When first learning about cheese knives, you may question whether buying specific knives just for cheese is worth it. With so many kitchen gadgets available, cheese knives may seem frivolous or unnecessary. This will largely depend on how often you work with cheese and how important presentation and the experience is to your eating habits.
Cheese knives are not necessary, but investing in a soft cheese knife specifically can be beneficial. While traditional knives will suffice, cheese knives are best for maintaining each cheese’s structural integrity and consistency. They are a helpful tool in the kitchen for cheese lovers.
Whether you are contemplating your need for cheese knives or want to understand how to use the ones you have, keep reading to see why cheese knives are a worthy investment and to determine if you need them in your kitchen.
The Best Practical Reasons for Purchasing a Cheese Knife
If you have to choose between kitchen tools, a cheese knife may be near the bottom of your list. This is understandable as most knives can be used to cut your cheeses as well. While they aren’t a necessary kitchen item, they make a great addition to your knife set if cheese is an important part of your diet and you want to fully enjoy the eating experience.
The level of necessity in purchasing a cheese knife will depend on how often you eat cheeses and the need to slice them. Cheese knives may be a better investment for those who fall into the following categories:
- Enjoy entertaining: If charcuterie and cheese boards are a consistent part of your entertainment routine, cheese knives will help elevate the experience. They can help cut the cheese with better aesthetic appeal to bring out the best presentation and flavors. Different knives provide unique textures for variety.
- Eat a lot of cheese: If cheese is a consistent part of your diet, a cheese knife will make it easier to cut. You may also enjoy the added benefits that come from allowing the cheese to maintain its structure and full flavor.
- Eat soft cheeses: If you are going to purchase a cheese knife, buy a soft cheese knife. Its design prevents cheeses from sticking and messing up their structural integrity. These knives can be used to cut most delicate foods.
In my opinion, you do not need cheese knives in your kitchen as long as you are well-equipped with various standard kitchen knives. With that being said, cheese knives can be a lot of fun. If cheese eating is essential to you, or you want to get the most out of the experience, buying individual cheese knives can be worthwhile.
For those that fall into the mentioned categories, cheese knives can be essential for both execution and presentation. Utilizing the right knife for the job creates balanced portions of cheese and other ingredients to compliment each other and bring out ideal flavor profiles.
Different Types of Cheese Knives
There is a wide range of cheese knives available on the market specifically designed for nearly every type of cheese. The types of knives listed below are organized by order of necessity in properly handling various cheeses.
Soft Cheese Knives
Of all the cheese knives you can invest in, a soft cheese knife may be the most necessary and beneficial. Using a special soft cheese knife with holes along the blade will avoid losing more cheese on the knife and keep the cheese in its best condition. In addition to the holes designed in the blade, these knives also come with a thin blade to make cutting easier.
Soft cheese knives are unique from traditional knives in the following ways:
- Holes in the blade: It is unique to see cut out areas in a blade, which is often not incredibly useful in other applications. Soft cheeses only need a sharp edge to cut through, and the holes are designed to prevent the cheese from sticking to the knife. One can easily remove the cheese from the blade without breaking the slice.
- Narrow blades: A thinner blade creates enough force to cleanly cut the cheese and avoid structural changes. Soft cheese can quickly lose its delicate interior when cut with a large and cumbersome knife.
- Pronged tip: Many soft cheese knives have a forked spear at the edge for serving cheese after cutting. This makes it a useful multipurpose tool to use for both cuttings and moving if necessary. You can also use these tools for grabbing and serving harder cheeses quickly. This knife can be used for harder cheeses as well as soft.
Soft cheese knives with holes, pronged tips, or both are some of the most versatile and used cheese knives. These knives are best used for cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, and mozzarella. Of all the cheese knives to invest in, a soft cheese knife will be the best investment for its unique features compared to kitchen knives that can be used for most cheeses.
This video describes what some of these knives look like and how to use them:
The goal is to find a knife with a limited surface area to keep the cheese intact and free from the blade. If you don’t use a soft cheese knife, you can avoid some cheese sticking by running hot water over the blade and wiping dry before slicing.
Cheese Knives for Shaving
The perfect knife for creating even and thin slices, a cheese plane is best used for semi-hard cheeses. You can use this type of cheese tool to create cheese boards and make your own slices for sandwiches. Adding this slicer to your kitchen will make cheese cutting much more consistent and faster!
By dragging the plane across the cheese’s surface, the slice will easily gather on top of the plane for easy serving. You can also use a cheese plane with harder cheeses for shavings. This tool is most compatible with Muenster, Havarti, Parmesan, and Fontina. You will need a quality plane with a sharp edge to cut through harder cheeses.
This cheese tool has been placed second on this list because it’s also a good investment for simple cheese cutting. Purchasing blocks of cheese for sandwiches or snacking are more economical and aren’t too much work to cut with these tools. It still doesn’t fall into the “must-have” category because most knives will work, but it’s definitely a time saver!
You can see how a cheese plane works in this video:
Cheese wires are also popular variations to cheese planes that can often accommodate wider blocks of cheese. These will often make thicker slices, but the wires can be adjusted to determine the thickness. You can watch how cheese wires work in the below video:
Hard Cheese Knives
While they vary in design, hard cheese knives typically are found in cleavers and spades. They allow you to cut cheeses into smaller chunks or more refined wedges. These differ from delicate soft cheese knives in that they have thicker and wider blades that are heavy enough to apply greater force to cut through the cheese.
The rectangular shape of the cleaver allows for straight and stable cutting in a downward motion. If you have ever tried to cut hard cheese or other items, using a flimsy knife can be dangerous. Using a sharp and heavy knife with a thick blade will avoid any potential slips or accidents when force is applied.
