, peeling ingredients, coring tomatoes, decasing sausage, hulling strawberries, and scoring meat.

What To Look For When Buying A Paring Knife

Paring knives are a worthwhile investment if you’re an avid cook and handle a lot of delicate tasks. If you decide to invest in a full knife set, make sure it includes a paring knife. The most important features to look for in a paring knife include:

Comfortable grip: Take care to choose a paring knife that is comfortable to grip, as you’ll be holding it tightly.

Blade-to-handle ratio: Balance is essential when shopping for a paring knife. Make sure that the size and weight of the blade are equal, or it’ll be awkward to use.

Blade size: You have a variety of sizes to choose from when shopping for a paring knife, but we’ve found the best option is 3.25 to 3.5 inches.


Other Paring Knives We Tested

Product image of Global GS-38 Classic 3.5-Inch Paring Knife
Global GS-38 Classic 3.5-Inch Paring Knife

If you take a peek inside my personal knife bag, you’ll find a Global 3.5-inch Western Style Paring Knife. While it didn’t outperform our top picks, it’s still a sturdy knife with an ultra-sharp edge (thanks to the Japanese steel). The hollow handle perfectly balanced the not-too-short but not-too-long blade, keeping us in control as we used it. In addition to top marks on all of the tests, this one is also a bit of a showpiece—that iconic textured handle would make a stunning addition to your knife block.

Pros

  • Sturdy

  • Sharp

  • Balanced blade

Cons

  • Didn't ace every test

Product image of Mercer Culinary Genesis 3.5-Inch Forged Paring Knife
Mercer Culinary Genesis 3.5-Inch Forged Paring Knife

Anyone who has gone to culinary school knows the Mercer name; this brand makes the standard knife kit for first year students. For the price, there’s a lot to like about the Mercer Culinary Genesis 3.5-inch Forged Paring Knife—the blade was impressively sharp for such an inexpensive knife, and it did well on most of our tests. Our major complaint is its weight. Compared to the competition, the bulky handle felt heavy in our hands and the shape made peeling and deveining shrimp an awkward experience.

Pros

  • Sharp

  • Affordable

Cons

  • Heavy

  • Bulky handle

Product image of Zwilling J.A. Henckels Four Star 4-Inch Paring Knife
ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Four-Star 4-Inch Paring Knife

I gotta say, I love the handle material on the ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Four-Star 4-inch Paring Knife. It’s soft and smooth without any noticeable edges or sharp corners. When you’re holding a paring knife for an extended period of time, you really appreciate small details like that! Unfortunately, the 4-inch blade was just a bit too long and it struggled on precision tasks like segmenting oranges.

Pros

  • Smooth and comfortable handle

Cons

  • Too long for jobs requiring precision

Product image of J.A. Henckels International Classic 4-Inch Paring/Utility Knife
J.A. Henckels International Classic 4-Inch Paring/Utility Knife

Once again, between the 4-inch blade and the long handle on the J.A. Henckels International Classic 4-inch Paring Knife, this knife felt just a touch too long. It had a hard time getting into tight spaces to core strawberries and it wasn't maneuverable enough to segment citrus. In addition, the handle itself had sharp angles that made it uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time.

Pros

  • Dishwasher safe

Cons

  • Handle feels too long and uncomfortable

  • Not highly maneuverable

Product image of Kuhn Rikon Colori Paring Knife
Kuhn Rikon Colori Paring Knife

The Kuhn Rikon 4-inch Nonstick Paring Knife Colori has a plastic handle and a nonstick carbon steel blade. It comes with a plastic sheath, which makes it easy to take on-the-go. But, when it came down to performance, I wouldn’t recommend this model as your go-to knife. The slick plastic handle was slippery and the blade’s large, jutting butt end threatened to slice our fingers if we choked up on the blade.

Pros

  • Includes blade guard

  • Nonstick carbon steel blade

Cons

  • Clumsy plastic handle

Product image of Opinel No 112 Paring Knife
Opinel No 112 Paring Knife

I was surprised that the Opinel No 112 4-inch Paring Knife was so maneuverable given its 4-inch length, but it still wasn’t my favorite knife of the group. While it was nice and lightweight, it just wasn’t as sharp as some of the competition and the straight-bladed design made it difficult to hold while deveining shrimp. It definitely rings in at a value price, but there are better options in this price range.

Pros

  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Straight-bladed design makes some tasks difficult

  • Not as sharp as others

Meet the tester

Lindsay D. Mattison

Lindsay D. Mattison

Professional Chef

@zestandtang

Lindsay D. Mattison is a professional chef, food writer, and amateur gardener. She is currently writing a cookbook that aims to teach home cooks how to write without a recipe.

See all of Lindsay D. Mattison's reviews

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