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Along with a chef’s knife and a petty or paring knife, we suggest that you pick up a serrated bread knife to round out your basic kitchen set. With these three blades, you’ll be able to handle pretty much all cutting and slicing duties.
Now, you may be wondering if a bread knife is really necessary. But these sawtoothed tools are absolute gems for handling a diverse range of foods and cutting tasks.
If You’re in Hurry…
After going through many pounds of tomatoes, loaves of crusty artisanal bread, and full-sized shortcakes, we found the following five blades to be the best choice for most people (in order):
Our Best Reviewed Bread Knives
What to Look For
Not only will bread knives slice through soft yeast breads and crusty artisan loaves, they’re also the blade of choice for delicate cakes, pastries, and biscotti, slicing tomatoes and soft fruits, trimming a pineapple or melons, cutting cheese, slicing salami, shredding lettuce and cabbage, and for carving up roast meats and poultry. A resourceful performer indeed!
So if you’re in the market for a new loaf knife, read along as we delve into the details of this handy slicer.
We’re looking at :
- What makes a serrated edge effective.
- The different types of sawtooth edges.
- Blade shape and length.
- How to sharpen these toothy beauties.
- Testing methods and evaluation criteria.
- 5 reviews of the most popular options available.
Let’s dig in!
Why a Serrated Edge?
Serrated knives, with their scalloped, jagged edge, are ideal for cutting through foods with a hard exterior and soft interior – like a loaf of crusty bread.
The principle behind a serrated knife is similar to that of a saw – the teeth of the blade sink into the surface, then slice smoothly as the knife is pushed and pulled through food.
Serrated blades are effective on foods that are hard, slippery, or squishy because of their ability to pierce into surfaces that a straight edge can’t make a proper purchase on. As the tips pierce the food, the gullets (the space between the teeth) reduce friction as the blade is moved in a back and forth motion.
The gullets are what gives the serrated edge the ability to cut without ripping or tearing. Less friction means a faster cut, less drag, and it also keeps the blade slicing on the intended plane – not travelling off at an oblique angle.
Types of Serrations
When considering a loaf knife, you’ll want to have a good look at the toothline because the shape and number of teeth will produce somewhat different results.
The design of the serrations will vary from brand to brand as well. Some will have a gentle, scalloped edge with rounded tips, while others will have a more aggressive profile with sharper, almost hook-like points.
Sharp, aggressive teeth usually require a bit less pressure from the user, and they’ll often pierce a hard crust better than rounded ones; however, they also create more crumbs.
The number of teeth will have an impact as well. Some will be tightly packed along the toothline, while others will have the teeth spaced further apart.
The number of serrations is determined by the number of teeth per inch, or TPI – and basically, the lower the number, the rougher the cut will be.
With fewer teeth, the space between them – or the gullet – is greater. This detail is important because the size of the gullet is what determines how smoothly the knife will travel while cutting. The bigger the gullet, the greater the cut, and the easier the blade moves.
Blade Shape and Length
The overall shape of the blade is another consideration. Some will be curved, with the tip and/or handle lifting up slightly from the blade heel, while others will be straight and true.
Because of the back and forth cutting action, a curved blade gives better knuckle clearance as you reach the final strokes of a cut – which should always be finished with a pull, not a push. This is a nice feature for those with large hands, as it helps to prevent rapping fingers against the cutting board.
A curved blade also makes it easier to see what you’re doing, which gives better control and results in fewer slicing mishaps.
The length of the blade is another consideration. Blade length will usually fall into a range of between 8 and 11 inches. And naturally, the longer the blade, the fewer times you’ll need to saw back and forth to finish a cut.
Longer blades also allow for easier cutting of artisan loaves and baguettes, and greater length also makes them more effective for carving roasted proteins.
Sharpening Serrated Blades
Knives with a serrated edge are typically ground on one side only with a single bevel, like a chisel. This gives a very sharp edge and a more precise cut for thin, even slices.
There’s a lot of talk online about serrated knives being difficult to sharpen – to the point where many websites and forums advocate tossing them when they get dull. Nonsense!
