Now that you have a bread machine to make delicious homemade bread, do you have something to slice it with? Not your chef’s knife we hope! A beautiful loaf of delicious, freshly-baked bread deserves to be cut using a good bread knife. What exactly is a bread knife? And why do you need this particular knife to cut bread? Answers below!
What is a bread knife used for?
Along with a chef’s knife and paring knife, the other knife that will complete your kitchen arsenal is a bread knife. Some people may even include a boning knife in their toolbox, but those 3 knives are essential and basically the only knives you’ll need in the kitchen.
A bread knife is a knife used to cut bread without crushing it. The meaning of a “bread knife” is a knife with a jagged edge, allowing you to cut bread with little to no force. This is because jagged knives function by moving back and forth like a saw instead of pushing down as you would with straight-edged knives.
Knives with a straight edge will always require some downward motion to cut, so breads are more prone to flattening when using those knives. The jagged edge of a bread knife allows you to grip the crust at a precise spot and gently saw through the delicate core without squishing it. This will give you beautiful even slices. And a good jagged edge (yes, bad bread knives do exist!) will work even better by producing less crumbs.
What is a serrated knife used for?
Does a bread knife only cut bread? Absolutely not. Even though people call them bread knives, they have more uses than simply cutting bread. A bread knife is actually a type of serrated knife. Most people call serrated knives “bread knives” because they use them mostly to cut bread. A serrated knife is used to cut things that are slippery where it can get a good grip on the object, things with a hard surface that is difficult to penetrate, or things with a soft interior that is easy to crumble. Therefore, a serrated knife is ideal for cutting tomatoes, watermelon, squash, honeydew, oranges, lemons, limes, pineapples, chocolate, filo dough, cake, and the list goes on. Serrated knives will not demolish soft foods, will not cause delicate pastries to crumble, and will power through hard surfaces effortlessly.
How to use a bread knife?
Chef’s knives, paring knives, and bread knives all have their particular functions. So how should you use your bread knife? The answer is for slicing things only. Do not chop with it. This will damage the blade. An easy way to tell if you’re using your bread knife correctly is this: If you don’t find yourself using it with a sawing motion, put the knife down and use another one. Otherwise, you can use it to slice just about any food – especially the ones listed above. Some people may even find that their bread knife is great for slicing protein.
How do you sharpen a bread knife?
The general opinion seems to be that if your bread knife is dull, just replace it with another one because these things are difficult or impossible to sharpen. Nonsense! While they take more effort to sharpen than straight-edged blades, the right sharpener will make the job easier and give you better results. Anybody can sharpen a bread knife if they put in the time. The great thing about bread knives is that they require little sharpening because they stay sharper longer than straight-edged blades. We’re talking years. So we really encourage everyone to invest a little time to sharpen their bread knives (we even think the sharpening process is quite therapeutic) rather than simply chucking it away.
The key to sharpening a bread knife well is using a diamond sharpening rod. Don’t use your whetstone or rotary sharpener. These will just damage the knives. Many people will use these and it will sharpen the knife temporarily, but you eventually grind away the grooves. The best way to sharpen a bread knife is using a diamond rod – diamond is the hardest naturally occurring substance in the world – and dragging it through each and every groove on your bread knife. For safety reasons, when you drag the sharpener make sure you drag it away from the blade of the knife, not towards it. If you want to drag the sharpener back and forth, be careful not to move too close to the blade. We also recommend that for every 5 strokes you do on the grooves, do one stroke on the backside of your bread knife. When you’re done going through every groove, you can polish both sides of the blade using a leather strop (or the backside of an old leather belt) to remove the burr that forms when sharpening.
The real challenge of sharpening a bread knife is determining which diamond sharpener to get. Different knives have different sizes and amount of grooves. Most bread knives can be sharpened using a regular-sized sharpening rod like this one:
This particular sharpener is versatile because it has three different grit sizes: fine (1200), medium (750), and coarse (325).
If your bread knife has really small grooves, you can get something like this sharpener which has a tapered end designed to work for serrated blades:
Bread Knife Length
The bread knife is likely the longest kitchen knife you will own. For comparison purposes, the blade of a chef’s knife is typically between 6 to 12 inches long, with 8 inches being the most popular. Bread knives are typically between 8 to 12 inches long, with 10 inches being the most popular. Of course, there are bread knives with peculiar sizes like 9.25 inches, but we’re going to discuss three of the most common bread knife blade lengths below so you can do comparison between “small”, “medium”, and “large” bread knives.
8-inch bread knife
While an 8-inch bread knife is not the smallest blade you will find, we don’t recommend getting something below 8 inches to cut bread. Considering the size of the average loaf, you will be sawing back and forth more than you’d really want with a smaller-than-8-inch knife. From a user’s perspective it will be tiresome. And from a practical perspective it would be harder to get a clean cut and you would create unwanted crumbs. You may consider an 8-inch bread knife over something longer if you are a smaller person as it is easier to control.
