Jun 20, 2024
By Smith's

Serrated knives are one of the most versatile and essential tools in any kitchen. You probably know them as your "bread knife" or "tomato knife", but their use extends beyond these specific tasks. Despite their common presence in the kitchen, their full usefulness and proper maintenance are often misunderstood or unknown.

The Short Answer: The defining characteristic of a serrated knife is its distinctive scalloped blade. Unlike the simple straight edge blade of a chef's knife, a serrated knife blade is designed with many tiny, sharp points, or serrations. These form a row along the surface of the blade and are great at gripping and cutting through tough or textured surfaces.

Gaining a Deeper Understanding of Serrated Knives

Types of Serrated Knives

There are many different types of serrated kitchen knives, from those with wide gullets (spaces between each serration) ideal for tackling crusty bread to those with narrower gullets suited to softer, more delicate foods like soft fruits. Then there are steak knives, smaller but no less effective, with serrations adept at cutting through steaks conveniently.

When to Use a Serrated Knife

If you're wondering when to choose a serrated knife over a straight-edged blade, consider what you're cutting. Serrated knives are typically the most useful when dealing with a hard exterior and a soft interior. This is because the unique edge is designed to grip and cut through tough surfaces without damaging the softer insides. For example, imagine if you tried to cut a tomato with a plain edge knife. You would have to force the knife through the tough skin which would in turn smoosh the soft interior of the tomato. With a serrated blade, you can carefully saw through the exterior without damaging the integrity of the tomato. Therein lies the importance of choosing the right tool for each job in the kitchen.

Tips on Using & Maintaining Serrated Knives

Using Serrated Knives

Much like other knives, serrated knives perform at their best when used properly. The cutting surface matters. So, make sure to use a proper cutting board that gives an adequate grip and doesn’t dull your blade. Unlike a straight-edged knife that requires a push-down-and-forward motion, a serrated knife is best employed with a gentler sawing motion. This simple pulling-and-pushing cutting motion minimizes friction, thereby reducing the effort needed to slice through the bread or steak.

Sharpening Serrated Knives

One advantage of serrated knives is that they tend to stay sharp longer than straight-edged knives. However, that doesn’t mean they never go blunt, and maintaining a sharp knife is still important. When a serrated knife is no longer performing as it should, it means it's time to sharpen it. But sharpening a serrated blade isn't as simple as sharpening a straight blade.

To sharpen the serrated edge, you can't use your regular flat sharpening stone or electric sharpener. Instead, you'll need a special tool – a sharpening rod. The sharpening process requires you to slip the rod into each serration and angle it to match the bevel's angle. Run it across the blade in a sweeping motion, sharpening each serration one at a time. It might seem like a tedious task, but with a little patience, you can keep your serrated knives at their peak performance

Maintaining Serrated Knives

Maintaining a serrated knife isn't complex. First and foremost, be mindful of the dishwasher. Despite the convenience it brings, it's not always knife-friendly, especially for high-quality serrated knives, like those with a stainless steel blade. Instead, it is recommended to hand-wash your serrated knives with warm soapy water and dry them thoroughly to prevent unwanted spots.

Also, proper storage is key. Slot them neatly into a wooden knife block or in-drawer knife slots to protect their blades. Follow these tips, and your serrated knives will not only serve you longer but also ensure every cut is as good as the first.

Shop Serrated Knives & Sharpeners at Smith’s

At Smith's, we have plenty of excellent options to maintain your serrated knives. We sell diamond sharpening rods that fit perfectly into individual serrations, providing a new, sharp cutting edge and ensuring your knives remain efficient and safe to use. But our commitment to your cooking success doesn't stop there. We also offer cutlery sets with a variety of chef's knives, including a serrated utility knife, fit with a wood block for simple storing.

Are you ready to round out your cooking arsenal? Check out our cooking collection today!

Article reviewed 06/20/2024:

Ricky Dukes

Vice President Marketing and Product Development

About the Reviewer:

Ricky Dukes has been leading the marketing and product development resources at Smith's Consumer Products for over 7 years. In that time, Ricky has become an expert in the world of knives and sharpeners including a deep understanding of their applications and uses.