Thinking about investing in an ulu knife? And why not? They are fun, efficient cutting tools that plow through herbs like nobody’s business.
An ulu — more commonly, but not necessarily correctly, known as an ulu knife — is a traditional knife design used by the Inuit and Aleut peoples. Traditional uses were diverse, addressing all sorts of household and outdoor tasks, but today people use the ulu for standard household chopping (and rarely for anything else).
The ulu has a rounded blade that is often compared to the Italian mezzaluna, which is also a cutting tool with a convex blade, though the mezzaluna is a two-handed instrument. Both are used in a rocking manner, usually on a concave cutting board, which controls the motion of the blade and aids the back-and-forth motion.
There is another type of knife with a rounded blade known as a “bowl chopper.” These look like ulu knives but they lack the distinctive pointed ends, and instead have flat sides. These knife are, as your might imagine, uses for quickly chopping objects that are placed in bowls, most commonly chopping salads at lunch counters.
Lamson Ulu Knife
One popular option is the Lamson ulu knife, which sells for around $30. Lamson is a brand that most of us are familiar with thanks to their popular knives and other kitchen and barbecue tools.
Keep in mind that the Lamson ulu has one major problem: it doesn’t include the metal chopping bowl. With that concave cutting board you can’t really take advantage of the ulu’s high-speed rocking motion. The bowl-like cutting board usually costs about $20-40 so you’ll want to factor that into the price of any knife that lacks one. You could broaden your search from an “ulu cutting block” to a mezzaluna cutting block and you might be able to find some more options.
The most popular option for an ulu with an included chopping bowl seems to be the Ulu Factory ulu knife. This isn’t one I’ve used yet, but it seems to be well-reviewed and it’s been on sale for about three years so it could definitely be a viable option.
What is an ulu knife?
An ulu, or ulu knife, is a traditional single-bladed knife used by the Inuit and Aleut people for a wide variety of tasks. It's been adopted more widely but people all over the world as a useful tool for quickly chopping. It's commonly paired with a concave chopping block to control the knife's rounded blade.
What's the difference between an ulu knife and a mezzaluna?
Both of these cutting tools have convex blades and are often paired with rounded (concave) cutting boards. They are both used for rapid chopping and mincings, but the ulu is a more versatile knife as its single-handed design allows for scraping and more exact work than the mezzaluna. The mezzaluna (translates to “half moon”) uses a two-handed design which means a larger blade is possible as is more leverage and thus cutting power but it's a less useful tool overall.
How do you sharpen an ulu knife?
Ulu knives can be sharpened with any standard knife sharpener, sharpening stone, or honing steel, provided you are being extra careful with the pointed ends and curved shape. Specialized ulu knife sharpeners are sold but they are basically rebranding standard knife sharpeners.
How do you store an ulu knife?
The rounded shape and pointed ends of an ulu knife makes it very challenging to store safely. Most companies that sell an ulu also sells a leather carrying case — basically a sheath — that protects the blade from damage in addition to protecting you from the blade.