10-inch bread knife
Most people find a 10-inch bread knife to be the perfect size for them because they tend to cut artisan bread – fancy name for small batches of handmade bread rather than mass-produced bread – and baguettes using just the right amount of back-and-forth motion. They provide just the right amount of cutting power, comfort, and control. Besides that, 10-inch bread knives offer more versatility. Take the average birthday cake size for instance. A 10-inch knife would be better suited to slice a cake cleanly and well because it would use less strokes than an 8-inch knife.
12-inch bread knife
If you have a bread machine that makes those 2 pounds and larger loaves, a 12-inch bread knife may suit you best. Combined with their handles, these 12-inch knives can be around 18 inches long. One great reason for buying a bread knife with a longer blade is if you are planning to use the knife with a bread slicing guide. The tip of a 12-inch knife will extend long enough through to the far side of the guide, making it easy to cut with the guide.
Bread Knife Reviews
Have you ever seen those cheesy TV commercials claiming such and such knife “even cuts through a can”? Well, who the heck buys a knife to cut a can? What’s important for a bread knife is how well it cuts bread, and our reviews will attempt to answer that. Since there are literally hundreds of models of bread knives for sale, it would be impossible for us to review each and every one of them. But if we combine our own experiences with that of other bread knife owners, we can definitely go over a few of the best models from “short” to “long” knives that we think would be worth the purchase.
In the reviews below, we also include three metrics to rate the knives. Versatility is for how well it cuts things other than bread, Ergonomics is for comfort and how the knife feels in the hand, and Performance is for how well and cleanly it cuts all types of bread.
Forschner bread knife review
Known in North America as Forschner and widely as Victorinox (the makers of the Swiss Army knives), the first bread knife we want to take a look at is the Victorinox Fibrox Pro 10.25-inch pastry and bread knife. Forschner/Victorinox has a long history of making knives, extending back to 1884. So they really know what they’re doing. In fact the brand is known for being the standard of the food service industry.
The Victorinox Fibrox Pro 10.25 knife is actually marketed as pastry knife, but it works exceptionally well for cutting cakes, pastries, and bread of all kinds. The blade curves slightly to aid your cutting stroke and has a rounded tip. It can be used as a spatula for icing and slicing cakes. You can purchase this knife with a synthetic handle (dishwasher safe) or a rosewood handle (not dishwasher safe).
Forschner bread knife rating
Material: Stainless steel blade. Synthetic (TPE) or rosewood handle.
Pros: A very versatile bread knife. Other than bread, it will slice your cakes, veggies, and even meats well. Given the well-made design, don’t be surprised that it doesn’t need sharpening after two decades of use.
Cons: This knife will have no problems cutting your bread machine bread. But perhaps because it doubles as a pastry knife, it may not work as well with thick-crusted artisan breads. The blade offers some flexibility.
Shun bread knife review
Shun is a line of high-quality kitchen knives owned by KAI group. This company originated from Seki, Japan, a city with over 800 years of history in knife manufacturing. Besides knives, the city has a long history of making samurai swords and is still known as the capital of samurai sword manufacturing. In other words, Seki takes knives seriously. They even have a Seki Cutlery Association and a Seki Swordsmith Museum. Knives that are produced here are as good as you can find anywhere in the world.
The Shun Classic 9-inch bread knife is made in Seki, Japan. So now that you know a little bit about Seki, do we even have to tell you why you should get this?
Shun bread knife rating
Blade length: 9” (precisely 225mm)
Material: Stainless steel blade. PakkaWood (resin-impregnated hardwood) handle.
Pros: Another versatile bread knife. Great for slicing your bread machine bread, baguettes, artisan bread, cake, tarts, cheese. It is forged with 33 layers of stainless steel to produce a gorgeous, rust-free Damascus pattern. So the knife is not only beautiful but practical and functional. Bonus point: You feel like a samurai using this knife.
Cons: Kind of pricey. You’ll question your choice for spending more than you’d like on a bread knife. That is, until you use it! Then it will make more sense.
Furi bread knife review
Füri is a line of kitchen knives designed and manufactured by Australian company Füritechnics. They put engineering at the forefront when designing products so they make really beautiful and functional knives. While a relatively new and unknown brand, their products have been endorsed by chefs over its 20-year history, including Rachael Ray and Nigella Lawson.
The Füri Pro 8-inch bread knife is one of the nicest bread knives we have used. It is made with a single piece of Japanese stainless steel. There are no seams and the construction is strong. This bread knife will certainly please the design and engineering enthusiasts.
Furi bread knife rating
Blade length: 8” (precisely 20cm)
Material: Stainless steel.