A simple and affordable tool like a DMT Diafold Serrated Knife Sharpener will easily sharpen the teeth. This one is diamond coated so it’ll tackle both hard Japanese steel and the softer European alloys.
Easy to use, a cone sharpener will fit all types of serrations as it’s tapered from a broader base to a fine tip. Just find the spot on the cone that fits your gullet, lay it on the blade and pull towards you, away from the knife edge. This does a fine job of restoring a keen edge.
True, it does take a bit of patience to sharpen a sawtooth edge, but it’s better than buying a cheap, ineffective model just to dispose of it when it becomes dull.
If you take care of your blades before they get completely dull, you can get away with just purchasing the extra-fine model shown above.. However, if you do let them start to get dull, you may want to look into also purchasing the fine sharpener.
They are also available in coarse for those whose tools are more prone to wear and tear, with kids or for those who may use their blades as gardening tools.
Okay, now that we know a bit about serrated bread knives, let’s move into the reviews.
Our Testing Methods
Long serrated knives, collectively known as bread knives, have abilities much more versatile than what most folks use them for. We like to use them to slice a variety of items from soft sponge cakes to crusty artisanal bead to juicy tomatoes.
However, they aren’t all made the same.
Design is a huge factor in how well they multitask, and we found those that have a few sharp and pointy teeth work much better than versions with either more teeth, or a scalloped design.
We started out with 10 different models from cheap to very expensive, and conducted a series of tests to find the best model for most people. Five were immediately illuminated and we kept five on our list that we believe make the most sense for most people.
We concentrated on examples that were 9-10 inches long, as shorter models are unable to cut through thick loaves. Anything longer than that just becomes cumbersome.
To find the best bread knife for you, we cut our way through 8 loaves of artisan bread, 8 loaves of French bread, 13 pounds of tomatoes, 8 full-sized shortcakes, and various sandwiches and burgers.
We then rated them on the following points, using weighted measurements as indicated:
1. Multipurpose (Weight 2x factor) – Or the ability to cut through various substances. Were they one trick ponies or could they handle everything?
2. Sharpness (Weight 1.5x factor) – How sharp is it from the factory? How long does it stay sharp?
3. Knuckle Clearance (Weight 1.5 factor) – Was there adequate room to squeeze our (somewhat chubby in some cases) hands around the grip and still be able to cut level?
4. Fit, Finish, and Ergonomics (Weight 1x factor) – Although this was our lowest weighted category, it’s still an important factor. If you hate using the blade, then it just becomes a decoration.
What did we not factor in?
Price. We don’t consider this to be an effective measure of a tool that you may purchase once or twice in a lifetime (unless it’s stupidly expensive). Buy once, cry once.
Reviews of Our Favorite Bread Knives
Best Overall Performance: MAC
In the world of kitchen cutlery, MAC knives are legendary for their thin, lightweight blades with razor sharp edges – and the Superior bread knife doesn’t disappoint.
The exquisitely sharp edge, tough steel, and curved profile give a clean, smooth cut with each stroke. And the handle design provides plenty of knuckle clearance, making it the best choice as a multitasker.
The Superior series bread knife consists of a thin, 2-millimeter blade (which is a hair over 1/16 of an inch) that’s tapered from spine to edge to reduce wedging. It glides with effortless ease through breads, soft vegetables, and fruits, and creates paper thin slices when used to carve roast meats and poultry.
Constructed of MAC’s Superior formula steel, it’s the same rust and stain resistant, high-carbon molybdenum formula as their original series, but it has gone through an extra sub-zero tempering process.
Hardened to 59-61 HRC, the tempering provides needed resiliency for the hard steel, helps to prevent burrs from forming along the edge, and gives better edge retention and ease of sharpening.
The Superior also features a gently curved edge profile, with an elevated handle and tip for better knuckle clearance and safety, which also serves to make starting a cut easier. And when used with an exaggerated sawing motion and just light pressure, you can consistently create thin, even slices.
