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How to Choose the Right Cheese Knife

You may have a cheese knife set in your home but may not exactly know what task each one of those knives was made to perform. Just as a chef will use various types of knives in a day to increase their efficiency, each cheese knife type has a purpose to improve the user experience. We prepared a guide and a printable cheese knives resource to help you use the proper knife for the cheeses you are planning to serve.

 

Types of Cheese Knives

According to dining etiquette, a cheese knife should not be used on more than one cheese type on your cheese board. Each cheese knife performs a purpose and was built to preform it well. Here is a list of common cheese knives organized from soft cheese knives to hard cheese knives. We also go through how they are used and some cheeses you can pair them with.

 

Soft Cheese Knife

A soft cheese knife, also known as an open work blade knife, features holes in the blade to keep soft cheeses from sticking due to the minimal surface area. You can also use the holes to push a piece off of the knife.

Features: Sharp edge, holes in blade

Cheese Hardness: Soft to Semi-Soft

Ideal Cheeses: Brie, Camembert, Fresh Mozzarella

 

Cheese Spreader

A cheese spreader, also known as a spatula knife, is made for applying cheese spreads and creamy, spreadable cheeses onto breads and crackers.

Features: Dull edge, rounded blade

Cheese Hardness: Soft

Ideal Cheeses: Robiola, Stracchino, Cream Cheese

 

Gorgonzola Knife

Similar to a cheese spreader, a gorgonzola cheese knife is made for spreading creamy cheeses. However, the gorgonzola knife has a sharp blade to cut through cheese rinds.

Features: Rounded blade with one sharp edge

Cheese Hardness: Soft, Semi-Soft, and Crumbly

Ideal Cheeses: Gorgonzola, Bleu Cheese

 

Pronged Cheese Knife

The pronged cheese knife, or forked-tipped spear, is a multipurpose tool that allows you to cut a piece of cheese and then pick it up with the prongs at the end for serving or plating. The narrow blade offers a minimal surface area so soft cheeses don’t stick.

Features: Upward-curled narrow blade, sharp edge, pronged end

Cheese Hardness: Soft to Semi-Hard

Ideal Cheeses: Parmesan, Brie

 

Slim Blade Cheese Knife

A slim blade knife features very little surface area to prevent soft cheeses from sticking to the blade. It is typically offset from the handle to provide room for the user’s hand to keep the knuckles from hitting the board.

Features: Thin narrow blade, sharp edge, raided handle

Cheese Hardness: Soft to Semi-Hard

Ideal Cheeses: Camembert, Boursault

 

Flat Cheese Knife

A flat cheese knife, or a chisel knife, is used to cut slices off of aged cheeses by holding the blade vertically over the cheese and pushing downward. You can then use the sharp end to cut the pieces down even further.

Features: Wide flat paddle-like blade, sharp bottom edge

Cheese Hardness: Semi-Soft to Semi-Hard

Ideal Cheeses: Provolone, Swiss, Gruyere, Asiago

 

Narrow Plane Knife

A narrow plane cheese knife, also known as a trapezium knife, is made for cutting cheese as well as chipping away at the block. It is similar to the flat cheese knife but tends to be more rectangular in shape and features two sharp sides as opposed to one.

Features: Narrow blade, both the short edge and long edge are sharp

Cheese Hardness: Semi-Soft to Hard

Ideal Cheeses: Gouda, Cheddar, Jarlsber

 

Cheddar Cheese Knife

A cheddar knife, also known as a mini cleaver, cheddar cleaver, or semi-hard cheese knife, is made to cut hard cheeses. The wide blade and cleaver shape allows the cutter to use force and balance to push downward and cut slices. The placement of the handle keeps your knuckles from hitting the board.

Features: Wide rectangular blade, sharp long edge, ergonomic handle

Cheese Hardness: Semi-Hard to Hard

Ideal Cheeses: Cheddar, Gruyere, Colby, Fontina

 

Parmesan Knife

A parmesan cheese knife features a pointed edge made for breaking off chunks of hard and dry cheeses like Parmesan. It also has a sharp edge to cut rinds open. Parmesan knives come in two different styles: the bell cheese knife which will have an arrow-head shaped blade, and the compact cheese knife which has a blade that resembles a shark tooth. Both styles perform the same function when cutting cheese.

