What is the Best Knife for Cutting Sourdough Bread?

Published on
20 June 2021
Gareth Busby
Gareth Busby

If you bake all your own bread at home, slicing warm bread can be a frequent challenge with dull knives. A quality bread knife is an essential tool in any kitchen! That’s why the choice of a good quality blade will make all the difference when it comes to cooking up some delicious dishes with ease. I started writing this article to find the best knife for cutting sourdough bread but found the best three bread knives for high, medium and low budgets. If you spend more on a bread knife the likelihood is that it will last longer and not need to be replaced. I explain why certain blades and materials are better than others later on in this article.

The best 3 sourdough bread knives:

The best knife for cutting sourdough bread

The F.Dick 12.5 Inch Bread Knife – 1905 Series is a hand-crafted, fully forged bread knife carved from fine-grained German Steel. It has incredible durability and edge retention with a patented design to ensure you have the sharpest blade that lasts! It has a well-balanced 5.5″ handle and 8″ blade that scores 58 on the Rockwell Hardness Scale ensuring every blade maintains its strength and function. The scalloped edge produces exceptionally smooth cuts for slicing bread in your kitchen.

Best mid-range sourdough bread knife

Cangshan V2 Series 59533 is an 8-Inch German steel forged bread knife that offers fantastic value. Its beautiful handle is a nice weight, the blade is razor-sharp and serrated, and it can cut through delicate bread without shredding. Value priced but is extremely durable and will stay sharp for as long as many knives sold at a much higher price.

If you are in the UK, you might like the DALSTRONG Serrated Bread Knife

Best budget sourdough bread knife

There are many budget bread knives, yet the Mercer Culinary Millennia Bread Knife is superior to its rivals. It contains a one-piece razor-sharp blade made from high carbon Japanese steel that’s ideal for a long-lasting blade. This sourdough bread knife lasts longer than any other blade in its price range.

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How to choose a knife for cutting sourdough bread

A bread knife is a must-have for any kitchen, not just home bakers. The serrated edge of the blade allows for easy slicing through the crust and its soft, yielding centre. This should be done without having to apply much pressure as it will cause tearing, excess crumbs or crushing of the bread. Not all blades are created equal, let’s look into what the product description really means:

– Type of serrations

Bread knife serrations are either sharp, or rounded (scalloped serrations). Generally speaking, sharp blades are the best at cutting through crusty bread. The scalloped versions are great for softer items such as scoring dough or slicing soft bread such as challah or burger buns.

A pointed blade is preferred for bread however the angle, or sharpness of the points provides another decision. A sharp blade cuts crusty sourdough bread easily. However, unless you are spending serious bucks on a quality material this can be short-lived and become blunt.

If you are looking to purchase a bread knife to keep for years, a premium blade made with fewer serrations and thus rounded teeth is recommended.

– Blade material

Cheaper blades are made with a less durable metal that will blunt easily and thus quickly become useless. A pointed serrated blade type must be sharp to be effective, so a high-quality metal is essential for long term use. When it comes to the scalloped blade they have a larger surface area so stay effective for longer.

Stainless steel knives have been popular because they’re so durable. High carbon stainless steel blades have more strength. This means your cutting time won’t suffer from regular wear-and-tear. The strength of the blade is measured by the “Rockwell Hardness”. Generally, a score above 50 is good, above 60 is fantastic. If the blade doesn’t share its Rockwell results, there’s probably a reason for this!

Some blades will be fully forged, this is where the blades are created individually instead of cut from a sheet. Fully forged blades are the most rigid blades and are the only bread knife blades suitable for sharpening. If your budget stretches to a forged blade then I really recommend them!

– Length of the blade

Bread knives are usually between 8” and 10” in length. A longer blade does allow smoother, long strokes so it’s worth getting a long blade if you cut a lot of bread each day. If you divide large loaves into portions you might also want a longer blade. Otherwise, I wouldn’t worry about the length too much.

– Thickness of the blade and bevel

A thicker blade is more sturdy so is going to provide more even slices. That said it will become blunt quicker than a thinner one. This, of course, won’t matter if you have a premium blade that remains sharp. A thin blade is preferable if you are looking for a bread knife on a limited budget.

