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14 Different Types of Butter Knives

Explore the different types of butter knives sorted according to their functionality, design, and make-up material. Knowing their differences will improve the quality of dining and makes shopping for a new collection easier.

Butter knife slicing butter over a distressed board.

Butter knives are typically the smaller knives in a knife set.  Their blades are dull, and they are usually 6-7″ in length. Generally, It has a rounded tip to make sure that it does not rip the bread off.

It is used solely for slicing butter and spreading it on bread. In case of the absence of a butter knife, usually, a dinner knife is used as a butter spreader.

Basic types of butter knives include master butter knife, butter spreader, corn butter knife. Based on the design, butter knives can be categorized as hollow handles and flat butter knives. Based on the material used, types of butter knives include Plastic, Stainless steel & wooden Butter Knives.

The purpose of the butter knife, which is often shared, is to avoid using a knife that was used to cut other food to slice pieces of butter. Butter knives are there in the market with huge variety. To explore all types of butter knives and pick the right one for you, follow this article until the end and then decide about the type you want to own.

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Types of Butter Knives: Based on Functionality

Butter knives aren’t all made the same way. Butter knives have many types that are used for different purposes. They are usually function-specific. Throw a glance at the below-mentioned types of butter knives and their functions.

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Master Butter Knives

Close-up of a master butter knife topped with rolled butter.

There are master butter knives, also known as table butter knives or simply butter knives, handed around the table with the butter to be shared. A master butter knife (also known as a saber knife) is a sharp-pointed, dull-edged knife only used to serve butter pats from a central butter dish to individual diners’ plates.

To spread the butter on the bread, master butter knives are not used because this would contaminate the butter remaining in the butter dish when the next pat of butter was served. Instead, diners at the breakfast, luncheon, and informal dinner table spread butter on their bread with a butter knife.

Butter Spreaders

Butter spreader spreading butter on a wheat bread.

Individual butter knives have a round point not to tear the bread and are sometimes termed butter spreaders. Each diner will have on his or her bread spreader and butter plate. A butter spreader should always be kept on the bread plate.

It is always dull-bladed (who needs a sharp blade to get through butter?). If no butter spreaders are provided, a dinner knife may be used as an alternative.

Corn Butter Knife

It is used to butter the corn. This corn butterer adheres to the shape of the cob and distributes the corn evenly, leaving no grain behind. Its beveled edge on the curved stainless steel blade allows you to scoop straight from the tub or slice the stick, then distribute in one move.

Properties of corn butter knife include:

  • Riveted colored handle
  • Beveled edges easily slice through the stick of butter
  • Stainless steel blade with full tang
  • Great for both sticks of butter or tubs/cartons
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Types of Butter Knives: Based on Design

Different types of butter knives are available, having various designs. One can see a clear distinction between a butter knife with a hollow handle and a flat butter knife or a hollow handle butter spreader and a flat handle butter spreader. This does not affect the knives’ or spreaders’ operation; rather, it pertains to the handle’s design.

Flat/Solid Handle Master Butter Knife

Fortessa Caviar 18/10 Stainless Steel Flatware Solid Handle Butter Knife, Set of 12

A flat Handle Butterknife is a style handle with a central ridge to ease picking up the butter from a dish or bowl. It ensures a firm grip and looks more presentable. It is the most demanded butter knife design.

Hollow Handle Master Butter Knife

Winco 12-Piece Lafayette Hollow Handle Dinner Knife Set, 18-0 Stainless Steel,Silver

HH is an abbreviation for Hollow Handle, which refers to a style of butter knives. Most pieces are entirely sterling silver, such as a teaspoon or a fork. Butter knives are made with a different process, where the knife handle is hollow, and the stainless steel blade is secured partially inside the hollow handle of the knife with an epoxy.

Silver manufacturers have extended this manufacturing technique to offer low-cost serving pieces.

