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Why Do Cheese Knives Have Holes?

Discover why some cheese knives have holes and get an in-depth look at different types of cheese knives and when to use them.

Cheese knives have holes to keep the cheese from sticking to the blade, making sure the cheese slices evenly without breaking.

They also come in many different shapes and sizes. There are the blades designed for soft cheeses. Then, there are those for hard cheese. And then, there’s everything in between. Dive into this guide to become a cheese knife expert.

We’ve all been there: using a butter knife to try to cut into cheese, only to end up with bits, pieces, and mangled slices of cheese stuck to our knife. If you are not a cheese connoisseur (yet!), then you might be surprised to hear that there are multiple different knives used for cutting cheese.

There are many varieties of cheese out there, from fresh mozzarella to hard parmesan, crumbly cotija to melty cheddar, each varying in its thickness and consistency. Believe it or not—depending on who you ask and how they distinguish between them—there are over 1,000 varieties of cheese.

Thankfully, you don’t need a new knife for each of them. That said, there are a few kinds of cheese knives you ought to consider investing in if you cook with (or snack on) cheese regularly. Read on to find out what they are.

Which Knife Should I Use for Soft Cheese?

Aptly named, the soft cheese knife comes complete with holes of various shapes and sizes, from small circles to large rectangles. They are colloquially known as “openwork knives,” and the knives with round holes actually look remarkably like slices of Swiss cheese.

Soft cheese knives, true to their name, are the optimal choice when slicing soft cheese like Brie.

There are also knives for soft cheeses that are not filled with holes. The slim blade knife, for example, works with soft and semi-soft cheeses like Camembert. This knife’s specialty is having an ultra-thin blade, reducing the blade surface area so cheeses don’t stick to it mid-slice.

If you are a Gorgonzola fan, you will be pleased to know that this cheese has its very own knife! The Gorgonzola knife sports a sharp, rounded blade, perfect for slicing semi-soft cheeses such as its namesake.

The final option for slicing soft cheese is the spreader. Less like a knife and more like a spatula, the spreader is ideal for when you want to spread super-soft cheeses like ricotta.

Which Knife Should I Use for Hard Cheese?

Named in opposition to its soft cheese slicing counterpart, the hard cheese knife does what it says—it slices hard cheeses. This knife has a unique design with two offset handles meant for two-handed use. It has a sturdy blade that can tackle large blocks, wheels, and wedges of hard cheeses such as fontina.

Conjuring mental pictures of old-timey butcher shops, the cleaver is used for more than chopping up cuts of meat. Cleavers are ideal for slicing firm and semi-hard cheeses like cheddar with their large, rectangular, and sharp blades.

If the cleaver is a bit intimidating, the tiny spade knife is another option for hard cheeses like Parmesan. It is shaped like a small spade with a sharp point, meant for chipping away at blocks and rinds of cheese.

Perhaps you need some extra-fine slices of hard cheese. If that is the case, you have a couple of options at your disposal. The flat blade knife is shaped like a paddle with a sharp edge. This knife works best on cheeses like Gruyere, expertly slicing and shaving the finest of slices.

Another choice for fine slices is the cheese plane knife. This one boasts a slit placed near the base of its paddle-shaped blade, allowing you to carve thin slices of semi-hard and hard cheeses such as Provolone.

One final option you can consider for hard cheeses is the narrow plane knife. This knife has a sharp, narrow, rectangular blade. This knife is quite versatile and can work with a range of cheese types. That said, it is best when used on hard cheeses. 

What about crumbly cheeses like Feta? For this type of cheese, slicing and cutting do not make much sense. Well, this is where the cheese fork shines with its double prongs, allowing you to pick up bits of cheese and transfer them (or sneak a quick bite).

Although not a traditional knife, it would be remiss to leave out the infamous cheese grater. This option is, of course, the clear go-to for all your shredding needs, working best with semi-hard and hard cheeses like cheddar and Jack.
Is there a knife that works with both soft and hard cheeses?

Maybe you are like me and do not have the space or money to invest in a full-fledged collection of cheese knives. If that is the case, you will be pleased to know that there are a couple of cheese knives that can tackle a wide variety of cheeses with ease.

Ideal for the middle-range of cheese thickness, the cheese wire slices cleanly through semi-soft and semi-hard cheese varieties like mozzarella. Due to its unique design, this one will not work on very soft or hard cheeses, but it is a great choice for everything in between. And, a bonus feature of this knife is that this one isn’t a hassle to clean, since it is a thin wire instead of a blade.

The pronged knife features a long, narrow blade with, you guessed it, a pronged tip. This handy knife lets you slice and pick up cheese with graceful ease.

Although the softest cheeses will likely stick to the blade’s surface, it will work with pretty much every other type of cheese out there. Adding this cheese blade to your slicing arsenal will make you look like the pro that you are.


Hopefully, this guide helped answer your question of why cheese knives have holes, while also exploring the many styles and uses of cheese knives in general.

As we’ve seen, holes are only one out of many useful features that cheese knives offer. Now you can show off your cheese slicing knowledge while hosting your next gathering or preparing a stellar charcuterie board.

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Written by

Jim is the former editor of Home Cook World. He is a career food writer who's been cooking and baking at home ever since he could see over the counter and put a chair by the stove.