Best Bread Knife of 2020
The best bread knife we tested is the Japanese Tojiro Bread Slicer. The long, thin, flexible blade and sharp serrated edge slices crusty sourdough, heavy pineapples, and the softest vine-ripened tomatoes with speed, accuracy, and minimal pressure. The Tojiro blade is one of the most flexible that we tested so we wondered if it could handle the heavy-duty jobs like cutting the skin off a pineapple, but when put to the test, it surprised us and outperformed all other knives in our review. This is the blade we found ourselves reaching for most often and the one that brought us the most joy.
Its small handle has minimal shape to it, which can make it feel less secure in your hand. However, we found the light weight, high performing blade to compensate for the lack of ergonomic security because you don't need to grip this knife as hard as other models.
The Cuisinart C77TR-8BD finds a sweet spot between price and performance for budget-minded shoppers that want a serrated knife that can handle most kitchen tasks. The serrations are sharp and quickly bite into the skin of soft tomatoes and the hard crust of artisan bread. The construction is solid with a full tang, the handle is well-proportioned, a bolster keeps the knife balanced, and the blade is long enough for most tasks. We also like the appearance of this knife; it has that classic, quality knife look with no flashy colors or odd shapes.
While the Cuisinart performs above average, its thicker, non-tapered blade causes it to lag some when cutting deep into a loaf of bread and prevents it from being agile enough to change direction when cutting through a dense pineapple. The 7.25-inch blade length can be a little short if you plan to cut larges loaves of bread or level cakes, but for most bread, 7 inches is enough to get through.
With clean-slicing action and a long blade, Mercer comes close to taking our top award. The blade is one of the longest we tested, which gives it the versatility to make quick work of even the largest sourdough boules. The blade is thicker toward the heel and tapers toward the tip, offering it strength and durability while minimizing lag. Whether slicing tomatoes, pineapple, or bread, the Mercer Millenia is a top performer across the board.
Due to the positioning of the handle, the Mercer Millenia offers more finger to cutting board clearance than any other knife we tested. The rubber and plastic handle with dual tones of grey isn't the sleek kitchen look you expect in a quality knife, but the comfort of it easily distracts us from the appearance. You buy the Mercer when you want a top-performing knife, not as eye-candy on your magnetic block.
The quality of materials and construction make the Dalstrong an excellent choice if you want a hefty knife that will stay sharp for years to come. The forged German steel weighs more than a stamped steel and is harder for added longevity. Like with other models we tried, we like the 9" length for the ability to slice large loaves of bread and level cakes. The added weight of this blade lends a hand when cutting a tough pineapple where more pressure is needed.
However, some might feel that the 8.4-ounce Dalstrong knife is too ponderous for comfort, and with a smooth, straight handle, you may find yourself wishing you had a more ergonomic shaped grip to steady the weight in your hand.
For slicing tomatoes, cutting the skin off a pineapple while losing as little fruit as possible, or slicing up smaller loaves of bread, the Pure Komachi knife is a great pick. Its light weight and small size make it easy to wield on a crowded countertop, and the thin, flexible blade allows you to make fine-tuning adjustments to the direction of your cut while in the middle of a pineapple.
While the small blade offers excellent control, it's just too short to slice anything except the smallest loaves and baguettes. The handle is smooth, straight, and on the small side, which is fine for light work, but when slicing up an entire loaf of hearty bread, you may want a little more structure to hold onto. And, although some people may be happy to add a single orange knife to their set, the bright color isn't going to blend in easily with the rest of your kitchen equipment.
While it isn't the highest performing knife in the test, the Victorinox bread knife certainly holds its own. It offers one of the longest blades in our review, which we like for the ability to level cakes and slice larger loaves of bread. The knife is sharp and slices well with a fairly thin, tapered blade.
The Victorinox knife is only a partial tang, and the handle is made of lower quality plastic than we would expect in a knife of this price. Regardless, the handle is still comfortable and large enough for a variety of hand sizes.
