According to Knives for the Kitchen, paring knives are used for intricate work. The small size allows for a greater amount of control than a larger knife. Cooks use specialized paring knives to carefully remove the thin outer layer of fruits, vegetables, cheese or other food products.
The blade on a paring knife is only three to four inches in length and tapers down to a point. There are several types of paring knives. For example, a bird's beak paring knife is perfect for peeling round fruits or vegetables, such as an apple or carrot. A wavy-edge paring knife is typically used to remove the skin off a fruit or vegetable with a soft inside, such as a tomato. A clip point, also called a granny paring knife, is ideal for removing pits from olives or eyes from potatoes. And, the sheep's foot has a straight cutting blade. Paring knives work well for separating meat from bones and similar meticulous cutting jobs. Using a paring knife to de-vein shrimp is a cinch. Some paring knives are great for cutting shapes or vents into dough as well as scoring designs and intricate patterns on gourmet dishes. Cooking Light recommends choosing a knife with a comfortable handle without any gaps or burrs in it.