Pros: Durable design. Beautifully constructed. Easy to sharpen. Well-balanced in terms of strength and weight and feels good in your hand. It will cut your bread machine bread, of course, and harder breads like sourdough or rye. Because of the seamless design of this knife it is easy to clean and will hold up well for many, many years.
Cons: If we had to nitpick, it would be ideal if the knife was just an inch longer.
Tojiro bread knife review
The story of Tojiro is similar to that of Shun’s. The company has roots in Tsubame-Sanjo, Japan – one of the country’s largest knife manufacturing cities since the late 1800s. Because they are not as well-known or big as Shun internationally, Tojiro knives are like hidden gems. Especially their bread knife: the Tojiro 235mm Bread Slicer, model F-737.
Tojiro bread knife rating
Blade length: 9.25” (precisely 235mm)
Material: Stainless steel blade. Wood handle.
Pros: Everything. We were able to pick this knife up for $20, and given the price we weren’t expecting much. But boy were we wrong. It easily beats out all of the $50-100 knives in terms of performance. If you’ve ever owned a Japanese knife, you will probably know that their sharpness can make one shiver. The Tojiro Bread Slicer is no different. It’s an ultra sharp blade that is thinner than most bread knife blades but powerful nonetheless. If there was a cheesy TV commercial for this knife, it would definitely show the knife cutting through a can, nevermind all your bread.
Cons: None. We can’t fault it. The blade length is at a sweet spot for most people. The price is unbeatable. And the knife feels great in our hands. We give this knife 5/5 stars in our review. It is truly one of the best things we have ever bought.
Wusthof bread knife review
You probably know the German knife maker Wüsthof, so we’ll skip the introductions and jump right into the knife we want to show you. The Wüsthof Classic 10-inch bread knife is one of the best long bread knives we have used. It is made in Germany with German stainless steel. So you can expect reliable German quality.
Wusthof bread knife rating
Blade length: 10” (Also available in 8” or 9”)
Material: Stainless steel blade. Synthetic polyoxymethylene (POM) handle.
Pros: As a bread knife with longer blade, the Wüsthof Classic 10-inch bread knife works well with a bread slicing guide. It cuts easily through thick, hard crusts and produces minimal crumbs. It is also capable of handling all sorts of foods.
Cons: Kind of pricey. You’re paying for German quality. But for for roughly the same amount, our hearts lean towards the Shun if we had to pick between the two.
One more thing: Are you thinking that we missed a knife that should be on this list? What about a Zwilling bread knife? Or, as some of you may know them, a Henckels bread knife? We didn’t omit them. We just didn’t think they were the best of the best. We wanted to only review and include those we thought warranted a recommendation. And of course, there are hundreds of bread knives so it’s not impossible that we missed one. So if you think you found the best bread knife, tell us which one in the comments below along with why you think it’s so great.
Best Bread Knife by Category
To round out our bread knife reviews, we want to tell you what’s the best bread knife based on your needs. For example, do you need something that’s affordable? Do you need something that’s short? Do you need something that’s long?
Best cheap bread knife
Our pick: Tojiro 235mm Bread Slicer
Best small bread knife
Our pick: Füri Pro 8-inch knife
Best medium bread knife
Our pick: Tojiro 235mm Bread Slicer
Best large bread knife
Our pick: Wüsthof Classic 10-inch knife
Best overall bread knife
Our pick: Tojiro 235mm Bread Slicer
Pastry knife vs Bread knife
What’s the difference?! When you go around shopping for a bread knife you will hear these two terms thrown around interchangeably. That’s because sometimes bread knives double as pastry knives, and vice versa. The easiest way to tell if your bread knife is also a pastry knife is by looking at the tip of the blade. If it is broad like what you see with the Victorinox Fibrox Pro then it works as a pastry knife. The broad blade allows you to use it like a spatula or palette, intended for spreading icing on a cake for instance. Or transferring sliced cake.
When to cut bread after baking?
We’re pretty sure we mentioned this somewhere before, but we’ll provide a little reminder and try to expand on what we’ve said. After your bread is done baking, take it out of the bread maker and allow it to cool on a rack for at least 1 to 2 hours before slicing into it. Cooling it will allow unwanted moisture to escape and the starch to set. When you cut cooled bread you’ll be able to achieve even slices and the texture will be optimal for spreading things or making sandwiches. Some breads (like rye) will need to rest overnight to cool before slicing. Of course, if you’re not looking to cut the bread you can simply rip into it when it’s done baking. You’ll definitely notice a different texture.
We hope we answered your questions like how to slice your homemade bread machine bread, what is a bread knife, what is the function of a bread knife, what is a serrated knife used for, how to sharpen a bread knife, what is the best bread knife you can buy now, can you do some bread knife reviews, and so on. If there is something we didn’t answer, someone else might have the same question so please write to us using the comment box below. Happy slicing!