Features: Sharp-pointed tip, triangular stubby blade, sharp long edge

Cheese Hardness: Hard

Ideal Cheeses: Parmesan, Castelmagno, Grana Padano

 

Hard Cheese Knife

Hard cheese knives are typically one of the largest you will find. They are made for pressing downward and cutting through a whole wheel or wedge of aged hard cheese to form smaller portions. You will often find hard cheese knives with handles on either end to allow for even pressure distribution.

Features: Long straight blade, sharp edge, one or two handles

Cheese Hardness: Hard

Ideal Cheeses: Asiago, Extra Mature Cheddar, Provolone, Comte

 

Other Cheese Tools

Some cheese knife kits will come with additional tools to help cut and serve cheeses. Here are some of the more common cheese tools you may encounter:

Cheese Wire

A cheese wire, or bow knife, is made for cutting those delicate soft cheeses without crushing them or spreading them too far. They are usually found in a bow shape or attached to a cheese board that had an indent for the wire. The wire would be lowered down gently through the cheese, leaving a clean slice behind.

Features: Metal wire, bow or handle

Cheese Hardness: Soft to Semi-Soft

Ideal Cheeses: Fresh Mozzarella, Ricotta, Robiola

 

Cheese Plane

A cheese plane was made for achieving thinly sliced pieces of cheese. To slice the cheese, pass the plane along the top or side of the cheeses. The slice will then settle on the top of the plane’s spatula-like structure, making it easy to plate or serve.

Features: Spatula-like paddle with a sharp-edged slit

Cheese Hardness: Semi-Soft to Semi-Hard

Ideal Cheeses: Fontina, Havarti, Muenster

 

Cheese Rind Cutter

A rind cutter features a pointed tip that is made to score the rind of a hard cheese, making it easier to open. To use a rind cutter, pierce the rind at one edge and drag it neatly across the surface of the rind.

Features: Pointed downward tip, sharp edge

Cheese Hardness: Semi-Hard to Hard

Ideal Cheeses: Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano

 

Cheese Grater

A cheese grater is excellent for creating shreds of cheese. They will typically have razors on more than one side of it to produce different size shreds when a block of cheese is pressed down against the grooves. You can also use a cheese grater to shred a variety of other foods.

Features: Several sharp razors on flat plane

Cheese Hardness: Semi-Hard to Hard

Ideal Cheeses: Parmesan, Romano

 

Cheese Fork

A cheese fork is helpful on a cheese board for picking up cut pieces of cheese for plating. It can also be used to break up blocks of aged cheese into smaller chunks as well.

Features: Two pointed prongs

Cheese Hardness: Semi-Soft to Hard

Ideal Cheeses: Feta, Cheddar, Provolone, Gouda, Parmesan

 

How to Cut Cheese

Now that you know which type of knife to pair with your cheese, it is important to know how to properly cut those cheeses, whether they be in wheels, wedges, or blocks.

Soft Cheese Wedges: When cutting into a wedge of soft cheese, you’ll want to cut slices along the long edge of the cheese, creating a long strip. It is considered poor etiquette to cut the tip or nose of the cheese wedge, because that is considered to be the piece with the most flavor. It is also incorrect to dig out the gooey center of a soft cheese, such as brie.

Hard Cheese Wedges: For semi-hard to hard cheeses wedges, you’ll want to cut these wedges along the width edge until you reach half way up the wedge. The top half of the wedge is then cut along the length edge.

Blue Cheese Wedges: To cut a wedge of blue cheese, pinpoint the center of the bottom edge and cut in a radial pattern to achieve triangular cheese pieces.

Blocks: When cutting a block of cheese, first cut it in half to create two rectangular portions, then cut along the width of the portions to create slices. Slices can then be cut diagonally into triangles, if you prefer.

Logs: Cut cheese logs by slicing down the length of the log to create cheese discs.

Wheels: To cut a wheel of cheese, you can first cut the wheel in half to make two manageable pieces. Then cut in a radial pattern to create cheese triangles. If you choose not to cut the wheel in half, locate the center of the cheese wheel and cut out from that point like spokes on a wheel.

Whether you’re catering a cocktail hour or putting together a Game of Thrones inspired feast with an eye-catching cheese board, it is essential to pair your cheeses with the right knife to provide the best experience at your event.