Best Bread Knives of 2018
A bread knife excels at slicing artisan and other styles of homemade bread. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best bread knife to add to your cooking utensil arsenal.
Shopping Guide for the Best Bread Knives
When shopping for a new bread knife, there are two schools of thought. Some experts recommend investing in a high-end bread knife made of forged, high-carbon steel. This is the knife pro bakers love for its heavy-duty performance and long-lasting edge. Other experts advocate for buying a less-expensive, stamped bread knife made of stainless steel. After all, most bread knives have a somewhat limited shelf life and are difficult to resharpen.
At BestReviews, we understand that different home cooks have different needs. The bread knives on our shortlist are all excellent products that most certainly would cut the mustard—or in this case, the bread. Here are some things to consider when shopping for a new bread knife.
Benefits of Bread Knives
A bread knife truly excels at slicing artisan and other styles of homemade bread. The serrated blade bites through the tough outer crust but does not pinch or bind the softer internal layer. A smooth-bladed knife requires too much force to break through the crust, and it could crush the loaf in the process.
We know bread knives are terrific for slicing bread, but the perks don't end there. Consider the other benefits.
More Fresh Bread
With a bread knife on hand, it's no problem to pick up a loaf of bakery bread or whip up some loaves of traditional white bread at home. You've got the means to slice it, so why not enjoy the delicious aroma, soft texture, and unbeatable taste of freshly baked bread? Presliced bags of sandwich bread simply cannot compare.
More Homemade Sweet Breads and Cakes
A bread knife easily slices through your mom's pumpkin bread and banana cake recipes. With the right tools in your kitchen drawer, you'll be inspired to forgo the prepackaged, preservative-laden snacks in favor of homemade sweet breads and cakes made with fresh, natural ingredients.
Easy Meat Slicing and Carving
The extremely sharp serrated blade and long length of a bread knife make it ideal for carving fibrous meats, particularly large roasts and presentation hams. Many traditional carving knives have smaller serrations or no serrations at all. A bread knife cuts much better against the grain of the meat.
Fruit and Vegetable Prep
Several fruits and vegetables share a similarity with homemade bread: They have a tough outer layer and a soft inner layer. For this reason, a bread knife is great for cutting certain types of produce, particularly melons, pineapples, and tomatoes. For instance, you can easily slice a bread knife through a watermelon rind without mashing its interior.
Overall Kitchen Utility
Other popular uses for bread knives include the efficient removal of butcher's twine from a finished roast, the removal of thick packaging from foods, and slicing through frozen meats.
Bread Knife Features
High-carbon steel, stainless steel, and ceramic—virtually all bread knife blades are made of one of these materials, although plastic models do exist. So, which is best?
- High-carbon steel is generally found on pricier forged bread knives. These knives tend to hold an edge for a long time.
- Stainless-steel blades, commonly found on inexpensive stamped bread knives, resist rust and are quite easy to clean, but they dull faster.
- Ceramic bread knives resist rust, but the ceramic coating can degrade over time.
Should you buy a bread knife that has been forged or stamped? High-end bread knives tend to be made from forged steel, which creates a durable but somewhat inflexible utensil. Less-expensive bread knives are often stamped out of stainless-steel blanks, resulting in a thinner blade that many experts see as a good thing. However, a stamped serrated blade may lose its edge after a few years of active use.
One selling point of a bread knife is its generous blade length. Most are at least 8 inches long, but many quality bread knives span 9 or 10 inches. The idea is to have a cutting or slicing blade that is wider than the food itself. Since artisan bread loaves and roasted meats are often at least 8 or 9 inches wide, a bread knife is often more practical than a carving knife.
A bread knife is one of the sharpest tools in the kitchen shed, as well as one of the hardest to control. It is important to find one with an ergonomically friendly design. If the handle is made of synthetic material, it should have a textured surface to improve grip. A real wooden handle may be easier to hold, but the attachment to the blade should be very secure. Some models have a one-piece design in which the handle is part of the overall blade. These metal handles can sometimes be less stable in the hand unless they are textured with a grippy material like rubber.
Q. How often should I replace my bread knife?
A. The answer largely depends on how often you use your bread knife, but in general, a bread knife should last up to five years before replacement. This is one reason why some experts suggest investing in less-expensive stamped steel; forged serrated blades are notoriously difficult to resharpen.
Q. Why do I need a special knife to slice bread? Why can't a baker do it?
A. The short answer is the nature of freshly sliced bread. Having an entire loaf sliced at the store can shorten its shelf life significantly. A good bread knife is considered one of the most important knives every home cook should own.
Q. I have seen offset bread knives at a kitchen specialty store. Do these knives have an advantage over straight-blade bread knives?
A. Some bakers tout the offset bread knife because it requires less pressure to slice through a thick crust or skin. Because the user's fingers are suspended above the blade, there is no need to adjust the bread or cutting board's position toward the end of the slicing process.