The Best Bread Knife: Does Yours Have the Right Edge?
Using the wrong knife can be a deal breaker for home cooks who love to create delicious, photo-worthy meals. Regardless of the recipe, a proper chef’s knife will often get you from point A to point B unscathed, which is why many home cooks invest in a good one and leave it at that. This is fine in most cases since the chef's knife really is a must in any kitchen. But there is another vital tool to keep in mind: the bread knife – given it has the right edge.
The Best Bread Knife: Pointed vs. Scalloped Edges
Ah the bread knife – that one with the long blade that everyone thinks is reserved for, you know, bread. This type of kitchen knife usually comes with saw-like points or notches along the cutting edge of the blade. This design enables the knife to slice, or really saw through, foods with tough exteriors and delicate interiors, like crusty loaves of bread, of course.
Using a bread knife usually involves exerting more force while slicing, which divides the pressure between the serrations on the blade. The number, shape and overall sharpness of the serrations also differ from bread knife to bread knife, offering two different cutting edges: pointed vs. scalloped.
The Pointed Edge Bread Knife
Pointed edge bread knives, which are often simply referred to as "serrated" knives, have sharp and aggressive teeth that are designed to pierce through the harder outer crust of breads using a saw-like motion.
Using this type of knife requires exerting less force from the user, compared to straight-edged knives, but there is a downside: Those pointed serrations can create rougher cuts and produce more crumbs, especially if the blade is in need of sharpening. And if you're a bread lover, then you know you want to savor every last crumb 😜
More on Serrated Knives: The Great Steak Knife Debate: Serrated vs. Non-Serrated
The Scalloped Edge Bread Knife
The other type of blade edge you’re likely to encounter in your search for the best bread knife comes with scalloped or rounded serrations that are spread further apart along the cutting edge. This edge type is designed to create less crumbs while slicing through crusty loaves of bread, and can even retain flavorful juices while carving through thick-crusted roasts.
While the scalloped bread knife may require exerting a little more force than a standard serrated knife, it's actually quite easy to use once you get the hang of it. Plus, despite the common conception that serrated knives stay sharp longer, the scalloped serrations do a much better job of preserving that edge. Pair it with the best cutting board for your knives and you can spend more time breaking bread and less time cleaning up crumbs.
Break Bread With This Recipe: Antipasto Crostinis
Are Scalloped Edges Better?
Knowing the basic qualities of both types of bread knives will help you make an informed decision. But which knife is better for you?
In short, it comes down to how much extra time you’re willing or able to spend. Pointed edges may be effective at cutting harder items, sure. However, the mountain of crumbs left in their wake will make cleaning up after cooking more of a chore than it already is.
Premium scalloped edges, much like what you can find from a top tier manufacturer like F.N. Sharp, are best for making consistent cuts. The rounded edge creates a cleaner cut that will save you time on clean up, while giving an aesthetic appeal to whatever you put it up against.
Can Serrated Bread Knives be Sharpened?
Nothing good lasts forever, and like all knives, serrated edges will also wear down and dull over time. Not to fret though, it is in fact possible to restore your serrated bread knife back to working condition.
However, sharpening a serrated bread knife is trickier than sharpening a straight-edged chef’s knife. The serrated edges are usually only sharpened on one side and must be sharpened at the specific angle specified by the brand, making it a lot more difficult for a home cooking enthusiast to navigate.
Destroying your new knife because you don’t have the necessary skills to properly sharpen it is not very cost effective – and throwing away knives is both scary and wasteful. Your best bet for maintaining the cutting edge of your bread knife is to first invest in a quality bread knife, then leave the sharpening process to the professionals.
Knife Knowledge 101: How to Sharpen Kitchen Knives
Is a Bread Knife Necessary?
While you may not use a bread knife as often as the other knives in your set, it’s still a valuable tool to add to your collection. There are countless recipes, snacks and sandwich platters that call for the use of many different types of bread. And although a chef’s knife may work well enough, it falls noticeably short when slicing through crusty loaves and other foods that require a serrated knife.
The best part of purchasing a new bread knife? It isn’t just for bread! In fact, there are tons of uses for a bread knife, from slicing through tough fruits and veggies to leveling cakes, making it one of the essentials for any home kitchen.
But Wait – There’s More
Some quality bread knives, like what you can buy from F.N. Sharp, are designed to be a cross between a bread knife and a carving knife. The scalloped edge on these beauties will not only cleanly slice through any loaf of bread, but will also retain every flavorful drop of juice when slicing standing rib roast.
So if you haven’t considered the benefits of buying a bread knife before, then now is the time to “break some bread” and take your home cooking experience to a new level.
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