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Best Nakiri Knife: Top Options Reviewed to Chop and Slice

Gerard Paul
September 13th, 2020

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In a hurry to chop? My pick for best nakiri knife is the Yoshihiro Vegetable Chef Knife.

For anyone that loves making sushi, do you have a knife that is reliable and capable of cutting vegetables super thin? Investing in a Nakiri knife can help you pull off very thin cuts. 

A Nakiri is most akin to a cleaver, featuring a double bevel and super sharp tapered edges. With a flat design profile and squared-off tips, the Nakiri knife is ideal for chopping and push cutting. Here are a few tips and reviews to help you find the best Nakiri knife for your kitchen.

Eight Top Nakiri Knives Reviewed

How to choose the best Nakiri Knife

Typically, the best Nakiri knife will have a Granton edge. This type of edge is hollow and allows air pockets to form between the indentations and the slice. This is essential to keep vegetables and fruits from sticking to the blade. 

The Nakiri knife also has a full tang design meaning that only one piece of steel is used from the handle to the tip. Moisture is prevented from accumulating thanks to the polymer triple-riveted handle stopping bacteria from collecting in between the handle and the steel. The best Nakiri knives can cut uniform sized pieces for soups, salads, and stir-fries. You get more precise cuts and less to clean up with a Nakiri knife than a food processor.

What are the advantages of a Nakiri Knife?

Thanks to its hollow ground blade, the Nakiri is as thin as a chef's knife. Constructed of carbon steel, it is great for cutting vegetables, especially when some finesse is required. Typically, just having a flat edge will give you the functionality of an up-and-down motion that doesn't have the horizontal pushing and pulling you may want. With a flatter edge, the Nakiri knife makes it easy to keep that uniform thinness that you desire when cutting even tricky fruits and vegetables.

A Nakiri knife is also capable when slicing, chopping, and mincing fruits and vegetables with precision and speed. This helps when you want the thinnest possible cuts or perfectly cut slices and cubes.

A Nakiri knife is also sharper than other knives thanks to the blade angle. Nakiri knives have a carbon steel build, and the thicker width of the blade makes it stronger when cutting harder food like turnips.

Nakiri illustrated
Illustrated Nakiri knife with a rounded tip and wooden handle

Considerations When Choosing a Nakiri Knife

Although they are famous for their sharp chopping action, Nakiri knives are not as popular as the Santoku knife.

With similar qualities and weight, both are found in Japanese kitchens and are used to mince, slice, and dice vegetables. With a straight blade, a Nakiri knife can chop food cleanly and evenly. A Santoku knife has a curved blade that also makes it better suited for cutting meat or for "rocking" cuts. The main difference between the two lies in their blade shapes.

If you need a knife for a lot of different cutting tasks, the Santoku knife is the right choice due to its pointed edge and curved blade shape. However, if you need skinny slices of vegetables, the Nakiri knife is the better choice with its flat blade. 

Blade Materials

When choosing a knife, the blade material is the most critical consideration. Even though most modern knives are constructed of stainless steel, keep in mind that not all stainless steel is the same. 

You will find two types when choosing a Japanese knife, and each varies with the amount of carbon in it. The amount of carbon is what determines the quality of the knife.

Low Carbon – If you have a blade with a low amount of carbon in it, you will find that it becomes dull faster. This type of blade is softer than a blade with higher carbon content, and you'll find yourself sharpening it more frequently.

High Carbon – Knives with high amounts of carbon blended in the stainless steel will hold their edge for a longer period. They are also easier to sharpen and require less maintenance overall. 

Handle

Handle quality is another critical consideration. You want a knife that performs well and is comfortable to handle. Handles that have ergonomic designs that fit into your hand's curves are easier to hold and maneuver for long periods of time. 

Plus, if you have a firm handle, you're less likely to slip and possibly injure yourself.

Blade Finish

You may have noticed that vegetables often stick to the knife blade when you are cutting them. If you have the right finish on the blade, this is less likely to happen. 

Nakiri knives often have a hammered finish, which is also called "tsuchime" in Japanese. This hand-hammered finish lessens drag when you cut making food less likely to stick to the blade. 

If a blade has a Granton edge, vegetables are also less likely to stick to the sides of the blade. These types of finishes create air pockets when you chop food allowing food to release quickly from the sides. 

