Top Uses for a Bread Knife

Top Uses for a Bread Knife – Hint: It’s Not Just for Bread

Top Uses for a Bread Knife – Hint: It’s Not Just for Bread

With so many different types to choose from, picking out new kitchen knives can seem like a daunting task – especially if you’ve always used that one hand-me-down knife for everything. You might wonder why in the world you need a different knife for each task, or why you would ever need a knife “just for bread”. Well truth be told, the bread knife isn’t just for bread – and we’re here to tell you why it could become one of your go-to kitchen knives.

Here's what you'll learn in this guide:

What a Bread Knife is Used For
Using a Bread Knife for Bread
Using a Bread Knife for Produce
Using a Bread Knife for Sweets
Using a Bread Knife for Meats
How to Care for a Bread Knife
How to Sharpen a Bread Knife

Why Every Kitchen Needs a Bread Knife

F.N. Sharp 6-Knife Set on Cutting Board

The bread knife is a kitchen staple because, despite its name, it can perform a wide variety of tasks. The key is its serrated edge.

Unlike a chef’s knife with its smooth, straight edge, a bread knife features toothy, saw-like serrations or scallops along its cutting edge. This acts just like a saw, slicing through food as you move the knife back and forth, rather than using downward pressure like you would with a chef's knife.

The serrated edge gives a bread knife some distinct advantages when it comes to cutting certain types of food – especially bread since it’s designed to slice right through crusty loaves without crushing the soft center. The wider the scallops are, the better it performs. Does your bread knife have the right edge

What is a Bread Knife Used For?

F.N. Sharp Bread Knife on towel next to dessert loaf in pan

This might be obvious, but you can use a bread knife to slice all kinds of breads, from baguettes and brioches to bagels and biscuits. It’s also the perfect tool for shaping and leveling cakes for decorating and cutting delicate slices for serving. 

Tougher foods are no match for a bread knife either. Melons and squash, which can trap straight-edged knives and pose a cutting hazard to cooks, are easily sliced with a long bread knife. Prepping other fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes or pineapple, are also good occasions to break out your bread knife. In a pinch, it can even be used to slice meatloaf and carve roasts!

How to Use a Bread Knife

How to use a bread knife

It’s quite easy to learn how to use a bread knife, but it does take practice to make even slices: you simply hold the food in place on a cutting with your other hand, careful to keep your fingers out of the way, and draw the bread knife smoothly back and forth through the food. Don’t press down – let the serrations do the work for you.

Look for a knife with wider, scalloped serrations (like the F.N. Sharp Bread Knife, available individually and in the 6-knife set essential set 😜). The wider scalloped edge is more effective than traditional serrations in creating less crumbs while slicing through bread. You want a bread knife that looks more like a saw than a steak knife. These knives tend to be fairly slender and have a bit of flex to the blade. Opt for the sturdiest knife you can afford, since less flexible blades tend to make more even slices. 

The tips of these knives may be rounded or pointed, but it actually makes no difference since the tip of the bread knife isn’t used for cutting. Bread knife blades typically come in lengths from 7 to 10 inches, but a longer blade tends to be more versatile, and there is certainly no shortage of tasks at which this knife excels!

Using a Bread Knife for Bread

F.N. Sharp Bread Knife on cutting board with bread loaf and crostinis

F.N. Sharp knives with chocolate marble banana bread

It’s rare to find a single tool as versatile as a bread knife. Not only can it easily tackle large, crusty artisan loaves, it also easily cuts through soft, delicate breads.

The bread knife can even handles specialty loaves loaded with extras like raisins or olives. These changes in texture would cause straight-edged knives to snag and tear, but the bread knife slices right through with no problems. You can even use a bread knife to cut loaded sandwiches into more manageable pieces.

When cutting bread into slices, the key is to keep the knife perfectly vertical so that each slice is the same thickness from top to bottom. This takes some practice in order to achieve every time, but it’s a skill worth mastering.

As with all kitchen knives, it’s important to use a sharp bread knife. Because of its design, these knives tend to remain sharp far longer than straight-edged blades, but the serrations also make them harder to sharpen at home. Some people advocate for simply discarding a dull bread knife and getting a new one, but with a high-quality knife, it’s worth using a sharpening service rather than replacing it entirely. 

Put Your Bread Knife to Work With These Recipes:
🔪 Tomato Rose Antipasto Crostinis Topped With Balsamic Vinegar Reduction
🔪 Vermouth Poached Pear Gingerbread with Sweet and Tangy Syrup
🔪 Perfectly Sweet and Savory Pumpkin Ricotta Tart
🔪 Herby Parmesan & Veggie-Topped Focaccia Bread
🔪 Chocolate Marble Swirl Banana Bread

Using a Bread Knife for Fruits and Vegetables

F.N. Sharp Bread Knife with half, cubed and sliced cantaloupe

A serrated knife is good at one thing – cutting without downward pressure. That one trait makes the bread knife useful for both squishy, delicate foods and very firm, tough foods. Use it to cut perfect slices from soft fruits and vegetables like tomatoes or citrus without covering your cutting board in juices. It’s also perfect for cutting up a pineapple.