We really like the look of one-piece stainless steel knives for certain kitchen aesthetics. The Orblue knife slices decently at a reasonable price and has a nice balanced feel. We also enjoy the ergonomically shaped handle that feels comfortable even after the work of slicing up a whole loaf of bread.
Upon receiving our order of knives, we were a bit confused when two of them seemed to be the exact same knife. Other than having different brands stamped on the blade, the Orblue and Zulay knives are clearly the same knife. Although this may not actually detract from the performance of the knife, it does make us question the care that went into designing a knife that is just sold to multiple companies to print their logo on.
Just like its twin, the Zulay knife is an attractive one-piece stainless steel bread knife. It is offered at a budget-friendly price and still performs fairly well on all of the foods in our test. The shaped handle is smooth and comfortable to hold even when cutting harder foods like tough pineapple skin.
The fact that this knife is made by one manufacturer then sold to multiple other companies to stamp their logo on doesn't inherently lower its quality or performance, but it does make us question the expertise in knives that Zulay can actually offer.
OXO is known for its rubbery handles that are comfortable to hold and don't slip around in your hand. The OXO Bread Knife is no exception. The blade cuts bread fairly well but when slicing fruits, the feeling is more of a sawing motion rather than a smooth slicing feel.
The blade is one of the shorter ones we tested and wouldn't be ideal for cutting larger loaves of bread or leveling a cake but is comfortable with most general kitchen uses.
Why You Should Trust Us
Elizabeth Paashaus, our lead tester is a passionate home-baker who enjoys continually testing new variations of her sourdough loaves working on achieving the perfect crumb, crust, and flavor combination. After the hours of stretching and folding and waiting that go into making the perfect loaf, Elizabeth isn't willing to let a sub-par knife mutilate her art. In addition to bread baking, Elizabeth dedicates hours in the kitchen cooking new recipes for her family, preparing backcountry meals from scratch, and whipping up delicious desserts to meet her late-night craving needs. She pairs her love for cooking with her enjoyment of analyzing data to create some of the best product reviews with real-world advice to help you make a smart buying decision.
We begin our review process by researching the top bread knives on the market, reading reviews from users, and finding out what other experts have to say about the features that make a good bread knife that will not only cut bread but will also slice soft tomatoes, level a cake, cut down a pineapple, and last you for years to come. We purchased 9 knives and got busy baking up some fresh loaves, slicing them down into the thinnest slices the knives could manage, cutting up tomatoes for more BLTs than we could eat, and cutting down pineapples that made for some fresh summer snacking. We measured the weight, blade length, and balance point of each knife and assessed these measurements against their performance. We took in all of our testing data and used that to select our favorites and tell you more about why some models cut crusty bread with ease while others aren't up to the task.
Analysis and Test Results
Our testing centered not only around slicing bread but also on the variety of other food textures that benefit from a quality serrated knife. In addition to real-world use on food to test sharpness, we found the balance point of each knife, assessed the comfort and analyzed the shape and material of each handle, and measured each blade's length and thickness to compare against the performance.
We found blade sharpness to be, by far, the most important aspect of bread knife performance. A sharper blade makes the difference between easily slicing through food and having to really lean into the sawing, which increases the likelihood of the knife slipping and causing injuries. The sharper the blade, the safer your knife will be.
For slicing bread, the top two performers are the Tojiro and Mercer knives. These two allow you to cut smooth, thin slices with low crumb distribution. They keep the surfaces of the slices even and smooth, critical to making the perfect grilled sandwich.
Our pineapple test found the same two knives as the top performers, but a couple of others stood out as close seconds. The Komachi knife, with its thin, flexible blade really shone, similar to the thin blade of the Tojiro, when cutting around the curves as we sliced off the tough skin. Victorinox's bread knife also performed well on the pineapple with very smooth and easy cuts. The weight of the heavy Dalstrong knife aids in the force needed to cut a pineapple's skin, but because the blade isn't flexible, it offers less control than some.