The pakkawood handle provides a comfortable, ergonomic grip that resists stains and fading, and is securely attached to the full tang with three stainless steel rivets. And thanks to the perfectly balanced weight distribution, it’s always easy to maintain full control of the blade.
The Superior bread knife is not dishwasher safe and needs to be hand washed and dried promptly.
With a 10.5-inch blade, the overall dimensions measure approximately 15.5 x 1.5 x 1 inches and it weighs 5.6 ounces. Please note that these measurements come from MAC’s product description page, which are different from the description on Amazon.com.
Made in Japan, the Superior comes with the MAC knife warranty that covers any defects in materials or workmanship for 25 years from the date of purchase, valid only for the original purchaser.
A solid 5/5 for this blade. The MAC absolutely flies through anything presented in front of it. This (or its close cousin, the Torijo) is by far the best bread knife for most people.
What Others Are Saying
The following notes are compiled from the most frequent comments of verified purchasers at Amazon.
The MAC Superior bread knife receives top grades for its outstanding sharpness, efficient design, and ease of use.
Without a doubt, the high quality steel and super sharpness are fan favorites, with the majority reporting that the Superior makes a clean cut and even slices with little crumb and no ripping or tearing.
Edge retention is another highlight, with infrequent sharpening required.
Reviewers also claim that the curved profile outperforms flat edged designs on both hard and soft loaves, as it provides greater control and makes seeing your work easier.
The pakkawood handle and balanced weight distribution make it comfortable to use with no fatigue to the hand, wrist, or forearm.
And with the long blade, slicing bread, tomatoes, cheese, roasts, and so on is efficient and easy – only light pressure is required, and interiors retain their shape without squishing.
On the negative side, two reviewers reported some difficulty when using it on crusty sourdough loaves.
For high grade steel, superb sharpness, and overall cutting performance, it’s hard to beat a MAC.
The combination of sharp serrations, exquisite balance, and its thin, lightweight blade create a precision cutting tool that gives expert handling and control. And with just a little care and maintenance, this knife will provide decades of exceptional service.
This is an excellent choice for those who demand professional grade performance from their kitchen knives.
Best Budget Friendly Performer: Tojiro
In the knife making business since 1955, Tojiro has earned a reputation for providing excellent Japanese kitchen knives at much more reasonable prices than their competitors.
In our test kitchen, the Tojiro bread slicer ranked very closely to the MAC in the key components of superior and long-lasting sharpness, strong, durable steel, and comfort in handling. It provides lots of knuckle room for safe and fatigue-free slicing, and gives great consumer value with a lower price point.
This top performing bread knife features extra hard forged molybdenum/vanadium stainless steel, which has outstanding durability, corrosion and stain resistance, and fracture toughness – all contributing to easy maintenance. And, it can be ground to exquisite scalpel sharpness.
With a rating of 58-59 HRC, this hardness is critical to keep serrations sharp for the life of the knife, with only the occasional sharpening required.
Thirty-three teeth run along the edge. And the blade profile has a slight curve from heel to tip that provides ample knuckle clearance, a clear sight line of the work at hand, plus clean and easy cutting from top to bottom of crusty loaves.
The handle is constructed of black pakkawood for an ergonomically comfortable grip, and it is resistant to water, stains, and fading. It’s soundly attached to the full tang with three stainless steel rivets, and has an ideal balance point where handle and blade meet.
The Tojiro has a 10.5-inch blade with overall measurements of approximately 16 x 1.5 x 1, and weighs 5.1 ounces. Please note that the dimensions listed on Amazon.com reflect the package size, not the knife size.
Hand washing and prompt drying is recommended to keep this knife looking and performing its best.
Made in Japan, Tojiro provides a lifetime warranty to be free of material and manufacturing defects.
What Others Are Saying
The following comments are compiled from the most frequent remarks of verified purchasers on Amazon.
The Tojiro bread knife receives high marks for its sharp edge, comfortable hand feel, and its clean slicing performance.
Sharp, sharp, sharp! Numerous reviewers report the Tojiro to be extremely sharp upon arrival, and that it holds a keen edge very well, even after extended use.