Blade Length

Besides their durability and sharpness, a Nakiri knife usually comes in with a mid-sized blade compared to other kitchen knives. Typically, five-inches is the minimum length of a Nakiri knife and makes the chopping motion safe, easy, and comfortable.

Steel Hardness

Hardness is measured using the Rockwell scale. The Rockwell scale presents a dimensionless number, where a higher score means a harder stainless steel. 

Kitchen knives usually come in between 53-55 on the lower end, up to 64-65 for (very expensive) extremely high-quality blades. You'll find many Nakiris in the 60s – in my experience, look for one 62 or higher.

Cutting Edge Angle

If you want a sharper cut, you need a lower angle. A Nakiri knife-edge typically falls between eight and 12 degrees. 

12-degrees is a fine angle for a beginner, so don't worry too much over this measurement. If you've put your practice in and can deal with an extremely sharp knife, look for a Nakiri down in the 8-degree range.

Watch this blacksmith hand-craft an awesome Nakiri:

Versatility

Versatility is one of the most significant benefits of a Nakiri.

Again, although it is similar in many ways to a Santoku knife (and very close to a Usuba), a Nakiri is easier to sharpen and a lot more comfortable to use for a casual cook. Plus, it isn't as delicate – nothing is worse than buying a premium blade only to chip or crack it!

What's the best way to use a Nakiri knife?

Again, one of the most significant benefits of using a Nakiri is its versatility. It's lighter than other knives the same length (weighing as much as 40 percent less). Its blade construction is also much thinner and easier to sharpen.

You can quickly work your way through leafy vegetables with a Nakiri making it a perfect knife to chop up ingredients for recipes like coleslaw. It is also excellent for cutting up vegetables for soups. Great for a wide variety of tasks (and all your vegetable cutting duties), the Nakiri is an excellent all-purpose knife and a good entry point to using Japanese knives. 

What advantages does the Nakiri knife offer?

Even, Thin Slices – Due to the flat blade on the Nakiri knife, you can make even, thin slices that are like pieces of paper. If you need a ribbon of vegetables for a dish, the Nakiri knife is the perfect knife for it.

Effortless Chopping – You don't need to rock the blade on a Nakiri knife as you do with other types of knives. With a straight edge, the Nakiri knife will cut straight through. A chopping motion can cut almost any vegetable. 

Clean Cuts – With the flat edge on the blade of the Nakiri knife, you get even and clean cuts. You don't have to worry about those little threads when you cut onions with a Nakiri knife since each cut is clean and full.

Blade Length – Typically, a Nakiri knife comes with a five to seven-inch blade that is the perfect length to cut almost any vegetable.

Kind to Delicate Vegetables – When you cut delicate vegetables, you don't have to be concerned with damaging or squishing vegetables when you cut them with a Nakiri knife.

Nakiri Knife Reviews

Wusthof Classic Nakiri Knife

Featuring a hollow edge, the seven-inch Wusthof Classic Nakiri Knife is ideal for vegetable prep. This traditional Japanese knife is excellent for dicing and slicing. Made of precision-forged steel, this triple-riveted knife is ergonomic and comes with a full-tang handle. It comes with a 58 Rockwell hardness rating, which is a bit low compared to others on this list and means you will probably have to sharpen it more often.

Made with high carbon stainless steel, the Wusthof Classic Nakiri Knife was made in consultation with professional chefs. Made in Solingen, Germany, this knife is ideal for cutting cheese and fruit or mincing herbs. It also features a full bolster that helps to protect your fingers, and it comes with a laser-controlled and tested cutting edge.

Pros:

  • It is very comfortable to use
  • Very sharp and easy to handle knife
  • It cuts meat, vegetables, and bread as thin as you want

Cons:

  • It does not come with a blade guard
  • Be sure to buy a sharpener to keep it sharp

Shun Cutlery Classic Nakiri Knife

The 6 ½ inch Shun Cutlery Nakiri Knife is handcrafted in Japan. Hand-sharpened, this 16-degree double-beveled steel blade comes with a gorgeous D-shaped ebony PakkaWood handle. The Shun is a clean, durable, and sharp kitchen tool that is an excellent addition to any kitchen.

