By doing a quick Google search for knife sets, you'll see many results that pop up with 20+ pieces in the set. The majority of home cooks will never touch a third of the knives in a large set like this.
So today, I'm going to show you the knives you actually want to look for in a new knife set. We'll walk through what each knife is used for, and why you would want this knife included in the set that you purchase.
A chef's knife (also called a French knife) is an all-purpose knife that has many uses in the kitchen. The blade size can range from 8 - 14 inches long. This knife is without a doubt the best value for a single knife.
A serrated knife has a long, thin blade with serrated teeth on the end. It's commonly used to cut bread, pastries, and baked goods. The serrated edge helps saw through these items so they don't get smashed.
A paring knife is short and small. The blade is only around 2 - 4 inches long. This knife is perfect for detailed work in the kitchen like peeling fruits and vegetables, deveining shrimp, and cutting/de-seeding fruits.
Let's talk about some bonus knives that you may consider adding. These knives are by no means necessary, but may be worth adding to your knife collection depending on what you typically do in the kitchen.
A boning knife is used to separate meat from the bone. It has a thin blade that can be flexible or rigid. These knives are most often used to break down a whole chicken, filet a fish, or cut through thick cuts of beef or pork.
A Nakiri knife is a Japanese-style knife that's known for its large, straight blade. This is useful for up and down cuts and slicing since you can't easily rock this knife back and forth like a chef's knife.
This is great for anyone who cooks with lots of produce. The Nakiri knife is useful for preparing vegetables for stock, making thin and even cuts for dishes like sushi, and dicing large quantities of foods like onions and celery.