What makes the best bread knife handle

The handle of a bread knife is an important part of the design. A knife with an ergonomic grip is much easier to use. I’d go as far as to say that a knife with an uncomfortable handle makes a well-designed blade completely useless. There are 3 main areas to check in a bread knife handle:

– Material

One of the most important things to consider when buying any kitchen knife. You want it to have an exterior that will help you grip onto and move around smoothly without slipping. Keep in mind to check if it is dishwasher safe (if you have one).

– Ergonomics

Some product descriptions include soft grips which are going to be handy for occasional users. For intense use, I’d argue that a harder grip that distributes pressure more easily is better. You will also see that on many bread knives the handle is offset, or higher than the blade. This makes it easier when your cut reaches the bottom of the loaf as your hand doesn’t get too close to the chopping board or workbench.

– Durability

The most durable handles are made from one piece only. The blade should also run through to the end of the handle. There is a stress point at the point where the blade leaves the handle. Some budget knives narrow here to a blunt point. This of course saves a little money but the stress that this area of the knife endeavours is high, and it’s common for the blade to break away from the handle.

Diagram showing the stress point of knife blades

Image courtesy of Blademag.com

Traditional bread knife alternatives

Electric bread knife

Electric Bread Knives cut crusty sourdough bread without effort. The serrations move forward and backwards quickly -so you don’t have to! Simply hold the knife and glide the blade through the loaf. I’ve never used one as the excitement of cutting my bread by hand is too much to ignore!

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Electric food slicer

Again if you’re looking to get a home bread slicer machine, I’d think very carefully. Make sure you have got trustworthy reviews or at the very least a good returns policy. There is a risk that they will crush the loaf as they cut. The cheaper models don’t have the best reviews.

If you have an expanding home bakery you can get an automatic bread slicer. These are generally excellent, and you may be able to pick one up second-hand on eBay for as cheap as $500. They will last forever with the occasional service and deep clean. Built to last, they won’t lose their value too much either.

Dutch manual slicer

I first viewed one of these bread slicers in Poilâne in London. Sadly I can’t find one anywhere online, except for Etsy, nor ever used one. But if they are used at the world’s most famous bakery (not Greggs!) then they must be pretty good, surely?

Can I sharpen a serrated blade on a bread knife?

As I mentioned earlier it’s hard to sharpen a sourdough bread knife. It will need to be made from high-quality metal to prevent it from chipping. If you have a rounded blade you’ll be able to use this knife sharpener.

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But if you have a pointed blade you’ll find they are a lot harder to sharpen. To sharpen one of these you’ll need to grind a sharpening rod between every tooth. It’s a big job!

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What else can I use a sourdough bread knife for?

  • Soft sponge cakes
  • Other breads
  • Opening pastry such as eclairs or turnovers, before filling
  • Scoring bread before baking
  • Soft fruits, such as strawberries, kiwis, etc.
  • Every kind of melon with a hard skin.
  • Pumpkins and butternut squash
  • Tender slices of carvery meat

How to get even slices when cutting sourdough bread

To get nice even slices when you cut your bread you might find a guide helpful:

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Do I need to use a bread knife to slice sourdough bread?

Sourdough is a hearty loaf that will never go out of style. It’s also a bread that can be a bit of a challenge to slice it properly. A traditional sourdough loaf has a crispy crust and dense crumb. That means you need a serrated blade with some teeth to give your slices a clean edge whilst breaking through the tough crust. This is the reason many cooks prefer using their trusty bread knives over conventional kitchen ones.

Here’s a list of reasons why choosing a specific knife for cutting sourdough, or any other bread is advised:

  • The interior of the bread will stay just as fluffy and light, so you never have to worry about it getting squashed.
  • Slices will be even and straight.
  • To reduce the amount of food wasted, less crumbs will shred from the crust and less likely for it to tear.
  • Easier on your hands and wrists.
  • Less chance of cutting yourself if the knife slips.
  • It’s easier!

Best technique for slicing artisan bread

  1. Hold the knife perpendicular to the bread
  2. Make the initial groove to guide the knife
  3. Push gently forward, and then draw it towards you
  4. Let the knife do the work by using long strokes with the entire length of the blade
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