This Is the Safest Way to Hold a Knife

The secret for an accident-free kitchen is in your hands.

Holding knife

Accidents in the kitchen can happen to anyone, but that doesn't mean we're powerless to prevent them. Of all knife injuries in the U.S., over 66 percent are injuries to the fingers and thumbs, according to a study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy.

That's why it's so important to learn to hold your knives like a seasoned chef. Not only will it make you look like a pro, but it also makes cooking more efficient and might just keep you out of the emergency room.

For most people, picking up a chef's knife intuitively means gripping it exclusively by the handle to cut. But many culinary experts argue that there is a better way to hold a knife for heightened safety and control: the "blade grip". This may sound intimidating, given that your hand is partially resting on the sides of the blade as the name suggests. Done properly, however, it can help you achieve a steadier motion, limiting accidents once you've mastered it.

To try it at home, hold the knife in your dominant hand, with your middle finger, ring finger and pinky gripping the handle. Your middle finger should be resting right up against the heel (or back part) of the blade. With your thumb and your index finger, pinch the sides of the blade, making sure to curl your index finger up and away from the blade itself. If you're just starting out, take it slow and focus on the cut. According to Emily Hankey, a former chef and Produce Butcher at the Bryant Park Whole Foods in New York City, accidents happen most often when the cook is distracted, moving too quickly, or nervous around the blade.

"When people are intimidated and don't feel like they're in control, that's when they cut themselves," says Hankey. "Just make sure you have a confident hold on both the knife and what you're cutting. Use a good solid grip. Knife callus is normal."

She adds that what you do with your other hand is equally important. To keep your fingers out of harm's way, tuck them into a claw grip, with your knuckles in a straight vertical alignment above the item you're cutting and your fingertips tucked slightly toward the palm of your hand. With a little practice, you'll be a master chef in no time. And when you want to keep those knives ready for use, This is the Safest Way to Sharpen a Knife!

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Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more