Can You Use a Bread Knife to Cut Meat?

Can you use a bread knife to cut meat? The short answer is: YES.

Despite its name, this handy blade is a multipurpose tool that is a must for any kitchen.

A bread knife may be the most helpful item you can purchase, whether you are a casual mac and cheese cook or a gourmet chef.

Whole grain bread put on kitchen wood plate with a chef holding bread knife for cut

What Makes a Bread Knife Essential?

Ask anyone who works in the food industry, and they will tell you that having the proper tools at your disposal is the first step towards preparing anything worth eating.

Knives are among the most critical, and chefs will often cite their favorite knife like the one cooking accessory they couldn’t live without.

A good knife is worth its weight in gold because it lessens the effort required for nearly every task. Want some fresh baguette with your dinner? Some thinly sliced pieces of roast beef as the center of your meal? Crisp vegetables for a colorful side salad?

Each task needs a different level of force, so a versatile knife that is high quality enough for each specific goal is more efficient (and affordable) than having a separate blade for them all.

Professionals will frequently name bread knives as their chosen tool because it handles differently than any other style.

Can You Use a Bread Knife to Cut Meat?

As stated before, you can. But let’s look a little deeper into the use of this type of blade. The serrated edge is the main reason for its versatile nature.

When using it on bread, you can keep the shape of the loaf. It cuts through hard crusts without mashing the softer bread on the inside. Other knives press too hard on the top of the loaf and will flatten it out while ripping holes in the center.

Because it is lightweight, you use a swinging motion to slice. This movement gives you more control and makes a bread knife great for cutting through most textures.

For example, let’s say you want to butterfly chicken breasts for a quicker cook time. The serrated edge slices through the thick meat closely enough that you can turn one breast into two or three pieces with ease.

Other knives can do this, such as a pairing knife. But pairing knives are more suited for delicate work and puts more pressure on the wrist and hand. A straight edge means more precision but less efficiency.

Meats like steak that are heavy in cartilage and fat benefit from the unique properties of a bread knife. Using a serrated blade, it slices through hard-to-cut areas.

You can take off chunks you want to dispose of, making it easier to reach more petite sections with a pairing knife. Bread knives make other knives more effective. A good bread knife can even cut through bone.

How Can a Bread Knife Handle Fruits and Vegetables?

Wonderfully! Just like with meat, the serrated edge is fantastic for dealing with fruits and veggies. Take a tomato: how often have you squished this delicate fruit when slicing it?

A bread knife is perfect for keeping its shape and reducing juice spillover. If you have ever tried to put a badly smashed tomato slice on a sandwich and tasted the soggy bread that results, you how disappointing it can be.

Anything with thick skin, like citrus fruits, or hard skins like pineapple, is much more manageable when using a bread knife. No one likes losing half the juice of a lemon before the blade used was too dull or ineffective.

Everything else, from potatoes to onions, can be added to the mix. Just keep in mind that bread knives are for slicing, not chopping. If you want a diced vegetable, you may want to choose another style.

How to Choose the Proper Bread Knife

There is no single brand that shines above the rest, as professionals all have opinions on who makes the best bread knife. But there are a few rules of thumb to follow when it comes to choosing one of your own:

  • When testing it for the correct length, try making a sawing motion and see how easily it moves back and forth. You want the longest blade possible without making slicing difficult.
  • Feel how the handle balances in the palm of your hand. The right bread knife will feel natural when you hold it. Lay it across the palm and see how it feels balanced there. Close your fingers around it and note the way it molds to the contours of your palm.
  • Choose a knife with longer gaps between the serrated dips. You want fewer serrations that are deep and spread out, so they don’t leave gouges in what you are cutting.
  • Consider carbon steel over other materials. These days, most high-end knives use carbon steel because it is tough, long-lasting, will maintain a sharpened edge longer, and is relatively lightweight.  

How to Properly Care For Your Bread Knife

Once you have your perfect bread knife in hand, you should ensure you are taking care of it. Keeping your blades sharp is the number one tip. Nothing is worse than a dull kitchen knife.

Not only will it mangle any food you are preparing, but it will make the task harder and potentially hurt you in the process. You can purchase a solid sharpener for $10 to $20 anywhere that sells kitchen accessories.

At the same time, you shouldn’t be sharpening the edge too often, or it can wear down the steel. Most cooks can get away with sharpening their knives every few months.

You will notice your bread knife getting dull, so don’t worry about keeping a schedule. Every two years or so, take it to a professional to sharpen it for you. It will keep your bread knife in perfect condition.

Make sure you are washing and drying them by hand right after using them. Leaving food crusted on your knife, or worse, letting it soak in water, spells death for even the highest quality blade.

Finally, always use a good cutting board. When you strike a blade against a counter or stovetop, you risk chipping or weakening the metal. A wood board is better than plastic, as it offers a softer surface and reduces the risk of damage to the serrations.

Final Thoughts

Having a bread knife is crucial for anyone who plans to cook, whether at home or in a restaurant. It can be used for nearly any purpose and will make the job quick and easy.

While having a complete set of knives is essential, you will find that your bread knife will become your go-to.

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