While many home bakers may not start out using a bread lame—which is, essentially, a long tool that holds a razor blade—the addition of this relatively inexpensive tool to your bread making kit will immediately pay off with cleaner scoring, higher rises, and more refined results.
Bread lames (“lame” means “blade” in French) were once difficult to find on the consumer market, which often left home bakers to score their bread using blades by hand or fashion their own tools out of skewers or chopsticks. Professional-quality bread lames are now available to anyone who is interested in stepping up their bread game, and they come in a variety of choices for your ultimate comfort and bread-making style.
Here are the best bread lames on the market right now.
Baker of Seville Bread Lame
Nice storage case
Adjustable straight or curved blade
All stainless steel
Easy-to-replace blade means less chance of injury
Only three blades
This is what you get when a bread baker sets out to make their own equipment. Designed and tested by bakers and baking enthusiasts alike, the Baker of Seville bread lame is versatile, sturdy, and streamlined.
The biggest advantage of this lame is its ability to alternate between a straight-edge and curved blade, meaning that you can make a variety of cuts without having to purchase two different tools. The blade is stabilized with a sturdy screw and two stabilizing knobs to keep the blade from slipping under pressure.
In testing, it came with the first blade attached, but of course we wanted to see how easy it is to change from straight or curved. It’s simple, really, since it depends on where a small nut is placed. The depth of the curve can also be controlled, depending on how tight the blade is attached. The screws kept the blade secure in testing, and slashing was easy whether we used the blade straight or curved.
Unlike most other bread lames on the market that are constructed with wood or plastic components, this one is entirely stainless steel, making it both sturdy and easy to clean. The stainless steel design makes for a slightly heavier-weight lame for greater control while scoring. After removing the blade and securing the screw, it can be washed in the utensils section of the dishwasher.
The lame comes with a hard plastic storage case for safekeeping and storage in your kitchen drawers.
Price at time of publish: $25
Blade Style: Curved and straight | Material: Stainless steel | Includes: Storage case, 3 blades
"There are a lot of things to love. There's no need to squeeze the blade to get it onto a shaft, so it seems like it's going to result in fewer injuries. It's simple to disassemble it to switch from straight to curved. And because it can do both, there's no need to have two different lames for different purposes."
XoYo Bread Lame
Easy blade installation
No storage case
If you’re just starting out or don’t know how committed you are to making bread for the long haul, the XoYo Bread Lame is a safe and reusable lower-priced option. Instead of buying a single-use plastic lame for the same price, XoYo offers a lame design like the higher-end models but a lower price. It’s designed with a longer 6.3-inch wooden handle and stainless steel razor stick to hold a double-sided safety razor. It also comes with instructions on how to place the blade.
In testing, this worked as well as most of the other lames—because, let’s face it, the work is done by the blade. The handle was comfortable to hold, too. To attach the blade, we had to bend and hold it to slide it onto the shaft of the lame. It’s a simple process, but it needs a steady hand when handling the sharp blade.
The XoYo Bread Lame doesn’t come with a protective box but does include a leather blade cover to protect you, and the blade, while it is not in use.
Price at time of publish: $8
Blade Style: Curved | Material: Wood, stainless steel | Includes: 5 blades, leather blade cover
"This worked well for both ear cuts and also deeper straight cuts using more of the corner of the blade. The handle on this is quite long and tapers from narrower to wider, so I guess the wide end is good for people with large hands."
Best for Sourdough
UPKOCH Bread Lame
Easy to use for various types of cuts
Comfortable and attractive handle
Blade cover included
Requires screwdriver for blade installation
Many bakers like to score their sourdoughs and yeasted doughs with a head-on perpendicular slice, in either the classic X or a square pattern. A straight-blade lame helps achieve a clean direct cut, as well as many of the popular decorative cuts often seen on larger artisan loaves.
