While chef’s knives are known for being kitchen go-tos, there’s another multipurpose tool worth adding to your collection: the bread knife. Despite its name, this type of knife can actually be used for so much more than just slicing crusty loaves of bread. They’re versatile enough to cut through juicy tomatoes, delicate pastries, thick cakes, and more.
“A serrated bread knife is an essential kitchen tool,” says Tracy Wilk, pastry chef and Institute of Culinary Education instructor. “The reason a serrated knife is so useful for bread is the little groves or serrated notches, [which] allow the knife to slice through the crusty exterior of your bread without smashing or pushing through the inside.”
Related: The 11 Best Knife Sets on Amazon, According to Thousands of Home Cooks
Since there are so many types of bread knives available online, we reached out to professional chefs to get their recommendations on which ones are actually worth buying. No matter how experienced you are in the kitchen, there’s bound to be a serrated bread knife on this list that meets your needs. From an affordable best-seller on Amazon to one from a popular direct-to-customer brand, these are the best bread knives of 2021:
When shopping for bread knives, there are a few different factors to consider before making a decision. If you already have a favorite knife brand that you always reach for, you can simply choose its serrated bread knife. Otherwise, you’ll want to first think about how much you’re willing to spend because the bread knives on this list range from $17 to $155. Then decide how long of a blade you need. “I find a 7-to-9-inch blade will handle most breads,” says Gerry Klaskala, chef and owner of Aria in Atlanta. But “if your preference is huge loaves of bread, you’re going to need a longer blade.”
Keep reading to learn more about each of the best bread knives, from expert-approved brands like Wüsthof, Shun, and Mercer.
Best Overall: Mercer Culinary Millennia 10-inch Wavy Edge Bread Knife
Not only is this affordable bread knife by Mercer an Amazon best-seller, but the brand itself comes highly recommended by multiple chefs. It’s made of a single piece of high-carbon Japanese steel, which means it “holds a sharp edge for a long time,” says Eric Brownlee, executive chef at The Katharine in Winston-Salem, NC. The handle (which is available in eight different colors) is made with a combination of plastic and rubber that’s easy to hold, especially thanks to the textured grips that prevent slipping. “This knife excels when it’s time to delicately slice through three slices of toasted bread piled with crispy bacon, soft tomatoes, lettuce, and meats,” Brownlee says. And with prices starting at just $17, the Mercer bread knife is also an incredibly great value.
To buy: From $17; amazon.com
Most Versatile: Victorinox Swiss Army Fibrox 10.25-inch Bread Knife
Whether you’re slicing delicate pastries, rich cakes, or thick-crusted bread, the Fibrox knife from Victorinox Swiss Army can handle just about any task. “It’s a very versatile knife for all breads and practical for chefs of all levels,” says Dan Grunbeck, executive chef, Kimpton The Rowan Palm Springs. “It’s a ‘one knife does it all’ for bread knives, from bagels to hearth-baked breads.” Although the bread knife is dishwasher-safe, the brand still recommends washing it by hand to avoid dulling the blade. It’s also worth noting that it has a curved blade (unlike many other bread knives) that makes it easier to control, according to Ed Tatton, owner of a sourdough bakery in Canada. “[It allows] you to get the perfect slice out of your loaf.”
To buy: $38; amazon.com
Best Edge Retention: Wüsthof Classic 10-inch Bread Knife
This 10-inch bread knife from Wüsthof, a.k.a. Ina Garten’s go-to knife brand, is designed to slice through bread without crushing the inside or leaving too many crumbs behind. The German-made knife uses the brand’s proprietary Precision Edge Technology, which uses lasers to make the blade 20% sharper than previous versions with twice the edge retention. “Not only [is the knife] useful for slicing crusty bread, I also use it nearly every day to slice cakes as well,” says Wilk. “I always have a special place in my heart for Wüsthof, as it was the first knife that was purchased for me as a gift when I went to culinary school.”