Flat/Solid Handle Individual Butter Spreader

Bon Chef S513 Stainless Steel 18/8 Prism Flat Handle Butter Spreader, 6-11/16" Length (Pack of 12)

Flat Handle Butter Spreader is a teardrop style handle with a central ridge to add an unassuming, casual elegance to your table. It ensures a firm grip and helps to spread the butter evenly over the bread.

Hollow Handle Individual Butter Spreader

Wallace Italian Sterling Barocco Hollow Handle Butter Spreader

All sterling silver patterns use a hollow handle knife construction for Butter Spreader.  The handle is made with a hollow center, then filled with a super-strong epoxy to hold it in place.

Many years ago, some manufacturers would apply a layer of silver-plating to the stainless steel blades to give the impression of an all-silver butter knife, but that hasn’t been done for quite some time.

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Types of Butter Knives: Based on Make-Up Material

The material used to make your kitchen knives can significantly impact their strength, longevity, and sharpness, so learning more about the best knife blade materials before you buy might be beneficial. Each substance has advantages and disadvantages, and some are better suited to specific jobs than others.

Before buying a new set of butter knives, read on to learn everything you need to know about knife materials.

Plastic Butter Knife

Linden Sweden Multi Purpose Spreaders Set of 2, Lime Green - Versatile Butter Knife for Soft Cheese, Peanut Butter, Frosting and More - Safe for Kids - BPA-Free and Dishwasher-Safe - Made in Sweden

It is made up of plastic. Nearly any material can be used to make a frosting butter knife, but plastic is preferable for the handle and the blade because of its durability.

It is not necessarily sharp, usually the same sharpness as a butter knife, but is thin enough to get under the dough and separate it effectively.

Wooden Butter Knife

Naturally Med Olive Wood Butter Knife/Spreader

This type of butter knife is made up of wood. It is unbreakable, smooth, and has less weight. While the blade is not as sharp as a chef’s knife or comparable tool, it is more like a butter knife and can cut through soft things.

Stainless Steel Butter Knife

Amazon Basics Stainless Steel Dinner Knives with Round Edge, Pack of 12

Stainless steel is the most preferred material for butter knives, as it is highly durable and corrosion-resistant. Carbon and iron are used as a basis, with chromium added to repel stains and give the blade a long-lasting shine. This results in blades that are powerful, long-lasting, and stain-resistant.

The downside of stainless steel is that there are currently a wide variety of alloys commercially available, so the quality of the steel can vary drastically depending on the supplier.

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People see no point in silver flatware and instead buy stainless steel because of its long-lasting properties. When people choose stainless steel silverware, they may be confused by labeling on packages and the vast price range of stainless steel.

Damascus Steel Butter Knives

Damascus steel is made using two or more different alloys hammered together to forge strong steel with an intricate, wavy pattern. Initially invented in medieval Damascus, this type of steel has a long and storied history used to create butter knives. This metal is solid and durable, but nowadays, it’s most valued for its beautiful appearance.

Modern designs can be expensive owing to the meticulous crafting process, but Damascus steel butter knives last for years and will retain their edges for a long time.

Carbon Steel Butter Knives

Carbon steel is a type of steel alloy made from carbon and iron, without the chromium added to stainless alloys to help them repel stains. Steel with a high carbon count is often used to forge butter knives that require exceptional strength and rigidity.

It can also retain an extremely sharp edge when adequately cared for. This makes carbon steel an excellent choice for peeling knives or cleavers.

However, because they don’t have the chromium added to stainless steel alloys, carbon steel blades are prone to staining and discoloration, particularly when they contact acidic foods like jams.

So, if you’re after a lastingly shiny collection of butter knives that you can put on display, it may not be the choice for you. But, if all that matters to you is the sharpness and durability of the edge, you’ll struggle to find a sharper butter knife than one with a carbon steel blade.

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Ceramic Butter Knives

A ceramic blade is crafted using hardened zirconium dioxide. They are non-metallic and non-magnetic and sometimes coated in other materials for extra durability. They’re very lightweight, which many customers prefer, and they’re also thought to be more hygienic than metal styles.

