How To Properly Use a Bread Knife: 5 Easy Steps

How not to slice your finger before enjoying a baguette. Because who wants a bloody baguette? You sure don’t.

Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen. Just follow these five simple steps, and you are on your way to hosting your own baking show!

(This is not a serious promise, but, you know, dreams do come true!)

We have to play ‘mom’ here for a moment. Before handling any food item, you should always wash your hands. Because, germs. No one wants germs on their bread, and if you’re dealing with other food items, cross-contamination can be a real concern.

Now on to the task at hand: slicing your delicious bread. In this guide, we’ll take you through five easy to follow steps that will have you slicing bread like a pro.

  1. First things first – the right tools for the job

Gather up everything needed to make your job easier and more effective.

It helps if you own a quality knife (such as that from Vertoku *hint* *hint*)

Although we’re admittedly a bit biased, having a high-quality Japanese inspired bread knife can really make a BIG difference here. The right knife will act as a natural extension of your own hand, slicing cutting through bread like a hot knife through butter. This will result in reduced wrist and hand fatigue, more precise cuts, and improved aesthetics of the finished food item.

To start, you’ll need a bread knife. Bread knives are long and serrated (the kind that has jaggety edges and makes that satisfying sawing sound when you use it.) No matter what the texture of your bread, these serrated sides help to cut through the crust in a straight line without smooshing the bread and making crazy crumbs.

Those are technical terms: “smooshing” and “crazy crumbs.”

You’ll need a clean cutting board or knife-proof surface that is as big as your bread or close to it. Wooden cutting boards are preferable for the longevity of your knife, but honestly, we can be flexible here.

Now you can do the thing!

  1. Bread Placement – positioning matters

Place the piece of bread horizontally, so that when slicing your bread, the knife is straight out, perpendicular to your body. This position is ergonomically easier on your wrists and optimal for making the perfect cut. Besides, standing the bread vertically end on end just looks silly.

  1. Handling the Bread Knife

Use your dominant hand to handle the knife, and the other hand to hold on to the bread. Are you ambidextrous? Fabulous, then you get to pick which hand gets to play which part! Let your hands fight over it!

  1. Maneuvering the Knife

Hold the knife like a professional chef: carefully.

Seriously, though, hold the knife with your hand fully on the handle and close to the blade. Your thumb and forefinger should be sort of pinching together right at the blade. This gives ultimate control and minimum elbow-grease.

  1. Lights, Camera, Action! – time to CUT

Now you’re ready to saw away! Steady your bread with your non-dominant hand, then with the other hand, press the knife gently down on the bread and saw towards yourself first.

Once you’ve made that initial cut, the knife has a good guide and you should be able to easily saw back and forth in this groove. This “sawing” technique prevents the “smooshing” and keeps the crumbs to a minimum if you’ve got a particularly crusty bread.

Start on the far end of where your dominant hand is; so right-handed folks, cut your first slice from just inside the right side of the loaf. Do this process over the whole loaf, working your way from the dominant side to the non-dominant side.

The size of the slice is entirely up to you!

Pro Tip:

Let gravity and the knife do the work for you, you don’t need to press too hard or even saw too quickly. If it’s a good serrated knife, and your hand is close to the blade and in control, the knife should slice through easily with each back and forth movement.

It’s suggested that you eat a slice before serving to others, you know, to make sure everything tastes OK. Maybe you need two slices.

Go enjoy that tasty bread, you slicing expert!

Last Call: One More Pro Tip for the Road

Of course a ‘bread knife’ is uniquely engineered to handle bread and bakery items with ease. But did you know that the serrated edges of your bread knife are also especially helpful for slicing other items in your kitchen? This handy blade is also sometimes ideal for tomatoes, delicate pastries and cakes, even trimming off the sides of a pineapple!

It’s good to experiment with the different knife edges and see what works best for you! They’re your tools, make them do the hard work for you!