I’m always ready for an impromptu cheese & wine situation, party or not, and often find myself whipping up a noteworthy board for dinner when I’m not in the mood for a full-on meal. Or really, whenever I please nowadays, my cabinets and drawers are filled with an overload of cheese & wine wares and tools.
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.
Each cheese knife type has a purpose to improve the user experience.
This guide explains each knife’s specific capabilities so that you can choose the proper cheese knife for any occasion with confidence.
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Do you really need cheese knives?
The short answer is no, but they’re nice to have. You can certainly eat, serve and enjoy cheese without any special tools. But if you like to entertain and serve cheese to guests, a few cheese knives are pretty handy and add a special touch to your cheeseboard.
Some designers have spent a lot of time determining that some knives are better than others when working with different densities and textures. Yes, cheese cutlery is a real thing. Specific knives, graters and slicers are designed with specific cheeses in mind to work in tandem with everything from texture to thickness to pungency. And they’re life-changing if you enjoy cheese on the regular.
First things first: Dig into your cutlery drawers as you’ve most likely received a set of cheese knives in the past that are waiting patiently for the next supper dinner party. If so, dust them off immediately.
Regular table knives are not good cutters for harder cheeses, so consider supplying some real hard cheese and soft cheese knives.
There are knives to deal with soft cheese, semi-soft, semi-hard cheese, and hard cheese. A general rule of thumb is that the more blades you see on a knife, the harder the cheese it was designed to slice.
According to dining etiquette, a cheese knife should not be used on more than one cheese type on your cheeseboard. Each cheese knife performs a purpose and was built to perform it well.
Soft cheeses like Brie or Camembert have a soft interior and could easily stick to the knife. To make a cleaner cut and keep the shape of the delicate interior you can use a knife with a very thin straight blade or a cheese knife with holes. If you don’t have a cheese knife a sharp cook’s knife dipped in hot water and wiped will do also do the job.
As we all know, the cheese planes or slicers are of course used for shaving even slices of semi-hard or hard cheeses.
Cheese cleavers or cheese spades are excellent for cutting hard or firm cheese – both wedges and chunks of cheese.
The cheese fork can be used to hold a block of cheese in place while cutting – it’s also ideal for breaking hard or aged cheeses into smaller pieces.
Here’s a quick guide on what they are and how to use the kinds of knives in the most common cheese knife sets, which you might encounter at a home goods store or in service at a dinner party.
Narrow Blade Pronged Cheese knife/Pronged Cheese Knife/Fork-tipped spear
It is both a fork and a spear. It is a must-have, multipurpose cheese knife for your set.
It is designed for various cheeses ranging from semi-soft to hard, making them an excellent choice for a cheeseboard.
Its sharp blade and narrow size with two prongs allow you to cut firm cheeses, and then you can pick up cheese to serve yourself or someone else without touching it – handy and hygienic.
The narrow blade offers a minimal surface area, so soft cheeses don’t stick.
Pronged knife with holes
This multipurpose knife is also great for cutting soft cheese like Brie but can also be used for harder cheeses. The prongs at the end of the knife are used for serving and breaking up cheese blocks. The holes in the knife prevent cheese from sticking to the blade.
Perforated Soft Cheese Knife/Open blade knife/open work blade knife/Soft Cheese Knife
Although this knife looks like Swiss cheese, it is specifically engineered with delicate soft, sticky cheeses in mind. Any guide to cheese knives must include a soft cheese knife.
It features holes in the blade to keep the gooey soft cheeses from sticking to the blade due to the minimal surface area, tearing and ultimately making a huge mess of your cheese while slicing.
Use it for soft and semi-soft cheeses. Its blade is sharp for cutting into gooey cheeses with bloomy rinds, like Brie, Camembert or chèvre. It works beautifully for our wrapped baked Brie recipe.
Narrow PlaneKnife /Thin Knife/trapezium Knife
It is similar to the flat cheese knife but tends to be more rectangular and features two sharp sides instead of one.
It is pretty versatile because this knife has a sharp end on both short and long end. You can use it as a flat cheese knife, press it into hard cheeses and finish cutting wedges with the long sharp end.
They are designed to cut and chip hard and semi-hard cheeses, such as Swiss, Comté, provolone, Gouda, Jack or Cheddar.
Parmesan/Heart knife/Small Spade knife/Hard Cheese Knife
It was designed with a short blade with a big belly for breaking off chunks of hard, dry and aged cheeses. The pointed blade of this dynamic all-purpose knife can break apart hard cheeses into easy-to-eat bites and then spear the cheese with the tip to pick it off the cutting board and into your mouth.
Although most closely associated with Parmesan, the spade knife works well for hard cheeses like Parmesan, aged Gouda, Romano and pecorino can be challenging to maneuver on a cheeseboard.
You break it!
