A good set of kitchen knives will transform how you cook. Each has a different use: small paring knives are handy for fruit and veg, while a sturdy chef’s knife will be an all-rounder. A one-stop knife set will cover all bases, while a knife sharpener will make sure your investment lasts.
If you buy unsliced loaves or rolls or make your own bread, you’re going to need a bread knife. Trying to hack through a loaf with a paring or carving knife will end in tears and a ruined loaf. Bread knives are designed to cut easily through the crust of a loaf and the soft crumb inside without tearing or squashing it, so a good-quality bread knife is a crucial piece of kit in any kitchen.
How to choose the best bread knives
Bread knives vary widely in price, so that will be a key consideration when choosing one. They differ in size, too: shorter blades might give you extra control, but longer ones can deal more easily with bigger loaves. If you’re a roll fan rather than a loaf lover, a short blade might be easier, too. And, think about the weight: do you prefer a lighter knife or one that feels more solid in your hand?
The ‘tang’ is the part of the metal blade that becomes the handle of a knife. The strongest knives are full tang, which means the blade and handle are forged from the same bit of metal from tip to end, with the handle bolted on. Full tang is a sign of quality in general knife-making, but not a deal-breaker when it comes to choosing a bread knife.
Some bread knives come as part of a range, so that might be important to you aesthetically if you prefer ones that are all the same. If you have a knife block, you will ideally choose a knife that fits neatly into a slot.
Read on to discover our top buys. For over 200 buyer’s guides, visit our product review section and find guides to everything from the best chopping boards and best toasters to the best food processors.
Best bread knives at a glance
- Best budget knife: Kuhn Rikon Colori bread and baguette knife, £25.82
- Best blowout bread knife: Kai Shun bread knife, classic range, £190.99
- Best lightweight bread knife: Swibo Victorinox serrated slicer 10in, £35
- Best top range: Zwilling Pro 23cm bread knife, £94.95
- Best for versatility: ProCook Professional X50 bread knife, £27
- Best-value bread knife: Lakeland select-grip bread knife, £29.99
- Best traditional bread knife: Sabatier & Judge, £23
- Best for details: JosephJoseph Elevate 8in bread knife, £20
- Most stylish bread knife: Opinel Intempora No 216 bread knife, £47.95
- Best mid-range bread knife: Stellar Taiku, £30
Best bread knives to buy in 2021
Kuhn Rikon Colori bread and baguette knife
Best budget bread knife
Kai Shun bread knife, classic range
Best blowout bread knife
Made from 32 layers, the beautiful Damascus steel blade is very hard-wearing. The knife is full tang with a smooth pakkawood (wood/resin composite) handle in a classic Japanese D-shaped design. The serrated teeth point in different directions – at the front half, they face forward, while at the other end, they face backwards. This means equal cutting performance in each direction for noticeably efficient slicing. The wide serrations are very sharp, requiring little pressure for a smooth cut.
Swibo Victorinox Swiss classic bread knife
Best lightweight bread knife
This bread knife is perfect for anyone who prefers a lighter knife but doesn’t want to have to sacrifice any cutting ability. The knife is long (10in) but fairly thin and the bright orange handle is easy to grip, even with wet hands. There’s a curved end for added comfort. We like the coloured handle for something different to the array of black in our sample. Its bright colour will cheer you up when you’re cutting bread for toast in the morning.
The Swiss-made blade is gently serrated with an unusual rounded top, which makes it look less fierce than some on test, but don’t be fooled: it cuts smoothly and effortlessly. This comes with a flexible sleeve that’s transparent on one side to keep it safe in the cutlery drawer.
Zwilling Pro 23cm bread knife
Best top range bread knife
- Available from Zwilling, £94.95
This German-made full tang knife has a traditional appearance and oozes quality. It’s long, fairly heavy and very solid, with small, wavy serrations interspersed regularly with sharper teeth. The knife, which has an ice-hardened stainless steel blade for durability and corrosion resistance, has a slight ‘wedge’ shape, tapering at the top.
One big advantage of this over other knives in our sample is that it can go in the dishwasher, though hand-washing is advised. Cutting performance is good, sliding easily through our crusty white loaf. We find the shaped handle with its three rivets very comfortable to hold and easy to grip. The lifetime guarantee is an added bonus.