And because of the sharp serrations, it cuts thin and evenly every time.
The comfort level, beautiful balance, and overall hand feel makes using it a pleasure, with little effort required to handle even hard, crusty loaves.
The handle design is another highlight as it provides a comfortable, secure grip with plenty of clearance, and without creating any stress or fatigue in the hand or forearm.
There are no complaints to report at this time.
A solid 4.9. The Torijo is nearly as good as the MAC. It’s the same design with plenty of a knuckle room and made out of similar steel. Its fit and finish are not quite as good as the MAC (tiny, tiny details) but it’s great for someone who wants to save a few bucks.
The Tojiro brand may not be quite as well known as some of their flashier counterparts, but they’re definitely equal in quality, sharpness, and comfort.
This bread slicer quietly takes its place as a superb performer, using sound design and top quality steel to create an enduring, multifaceted tool.
And at a fraction of the cost of some high-end loaf knives, it offers the best value possible – a smart choice for the savvy cook.
Wusthof has been producing top-notch kitchen knives for over 200 years, and the Classic series has become their bestselling collection for both professional chefs and the home cook.
The blade is forged from a single piece of Wusthof’s exclusive high carbon stainless steel, then tempered to a hardness of 58 HRC. The blade is then ground with their proprietary Precision Edge Technology (PET), which reportedly creates an edge that’s 20% sharper than grinding with traditional methods, and retains the edge twice as long.
The straight, serrated edge of the blade has 35 teeth to guide it on an even plane. The blade smoothly cuts through hard crusts and tough skins without squishing delicate interiors – and leaves minimal crumb residue.
A full tang is triple riveted to the synthetic POM (polyoxymethylene) handle for outstanding strength, durability, and balance. It resists staining, fading, and discoloration, and features their stickered red and white trident logo, which stands for their three core beliefs of passion, diligence, and perfection.
Plus, a full bolster and finger guard add extra strength and keep the balance point centered.
Although the Wusthof bread knife can go in the dishwasher, hand washing and prompt drying is recommended, to prevent pitting and to retain its lustrous finish.
With a blade length of 10 inches, the overall measurements at this size are approximately 14.5 x 1.5 x 1 inches, and it weighs 6.9 ounces.
The Wusthof Classic bread knife also comes in an 8-inch size with 27 teeth that measures approximately 13 x 1.5 x .6 inches and weighs 4.6 ounces.
A 9-inch model is also available. It has 31 teeth, measures approximately 13.5 x 1.5 x .8 inches, and weighs 6.6 ounces.
Wusthof guarantees their knives to be free of defects in material and craftsmanship for the life of the knife. Made in Germany.
An impressive 4.7 and the best among the western blade smiths. Pointy teeth make easy work of any material and it’s easier to sharpen than its Japanese brethren (but will not retain that sharpness for as long).
It’s also less brittle than those made in Japan.
What Others Are Saying
The following notes are gleaned from the most frequent comments of verified purchasers at Amazon.
The Wusthof bread knife receives top grades for its excellent German engineering, hand feel, and slicing efficacy.
Numerous reviewers have commented favorably on the user friendly design aspects of the Classic. The weight is superbly balanced, and it gives an excellent hand feel thanks to the skillful craftsmanship and top quality materials used in its production.
Cutting performance also gets plenty of kudos. The Classic can handle both soft and crusty breads with equal ease and very little crumb, it has the size to handle large artisan loaves, and it also impresses when used on other foods as well, like thinly sliced tomatoes and meat.
It has a very sharp edge and retains its sharpness well, even with daily professional use. And the serrated tips give a strong purchase to start any cut – even on super crusty sourdough loaves.
At this time, there are no common complaints to report.
The Wusthof Classic bread knife is a top seller with online shoppers, and with good reason.
Attention to detail, first rate materials, and accomplished German craftsmanship combine to produce a sharp, efficient cutting tool that gets the job done time after time.
The professional feel and balance, along with robust serrations and a keen edge, make slicing duties easy with the Classic. It’s ideal for those who prefer the feel and styling of a straight edge over a curved blade.