Break Out a Pineapple and Bread Knife for This F.N. Sharp Video Recipe:
🔪 Pina Colada Guacamole

F.N. Sharp Bread Knife on cutting board with whole spaghetti squash

When it comes to thick-skinned squashes and melons, using a straight-edged knife can actually be dangerous. These tough foods can trap the blade, requiring you to use more force to either push it downward or pull it back out, which also increases the chances of cutting yourself in the process. 

To properly cut rounded squash or melon, first cut off the stem or blossom end to create a flat surface. This keeps it from rolling all over the cutting board. Then, use your bread knife to easily remove the rind or cut it into halves, wedges or slices. 

For more irregular squash, it helps to cut the squash in half, then use a smaller knife (like a paring knife) to score the flesh and a spoon to remove it from the rind in cubes (like you would with an avocado).

Keep in mind that some squashes will be tough to get through no matter what knife you use (we’re looking at you, spaghetti squash 👀). For these extra tough squashes, you may want to try microwaving or baking them before slicing into halves, quarters, wedges or slices. 

Try Cutting Through Some Squash With This F.N. Sharp Recipe:
🔪 Sausage Stuffed Delicata Squash with Parm Crisps

Using a Bread Knife for Sweets

F.N. Sharp Bread Knife With Cake

F.N. Sharp Bread Knife With Cake SliceIf you’re a home cook with a sweet tooth, you’ll definitely want to keep a bread knife on hand. Just as with savory baked goods, there are many reasons to break out the bread knife for sweets, from cakes to pastries. 

Not only can a bread knife easily slice through the delicate sponge of a cake, its blade is also longer than most other kitchen knives, meaning you can slice through the entire layer in just one pass. 

If you do a lot of cake work, look for a bread knife with a more rounded handle so it’s comfortable to hold horizontally when leveling cakes.

You can also use a bread knife to prepare some of the accompanying ingredients for your sweet treats. It’s especially well-suited for breaking up blocks of baking chocolate, which are brittle and may snap under the pressure of a straight-edged knife. Use a bread knife to easily cut the chocolate into small, manageable pieces suitable for melting or mixing into doughs and batters.

Using a Bread Knife for Meats

F.N. Sharp Bread Knife with sliced meat

When it comes to cutting and carving cooked meats, the bread knife definitely comes in handy! This is because its long blade and serrated edge can easily slice through thick-crusted roasts while retaining flavorful juices to give you cleanly cut, juicy slices. Try using your bread knife to carve a crusted prime rib roast or brisket. You can even use it to carve a whole cooked chicken or that Thanksgiving turkey!

Try Using Your Bread Knife for Roast-Carving With This F.N. Sharp Recipe:
🔪 Bourbon and Coffee-Crusted Prime Rib

Now that we’ve covered the many uses for a bread knife, how about we take a look at it in action? Check out the video below to see how the F.N. Sharp Bread Knife effortlessly cuts through a thick crusted pork roast, juicy tomatoes and crisp peppers:

How to Care for a Bread Knife

Closeup of Damascus feature pattern on F.N. Sharp Bread Knife blade

When it comes to cleaning, try to get into the routine of hand-washing your kitchen knives immediately after each use. Avoid using colored or abrasive sponges and instead opt for a soft cloth or uncolored sponge and wash your knives with warm, soapy water. Using abrasive or colored sponges can actually damage or discolor the blade. 

Also be sure your knives are completely dry before putting them back in a knife block – like this magnetic one from F.N. Sharp, which is available individually or included with our 3-knife and 6-knife sets. The magnetic knife block offers plenty of space for keeping both your knives and other favorite cooking utensils handy. If you don't have the space for a knife block, then check out our guide for other knife storage ideas.

How to Sharpen a Bread Knife

F.N. Sharp Bread Knife on Spine on Wooden Surface

When it comes to sharpening your kitchen knives, there are a few different tools you can use. But since bread knives feature serrated edges, it can be tricky to sharpen them yourself. It’s also quite common for serrated blades to be single-beveled (sharpened on one side only), which makes sharpening even trickier for a novice.

If you’re set on sharpening your bread knife yourself, be sure to familiarize yourself with the specifications of your knife as they vary by brand – and be sure to practice, practice, practice! Of course, with practice also comes a higher chance of destroying your favorite bread knife, so it might be best to leave it up to the professionals. Not to mention, many knife brands might offer knife sharpening services and even “lifetime guarantees”, but such services can be nullified if you destroy your knife by trying to sharpen it yourself.

In the meantime, you can prolong the sharp edge of your bread knife with proper use, care and cleaning. Check out this F.N. Sharp guide to kitchen knife safety for all of the tips and tricks you need for keeping both your blades and your fingers safe. Also be sure you're using the best cutting board for your knives (like this beauty from F.N. Sharp). The type of cutting board you use can have a direct effect on the sharpness of your knife, so be sure to avoid cutting boards made of hard materials like glass, ceramic and stone.

If you don’t want to sacrifice your bread knife for practice sharpening, then definitely seek a professional. And if you’d rather spend more time cooking and less time worrying about sharpening your knives (who doesn’t?), then it’s time to get F.N. Sharp!

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