How to Hold a Knife Like a Pro

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There is only one entirely incorrect and extremely dangerous way to hold a knife. If you’re gripping it by the handle, you’re already doing it mostly right.

That said, not every knife grip provides the same level of control and safety. The goal, with any grip, is to help you be precise (that’s obviously more important if you’re dicing an onion than halving a winter squash) while providing protection for your valuable and vulnerable fingertips.

Perhaps the most natural way to hold a knife is by the “handle grip”—you wrap all five fingers around the handle—there’s no contact with the blade. But for the most power and dexterity, consider the “pinch grip” (a.k.a. the blade grip) instead. Rather than curling all of your fingers around the handle, wrap only your pinky, index, and middle finger. Put your bent pointer finger on one side of the blade and your thumb on the opposite side, like you’re pinching the blade between them. While this takes some practice and might feel a bit awkward at first, it will help you make thinner, more direct cuts. It’s like the difference between holding a pen or pencil in the middle versus moving your fingers very close to the tip, which will allow you to make more detailed strokes in smaller writing.

Choke up on the knife, then tuck your fingertips under when you slice.

What you do with your other hand is just as important. The “claw” (a.k.a. the guide hand) helps you make even cuts while keeping your fingers out of harm’s way. To do it, hold the ingredient like you’re imitating a cat, with your fingertips curled under and tucked away: Your knuckles will press into the ingredient and your thumb, positioned back and below, towards the cutting board, will help to stabilize it. The knife should be flush against your knuckle, and you’ll move your hand backwards as you continue to slice.

Once you’ve mastered the gripper and the guider, the one thing left to do is to practice your knife skills:

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