The UPKOCH bread lame has an attractive artisan wooden handle, which is especially safe and secure. The blade is held in place by two screws, with the back of the double-sided blade sunk into the handle itself to avoid any accidental cuts while using the lame. The screws can be removed to rotate or replace the blade. A small screwdriver key included in the set, or a regular small screwdriver can be used if the key disappears into the gadget drawer.
In use, we found the blade easy to install and replace, and found it easy to make both straight cuts and small decorative ones. It was less effective when trying to hold the lame at the angle required to create an “ear” on the loaf, but by adjusting the blade to stick out more, it was a bit easier.
Five blades are included, as well as a plastic blade cover for safe storage and a key to tighten the screws. Unlike other models, the UPKOCH bread lame also has a small hole drilled in the handle for hanging.
Blade Style: Straight | Material: Wood, stainless steel | Includes: 5 blades, blade cover, 1 plastic blade cover, 1 screw key
"Despite the fact that this isn't an all-in-one product, I liked it a lot, particularly for straight cuts. The blade is easy to install and adjust, and it feels really solid in the hand. This doesn't have a nice storage box, but the plastic blade cover works well."
Best for Gifting
Williams Sonoma Black Walnut Handle Bread Lame
Attractive black walnut handle with brass accents
Easy blade installation
This lame takes the utilitarian straight blade up a notch with a beautiful black walnut handle, embellished with brass accents and stainless steel fittings. The screws that secure the blade in the handle can be tightened by hand without the need for a key. A pre-drilled hole in the handle makes it easy to hang and display in your kitchen.
The whole package includes additional razor blades and a small cardboard box for storage, making this lame a lovely and thoughtful gift for the bread enthusiast in your life.
In testing, we found the blade easy to install, but the directions were lacking. We thought we had it right, but actually had the blade inserted from the wrong side. Then we saw an online photo of the product and realized our error. It worked well, even when we had it backwards, so that’s a good thing, right? The brass accent piece is meant as a stop for the blade, but isn’t actually necessary since the screws do a fine job of keeping the blade from slipping. The brass piece sometimes felt loose or wobbly when the lame was assembled, but that’s a nitpick that doesn’t affect the product’s use.
This would be a great gift for a bread baker, but if you’re ready to up your gifting game, this same lame is also included in the Williams Sonoma Bread Baker’s Dream Set that includes a dough whisk, a ceramic bread baking pot, and a dough rising basket.
Price at time of publish: $35
Blade Style: Straight | Material: Black walnut wood, stainless steel, brass | Includes: 5 blades, cardboard storage box
Best for Baguettes
Saint Germain Premium Bread Lame
Good for straight and detailed cuts
Sturdy and well made
Easy to replace blade
Doesn't come with a nice storage box
The curved blade of the Saint Germain lame makes scoring baguettes for that beautiful arched expansion and delicate crisp flap (referred to as the “ear”) a breeze. Similar to other models, the lame is designed with a wooden handle and stainless steel stick to hold the blade.
To get the blade onto the lame when testing, we had to bend and hold the blade to slide it onto the shaft of the lame. While it was easy to do, it does require a steady hand, since fingers are close to the sharp edges of the blade. The shorter handle of this lame is popular among bakers who like to hold the tool closer to the blade for more control, or bakers with smaller hands. Since baguette dough is typically a little denser than a high-hydration sourdough, the extra control for scoring comes in handy.
The whole package includes five replaceable blades for multiple uses, a blade cover, and a cardboard box to store it all in. The blades are also covered by a lifetime warranty.
Price at time of publish: $10
Blade Style: Curved | Material: Wood, stainless steel | Includes: 6 blades, leather blade cover
"This was good for detailed cut, and worked really well, particularly when I had the blade installed so it was nearly straight."
Best for Beginners
Breadtopia Bread Lame
Simple blade installation with instructions
Storage box is cardboard
Not the most comfortable
For bakers looking for a dependable, and admittedly cute, lame for scoring homemade bread, the Breadtopia lame is an easy tool to use, change, and maintain.
