How to Pair Cheese Knives With the Right Cheese

The tasty science of cheese — and cheese knives. (Photo: spring23/Shutterstock).

I’m the go-to person cheese board creator in my set of friends. For my birthday a few months ago, they all chipped in and bought me a special cheese cutting board with a hidden drawer for cheese knives.

Now, let me say something I think is important: You don’t need a special cheese board or special knives to enjoy cheese. I don’t believe you ever need special serving pieces to enjoy good food. My friends and I could enjoy cheese just as much served on my everyday plastic cutting board and cut it with a butter knife. But, since I have the special board and knives, I figured it was time I learned what knives went with which cheeses.

The board came with four knives, and as I’ve done a little research, some variation of these four cheese knives seem to be common in cheese knife gift sets. There are other cheese knives in various shapes and sizes, but let’s just start with these basic versions.

Wide Knife

Wide knife (or as I call it, the putty knife). This wide knife is for cutting hard cheese. Parmesan, Emmentaler, aged cheddars, Asiago, and manchego are all popular hard cheeses. Notice that the sharp edge of this knife is on the end, not on the side. You cut with this knife by placing it vertically into the cheese and pushing down on it.

Thin Knife

Thin knife. This knife is for cutting semi-hard cheese. Comte, Edam, cheddar, provolone, Swiss, Gouda and Roquefort are popular semi-hards. Notice that this knife has a sharp edge both on the side and on the end. It can be used to cut from the side edge or used like a sort of chisel from the top edge.

Pointed Knife

Pointed knife. This knife can be used for cutting a semi-hard or semi-soft cheese, and it can also be used for spreading soft cheese on crackers and bread. Place it near the chevre, havarti, Muenster, Stilton, Brie, Camembert, feta and Gorgonzola.

The Fork

The fork. The fork is used for picking up cheese that has already been cut. It can also be used to break up crumbly cheeses like Stilton or feta to put on salads.

One last note: Whether you have special knives for cutting cheese or you use any old knife you have in the drawer, it's good to have one dedicated knife per cheese that you’re serving. That way, those who haven’t yet developed a taste for stinky cheese don’t have to use a knife that was used to cut Roquefort when they’re diving into a wedge of Cheddar.