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knife to cut fresh/soft bagel

German serrated bread knife is not cutting too well. What should I get? Japanese? ceramic? I think "soft" bagel is "different" from hard bread.

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  1. Chances are your serrated knife is getting dull.

    That said, I'd use a knife that is:
    a) sharp
    b) at least a bit longer than the bagel is wide

    Any sharp 8+ inch chefs knife would do, though I prefer Japanese myself. I don't much care for ceramics due to the difficulty of sharpening them, their tendency to be short-ish, and their generally poor geometry, In any case, cut with a long but gentle stroke. If the knife is sharp enough, it will do the work for you without massacring the bagel.

    1. I assume it is the same difference as soft bread vs hard crust bread.

      What is the problem of using your German serrated bread knife? Do the bagels get torn/ripped apart or crushed/collapsed? What is the symptoms?

      Chance is that your serrated bread knife is no longer sharp.

      Do you have a sharp Chef's knife?

      Try to use the tip of your Chef's knife to poke into your bagels and then start cutting. See if this help.

      1. think of the method not the tool.

        just cut the thing across the diameter and then split the U halves that balance on the board. ok so my lox is on several quarters rather than two circumferential halves, my world is over.

        1. Like other have suggested, you want a knife that is sharp, thin, and longer than the diameter of the bagel. With really really soft bread, I find serrated knives tear more than cut--even when sharp.

          1. Is serratted sharpenable?
            I read only outer or inner edge is sharpenable.

            1 Reply
            1. re: csh123

              It can be sharpened, though it is difficult and time consuming (you have to sharpen each individual "scoop" or "serration" which each change angles along the curve) and will inevitably result in the wearing down of the tips of the "teeth" of the serrations.

              You could use a small spinning grinder (like a dremel with a special attachment) but this is pretty easy to mess up even for a skilled sharpener. A long, thin, conical rod coated in diamonds and mounted on a device spinning at a few hundred RPM would probably work pretty well once you got the technique down. Still, you'd run into many of the same problems as above.

              I've done it before, but I'd be extremely hesitant to ever do it again. I sharpen knives for many of my friends and family, but always refuse to do sharpen serrated knives. Just not worth the effort.

            2. If you eat enough bagels to justify a specialised implement, then I would recommend a Bagel Guillotine. Not only does it cut without tearing, it eradicates the constant danger of taking off a digit.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Shivaun

                <I would recommend a Bagel Guillotine>

                I do like the idea that a Bagel Guillotine can eliminate the risk of cutting oneself. I read that more people cut themselves during bagel cutting than any other tasks -- not sure if this is real or an exaggeration.

                On the other hand, I hope the original poster will address the specific problem(s). If the problem is the soft bagel collapses under pressure when using a knife, then the guillotine will unlikely to help. If the problem is tearing, then this will help.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I'm a statisitc on more than one occasion. And I think that's the only times I've cut myself.

                  Your next thread, "How many people have cut themsleves while cutting a bagel?" Haha. My next question, is which hurts more a cut from a serrated knife or a regular knife? The serrated one hurt quite a bit.

                  1. re: mikie

                    < which hurts more a cut from a serrated knife or a regular knife?>

                    I know people have said that it is more difficult to heal from a serrated cut than a regular straight, because the flesh is not simply cut. It is torn (by the serrated knife).

                2. re: Shivaun

                  I'm not a fan of the bagel guillotine. Got one for when my kids were smaller. It tends to squish the bagel before sufficiently piercing the crust. Especially with fresh, warm bagels.

                  The serrated knife is the way to go, but a little technique helps. DON'T use slow strokes or put pressure on the bagel with the knife. You want to do very fast strokes and barely push into the bagel at all. Once you establish a toe hold, continue to stroke quickly and use move it through the bagel a bit faster.

                  1. re: Shivaun

                    I'm a big fan of the guillotine however I agree that it won't solve the OP's problem of cutting soft bagels. Mine are never soft, in fact they're generally frozen. 10 seconds in the microwave, then off with their heads in the guillotine. Kids do their own bagels so I have trained them in this method.

                    1. re: tcamp

                      I thought it was against all food laws to put any bread in a microwave.

                  2. Weird, I've used all kind of knives to slices bagels (Montreal kind) and all work well.

                    Serrated knives should work as expected. I prefer the ones with "large" teeths.


                    1. My gyuto cuts bagels better than my serrated bread knife. My cousins both use non-serrated knives to cut their bagels (one uses a gyuto, the other uses a santoku).

                      So, my vote goes for a thin, sharp, non-serrated knife.


                      1. A soft bagel is not a proper bagel. Either way, serrated knife. They get dull eventually.

                        1. I received this for Christmas and it cuts through bagels like a dream:

                          Schmidt Brother Tomato/Bagel knife:


                          1. I found a wonderful slightly curved knife with a serrated edge that fit using a chainsaw sharpening file. I used it to hand cut a couple hundred pounds of brisket a day. A feather touch and then running it flat on a stone kept the knife cutting sharp for just about anything -- The knife broke but I'm looking for another. A sharp boning knife ought to work for most folks.

                            1. Use a sharp serrated bread knife; set the bagel flat on a cutting board (on its bottom); with your left hand hold the bagel in place with the palm of your hand, pointing your fingers and thumb up as far as possible (this assumes you are a right handed cutter - otherwise reverse); take knife in right hand and cut into bagel about an inch; then move bagel into a position perpendicular to the cutting board (on its side) and then complete the cut with the knife while holding your left hand over the top of the blade but still holding onto the bagel.

                              1. Might it be your method? Slicing the bagel parallel to the cutting board (like butterflying a cutlet), works better than standing it on it's side and cutting downward causing it to collapse.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: letsindulge

                                  I apologize for not explaining more clearly, YES, bagel should be parallel to cutting surface - i.e. on it's bottom, with top up - in a horizontal position. After initial cut is made, then it is moved to a perpendicular position and cut is completed. Because the bagel is still being held by the left hand, it is secured and will not fall and knife will not slip. This is the safest way.

                                  1. re: Sara Basso

                                    We are in the same "neighborhood". :) However I do the entire cut parellel, whereas you finish perpendicular.

                                2. I have (plastic) bagel holder. They say it makes cuttting more difficult. That might be my probl

                                  1. OR lesson #343.7 - use a steady hand and don't be a yutz.

                                    1. If it's really, really soft, fork it open.