Since this comes without the blade attached, our first task was bending and holding the blade as we slid it onto the shaft of the lame. While this was simple enough, it takes a sure hand since fingers are close to the sharp edges of the blade. If a more aggressive curve is desired, the shaft can be bent to change the blade’s curve. For those who are new to the process, it does come with instructions.
The long, textured resin handle is nonslip and allows for a looser and gentler pressure for soft doughs. For thicker doughs, there’s plenty of room to choke up on the handle without being directly on top of the blade. Our tester did find that this wasn't the most comfortable of lames, "but I wouldn't call it uncomfortable," she says. And while you can use the tip of the blade to learn how to make finer cuts, it's not the most ideal for that job. It comes with five blade replacements and a padded box for safe storage.
Price at time of publish: $13
Blade Style: Curved | Material: Plastic, stainless steel | Includes: Paper storage box, 5 additional blades
Best With Case
Bread Bosses Bread Bakers Lame Slashing Tool
Great for gift-giving
10 replacement blades and a 365-day return policy
Comfortable to hold
Doesn't come with instructions
Bread Bosses has set out to make serious tools for serious bread bakers, like the lame that comes with a solid wooden handle, 10 replacement blades, a blade cover, and a rugged wooden box to store it all in. The handle is smooth, without any carvings to prevent flour or dough buildup that may be difficult to clean out over time.
In testing, the lame's short handle was easy to hold and easy to use. The curved blade is designed mostly for intricate cuts, but our tester was able to make deep, straight cuts with the blade's corner. We particularly appreciated the box that held everything safely, with enough extra room to store some extra blades. Additionally, Bread Bosses has a 365-day return policy if for any reason your lame doesn’t stand up to regular use within the first year.
Price at time of publish: $15 in zebrawood
Blade Style: Curved | Material: Wood, stainless steel | Includes: Wooden storage box, 10 additional blades, 1 leather blade cover
"I liked the lame a lot, and the storage is great, particularly if there are a lot of spare blades or another tool to be stored. This also comes with a leather blade cover for extra protection."
How We Tested
We sent eight bread lames to our product tester, who used each to score loaves of bread dough to determine which products are truly the best. Each bread lame was rated on quality, ease of use, comfort of grip, the ease of installing or removing the blade, the blade quality, and overall value. Our tester then offered additional insights on each bread lame's strengths and weaknesses.
What to Look for When Buying a Bread Lame
Blades are straight or curved, depending on how they're installed on the lame handle. Most of the blades used for lames are flexible enough to curve, although most handles typically hold a blade in one style or the other—except for the Baker of Seville model, which can hold the blade in either style you choose. Whether to use a straight or curved blade is largely a matter of preference, although some beginners find it easier to start using a straight blade until they get a feel for making cuts and for decorative scoring.
We found that most blades are installed on lames in one of two ways. The first, and perhaps the safest, way you can attach a blade to the handle is by screwing it on. Some models have a single screw in the center or at one end of the blade. Other models have two screws holding the blade in place at both ends. The single screw configuration makes it easier to angle the blade however is most comfortable for you, but once screwed down, the blade is snugly held in the position of your choosing. Almost all blades secured with screws are straight blades (again, with the exception of the Baker of Seville lame, which can be adapted to either blade style). The screws themselves vary from hand-tightened models to models requiring a small turnkey or screwdriver to loosen and tighten.
Curved blades are typically installed by bending the blade by hand and sliding it over a flat rod on the lame handle. If fussing with screws is more than you want to deal with, or you bake a high volume of bread that requires changing the blade often and conveniently, this blade style and installation might be a good fit for you. But bending a sharp razor blade by hand involves inherent risks, and a little bit of practice. If you’d like to try this style, choose a lame that comes with installation instructions, and watch a few videos that demonstrate the correct and safest way to install a curved blade.