The functional Shun Nakiri Knife makes quick work of vegetables and fruits by quickly chopping, dicing, and slicing them into precise portions. Constructed of VG-10 stainless steel, these knives are less brittle and harder than other Nakiri knives on the market. They are also more flexible than regular steel knives. It has a Rockwell hardness rating of 60-61 and a double 8 degree bevel (two-sided 16 degree).

Clad with 33 layers of SUS410 high-carbon stainless steel steel, the Shun features the famous flowing Damascus steel pattern. It comes with an offset stainless-steel bolster that created for safety and ergonomic comfort. The D-shaped handle keeps the knife from twisting in your hand and gives you a firm grip and extra stability. Plus, the fused-blend of hardwood veneers in the handle gives it a traditional and warm look of wood with the durability and strength of plastic.

Pros:

  • It makes an excellent chopping knife
  • It comes with a nice heavy blade and long handle
  • This is a well-balanced, high-quality knife

Cons:

  • It may not be very sharp out of the box (but holds an excellent edge when sharpened)
  • The knife is higher priced than other options on the list

J.A. Henckels International CLASSIC Christopher Kimball Edition Nakiri Knife

The 6 ½ inch J.A. Henckels International Classic Nakiri Knife was created by chef Christopher Kimball. It is perfect for chopping, dicing, and slicing large vegetables and fruits. With its slender and sharp blade, you can create precise juliennes and thin cuts.

The rectangular and wide blade gives it the feel of a cleaver while having the versatility of a chef's knife. The J.A. Henckels is modeled on a traditional Japanese vegetable cleaver and can quickly dispatch any prep work. Constructed in Spain, the blade has a professional satin-finish that is strengthened by high-quality German stainless steel.

It has a seamless transition from handle to blade using a fully forged construction to give you both durability and balance. You get fatigue-free cutting thanks to the ergonomic triple-riveted handle. It is also dishwasher safe (although I always recommend you hand-wash your quality knives).

Pros:

  • It has excellent balance and is comfortable to hold
  • It makes a smooth cut
  • The knife is easy to handle for smaller hands

Cons:

  • None, unless having a traditional blade made in Japan is important

Yoshihiro Aoko Nakiri Japanese Vegetable Knife

Made with stain-resistant steel, the Yoshihiro Aoko Nakiri Knife is 6 ½ inches long and constructed with a high-carbon steel center core. The quality blade will hold its sharp cutting edge for a very long time. 

Both sides have stain-resistant cladding (although knives will eventually develop stains), and the blade's surface features a tsuchime (hammered) pattern. The hammered design includes indentions that keep food from sticking to the surface of the blade by inspiring air pockets while cutting.

The Yoshihiro Aoko knife handles feature Pakka wood and a high-carbon steel bolster. The knife is fast and efficient, making it perfect for chopping with its flat and thin blade edge. You also get a full tang, and it ergonomically welds itself to your hand for seamless use.

It also comes with a protective sheath constructed of magnolia wood that keeps the knife protected while giving it an attractive appearance when you aren't using it. This premium quality Japanese knife is honed and sharpened to contribute to your kitchen out of the box instantly.

Pros:

  • The Yoshihiro Aoko is a very sharp and good-looking knife
  • It comes with a super fine edge
  • The knife is easy to sharpen to a fine razor edge

Cons:

  • The edge of the blade can discolor if you do not clean and oil it often
  • It does not come with a wooden cover

DALSTRONG Nakiri Vegetable Knife

Part of the Dalstrong's Shogun Series X, the Dalstrong Nakiri Vegetable Knife is made of Japanese AUS-10V super steel. This six-inch blade comes with a hammered finish which helps food to release after fine cuts. The DALSTRONG has a straight edge as well as a broad blade that assists with scooping and chopping up food.

Made in a 60-day process, the DALSTRONG uses high-quality materials and is both a razor-sharp tool in the kitchen as well as an artistic statement. The aesthetic tsuchime finish also lessens the amount of drag and makes small air pockets that can minimize stuck-on food. IT features a very hard 62+ Rockwell hardness.

It has scalpel-like sharpness, impressive edge retention, and perfect balance. It is also corrosion and rust-resistant while the hand-polished spine increases comfort along with the grips. Built to last a lifetime, the DALSTRONG features a full tang design (where the steel extends from tip to handle) for the most robustness. The handle is attached with a triple-rivet.