Narrow Blade cheese Knife
Used for hard cheese and cuts through more difficult cheese. Use the sharp point of the knife to pierce the cheese and watch as it effortlessly breaks into bite-sized crumbles.
Mini cleaver/Cheddar Cheese Knife/ cheddar cleaver/semi-hard cheese knife
The wide rectangular blade and cleaver shape allows the cutter to use force and balance to push down and cut slices. The big damn block of the blade allows for clean cuts into semi-hard and hard cheeses—like Colby, cheddar or Gouda.
Face the sharp edge down and gently press to make clean cuts with this knife. The placement of the handle keeps your knuckles from hitting the board.
Flat Cheese knife/Cheese chisel knife/Flat Blade knife
Shaped like a paddle and featuring one sharp edge, it is intended for vertical cuts in semi-hard or hard, aged cheeses. Because the bottom edge of the knife has a sharp edge, the cutting motion will always be pressing down—making slicing easily accessible on a crowded cheeseboard.
It either makes clean shaves or chips off chunks depending on the cheese variety—we suggest using it with Manchego, Havarti and Gruyère.
Use this wide cheese knife to cut crumbly soft cheeses like blue cheeses or shave and cube firm hard cheese, like Parmesan, Romano, Emmentaler, Asiago, and aged cheeses, into generous chunks. It is excellent for hard cheeses when you want your portions to be gigantic.
Spreader/Soft Cheese Knife/Wide Blade Knife/Cheese Spreader/spatula knife
Usually, these will be short and fat for spreading very soft cheeses. Its curved blade is dull, making it ineffective for cutting slices but perfect for spreading soft cheeses.
As its name suggests, this rounded knife should be used for soft or crumbled, spreadable cheeses like ricotta, cream cheese and other cheesy spreads onto crackers, bread and other accompanying foods. Cheese aside, you can also use it to spread dips, pâté, pesto, butter, mustard, and whatever’s sitting beside crackers and bread.
Cheese Plane/Cheese Slicer
Similar to the flat-edge knife, the cheese plane is shaped like a paddle. It looks like a flat shovel with an open slot near the base and was made for achieving thinly sliced pieces of cheese instead of cubes or wedges. However, it’s dull around its edges and features a slit that carves paper-thin cheese slices.
When slicing cheese, you need an easy slicer to create beautiful and even cheese slices.
Sometimes less is more, and cutting hard cheeses like Parmesan into thin slices makes for a better presentation. It’s also great when you want to cut young, unaged cheese for a sandwich while having perfect, consistent slices. It’s best for semi-soft and semi-hard varieties like Swiss, fontina, Havarti, Gouda, and alpine-style.
There are different cheese slicers designed for cheeses of various types, depending on the hardness of the cheese.
To slice the cheese, hold the cheese wedge in one hand and, using your other hand, pass the plane along the top or side of the cheese and drag the upward-facing plane toward you. The slice will then settle on the top of the plane’s spatula-like structure, making it easy to plate or serve.
Cheese Fork/Serving Knife
Usually, with two big prongs on a handle, this cheese fork is designed to pick up pre-cut pieces of cheese for serving guests, hold large blocks of cheese while you cut, break up harder, firmer cheeses as you slice them, poke at soft crumbly cheeses (Think of it like an ice pick to break apart a chunk of ice) such as blue cheese, feta or Cotija, and transfer them to a plate.
The cheese fork is also essential for many non-cheese items, especially fruit.
Since a cheese fork is not technically a knife, it seems like an odd addition to this list; however, if you have a cheese knife set or are looking to invest in one, you’ll probably want to get one of these.
A cheese grater is a perfect tool when grating semi-hard to very hard cheeses such as Parmesan, Romano Monterey Jack, mozzarella and cheddar.
They will typically have razors on more than one side to produce different size shreds when a block of cheese is pressed against the grooves. Next time a recipe calls for shredded cheese, try grating it yourself to taste the difference it makes in the flavour.
Most cooks have some version of a cheese grater in their kitchens. Choose the proper grater based on personal use, as there are table graters, small graters with handles, double-sided graters and more. A smaller handled version is excellent for serving extra cheese at the table (perfect for pasta dishes).
You can also use a cheese grater to shred a variety of other foods.
Cheese Wire/bow knife
One of the more sophisticated pieces in this guide to cheese knives is this cheese wire. It is made for cutting those delicate soft cheeses without crushing them or spreading them too far.
It makes clean, uniform slices of semi-soft to semi-hard cheeses like cheddar and beautiful rounds from fresh mozzarella. With a bit of basil and a few tomatoes, you’ll be all set to make our Caprese salad.
They are usually found in a bow shape or attached to a cheese board with an indent for the wire. The wire would be lowered down gently through the cheese in vertical movements, leaving a clean slice behind.
Otherwise known as a harp wire, this tool features a comfortable handle and fine wire for slicing a variety of cheeses.
