While technological advances compete to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, the appeal of old-school, uncut loaves of bread is growing. You can buy these loaves at your local farmer's market or bake them at home. No matter what you're slicing, you need a quality bread knife to get the job done smoothly and evenly.
The factors that go into a quality bread knife may not be apparent to the casual observer. We're here to help you make an informed decision without having to do all the research yourself. For example, we're recommending our top pick for its hefty high-carbon German steel and luxurious construction.
Here's all you need to know to find the perfect bread knife.
Considerations when purchasing bread knives
The best knives are made of high-carbon steel, as a greater carbon composition yields a stronger blade. A forged bread knife is cut from steel. The process makes the knife harder, stronger, and sharper. Some are hand-cut, but many are made by machine. A stamped bread knife is cut from a steel sheet and is lighter in weight than a forged knife. Most consumers prefer the durability of forged bread knives, though some like the flexibility and lightness of stamped blades.
Choose a bread knife with a blade longer than your bread width to get even slices. For instance, boule loaves require a long blade of about 12 inches that won't get lost in the wide circular loaf, but skinny baguettes require no more than simple eight-inch blade.
Plastic, wood, and steel are the most common handle materials. If you're going for plastic, consider something with a smooth handle. If you want a wood handle, remember that wood must be washed by hand. Steel knives handle smoothly and look great. They are also easy to clean. However, a steel knife may feel cold or slippery in your grip.
Basic bread knives range from $10 to $25. While they will cut your bread, they may not be a smart long-term investment for your kitchen. A mid-range bread knife designed for regular slicing falls between $30 to $80 and should have durability on its side. High-end bread knives for the serious at-home baker or chef run anywhere from $100 to $300.
Q. What should I do when my bread knife gets dull?
A. Because bread knives have serrated blades, you can't sharpen them with a knife sharpener made for a straight blade. However, you can use a sharpening rod at home, or you can have your knife professionally sharpened at a hardware store or cookware store where this service is available. It's important to have a sharp bread knife so as not to shred the bread while cutting.
Q. What does knife "balance" mean, and should I care?
A. Balance is something you should care about with your bread knife if you want it to perform well. Because bread knife blades can be long and heavy, you want to be sure the handle is weighted to "balance" it out. Otherwise, your knife will feel unwieldy, like a seesaw, and more difficult to hold straight.
Bread knives we recommend
Best of the best: DALSTRONG Bread Knife
Our take: A professional-level bread knife with peak performance at a decent price.
What we like: Made from high-carbon steel. Comes with a hard plastic sheath. The 10-inch blade is extremely sharp.
What we dislike: The downward handle is hard for some users to control.
Best bang for your buck: Tojiro Bread Slicer
Our take: A thin blade ideal for thin slicing.
What we like: Entry-level price. Works well on vegetables and meat, too. Stainless steel 10-inch blade comes with a real wood handle.
What we dislike: Fingers can feel cramped when holding the handle.
Our take: An affordably priced knife that can tackle many food prep jobs.
What we like: Easy on the pocketbook. One-piece stainless steel construction. Thin blade cuts easily, even through thick-crusted bread.
What we dislike: Steel handle is heavy.
Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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