These knives are typically used for block cheeses, such as cheddars, pepper jack, and Gruyere. Because larger knives may already be found in a kitchen, hard cheese knives may not be quite as necessary as our previous two selections. Small cleavers and other thick flat-edged knives will be able to cut through these types of cheeses efficiently.
If you do purchase this knife, look for one with a sturdy handle designed to cut through the blocks of cheese without your hand making contact with the board or counter surface. This will keep your hands further from the blade and also allow you to cut efficiently.
Flat Cheese Knife
These flat knives are also known as chisel knives because you face the blade directly over the cheese and chip away at it in a downward motion. They are most commonly used for cutting semi-soft cheese or slicing into semi-hard cheeses that are large and thick. They look a lot like tools used for paint scraping and can also be found in narrow varieties for chipping blocks.
Flat cheese knives are often used for aged cheeses such as asiago and semi-hard cheeses like Provolone, Gouda, and Swiss. This is not a necessary purchase but does make for an excellent addition to a cheese knife collection. These knives can be quite versatile, allowing you to cut and serve cheese and other items on a cheese or charcuterie board.
While there are specific knives for other crumbly cheeses, these chisel knives also work well with gorgonzola and blue cheese. You can use it to break the cheese as well as a scoop and spread it if needed. The sharp edge on the knife makes it easy to cut through the cheese entirely and breakthrough some rinds too.
You can slice many of these cheeses with a chef’s knife but consider using a sharper edge for effective crumbling.
A must-have for charcuterie and cheese boards, this knife does not include a sharp edge and is very flexible. If you are looking for a similar knife with a sharp edge, a gorgonzola knife serves a similar purpose. While they are small, their wider spatula-like face helps to keep softer cheeses on the knife while scooping and allow for easy spreading.
Keeping multiple cheese spreaders on a board may be helpful as the cheese will often stick to the surface. This will keep cheeses separate and not interfere with unique flavor profiles. These knives are small and relatively inexpensive, not to mention cute for presentation. Because you can use a butter knife with similar results, cheese spreaders are not as necessary to own.
If you choose to buy one, you can find cute ones with many decorative handles for different occasions and holidays! They’re a festive way to decorate a cheese plate. A simple design can fit nicely across all themes for a knife you’ll use over and over.
Cheese spreaders are typically used for:
- Cream cheese
- Blue cheese
- Goat cheese
Dips and spreads can also benefit from using a cheese spreader for bread and crackers.
Parmesan Cheese Knives
This cheese knife is not only used for parmesan, but it is one of the most popular applications for the knife. This knife has many names, including heart knife, spade knife, and pear knife, all used to break up hard cheeses. With a sharp tip and triangular-shaped blade, this knife is perfect for slicing and spearing cheese. For hard cheeses, you’re looking to break off chunks.
Hard cheese can be challenging to cut with most knives, so having a knife with a very sharp point can break through and also be used to cut rinds. If the knife has one flat and sharp edge, it can also be used to cut pieces smaller or more uniformly. This knife is typically used for parmesan, pecorino, romano, and similar cheeses.
It is important to note that these knives use a chunking method rather than slicing. Because hard cheese doesn’t cut easily, breaking them off into chunks is not only easier but also provides a more rustic presentation.
Because this knife is rather specific, it lands near the bottom of the list in terms of necessity. It is fun to have but isn’t needed to cut most cheeses. Unless hard cheeses are essential to your cooking and eating, this knife is not a top recommendation on this list.
Rind Cutting Knives
Rind cutters are typically used for hard cheeses and can be used in conjunction with parmesan cheese knives. Cutting a rind off cheese can be really difficult with a knife, so a rind cutter makes this slicing much more straightforward. It is characterized by having a hooked tip that is sharp to pierce through the rind and cut through it smoothly.
This knife can be used on nearly any cheese with a rind but works well with larger wheels of cheese, including parmesan and Grana Padano. Using a cheese rind will require quite a large wheel of cheese or piece for rind cutting to be effective. Because of their specificity, rind cutters are the least necessary cheese knife to own.
You can use your hard cheese knives or larger knives to either cut through the rind or remove nearly all cheese from it. Parmesan knives are often utilized in slicing the rind as well as cutting through cheese.
Deciding Whether or Not to Invest in Cheese Knives
Most common knives will cut through your cheeses, which may make investing in cheese knives less of a priority. The most necessary knives to add to your kitchen cutlery should follow the lead from your taste buds. Cheese knives offer a wide range of designs and features, similar to the cheese itself. The right cheese knife will be dictated by the cheeses you eat most.
Choosing a cheese knife will come down to your cheese preferences and the specific knives that bring their own benefits. If a chef’s knife can do the same job as a parmesan knife, it may not be the best investment. But when trying to cut cheese like Brie, the knife will often stick to the cheese. Consequently, purchasing a soft cheese knife may be the most practical purchase.
To get the most out of the cheese knife, consider how often you’ll use it. If you really enjoy eating cheese, this may be a good investment over time. If spending the extra money is a concern, think about all the Brie you’ll lose over time that gets stuck to the knife and uneaten! Buying a cheese knife may also be an important convenience that makes preparation easier.
While cheese knives are not the most necessary items, they are fun to have! Splurging on a knife that works well and improves the presentation and enjoyment of your food can bring its own benefits beyond practicality.
Time to Buy?
Considering cheese knives as a whole, they are not necessary for most users. The general exceptions include those who really enjoy eating beautifully presented boards or appetizers and those who want to make their lives easier with some handy tools. Choosing from our list, soft cheese knives and cheese planes for shaving are the most effective and convenient knives.
Whether you use cheese knives or not, be sure to keep all your knives sharp for effective cutting and wash the knife when cutting different types of cheese. Maintaining the best structure and flavors should be prioritized with any knife that is used.