The Cheese Griolle or cheese curler is a traditional tool used when serving Swiss cheese, specifically Tête de Moine cheese.
It is a basic wooden tool with a crank knife that slices thin shavings of the cheese when rotated.
The cheese is placed over the spike in the middle of the Cheese Griolle, and the handle is cranked around, creating extremely thin crinkles in the cheese.
Tête de Moine cheese needs to be treated with care. The tool is used to bring out the sharp aromatic character of the cheese. When sliced with a cheese Griolle, Tête de Moine is sliced into very thin cheese curls, or rosettes, that aerate and increase the surface area of the cheese, which helps bring out the flavour. You wouldn’t get this flavour by cutting Tête de Moine into chunks or slices.
The Cheese Griolle can also be used to shave chocolate to create petal-like shavings.
Slim Blade Cheese Knife/Brie Knife/The Slim Blade Knife
Its offset ultra-fine blade makes it easier to cut through soft or semi-soft, sticky cheeses, such as Brie, goat cheese or Halloumi because it provides a scarce surface area for the cheeses to stick to and not push the paste out of the crust. These knives may have a very sharp blade or fine teeth.
It is typically offset from the handle for comfortable gripping and slicing by widening the gap between the user’s knuckles and the surface they are cutting on.
Similar to a cheese spreader, a Gorgonzola cheese knife is made to spread creamy blue cheeses. However, the Gorgonzola knife has a longer, thicker sharp blade to cut through semi-soft cheese rinds. This knife is long and flimsy, like a palette knife.
Narrow and curved, its blade is ideal for crumbly and creamy cheeses like Gorgonzola and Camembert. Its versatility makes it a crowd favourite and a must-have for your next cheese board.
A ttraditional way to consume Stilton is to have a large block of it and use a spoon instead of a knife. Start with the centre and scoop yourself out some wonderful taste of the paste.
Two Handed Knife
They are made for pressing downward and cutting through a whole wheel or wedge of aged hard cheese to form smaller portions. This hard-cheese knife has double offset handles to allow for even pressure distribution. A way to have more control over cutting larger-sized pieces of firmer cheese. They are designed to break the firmest rinds.
It is best for cutting perfect cubes or strips of semi-hard cheeses for snacks and party trays. Because you operate the knife with two hands, your fingers stay away from the cutting edge. This way, you can easily and safely, with a rocking motion, cut straight pieces from the cheese.
It is ideal for all firm-cheese wheels and wedges—such as fontina, Asiago and Jarlsberg.
Other hard-cheese knives often feature a single handle or a pronged tip.
Cheese Rind Cutter
It features a pointed tip that is made to score the rind of 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.
Note: I get really excited about cheese and wine, so it’s difficult for me to be brief when there is so much wonderful information to share!
You can buy them here: Best Sellers in Cheese Knives
- A Complete Guide to Plan an Unforgettable Wine & Cheese Party
- The cheese
- ***Soft Cheese – Fresh – Cow’s milk cheese
- ***Soft Cheese – Fresh – Goat’s milk cheese
- ***Stretched Curd and Brined
- ***Soft and Brined
- ***Soft-ripened and Bloomy-rind – Cow’s milk cheese
- ***Soft Ripened and Bloomy-rind – Cow’s milk cheese – Double/Triple-crème cheeses
- ***Soft-ripened and Bloomy-rind – Goat’s milk cheese
- ***Semi-soft and Brined
- ***Semi-soft – Mild Cow’s milk cheese
- ***Semi-soft – Mild Sheep’s milk
- ***Semi-soft – Swiss or Swiss style
- ***Washed Rind (soft or semi-soft/Semi-hard Cheese/Medium-aged Cheeses)
- ***Aged – Cow’s milk cheese
- ***Hard – sheep’s milk cheese
- ***Hard – Grana
- ***Blue cheeses
- What to serve with the cheese and wine?
- Cheese and Wine Pairing
- ***Classic Cheese and Wine Pairing Chart
- ***Classic Wine and Cheese Pairing – Sparkling Wine
- ***Classic Wine and Cheese Pairing – White Wine
- ***Classic Wine and Cheese Pairing – White Wine
- ***Classic Wine and Cheese Pairing – Rosé Wine
- ***Classic Wine and Cheese Pairing – Red Wine
- ***Classic Wine and Cheese Pairing – Dessert Wine
- Non-alcoholic alternatives
- How much to buy?
- How to set the table?
- Chronogram & Preparation
***In Development, please keep checking.
Reference: Content and images based on information from: https://www.wikipedia.org/ https://cheese.com https://www.cookipedia.co.uk
https://culturecheesemag.com https://www.gourmetsleuth.com https://winefolly.com/ https://www.tasteatlas.com https://www.wine.com/ https://winemonger.com https://www.terroir-france.com/
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