When something needs to be cut, trimmed, sliced or chopped in the kitchen, the default tool is a knife.
But, a knife actually isn’t always the best option. It may make for slow-going of the task at hand, or not give the kind of precision or effect desired.
Cutters have evolved as kitchen tools to provide greater efficiency than knives may at times. Many cutters are designed for special purposes, which can be speed, decoration, or accuracy.
Some are designed for food preparation, others for food serving.
Some cutters you may use all the time, such as a pizza wheel cutter. Others, such as Christmas cookie cutters, you may only use once a year, but when you need them, there is really no substitute.
Types of cutters
Angel Food Cake Cutters
An angel food cake cutter consists of a series of long tines, blunt at one end and at the other attached to a thin metal rod, which in turn is attached to a handle. You insert the tines where you want your slice to be, then use it to pull the slice a...
An apple corer is a hand-operated tool designed to facilitate removing the cores from apples. The utility of a corer becomes evident when you are processing large quantities of apples for canning, drying, etc.
An apple slicer is a device designed to both core and slice apples. There are simple hand ones that work by dint of brute force, and machines that work through hand cranking.
An avocado slicer is a tool for making uniform avocado wedges without squishing the avocado flesh. It can also be used for fruit such as kiwi and mangoes.
Banana slicers are cutting tools designed to quickly produce uniformly-sized, disc-shaped slices of banana.
Bean slicers are tools designed to French-slice green and runner beans. They allow fast, efficient transformation of beans into thin, uniformly-cut pieces.
Biscuit cutters are tall, round cutters pressed into thick dough to make biscuits (North American style). The cutters were traditionally made of tin but can be made of any material now.
Butter Pat Slicers
A butter pat slicer is a tool designed to cut a stick of butter into even pats of butter. You can also use one to slice bananas, or to mark up rolls of cookie dough for cutting.
A cookie cutter is a tool used to cut "rolled cookies" in decorative shapes out of a rolled-out cookie dough. They can be made of metal or plastic.
Cucumber slicers allow a cook to create very thin, uniform slices of cucumber. The name is a bit of a misnomer, as the devices can also be used for other produce as well.
A dough scraper is a tool used primarily to clean surfaces of dough and flour. They can also be used for cutting dough into pieces, scooping up pieces of dough or ingredients such as diced onion, and to clean rolling pins with.
A doughnut cutter is a special hand-held and operated cutting tool for making doughnuts. In rolled out dough, it cuts out a circle, and then a small circle at the centre of that circle.
An egg cutter is a tool is to cleanly slice the top off a boiled egg that hasn't been peeled. There are many different types of models.
An egg slicer is a two-part device for slicing a peeled, boiled egg into thin, uniform slices of egg.
A girolle is a special tool to help you turn your Tête de Moine cheese shavings into roses.
Grape shears (aka grape scissors) are special scissors used to separate small bunches of grapes at the table, so that you don't have to tug the grapes apart.
A grater is a surface with sharp, raised teeth or ridges on it to grate or shred firm-textured foods.
An ice pick for home culinary use is a tool used to shatter pieces of ice off from a larger piece of ice, or separate ice cubes that have frozen together. There are a few different designs.
Kitchen shears are specially-designed, sturdy scissors for the kitchen. Some are specially made for poultry and fish, with one of their blades being a serrated one to help cut through flesh such as chicken joints or fish fillets.
A mandoline is a food slicer. Instead of moving a blade over the food, as you do with a knife, you move the food over a blade. It is a manual device, with no electricity required.
A meat slicer is a machine, powered manually or by electricity, designed to slice meat. It can also be used to slice other food items such as firm cheeses, cabbage, other produce, etc.
A melon baller is a tool designed to scoop melon flesh out in small, perfectly shaped balls, which you then serve in bowls or incorporate into a fruit salad.
A mushroom cutter is a device used for slicing a mushroom into uniform slices all at once. Most will have tines or blades that the mushroom is forced through in order to achieve the cutting.
An olive pitter is a tool to remove the pit (aka stone) from an olive. Using one is the only way to pit olives at home without chopping or mangling them.
Onion / Tomato Slicing Guide
Onion / tomato slicing guides are devices to help hold produce such as onions and tomatoes so that consistent, straight slices can be quickly made.
A pastry blender (aka pastry cutter) is a hand-held tool used both to cut solid fat into flour, and to blend it in thoroughly. It consists of a handle that has half-moon shaped wires attached to it at both ends.
A pastry jigger (aka pastry crimper, aka jagging wheel) is designed to put a decorative edge on pastries. The edge is usually "jiggedy", but can also be used to create square or circular marks.
A pastry wheel is a device to cut out rolled pastry. It consists of a cutting wheel attached to a handle. The wheel will have a straight, sharp edge. Some are small for fine work, some are large enough to slice cooked pizza.
A peeler is a dedicated implement used to remove the outer skin of produce. There are many different designs, but for home use, almost all designs are handheld, and they can be broken down into two main categories: straight, and Y-shaped.
A pineapple slicer slices and peels a pineapple at the same time. It works like a big corkscrew that works its way downwards into the pineapple to remove the fruit, while leaving the rough skin behind.
A pizza-wheel cutter is a rotating wheel blade with a handle meant for use in cutting up a pizza into slices for serving. The larger the wheel, the more quickly it cuts.
Rolling Cookie Cutters
Rolling cookie cutters help to automate the production of fast, uniform shapes of cookies or cut out pieces of dough.
A rolling mincer is a hand-held device designed to quickly mince small flavouring items such as herbs and garlic.
A spiral slicer (aka "spiralizer") is a kitchen device used to make decorative slices of vegetables. They can also be used to make long strips of "vegetable spaghetti", and coleslaw.
A strawberry huller is a small kitchen tool used to remove leaves and the hull from the top of a strawberry.
Sugar cutters were everyday tools used for breaking such large pieces of sugar up into "lumps" or pieces. There were two general types. One for use by grocers, and another type for home use.
A truffle shaver (aka truffle slicer) is a small hand tool designed to make small thin shavings from truffles (the mushroom ones, not the chocolate ones.)
A V-slicer, like a mandoline, is a mounted slicing tool. But instead of its sharp metal blade being a straight, diagonal line, it is V-shaped. There are different brands, but almost all are less expensive than mandolines.