Stainless Steel: Lame handles come in various materials which are not specific to the style of the lame. As with most kitchen hand tools, a stainless steel handle should be machine washable and one of the sturdiest options for years of reliable use. The extra weight of stainless steel lames makes them easier to handle, especially when working with thicker doughs that require more forceful cuts.
Wood: Lames with wooden handles are some of the most prevalent and inexpensive models on the market these days. Wooden handle lames are available for both flat screw-on blades and curved blade styles — although all wooden lames come with metal pieces to secure the blade. Plenty of low-price options are available, but higher-end wooden models are also available for those interested in a more luxurious or hand-crafted tool. All wooden lames should be washed by hand to keep from stripping or waterlogging the porous handle, and left to air dry before storing.
Plastic: There are a few plastic lames available, most suited for beginners. Plastic models tend to be the most lightweight option, and are available with both replaceable and non-replaceable blade construction. Nonreplaceable blades are built right into the plastic handle, while replaceable blades are typically installed on a metal rod that extends from the plastic handle. The majority of plastic lames are designed with curved blades. To avoid warping plastic lames, it’s best to wash them by hand.
Safety & Storage Options
Like any other sharp kitchen tool, a lame should be handled and stored with care to protect against cuts and serious injuries. When choosing a lame, consider the storage options it comes with, and any safety features that make storing the lame in your kitchen easier for you. At the bare minimum, a lame should come with a blade cover. Blade covers are often leather pouches that fit neatly over blades, but are sometimes also plastic and snap over blades without having to remove them from the lame handle. Loose blades should have a storage box or pouch of their own. Many lames come with storage boxes to hold the handles and extra blades. Storage boxes vary, and can be made from paper, plastic, or wood.
A straightforward lame will include a handle and at least one blade. But more often than not, they include a few additional accessories. A pack of 5 to 10 additional blades is a nice addition to any lame set, as well as blade covers. Higher-end sets come with storage boxes, which is helpful but not necessary. If your tool is designed with screws, it should come with a turnkey or small screwdriver unless the screws are hand-tightened. Lames that come with instructions for installing the blades are very useful, and some instructions also give you an overview of how to hold and slice with the lame.
What is a bread lame?
Essentially, a bread lame is a handle and a razor blade. It’s used for slashing bread dough so it can rise properly during baking, without creating unattractive cracks in the crust. Better lames have removable blades, but there are very inexpensive, disposable lames with a permanently attached blade.
How do you use a bread lame?
The key to proper use of a lame is slashing with confidence. Hesitant slashes tend to make jagged cuts that may not be deep enough. The lame can be held at different angles, depending on the desired results. It can be held perpendicular to the loaf to slash straight down, or it can be held at an angle. To create an “ear” on a rustic loaf, the lame is held nearly parallel to the surface of the dough. Smaller, less deep cuts can be made to create decorative designs on the surface of the loaf.
Is a bread lame necessary?
While a lame makes slashing bread dough easier, there are other options. And some types of bread don’t need any slashing at all. A super-sharp knife can be used to slash the dough. Or, a single-edged razor blade or even a razor knife can be used. Someone who bakes a lot of bread is likely to prefer the proper tool, and the good news is that lames aren’t very expensive and take very little storage space.
Why are bread lames curved?
While many bread lames are curved, not all are. A curved blade promotes the formation of an “ear” on the loaf of bread, so it’s great for rustic loaves and sourdough. A straight blade can be easier to use for new bakers since it’s less likely to snag the skin on the loaf. Straight blades may be also be easier to use for making decorative cuts.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Jenny Kellerhals has been a professional pastry chef in NYC for over a decade, developing an appreciation of professional-grade and high-quality home baking equipment through rigorous use. Her New York apartment kitchen cabinets are tiny, so only the most reliable equipment makes the cut.
Donna Currie, who tested and updated this roundup, specializes in product reviews and recipes and is the author of the cookbook "Make Ahead Bread." Her search for the best cooking and baking gadgets is never-ending.