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What is "good enough" as a bread knife goes?

I need to upgrade bread knives since all I have is a cheap Ginsu type one and it's hard to cut crusty bread. I've read that you don't need to buy a great bread knife, since it's serrated and can't be sharpened (which is how I ended up with the cheap knife). What do you have and do you like it? Is it worth spending a lot of money on it?

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  1. we just got a black and decker electric knife for our homebaked bread... it works really well and can slice fresh bread very thinly

    1 Reply
    1. re: rivki

      Same here. I really like this knife for bread and tomatoes.

      1. I bake professionally and I love my Fibrox-
        handled Forschner knives. they are available at any restaurant supply house for less than $35.00.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Kelli2006

          Some years ago Cooks Illustrated did a review of bread knives. I don't recall the details, but the winner was a moderately inexpensive one like this Forschner. I couldn't find the winner, but did find a Henckels Twin Master (stamped line) that had similar characteristics - such as a long blade with a slight curvature, molded handle. I've been quite happy with that. You want a blade with enough curvature and/or offset so you can cut the bread without hitting your knuckles on the board, and enough length to handle round loaves (such as no-kneed ones made in a Dutch Oven).

          paulj

          1. re: paulj

            Good point about making sure it's long enough. I can also use it for splitting layers of a cake then because mine aren't and it's hard to line up when I cut around. I think I'll have that problem with electric. Good things to think about--thanks, everyone!

        2. Some people will sharpen a slicer... Ross Cutlery in LA does it by sharpening the other side (which does screw up the blade over the long haul, but might extend the life). Some of the hand sharpening systems will sharpen along the scallops too.

          But anyway, that doesn't really answer your question. I personally say don't spend a lot of money on this item.

          I think you can get a Mundial one that will work great - either a long wavy slicer (you can probably get one for like $10-12 or so), or the forged one for around $20-25. I would recommend trying to get one with an angled handle if possible.

          I have ordered from these guys before, and was pretty happy:
          http://happychefuniforms.com/800-347-...
          http://happychefuniforms.com/800-347-...
          though your local kitchen supply store might have it even cheaper.

          In my experience, the stamped kind tends to be a little more flexible / bendy than the forged kind, which may be an advantage or disadvantage depending on your perspective. I kind of like the solid feel of the forged ones, but I think the flexible kind might actually be better in a lot of applications.

          1. I've got two for you:

            -- As previously mentioned, the Black & Decker electric knives are cheap, easy to use, and give good bang for the buck. I picked up my last one (http://www.blackanddeckerappliances.c... ) for $11.

            -- For manual bread slicing, and just an all-around good slicer, find yourself a Dexter-Russell offset sandwich slicer (http://www.dexter-russell.com/Search_... ). Paid $13 for my last one, and when it finally needs sharpening, I'll toss it (or use it in the garden) and go out and buy myself another one for 13 bucks. (Sharpening serrated knives is a waste of time...)

            2 Replies
            1. re: Joe Blowe

              Hey! Neat!

              http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/09/din...

              "People not only obsess about knives (and write entire articles about them), but you can easily spend over $100 on just one. Yet go into any restaurant kitchen and you will see most of the cooks using this same plastic-handle Dexter-Russell tool."

              1. re: Joe Blowe

                Isn't it great when the NYTimes provides references for your life? I think a lot of knives can be had and used for years for the $13 or less. But, I wouldn't give up my one very expensive chef's knife which costs more than all the rest of my dozen or so knives put together.

                That said, my "bread" knife gets about as much use as that chef's knife and it only cost $19 on sale :)

            2. Thanks for all the input, everyone. It never occured to me to get an electric knife but that would come in handy often. Maybe I won't have shredded baked chicken and smooshed bread anymore. I'll keep all these suggestions in mind when I go shopping and compare price/quality. I knew you'd all be helpful!

              1. If you search "Victorinox bread knife" at Amazon.com, you'll fine the 10 1/4 inch model that is ideal in my opinion. Its only $25 and it gets more use in my kitchen than my $100 chef's knives. I use it for bread, tomatoes, slicing cakes, meats, cheese etc etc.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ccbweb

                  Victorinox = Forschner.
                  The name may be different, but the product is the exact same. Forschner is a name the is only known in food service in North America, but most people are familiar with Victorinox knives.

                  I like the looks of the wooden handles, but the black Fibrox is more comfortable and durable.