Shun is another renowned Japanese knife maker with over 90 years of accomplished workmanship that has earned them a respectable spot in the market.
The Shun Classic features their proprietary forged VG-Max steel for the core, and 16 layers of high carbon stainless steel cladding, which is ground and bead blasted to reveal the flowing patterns of layered Damascus steel.
This combination provides a seriously sharp edge and marvelous edge retention.
Not only is it razor sharp with great stain and corrosion resistance, but this also adds a beautiful aesthetic appeal. Plus, the Damascus finish reduces friction for less sticking and cleaner cuts.
The edge profile has a hint of a curve from heel to tip for extra knuckle clearance and greater control.
The single bevel edge is ground to a tight 16° for an extremely sharp edge, with 21 wide serrations that provide all the power needed to cut through crusty loaves without tearing soft interiors.
Shun’s Classic line of knives features a comfortable D-shaped pakkawood handle, a hand polished stainless steel bolster, and a stainless steel cap on the butt. Made of compressed hardwood veneers and resin, pakkawood is tough, durable, and resists fading.
The D-shaped handle was actually designed to fit snugly into the palm of the right hand, but the Shun website FAQs and their blog report that many lefties use – and some actually prefer – the right handed D-shape.
It also features a full tang that runs the length of the handle, lending extra strength and balance.
Handwashing and prompt drying is recommended to keep the steel looking and performing its best.
With a 9-inch blade, the overall measurements are approximately 15 x 1.75 x 1 inches, and it has a weight of 7.4 ounces. These measurements are as we measured them, and verified with Shun customer service (which differs from the info available on Amazon.com).
Shun offers a limited lifetime warranty to be free of manufacturing defects, and also provides free sharpening for as long as you own the knife. You just have to pay for shipping. Made in Japan.
A respectable 4.2. Our model arrived with slightly skewed blade that we weren’t too happy about. We don’t think that Shun would allow something like that to leave the factory so it must have been bent during transporation, as the packaging just consisted of a wrap or two of plastic.
We tweaked the blade back into shape, but for a product that costs this much, it should have arrived in better packaging with no issues (the MAC and Torijo arrived in nice cardboard presentation boxes).
We also didn’t like the fact that it’s only 9 inches long and it didn’t offer much in the way of knuckle clearance. The scalloped teeth are not the most efficient design in the world, but the Shuns arrive better than razor sharp from the factory, so this really didn’t affect performance.
All in all, it’s a beautiful and a well constructed blade that comes with a lifetime sharpening service, and we’re a fan of the entire Shun classic line (their Chinese cleaver is our number one pick).
What Others Are Saying
The following comments are a compilation of the most common remarks from verified purchasers at Amazon.
The Shun Classic bread knife rates very highly for a comfortable hand feel, outstanding sharpness, and aesthetic appeal.
The D-shaped handle gets several mentions for its comfortable and secure grip. And with the evenly distributed weight, balance and overall hand feel are superb.
The strong steel and ultra-sharp edge also get plenty of compliments. It slices through fresh bread with a hard, crusty exterior with no tearing, and handles other slicing duties with equal ease.
Diverse foods such as roasts, biscotti, tomatoes, chocolate, and cheese are all deftly dealt with in short time. And the hard steel core retains a sharp edge indefinitely.
The smooth cutting action is also appreciated, with little effort or sawing action required, and it produces thin, even slices with hardly any crumb. The Damascus cladding is also mentioned for the way it reduces drag and prevents foods from sticking – and for its lovely appearance.
The solid construction also gets kudos, with the skilled craftsmanship and visual appeal getting several mentions.
At this time, there are no complaints about the Shun Classic.
The Shun Classic bread knife is a beautifully crafted tool that makes an attractive addition to any kitchen.
Strong Damascus clad steel provides a wonderfully sharp cutting edge that handles even the hard crusts of sourdough without any buckling. And the widely spaced scallops produce thin, even slices with minimal effort.
However, it does not have the same amount of knuckle clearance as either the MAC or Tojiro.
