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A good serrated bread knife is a multitasking workhorse in the kitchen, following closely on the heels of the chef’s knife. It is the knife that you will keep within reach for slicing breads, leveling delicate cakes, cutting pastries to desired sizes, tackling a waxy winter squash, and slicing evenly through a perfectly ripe tomato.
Serrated knives are recognized by the saw-like appearance on the blade’s edge. This serration makes them ideal for cutting foods that have a tough or resistant outer crust and a soft interior. The pointy ends grip and cut through the outer layers of the food while the hollowed areas reduce the friction.
"I look for sharp points on the blade that will grab the food I am cutting—they help get the cut started," says Jane Bonacci, author of The Gluten Free Bread Machine Cookbook. "If it doesn't have points on the blade, then I like a sharp point on the front of the blade to create a starter slice."
With a good serrated bread knife, you can bid adieu to squishy, unevenly cut tomatoes and brutally botched-up loaves of bread.
Here, the best knives for bread.
Best Overall: Mercer Culinary Millennia Wide Wavy Edge Bread Knife
The handle gets sticky
Made from high-carbon, stain-free Japanese steel, this bread knife boasts a comfortable handle, a curved edge, pointy tines, and a generous 10.5-inch blade. The blade is slightly wider at the heel and tapers toward the tip, which makes it feel strong in your hands, and the knife slices through crusty breads and soft cakes with equal ease and precision. This is an NSF-certified knife, which means it is also suitable for use in commercial kitchens, and is very easy to clean. The handle has slip-resistant textured finger points and a protective finger guard. It's a budget-friendly knife that performs well.
Length: 10 inches | Material: High carbon steel; polypropylene | Weight: 4.8 ounces
Best Multipurpose: Victorinox Swiss Army 10.25-Inch Bread Knife
May lose sharpness
Versatility is one of the key qualities of a good kitchen tool, and the Victorinox totally delivers on this aspect. The thin blade, the curved edge, and the sharp tines can handle anything you throw them. Although it is categorized as a bread knife, it makes quick work of other kitchen jobs, such as slicing meat, cutting razor-thin tomato slices, and dividing a sandwich that’s bursting at its seams (no judgment on the sandwich).
The length and thinness of the blade also make it a good pastry knife. From the same company that makes Swiss Army knives comes this serrated bread knife with a proprietary Fibrox-material handle to provide a secure, nonslip grip and easy handling. This knife cuts clean without cutting a deep hole in your pocket.
Length: 10.2 inches | Material: Stainless steel, polypropylen copolymere | Weight: 4.08 ounces
Best with Flexible Blade: Tojiro Bread Slicer
Tojiro is known for making great-looking and well-performing stainless steel knives, and this bread slicer is no exception. At the outset, the thin and springy blade sets it apart from many bread knives. The handle is laminated wood and has a good finish with stainless steel rivets and a tang. The blade is just over 10 inches and feels very flexible, which is a strength in a serrated knife.
The Tojiro Bread Slicer excels at cutting with minimum resistance. Think straight slices of crusty or soft bread without squished crumbs or any tears for that matter. This is a good-value knife for the experienced cook.
Length: 9.25 inches | Material: Stainless steel, wood | Weight: 3.87 ounces
Best Design: Shun Classic 9-Inch Bread Knife
Lettering fades after some time
Shun is well known for making quality knives, and this one is no exception. With a variegated look that resembles a Damascus-style blade, this knife is as beautiful as it is functional. This classic 9-inch bread knife has a wide serrated edge, making it glide through crusty breads and soft rolls with equal ease. The cutting action is smooth and produces even slices, and the ergonomically designed pakkawood handle has a D shape, which allows for a comfortable hold. It is a bit pricey, but, Shun knives have a reputation for retaining their sharp edges for a long time.
Shun also hones your serrated knife for free, provided you buy from one of its authorized dealers. You pay for shipping and handling, send in the knives, and the experts hone them for you.
Length: 9 inches | Material: VG Max Steel, pakkawood | Weight: 10.2 ounces
Best High-End: Global Sai Bread Knife
Thumb recess for secure grip
Superior edge retention
This is as much a statement knife as it is a serrated bread knife. Ergonomics, great cutting, neat and clean slicing, sharp edges, beautiful design—check! Although the knife is all metal, it is not heavy. It’s a strong, durable knife made with Global’s proprietary stainless steel. The handle has a thumb recess for a secure grip, and it is filled with sand for balance.
The blade is deemed to have a superior edge retention, due to it being ice-tempered and hardened. The widely spaced serrations ensure that the knife cuts through breads, cakes, and fruits without creating excessive crumbs or making uneven cuts.
Length: 9 inches | Material: Cromova 18 Sanso stainless-steel, 18/8 steel | Weight: 8.25 ounces
Best for Lefties: Mercer Culinary Bread Knife 10-inch
The handle gets sticky
A bread knife is serrated on one side for a reason—to help make straight cuts of food and to control the cut. Normally, the serration is on the right side, which makes for an awkward angle for left-handed people. There are, however, a few knives designed specifically for the left-handed, and the Mercer Culinary 10-inch bread knife is one of them.