Another bonus of ceramic is that the blades can be printed with stylish patterns, colors, or details, like our Zenith ceramic knives, making them all the more impressive to display.

The biggest downside of ceramic butter knives is their fragility: they’re more prone to breaking or cracking if dropped compared to other types of butter knives. So, they must be handled with caution.

Titanium Butter Knives

Berglander Black Dinner Knives Set Of 4, Titanium Shiny Black Plating Stainless Steel Dinner Knife, Butter Knife Table Knives Dishwasher Safe

One of the world’s most rigid materials, titanium is non-magnetic and highly resistant to rust, making it an excellent option for pocket blades and diving knives. But, it tends to be less sharp and not as good at holding an edge, so it’s more effective as a butter knife than other types of knives that require sharpness.

Most of the buyers praise finely made titanium butter knives for their stylish dark grey coloring.

Differentiation of Master Butter Knife and Butter Spreader

Butter spreader topped with a rolled butter.

It can be challenging to distinguish which small knife is for what use, as it is with most silverware styles. There is no definitive answer other than that master butter knives have pointed tips at the end, whereas butter spreaders have rounded tips.

Consider it this way… A sharp tip for spreading butter on a roll or piece of bread would very certainly get stuck in the bread. The circular end makes it easier to distribute the butter without becoming stuck.

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Consult a flatware product chart if you’re not sure which butter spreaders and butter knives belong to which of your patterns. Replacements.com can help with this differentiation by browsing their site or contacting their identification staff by phone or email. Naturally, not every design includes both sorts of butter tools.

Frequently Asked Questions About Butter Knives

Butter knife spreading butter on a wheat bread over a wooden board.

Some commonly asked questions about butter knives are:

What Does a Butter Knife Set Consists of?

A butter knife set typically consists of a salad fork, dinner fork, teaspoon, a master butter knife, and a butter spreader. Along with the basic table setting, the set may include several different serving pieces as well. Today, when a person purchases a flatware set, it commonly comes with one such knife.

Why aren’t there Electric Heated Butter Knives?

Because they’re great at spreading chunks of hard butter on soft bread, but they suck at delivering the butter from the stick or container to the bread. The butter melts and drips or falls off the warm knife blade before it gets where it’s going.

If you think you need a heated butter knife, you’re not being smart. Instead of cutting and trying to spread a chunk of cold, hard butter, try scraping butter off one end of the stick or out of the container, and it will apply easily. 

Why Do Butter Knives Have a Kink in Them?

Old-fashioned butter knives have a bend because butter used to be served in the form of a nice, cold, firm butterball. It would be hard to pick up and move to one’s bread plate with a flat-bladed butter knife. The butterballs would often be served in a chilled dish and kinked butter knives.

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Why Do Butter Knives have a Notch?

You may be referring to a master butter knife- which is used to serve pats of butter to a diner and is dull-edged. The diner would have a butter spreader used to do just that-spread the butter rather than spear it- so the first has a notch or point, the latter is blunt-ended so as not to tear the bread while spreading the butter.

What Does the Little Gap Do on the Butter Knife?

It’s for balancing on the edge of the butter dish.

What is the Difference Between a Butter Knife and a Dinner Knife?

A butter knife is used only for buttering a dinner roll and rests on your bread dish. A dinner knife is used to cut your entree meat and veggies.

Conclusion

A good set of butter knives will help ensure that you have dining manners, and it will even improve the quality of life and eating. Now that you’ve learned about the various varieties of butter knives and their uses, you can shop for a new collection with confidence. By considering all the types of butter knives that have been mentioned above, you can best select the butter knife of your choice.

References:

WiseGEEK: What is a Butter Knife?

Cooper Hewitt Collection: BUTTER KNIFE

WiseGEEK: Plastic Butter Knife

WiseGEEK: Wooden Butter Knife

WiseGEEK: Butter Knife Set

Quora: Why don’t we have electric heated butter knives?