Best Bread Knives

Updated October 2020
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Buying guide for best bread knives

There's nothing quite like a fresh loaf of crusty bread straight out of the oven — or perhaps a sourdough boule from the farmer's market is more your style. No matter the bread, an uncut loaf needs a quality bread knife to do it justice and give you even slices without tearing the crumb.

But bread knives can all appear the same to the casual observer, so picking a quality one out of the crowd is a challenge. To help you make an informed purchase, we at BestReviews have written this detailed guide to bread knives, in addition to selecting our favorites.

Whether you're making an epic sandwich, slathering it in butter, or dipping it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, this guide has all the information you need to find the right bread knife to slice your delicious loaf.

A solid bread knife should be sharp so you don't shred the bread while cutting it.

What are bread knives useful for?

Of course, the clue's in the name — bread knives are designed to smoothly and evenly cut through bread. If you don't often bake your own bread or buy unsliced loaves, you might be wondering whether you'd use a bread knife often, but you can put them to work for other kitchen tasks, too. Thanks to their serrated edges, bread knives are great for cutting anything with a hard exterior and a soft interior. Here are some of the tasks bread knives are useful for.

  • Tomatoes can be hard to cut with a straight knife without squishing them because of the surface tension of the skin versus the soft interior. However, bread knives make easy work of slicing tomatoes.

  • If you bake a cake you want to cut in two or three pieces horizontally to layer with frosting, the serrated edge of a bread knife is less likely to tear the crumb. Bread knives are great for cutting even slices of a finished cake, too.

  • Peeling a pineapple is such an annoying task that many people buy the more expensive pre-cut stuff, but you can quickly and easily slice off the skin with a bread knife.

  • Cutting batch baked goods such as brownies or cookie bars is a breeze with a bread knife. Not only do you get a better cut with the serrated edge, the long blade lets you slice them in one motion.

  • The small teeth of a bread knife quickly cut through bars of chocolate you need to chop up into smaller pieces to melt or put into dough for chocolate chunk cookies.

Considerations when selecting a bread knife

Forged vs. stamped

Like all knives, bread knives may either be forged or stamped. Forged bread knives are made from a single piece of steel, which is heated and hammered into shape. (This used to be done by hand, but today it’s more often done by a machine.) Stamped bread knives are cut out from a large sheet of steel. The way in which the steel molecules are manipulated during the forging process makes forged bread knives harder and stronger, retaining their sharp edge for longer. Stamped knives tend to be more lightweight and are inexpensive, but they aren't as strong or durable. While some people like the flexibility and lighter weight of stamped knives, forged options are generally considered superior.

Blade length

While you can find some slightly longer and shorter options, the majority of bread knives have blades of between eight and 12 inches. Long blades don't get lost in the loaf and give you a smooth cut. The blade of your chosen bread knife should be longer than the width of the loaves you generally cut — any shorter, and you won't end up with smooth, even slices. If you only ever cut loaves baked in a standard five inch bread pan, an eight-inch bread knife would probably suit you just fine. However, if you regularly cut large boules or cob loaves, you'd likely appreciate a much longer blade.

Handle material

Bread knives can have a range of handle materials. The most common options are plastic, wood, and steel. Plastic handles can be great or subpar, depending on the type of plastic used. Inexpensive bread knives often have textured plastic handles that look and feel cheap, but you can find knives with smooth plastic polymer handles that are both durable and attractive.

Wooden handles have a classic appearance, give you plenty of grip, and feel warm in your hand. However, the big drawback is that they'll rot over time if you get them wet, so you need to hand wash them carefully, and the dishwasher is definitely out.

Some one-piece knives feature steel handles extending out from the blade. They're exceptionally easy to clean, as there are no nooks and crannies between the blade and the handle, and they also tend to be well-balanced. They do, however, feel cold and provide little grip, unless coated with rubber.

Balance

The balance of a bread knife is important and can mean the difference between a knife that's a pleasure to use and one that rarely performs the way that you want it to. If you're choosing a bread knife with an especially long or heavy blade, check that the handle is weighted for balance. There may be a bolster in the handle for balance or, if it's a knife with a hollow steel handle, it may be filled with sand or a similar substance.

Bread knife prices

You can buy a basic bread knife for as little as $10 to $25. These might not be the best options out there (especially at the bottom end of this price range), but they're fine for occasional use.

If you regularly bake bread or buy loaves that need slicing, we recommend spending a bit more on a mid-range bread knife — somewhere in the region $30 to $80.

High-end bread knives cost as much as $100 to $300, but these are overkill for all but the most dedicated amateur chefs.

Tips

  • Think about the blade material. The vast majority of bread knives have steel blades, but higher quality options often use high-carbon steel. The increased carbon content makes for a harder, more durable blade.

  • Know your tang. A bread knife "tang" is the part of the blade that extends into the handle. Full-tang knives have tangs which extend the whole way down the handle. These are stronger than half-tang or partial-tang knives.

  • Consider handle size. A bread knife with a handle that's too large or too small for the size of your hand won't be comfortable.

  • Pick a blade with the right degree of flexibility. A slightly flexible blade on a bread knife is more versatile and can help you successfully tackle various kinds of breads, cakes, and other foods. However, too much flexibility can give you uneven results.
While you can find bread knives that work well for both left- and right-handed users, southpaws should always double check, as some models are easier for righties to use.

FAQ

Q. Do I really need a bread knife?

A. Unless the majority of your food comes from a can or is microwaved straight from the freezer, we highly recommend a bread knife as part of your kitchen arsenal. Even if you only occasionally slice uncut bread, you're likely to find it useful for a wide range of other kitchen tasks.

Q. Are bread knives dishwasher safe?

A. Some bread knives are technically dishwasher safe (check the manufacturer's specifications), but they'll keep their sharp edge for longer if you wash them by hand.

Q. Can I sharpen my bread knife?

A. You might be wondering whether it's possible to sharpen a bread knife, due to its serrated edge. It is possible, but you will need a special tool — such as a ceramic sharpening rod or an angled sharpening rod — to do so. Alternatively, you could have your bread knife sharpened professionally. Plenty of hardware stores and cookware shops offer this service.

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