To buy: $140; amazon.com
Most Flexible Blade: Tojiro 9.25-inch Bread Slicer
Kelly Mencin, pastry chef at Rolo’s in New York City, loves the Tojiro bread slicer so much that it’s the knife she uses at home. She says it’s “a little more flexible and thinner” than the one she uses at the restaurant, which makes it ideal for softer types of bread. Made with a high-carbon stainless steel blade and a natural wood handle, the Tojiro knife will last a while as long as it’s properly taken care of. “This bread knife is extremely sharp while still being lightweight,” says April Franqueza, pastry chef at High Hampton in Cashiers, NC. “I also love it because regardless of where you’re at in your bread adventure, whether an amateur or professional, it is affordable and accessible.” Amazon shoppers clearly love it too: The bread knife has more than a thousand five-star ratings, with one reviewer saying it “slices artisan sourdough bread in thin slices like nothing else [they’ve] ever tried.”
To buy: $23; amazon.com
Best DTC: Made In 9-inch Bread Knife
In addition to its cookware, direct-to-consumer brand Made In also makes a great serrated bread knife. The knife was created in partnership with chef Nancy Silverton, but it’s also earned praise from others in the food industry. “[It’s] super sharp and holds an edge very well,” says Matthew Raiford, professional chef and author of the cookbook Bress ‘n’ Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes from a Sixth-Generation Farmer. The bread knife is made of forged stainless steel, and its 9-inch blade has 24 serrated points that cut through every type of bread. According to Raiford, the Made In bread knife is the “right type of [knife] to not only cut a sweet cream biscuit or slice up some beer bread and baguettes with ease, but also great for cutting into a soft tomato or mango very cleanly.”
To buy: $99; madeincookware.com
Best Offset: Shun Classic Offset 8.25-inch Bread Knife
An offset bread knife, like this one from Shun, has a slightly different design than the other knives on this list. The blade is slightly lower than the handle, which keeps “knuckles clear of the cutting board,” says chef Suzanne Lane of Aster Hall in Chicago. She also appreciates that the bread knife is lightweight (thanks to its sharp Japanese steel). Even though Shun was one of the most common brands recommended by the chefs we spoke to, you don’t have to be at their level to use it. “It’s a professional knife brand that is also perfect for the home cook,” says Maya-Camille Broussard, owner of the bakery Justice of the Pies, and someone who is “sentimentally attached” to the brand. “When I first started to seriously work in the kitchen, my cousin, Justin, gifted me my first Shun knife as a ‘thank you’ for flying to San Francisco to babysit his kids for a week,” she says.
To buy: $155; amazon.com or surlatable.com
Best with Ergonomic Handle: Global Ukon 9-inch Bread Knife
The Global Ukon bread knife, which is exclusive to Williams Sonoma, boasts an ergonomic handle with a rounded spine that’s comfortable enough to hold for long periods of time. The handle itself is give inches long and has an ambidextrous thumb rest, so it works just as well for left-handed and right-handed people. “We go through a lot of crostini in the restaurants, whether it’s for beef tartare, salmon rillette, or as a vehicle to soak up brown butter,” says Ashish Alfred, chef and owner of the Alfred Restaurant Group, who has been using this brand since culinary school. “That’s a lot of thin slices of bread, which can be miserable on your wrist pretty quickly. But this global knife has a thin handle and plenty of room for your index finger, taking a lot of the pressure off,” says Alfred.
To buy: $100; williams-sonoma.com
Best with Short Blade: J.A. Henckels Classic 7-inch Bread Knife
If you’re a bit intimidated by extra-long bread knives, try this smaller 7-inch one from J.A. Henckels. “These knives are light in handling, very sturdy, and [they] slice with ease,” says Theron Blake, chef de partie at Heathrow Legacy Club, who recommends these knives for anyone making fruit platters at home. The shorter length makes it convenient for cutting smaller food, like juicy tomatoes, but just keep in mind that slicing larger loaves of bread may be a bit difficult since the blade is short. The bread knife is fully forged and made with German stainless steel, but it’s actually made in Spain.
To buy: $45 (originally $92); amazon.com