- Available from Zwilling, £94.95
ProCook Professional X50 bread knife
Best for versatility
This is a good-looking, good-value bread knife. The slightly quirky wood-effect design on the handle will appeal to those looking for something a little less traditional and the three rivets on it add to its appearance while ensuring strength.
With a 23cm (9in) full tang blade, it can deal with loaves of most sizes. The blade itself is made from German stainless steel. This is one of the heavier knives on test, so is ideal for anyone who prefers something with a bit of weight.
This one makes a point of saying it’s more than a bread knife – it can also be used on many vegetables and even frozen foods. We test it out on frozen cauliflower florets and although it takes a bit of effort, the knife does manage to get through it.
Lakeland select-grip bread knife
Best-value bread knife
While many of the bread knives on test are long (around 10in), this is designed for those who prefer a shorter bread knife that feels easier to control. At 20cm (8in), the shorter length makes it easier to store in the cutlery drawer, too. There’s also a protective safety sheath for when it isn’t in use to avoid accidental injury.
The knife has regular serrations and the blade is made from ice-hardened Japanese stainless steel – the ice hardening process is designed to keep it sharper for longer. The soft-grip handle is ergonomic and non-slip.
The instructions on the box say this is also ideal for pastries and shredding lettuce or cabbage, and we can vouch for this. It also slices well through cheddar – very handy when making a cheese sandwich as one knife does both jobs.
Sabatier & Judge bread knife
Best traditional bread knife
The 21cm knife has a very traditional design, with a black handle with three silver rivets on it. It’s dishwasher-proof – you’re advised to remove it at the end of the cycle and dry it with a soft cloth – and guaranteed for 25 years. The knife is made with hardened stainless steel with good-sized regular serrations and the handle is shaped at the bottom for good grip.
This is a little weightier than some of the others on test, so will appeal to anyone who likes their knives to feel solid. We think it’s the Goldilocks of our knife sample: not too heavy, not too light, but just right.
Joseph Joseph Elevate 8in bread knife
Best for details
For a such a well-priced knife, this one has some very thoughtful features. The handle has an integrated knife rest which means the blade won’t sit directly on the work surface when you put it down. This improves hygiene and can cut down on mess, too. There’s also a protective sheath to slide the knife into when it’s not being used. This helps maintain sharpness and keeps fingers safe if you’re grabbing it from the drawer or to taking it on a picnic.
The knife is one of the shorter ones on test (20cm) and very light, too. The design is cheerful – the handle is black and grey with a smidgeon of orange at the top and bottom – but it’s a serious player. The Japanese steel blade cuts well and easily.
Opinel Intempora No 216 bread knife 21cm
Most stylish bread knife
We like the unusual shape of this one – the handle is shaped to make it easy to hold and the blade is slightly curved, ending in a point. It’s got a modern, sleek look and the ergonomic navy blue handle also makes it stand out from the sea of black. You can even get it engraved if you wish.
It’s full tang with a very small piece of the stainless steel blade extending out of the bottom. This knife, which needs to be washed by hand, is part of a set of 10 knives that are available to buy individually – there’s everything from a santoku knife to a fillet knife in the collection.
The knife itself is light, easy to use and effective. This has a lifetime guarantee and also a free sharpening service available (though you’ll have to dispatch it to France).
Best mid-range bread knife
- Available from Horwood, £30
An 8in knife with well-spaced teeth, this is well-balanced and solid feeling. Unlike many knives, it’s dishwasher-safe. It also comes with a lifetime guarantee.
The design is straightforward with a glossy black handle. Unlike many, the handle is straight, which the maker says is designed for both left- and right-handed people. A left-handed second tester confirms for us that it is easy to use. The blade, which has well-spaced, clearly defined serrations, is very sharp and slices effectively.
- Available from Horwood, £30
How we test bread knives
We test bread knives from a number of brands. We put them through their paces on a very crusty homemade white loaf as well as hard rolls and home-baked baguettes.
The most important thing is the effectiveness of the knife – we’re looking for one that slices easily through the crust as well as the softer inside.
Comfort is ranked highly too – we look for handles that are easy hold and grip.
We look for value for money – whatever the price point – and any extra features. And, because knives are often on display, we comment on the aesthetics of each one.
More on knives
This review was last updated June 2021. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at email@example.com.