Shun knives are somewhat pricey, but if the Classic falls into your budget you’ll be rewarded with outstanding quality, beauty, and a fine cutting tool.
Cheapest (But Still Decent) Alternative: Victorinox
From Swiss knife makers Victorinox, the Fibrox line brings the efficiency of professional knives into the home kitchen. And this commercial-quality serrated blade is designed specifically to cut foods that have a combination of a hard exterior with a soft interior.
The stamped, high carbon stainless steel blade is ice tempered for maximum sharpness and edge retention, and is hand finished with a mirror polish. The special tempering process creates an edge that can be resharpened over and over, so you can enjoy the original keen cutting edge for the life of the blade.
The blade has a gentle curve that leads the tip upwards from the heel for better control of your cutting stroke, and also keep knuckles safe from contact with the cutting board.
The patented Fibrox handle (a synthetic mineral fiber) provides a textured, ergonomic, and non-slip grip that’s designed for balance and comfort. And, like all knives in the Fibrox line, this bread knife has been NSF certified for quality assurance.
Dishwasher safe, Victorinox does recommend hand washing and prompt drying to keep it at its best.
The 10.25-inch blade has 41 teeth, overall measurements of approximately 15 x 1.5 x .5 inches, and it weighs 6.75 ounces. Please note that these measurements come from Victorinox customer service, which are different from those on Amazon.com.
The Fibrox comes with Victorinox’s lifetime guarantee to be of first class stainless steel and to be free of material and manufacturing defects. Made in Switzerland.
It also comes in an 8-inch size ,which has 34 serrations and measures approximately 13 x 1.5 x .5 inches. It weighs only 4.8 ounces.
What Others Are Saying
The following comments are compiled from the most frequent remarks of verified purchasers at Amazon.com.
The Victorinox bread knife gets tops marks from reviewers for its overall high quality design and construction, ease of use, and the sharp edge.
The good quality of the steel gets several mentions, with a number of reviewers reporting that it even survives dishwasher abuse without any pitting or staining.
The Fibrox handle also gets its fair share of compliments for its comfortable, textured grip that provides a secure, non-slip purchase.
There are plenty of remarks about the sharpness of the edge and long-lasting edge retention as well.
It makes a clean slice every time, and does so with very little effort. On soft yeast breads or loaves with a hard crust, there’s no ripping or tearing and very few crumbs. And it works equally well on tomatoes and soft fruits, too.
Durability is another plus, as is the solid yet lightweight feel.
The stamped blade keeps the weight down, but still provides plenty of stability and balance to slice cleanly with each stroke.
A very small number of reviewers have reported that they find the blade to be a bit too flexible when cutting.
And an equally small number feel that it doesn’t work as well on a very hard crust as it does on softer loaves.
The Victorinox Fibrox bread knife showcases all the qualities the brand is famous for – high quality materials, user friendly design, and sound Swiss construction.
Lightweight, well balanced, and comfortable to use, it arrives sharp and cuts cleanly with very little residual crumb.
Popular with online shoppers, the Victorinox is a well-made and versatile blade that brings reliable performance and good value to the table.
The Final Slice
Whether you use your bread knife just for slicing loaves, or for a variety of cutting tasks like slicing tomatoes or carving a prime rib, a few basic features will give the best results.
A sharp edge, well-designed serrations, and ample knuckle clearance are the elements that will give the greatest comfort and performance, like thin, even slices and smooth, clean cuts.
If you don’t have one in your knife kit, consider giving these sawtooth blades a try – they’re surprisingly versatile and effective on a myriad of foods!
If you’re unsure of which one to pick, then we’d suggest going with the Mac Superior. You’ll definitely be happy with this purchase!
Oh, and don’t forget to find the best storage for your knife!
And what about you folks reading along – any tips or recommendations that you’d like to pass on? Drop us a note in the comments below and share your kitchen knowledge.
In use photos by Mike Quinn © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Isolated photos courtesy of MAC, Torijo, Wusthof, Kershaw, and Victorinox.
About Lorna Kring
Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.