This knife is made with the same high-carbon, stain-free Japanese steel as the Mercer Culinary Millennia Knife. The handle is comfortable with textured finger points for slip-resistance and safety. If you regularly need to slice bread and use a serrated knife for other tasks in the kitchen, you will love this knife.
Length: 10 inches | Material: High carbon steel, Santoprene®, polypropylene | Weight: 6.4 ounces
Best Edge Retention: Mac Knife Superior Bread Knife, 10-1/2 Inch
Good knuckle clearance
Doesn’t work well with super crusty bread
Mac knives are known for their lightweight blades, superior edges, and sharpness, and the Mac Superior is no exception. The blade is crafted from Molybdenum steel, and it undergoes subzero tempering, which creates superior edge retention. The knife features a gently curved edge and an elevated handle for better knuckle clearance and safety. It is comfortable, well balanced, and sharp. With a 10.5-inch blade and scalloped serrations, the Mac Superior effortlessly cuts breads, meats, and fruits.
Length: 10.5 inches | Material: Steel, pakkawood | Weight: 5.06 ounces
Best with Sheath: DALSTRONG Bread Knife, 9 Inch
Handle can get slippery
The trendiest-looking knife on the block, this Dalstrong bread knife offers a lot more than style. It's a knife of substance, sharp and strong. Crafted from a single piece of steel, the blade is full tang with a good balance.
The knife features a tapered design for flexibility, which allows it to cut through multiple types of foods with less resistance. The fiber-resin handle is resistant to heat, cold, and moisture, and it's ergonomically designed. This knife can be used in a professional kitchen as it is NSF-certified, and it comes with a Dalstrong sheath. Overall, it’s a worthy contender for a midrange bread knife.
Length: 9 inches | Material: Steel, Titanium Nitride coating, resin | Weight: 8 ounces
If you are looking for a great bread knife that won't break the bank, the Mercer Culinary Millennia (view at Amazon) and the Victorinox Swiss Army (view at Amazon) are top contenders in cutting precision and multipurpose use. If you are willing to splurge, the Global Sai Bread Knife (view at Amazon) is our top high-end choice for quality and performance.
What to Look for When Buying Serrated Bread Knives
Shape of Serration
If you look closely at the serration in a bread knife, the shape of the serration is either pointy and sharp or scalloped and rounded. Should you go for pointy edges or more rounded ones? Most often it depends on what you are using the knife for. If you are cutting crusty loaves, a sharp pointy serration offers more grip as it bites into the food allowing you to cut with less force and more of a sawing motion. For softer breads or cakes a more rounded shape is less abrasive and makes cleaner cuts.
While it is possible to keep serrated knives honed, it is time-consuming to sharpen them at home and in some cases a bit challenging as well. In the case of serrated knives, it is best to look for knives that are super sharp right out of the box. A sharp knife with regular care will need less frequent sharpening.
As with the chef’s knives, the comfort of the grip in a serrated knife is important. Although this is a knife used for specific tasks and you may not use it for hours on end, you still want to feel in control. Since serrated knives are used for multiple functions, from cutting bread to portioning sandwiches to dividing cakes, a non-slippery firm grip is a key feature in the knife.
A short blade may fall short when slicing through larger loaves of bread whereas a very long blade might prove difficult to use for smaller foods. For home use, a knife with a length of 8 to 10 inches is just about right for a serrated bread knife.
Flexibility of the Blade
Thinner blades are more flexible, and in the case of bread knives, that is a strength. The thin blades are easier to maneuver and cut much neater than thick blades.
If you are cutting a particularly tough bread that has a hard crust but soft interior, try using a sawing motion with very little downward pressure and holding the edges of the bread to give it more support, suggests Jane Bonacci, author of The Gluten Free Bread Machine Cookbook.
Are bread knives and serrated knives the same thing?
Serrated knives form the broader category of knives that have broad, deep, and pointed grooves. Although the terms are used interchangeably, bread knives fall under the serrated knife category but not all serrated knives are bread knives. Serrations allow the knife to cut through foods that are tougher on the outside and soft within. Also, knives like serrated paring knives or steak knives have somewhat similar functionality but will fall short when slicing bread. Although a good bread knife can be put to many uses, including cutting cherry tomatoes, a serrated paring knife will do it faster and more safely.
Can you sharpen a serrated knife?
Serrated knives retain their sharpness for a long time, so they don’t need to be sharpened often. Serrated knives can be sharpened using a cone sharpener (like this one). Since the serrations on knives vary in width, this type of sharpener is better able to pass through each serration, sharpening each edge as you go from one end to the other. You can also get serrated knives sharpened professionally.
Why are bread knives serrated?
Serrated knives have pointy sharp edges that pierce the foods that are hard from the outside but soft within. As the tips pierce the surface of the food, the gullets reduce friction as the blade is moved in a back-and-forth, saw-like motion. These gullets help cut through without smashing soft, squiggly foods. This lesser friction and force results in less drag, and a much cleaner cut.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Renu Dhar is a chef instructor, personal chef, and food writer with years of experience teaching knife skills. She personally owns a couple (or more) of the knives on this list, although she recommends starting with one that feels just right for you. She interviewed Jane Bonacci, author of The Gluten Free Bread Machine Cookbook for additional research for this roundup.