                  1. re: Kelli2006

                    Yep, same company. And Victorinox is famous, of course, for Swiss Army Knives.

                2. jfood's been a fan of Forschner's since 1978 and still owns a 10" chef's. Here is a link to Forschner serrated starting at $15.

                  http://www.cutleryandmore.com/forschn...

                  1. I have a 9 inch Chicago Cutlery bread knife with a walnut handle that I bought in one of those ubiquitous kitchen gear stores that are in malls and outlet centers all over the country. I just saw the same knife on Amazon for $15. It's great for any and all crusty loaves, and I use it for slicing tomatoes and for carving ham and turkey. Every time I use it I say to myself, "For $15 I could have bought this years ago and made my life easier!" I used to live under the mistaken assumption that knives had to be expensive!

                    1. not to be contrary to the good recs here, but i love my more expensive bread knives (shun, wustoff). will never go back to dangerous "bendy" serrated blades when cutting artisan bread-- depending on how much you'll use it (i use mine every day at work) i'd say if you can get a good price on a good large serrated to go for it, or consider upgrading in the future. i bring the serrated knives to be sharpened with the rest of the kit, but it is not worth getting a cheap serrated knife sharpened.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: soupkitten

                        I think you're totally right about not getting a "bendy" bread knife (I'm thinking of the good grips knife in the house). But, the Victorinoxx/Forschner knives a few of us have mentioned are anything but bendy. In fact, its about the most rigid knife I've got and is a serious blade.

                        1. re: soupkitten

                          My Chicago Cutlery is not bendy in the least bit. And it feels great in the hand as well. Nicely weighted, good walnut handle, and nice rigid blade. It cuts a huge crusty loaf of round peasant bread in beautiful even slices with hardly any pressure at all.

                          1. re: soupkitten

                            i like both forschner and chicago cutlery, actually-- use whatever you like best-- mostly just wanted to put the "anti-bendy" comment out there (maybe an "anti-upturned-rounded-end" comment, too, now that i'm on about it)

                            for the amount of artisan bread i've gotta cut each day i quickly upgraded first to the wustoff--for me, absolutely like heaven after plain foodservice knives. this year i've upgraded again to this:

                            http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kebrkn....

                            the above site also seems to have good prices on lots of good brands.
                            too much money for a bread knife you might say. i again look at slicing 100-400 artisan sandwich rolls/day, & springing for the shun was a no-brainer & my wrists thank me each evening. i'm sure the op will find something great in whatever price range, but i have to say something to the op's question about whether it's worth spending money on a bread knife, and how much, and whether you need a "good" serrated blade or not-- to me my expensive bread knife is really worth it, but there are lots of good serrated blades (non-bendy!), at many price points, out there.

                            1. re: soupkitten

                              I definitely agree about the non-bendy since that's what I have right now. This might be something where I'll start off with the lower end (under $20), see how it goes, then move up if necessary. I was pretty sure the Wustof would be good but thought I might be able to find one that works well for less. Thanks everyone!

                              1. re: jgio

                                This Zwilling (Henckels) Twin Master bread knife is close to the one I have (except for handle color). It's a commercial grade knife, made in Spain. I like the slight curvature, and offset. The rounded tip is nice, allowing me to cut quick breads stored in a plastic container.
                                http://comercialrodriguez.net/b2c/ind...

                                In this knife the bolster is molded into the handle. I don't buy the bit about a strong bolster contributing to a better weight distribution. On straight edge knives, the bolster just gets in the way of sharpening.

                                Actually this is called a 'pastelero', a pastry knife, as opposed to a 'panero'. Italian Sanelli and Victorinox also make a similar shaped pastry knife.

                                paulj

                          2. I have a Calphalon bread knife that I bought at Bed Bath & Beyond for about $40. It is long, serrated, and can slice through any crust of any type of bread, hard or soft, large or small, very easily. It is even good for bagels.

                            1. I have a "Regent" Sheffield that's 35 years old. It was great for all those years, and it was never re-sharpened. I just broke the handle and needed to replace it. The closest replacement is a Richardson-Sheffield, a Brit company. I'll let you know how it works.

                              1. I have this violin-type bread knife that has a guard to slice evenly and is long and serrated. I love it for those hard-crusted artisan breads or my home-made potatoe bread which is usually hot and very soft. You can get one at Bed,bath and Beyond I think for 20-25.00. Good Luck!