From Season 9: Breadmaking, Simplified
Choosing a serrated knife isn’t as simple as it sounds. Do you want serrations that are pointed, scalloped, or saw-toothed? Big and spread-out or tiny and crowded? Or maybe a mix of styles and shapes on one knife? Do you want a blade that’s forged or stamped? One that sticks straight out from the handle, one that curves—a little or a lot—or even one where the handle is tilted downward from the blade? What about offset serrated knives, where the blade drops down from the handle into an L shape?
And must you buy different serrated knives for different tasks? Can a knife that’s good for cutting bread and sandwiches also cut tomatoes, split cake layers, and separate dough for sticky buns?
In contrast to a chef’s knife, which works best when its straight edge is pushed through food, a serrated knife relies on a slicing motion in which the blade is dragged across the food’s surface as it moves down through it. To excel in our testing, the serrations had to exert just the right amount of grip on the food’s surface. In the past, we’ve found that scalloped edges (also known as reverse serrations) provide too little grip, skidding before biting in; the one model of this type we included in our lineup lived down to this expectation. Pointed serrations, on the other hand, needed to be just the right size—too long and they had too much grip, snagging and tearing at the soft interiors of the bread, cake, and sandwich; too small and they were ineffectual on the tougher tasks.
But it’s not just point size that matters in a serrated knife; blade size is equally important. Blades shorter than 10 inches just couldn’t cut across larger foods like 9-inch cake rounds or big loaves of bread without getting lost inside. We were excited about a 14-inch knife, but while its serrations did every task exceptionally well, it was just too much knife—we kept bumping into objects at the back of the counter as we worked on the cutting board.
We also tested offset serrated knives, where the blade is lower than the handle by a few inches, making an L-shaped profile and another new-style knife which sported a downward-sloping handle designed to be more ergonomic and comfortable for the cook. In the end, none of the innovations we sampled were improvements over classic serrated knives.
Based on our previous experience, we didn’t think it would matter whether a serrated knife was forged or stamped. And, for the most part, it didn’t—our top two knives were one of each. However, we did appreciate the way the heavier blade and more steeply tapered serrations of our top-rated knife, which is forged, sliced into food with greater power and ease.
We found that for a knife to be a great all-purpose tool that excelled at cutting bread and soft, ripe tomatoes as well as cake layers and gooey sticky- bun dough, it needed three main traits: a slightly flexible blade between 10 and 12 inches long, with serrations that are both uniformly spaced and moderate in length. We found two that could boast all three qualities.
Victorinox (formerly Victorinox Forschner) 6-inch Straight Boning Knife: Flexible
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
|★ ★ ★||★ ★ ★||$19.95|
Wüsthof Classic Boning Knife
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasnt sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|★ ★||★ ★ ★||$99.95|
|Recommended with Reservations|
Mundial Boning Knife: Flexible
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
|★ ★||★ ★||$19.95|
Shun Gokujo Filet Knife
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
MAC Boning KnifeChef Series
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
Messermeister San Moritz Elite Flexible Boning Knife
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.