The DALSTRONG also features a tapered blade to minimize resistance when slicing. It cleans easily, and the precise cryogenic tempering improves its crystalline structure to enhance and strengthen its hardness and flexibility.

Pros:

  • The Dalstrong is a beautiful knife you will enjoy holding
  • It is a solid knife that chops very well
  • It has a perfect fit and finish

Cons:

  • Some users found it wider and heavier than expected for a Nakiri
  • Owners had mixed experiences with the blade guard

Miyabi Birchwood Sg2 Nakiri Knife

The Miyabi Birchwood Nakiri Knife features a 6 ½ inch knife blade. Weighing only one pound, this is a high-quality knife that features a unique style. It features a beautiful wavy pattern with 101 layers of SG2 micro-carbide steel.

In addition to being 6.5 inches long, the blade is 1-7/8 inches wide and features a curved tip that allows you to rock the knife for around 10% of the blade's length. It's incredibly sharp out of the box and has a very high 63 Rockwell hardness which means it is durable and will hold the edge a while.

Pros:

  • The Miyabi is a high-quality knife with a unique style
  • It is one of the sharpest out of the box knives you will find
  • It is a very lightweight and sharp knife

Cons:

  • It does not come with a knife sheath, and it's hard to see where to buy one that fits well
  • The handle may be prone to stains if you don't clean it carefully

Calphalon Katana Cutlery Nakiri Knife

The seven-inch Calphalon Katana Series Nakiri Knife is constructed using a 33-layer stainless steel process that gives it incredible sharpness – for its looks and its blade. It is custom-forged over the top of a Japanese VG-1 steel core which results in a razor-sharp edge.

Perfect for dicing vegetables and fruits, the Calphalon Katana Nakiri Knife includes an integrated bolster design that lets you use the correct full blade technique. With precision and elegance, this knife uses a flat blade that is designed to julienne, dice, and slice using a firm thrust forward. With the Calphalon, you can slice vegetables and fruits, and it's also perfect for slicing vegetables very thinly for sushi-making. 

You get a secure grip thanks to the integrated bolster between the blade and handle. You get both smooth cuts and a correct full-blade technique with this integrated design. And the contoured, ergonomically designed grip handle will fit into your hand snugly allowing you to hold it comfortably for long periods. 

Pros:

  • The knife has a great weight and excellent fit
  • It is super sharp and well-balanced
  • Cuts effortlessly

Cons:

  • Owners found the steel in the knife to be very brittle
  • Some users found it prone to rust

Yoshihiro Vegetable Chef Knife

Measuring 6.3-inches in the blade, the Yoshihiro Vegetable Chef Knife features 46 layers of stainless steel for a distinct look and high performance. It comes with a Shitan Rosewood Handle and a Saya Cover. 

Created in the Damascus tradition, the Yoshihiro features a VG-10 Core and mixes value, beauty, and performance. It measured up with a moderate-to-hard Rockwell 60. This double-edged knife is perfect for chopping vegetables and prepping greens with its flat cutting edge.

Exceeding the hardness level of typical stainless-steel knives, the Yoshihiro has a thinner and sharper blade that cuts seamlessly through pretty much any ingredient you have. The Yoshihiro is a rust-resistant knife that's handcrafted and balanced for comfort. The Damascus steel gives additional durability and toughness that gets rid of friction and food sticking to it.

 This double-edged knife comes with a protective wooden sheath called a Saya. This sheath is made of natural Magnolia that adds to the overall appearance of the knife when you aren't using it.

Pros:

  • The blade has a good sturdy feel to it
  • It feels great in your hand when you are chopping
  • This is a wonderful knife that slices food very thin
  • Comes with an excellent saya (sheath)

Cons:

  • It is thicker at the spine than some users prefer
  • The wood handle might be a bit rough

My Pick for Best Nakiri Knife

The winner of the Nakiri knife round up is the Yoshihiro Vegetable Chef Knife.

Featuring a beautiful 46-layer Damascus steel construction, moderate hardness, and a nice included saya (sheath), it's hard to go wrong with the Yoshihiro. Its 6.3" blade and mahogany handle will serve you well – with comfort – for all the vegetable slicing and chopping you need to do in your kitchen.

Gerard Paul
Prolific eater and founder of ManyEats.

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