The Best Bread Knife Costs $19 But Is Worth Its Weight In Gold

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Let’s cut to the chase: Even the best bread knife is only going to do, like, four things. But two of those things are so important to the day-to-day functioning of my life, I can’t imagine not having one in my knife set:

1: Slicing a fresh loaf of crusty bread.

2: Slicing a juicy ripe tomato to go on top of that bread.

As sure as I’m feeding a meowy cat every morning, so too does my Mercer Culinary bread knife come off my magnetic knife strip. This $19 knife is the one the BA test kitchen uses; its sharp teeth bounce along the 10″ Japanese high-carbon-steel blade like a doodle on the top of your loose-leaf homework page. Something about it also reminds me of the decoratively edged craft scissors my mom always threatened to cut my hair with. (She never did, FWIW.) Its full name, the Mercer Culinary Millennia, evokes a futuristic spaceship, one with an excellent canteen.

Mercer Culinary Millennia 10″ Bread Knife

Why is the Mercer Culinary bread knife the best bread knife?

This shape isn’t based on a cute aesthetic decision but actual physics, which I’m not very good at. However, I do subscribe to Cook’s Illustrated, and I learned a lot about serrated knives back when they did a ridiculously thorough test of them all. In true Cook’s Illustrated fashion, testers used each knife on bread, tomatoes, cake layers, and overstuffed BLTs. (Sometimes I think they choose these tests based on what the staff wants to eat, and I appreciate that.) As you put pressure (remember “force”?) on the knife while slicing bread, it’s shared equally (remember “dispersed energy”?) along the tines, which means the fewer points the better, because they’ll each have more power. See? Physics. The gulleys—a term I learned in this video—are important too, as they reduce the friction that would otherwise mangle the food.

There are other factors that go into a good bread knife. The best serrated knives feature an ergonomic handle that’s easy to grip, a long blade length for getting all the way through rustic loaves of sourdough, and a serrated edge with pointy (not smooth) tines to bite into soft tomato skin. My humble bread knife ticks all the boxes.

I’d like to spend more than $19 on a bread knife. May I?

You sure may! The Mercer Culinary Millennia knife is the best bread knife for me, but other members of the extended Bon App├ętit family love theirs with similar zeal. Below, their top picks.

Joshua Bellamy, baker and co-owner of Boulted Bread in Raleigh, North Carolina, swears by his Tojiro bread slicer: “If you know the bread we bake at Boulted, you know there’s some aggressive crust on our levain loaves. This knife—which is sturdy, balanced, and not too heavy—slides straight through them, even after using it multiple times a day for about a year.” Made with an alloy steel blade and a wooden handle, this knife is full tang, which gives it more heft and allows you to apply more force as you cut (without the need for more elbow grease).

Tojiro Bread Slicer 270mm

BA food editor Shilpa Uskokovic loves the deceptively light Hedley & Bennett bread knife. “Its full tang construction is seamless—the blade and handle form a sleek, continuous line—which makes it both comfortable to hold and easy to clean,” she says. “It’s sturdy enough to slice through crusty sourdough and nimble enough for splitting delicate layer cakes.”

Hedley & Bennett Bread Knife

Are you the more-is-more type? Another test kitchen pick is Wusthof’s 9″ Classic Double Serrated Bread Knife, which BA food director Chris Morocco describes as “nearly indestructible.” Here’s what sets it apart: The stainless steel blade has serrations within the serrations for faster and easier slicing. Plus, you can get this piece of cutlery custom-engraved.

Wusthof Classic 9″ Double Serrated Bread Knife

Baker Joy Huang—check out her Instagram for her intricately scored loaves—is a fan of her Misen serrated knife: “I’ve used bread knives before that were too flimsy, which made it hard to get through crusty loaves of bread, but my Misen knife is long and sturdy.” This knife is full tang, but it’s also the shortest bread knife on this list, which means it’s a bit easier to handle.

Misen Serrated Knife

BA contributor Sarah Jamepl favors bow bread knives, so named because they look like you could play a fiddle with them (do not attempt this). The wooden handle serves as a guide to help you cut even slices. 

Bow Bread Knife

If purchasing a new bread knife every couple years is not something you want to do, opt for Korin’s Suisin Inox Bread Knife. It’s the top choice for Amanda Turner, chef de cuisine at Austin’s Olamaie: “I’ve had a lot of different bread knives in my career, but this one was given to me as a gift from a friend about five or six years ago and it still has razor-sharp edges. The quality for the price is really great.”

Korin Suisin Inox Bread Knife

Hey, what else can I do with a bread knife?

I once asked former BA editor Andy Baraghani what he uses a serrated knife for other than bread and tomatoes, and he said: “Tomatoes? I would never. If you cut a tomato with a bread knife, Chef would take that tomato and throw it away. Your chef’s knife should be sharp enough to slice through anything.” Well, Andy, my chef’s knife is not guillotine-sharp on a daily basis, so yeah, I’m going to need this serrated knife, and I’m guessing most home cooks will, too.

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