Learning what types of kitchen knives are available in the market is essential to becoming a great chef. Some kitchen knives are multipurpose, serving a large number of tasks. Others are specific to a cut type and can save a lot of time of those who have to do a task over and over again.
Below we list which types of knives are most common, and what they are for. Whenever possible we use photos of Tramontina knives to make it easier for you to find it in some store in Brazil. We have no association with them.
Chef’s Knife (or Kitchen Knife) | Chef’s knife
The chef’s knife is about 15 to 30 cm and tip slightly curved, which allows the knife to slide on the board while cutting the food. It is a multipurpose knife, used to cut fruits, vegetables, and meats. If you have to buy a single knife, that’s it.
Like the chef’s knife, the Santoku is a utility knife of Japanese origin. Santoku means “three virtues,” or “three uses,” referring to the three tasks that this knife performs very well: cut, chop, and slice.
Cutlery | Cleaver
There are two types of cutlass: European and Chinese. The European cleaver is heavy, expensive, and of little use. It serves to cut bones as if it were an ax. It’s best to leave this type of cutlass for the horror movies like Friday the 13th.
The Chinese cleaver can be very useful and versatile for the chef. It is suitable for various types of cutting, especially when they require precision. It is very useful for slicing, cutting vegetables and fruits julienne and cutting herbs. Both santoku and the Chinese cleaver are substitutes for the chef’s knife.
Knife for vegetables | Paring knife
It is also a multi-purpose knife and of utmost importance in the kitchen, but it is much smaller than the chef’s knife. With it you will peel vegetables and do other jobs that require more precision, like cleaning a shrimp, taking chili seeds and cutting out trimmings for the dish.
Serrated knife (or bread knife) | Bread knife
Bread knives are serrated, which allows you to cut bread without kneading it. They are also used to slice pieces of tomatoes, peaches, and nectarines. Because of their serrated shape, they are not sharp knives throughout their life, but they nevertheless last a long time.
Knife for boning and filleting | Boning / Fillet knife
It is the ideal knife to separate the meat from the bones, and also to cut chicken and fish. They are curved and therefore offer greater control for precision cutting.
Small serrated knife | Utility knife
Knife useful for cutting fruits and vegetables, especially those where a smooth blade does not easily penetrate.
Mezzaluna | Herb Chopper
Mezzaluna is used to cut herbs. There are mezzalunas in size that are used for pizza and pesto. Some have a single blade, but the models with two blades.
Chaira | Honing steel
The chaira is the first resource to be used to sharpen the knife. What chaira does is not to remove material from the blade, but to straighten it. So your daily use is recommended – or whenever the knife does not cut right.
Stone for sharpening | Sharpening stone
Unlike the chaira, the sharpening stone does not straighten the blade. It has the function of abrading the metal so that the knife re-sharpens, recovering its cutting function. To achieve a perfect cut, the knife must be sharpened in at least two different stones: one with the thinning function (“thicker”) and the other with the “finer” paper. In Japan, the knife goes through three different stones.
The chaira does not wear metal, it can (and should) be used every day. The stone should be used only when the blade no longer resolves the situation, as it will wear the knife.