The Best Way to Sharpen a Serrated Knife

If you’re investing in good knives, invest in the best honing tools, too.

Published Mar. 17, 2023.

Smooth-edged knives like chef’s and paring get the most attention when it comes to sharpening and maintenance. But they aren’t the only type. Serrated knives don’t require as much maintenance as those other knives, but they do dull after a while.

Here’s what to know about sharpening a serrated knife.

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Can you sharpen a serrated knife?

Yes, you can (and should!) sharpen your serrated knife if you notice a decline in its cutting precision.

Since serrated blades have points and valleys, the key to sharpening them is reaching the valleys, since they make up the majority of the blade’s edge. That two-level design also explains why serrated knives don’t have to be sharpened as often as smooth blades: Because their pointed teeth do most of the work and the finer scallop-shaped serrations follow the points through the food, the edges endure less friction and degrade more slowly.

Do you need a special sharpener for a serrated knife?

There are serrated-specific sharpeners on the market, but when the experts on our ATK Reviews team put them to the test, they found them disappointing. Honing rods (which don’t sharpen knives but rather straighten out their edges) don’t work that well either, for a similar reason: The serrated edge essentially skips across the steel rod, leaving the valleys untouched.

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How to sharpen a serrated knife

While we don’t recommend a special serrated knife sharpener, we have found two products that do a good job of sharpening serrated knives:

1. Chef’sChoice Trizor XV Knife Sharpener

Many electric sharpeners share the same problem as other methods: they can’t reach the valleys of the serrated edge. But our winning model, the Chef’sChoice Trizor XV Knife Sharpener, can sharpen serrated blades, using what the company calls its "stropping" disk, in the third, final stage of that sharpener. The rotating disks in this slot are made from a material that is flexible enough to get into the valleys on the blade’s edge.

2. Chef’sChoice Pronto Diamond Hone for Santoku/15° Knives Model 463

A manual knife sharpener’s design allows the blade to ride up and down the serrations, sharpening not only the edges and tips, but the deep valleys too. Our favorite manual sharpener for serrated knives is the Chef’sChoice Pronto Diamond Hone for Santoku/15° Knives Model 463.

Here are the Chef’sChoice user manual’s directions for sharpening a serrated knife. (Consult your user manual if using a different brand of sharpener.)

  1. Make as few strokes as possible in Stage 1, as it can quickly remove metal from a serrated edge. 
  2. Serrated blades can be sharpened best in Stage 2. Center the blade in the slot of Stage 2 and make five forward and back stroke pairs. 
  3. Examine the edge and if necessary make another five full strokes. Examine blade. If the blade to be sharpened is very dull, first make two full strokes (forward and back pairs) in Stage 1 and then make five paired strokes in Stage 2. 

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