Tomatoes can be tricky to slice well due to the surface tension of their skin and the soft flesh. A good serrated knife can quickly pierce the skin while requiring very little pressure so as to not mash the interior. The Tojiro and Mercer knives slice tomatoes like butter even towards the last few slices when you have very little tomato left to grip with your fingers. The Cuisinart and Pure Komachi knives also performed well on tomatoes but just weren't quite as smooth at the other two. Knives that perform less well on tomatoes tend to struggle to bite into the skin or drifted while slicing, making even slices difficult and the last few slices dangerous.
Balance, in a knife, refers to the feel of balance in your hand. Does the blade feel heavy, or is the handle hard to continually lift while keeping the lightweight blade down? A well-balanced feeling knife typically has its balance point right at the spot where the blade meets the handle. While this is still an important factor in a serrated bread knife, we found in our testing, an unbalanced bread knife to be less noticeable than an unbalanced chef's or santoku knife due to the types of motions made with these different blades.
Many of the knives we tested, the Tojiro, OXO, Mercer, Cuisinart, Komachi, and Dalstrong, are well-balanced but the unbalanced Victorinox with most of its weight far forward onto the blade, is still one of our favorite knives.
Comfort can be subjective based on hand size. To test this metric, we had people with small hands, medium hands, and large hands grip each knife and offer feedback on the fit.
Some of the comfort of a knife handle is in the material. The Mercer and OXO knives both use a rubbery non-slip handle material. It may not look as sleek and high-end, but it does add to the functionality of a knife that you may be using with wet hands.
Another factor that contributes to the comfort is the shape of the handle. One that is ergonomically shaped like your hand that also offers a bolster toward the blade and a curved end toward the butt of the knife to keep your hand in place will feel the most secure for tough jobs like cutting into butternut squash and pineapple. The Mercer knife has our favorite grip for comfort on jobs that require force. Victorinox also offers a nice shape to keep your hand positioned correctly on the handle, but the overall shape is square and less ergonomic. The identical twin knives from Orblue and Zulay use a stainless steel handle that is comfortably rounded and feels good in your hand. Japanese bread knives like our favorite, the Tojiro, and the Pure Komachi have small straight handles that would seem to be hard to hold but what we found is that when your blade is sharp and thin, it slices so easily that little pressure is needed and the small handle feels like it offers more finesse.
For folks with larger hands, the Mercer knife offers the largest grip overall, and the Victorinox handle is just as long but not as large in diameter, so it would still be a good fit for small-handled people. Even though we will continue to rave about the Tojiro knife, we will admit that its handle is a bit short for people with larger hands.
Blade Length & Thickness
Many artisan loaves of bread, whether purchased from a baker or cooked in your oven at home, will be larger than 7 inches in diameter. Bread knives tend to run between 7 inches to 10 inches in blade length. We feel that anything under 9 inches just isn't long enough for easy slicing unless you only cut smaller loave like those baked in a bread pan. The Tojiro, Dalstrong, Mercer, and Victorinox bread knives all have blades in the 9-10 inch range that we find just about perfect.
The thickness of the blade plays almost as big a role as sharpness in bread knife performance. Those knives with thicker blades may be sharp and cut into food easily, but they tend to drag with more resistance as you slice further down. The extremely thin and flexible Japanese bread knife blades like on the Tojiro and Pure Komachi knives continue to slice just as easily at the bottom of crusty sourdoughs and tomatoes as they do from the start. The Victorinox bread knife has a blade that is thicker toward the heel and tapers toward the tip. It has very little drag when slicing, and on smaller items like tomatoes, you can use just the thinner section for the smoothest cutting.
Choosing a bread knife from a selection that all seems similar is a tough job. And there certainly isn't just one bread knife that's perfect for everyone's cooking style and budget, but we can help you find the one that's just right for you. We've done the research, spent the hours with hands-on testing, and broken down the most important features to look for. Now that you know more about how each of these knives performs, we hope you feel ready to select the right serrated bread knife for your kitchen.
— Elizabeth Paashaus