What Is A Serrated Knife Used For? Ways to Maintain Them

Various knife types can be found in the market, ranging from chef knife, santoku knife, bread knife, etc. The design of each knife type is base specifically on its usage/purpose. Consequently, the main factor in preparing your meals seamlessly is to know the best knife type to use for a specific purpose. Based on that, you could either use a plain knife or a serrated knife/blade.

What Is A Serrated Knife Used For?

Each of these blade types (serrated or plain) has its best use. For instance, plain knives are best suited for cutting softer food items or materials. It is, therefore, for general everyday use. However, a serrated knife is suited for cutting through hard materials possessing a soft interior e.g., bread loaf. Consequently, in this article, we would be concentrating on answering the question; what is a serrated knife used for?

What Is A Serrated Knife?

The best way to describe a serrated knife is the nature/pattern of the blade. A serrated knife is any knife type that has a serrated blade attached to it. A serrated blade is also known as a toothed blade or dentated blade possessing a toothlike, scalloped (rough)edge. This pattern enables it to establish less contact with the material it intends to cut through, compared to a smooth/plain blade. As a result, it can apply pressure at each contact point, that is, greater than that of a smooth knife.

However, cuts made by this blade are less smooth and not precise than those of smooth blades. But despite that, they remain sharp longer than smooth blades and can do a better job with hard food items.

What Is A Serrated Blade Used For?

As earlier stated, using any blade type is largely dependent on the nature of the food item you need to cut through. A serrated knife is best for cutting through items with a hard exterior but a soft interior. This is because to successfully cut through these kinds of items you need a knife type that establishes less contact while being able to hold firmly and bite through the material. The tooth of the serrated knives helps you meet these conditions. Using them, however, on a soft food material or item would not give the desired result and could rip the material apart, causing more harm than good.

So, what are the best use cases of a serrated knife?

1. For Cutting Bread

This function is by far the most popular use for serrated knives. A loaf of bread has a somewhat hard exterior, while it maintains its inner fluffy nature, and it, therefore, needs a knife type that would help keep the bread crumbs intact while you cut. Hence, it is far better than using a smooth knife, which would often slide off while you work on it, as they find it difficult to break through the bread skin easily. The serrated knife teeth do the job of cutting through the bread crust, after which the blade continues slicing into the bread. This helps keep the crumbs intact to a larger extent than when you use a smooth knife.

2. For Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits have a tough outer skin (endocarp) that is difficult to cut through using a smooth knife, especially when they are not well sharpened. Therefore, a knife with a serrated blade does the task effectively without stressing you.

3. Cakes

The secret to a perfect cake cutting is the knife blade; every professional baker knows this. A serrated knife helps to get finely cut flat cakes, as the bakers use them to ensure the surface of the cake is evened out. Again, another trick is to know the knife length to use with the cake size. For larger-sized cakes, a longer serrated knife is needed, this would enable you to cut through the entire cake in one swoop, giving you an evenly flat surface cake.

4. Pineapple

Another use of the serrated knife blade is to cut your beloved pineapple. This function is possible due to the pineapple’s spiky skin, making it difficult to cut through when using a smooth-edged knife. Consequently, using a serrated knife is the ideal knife type for cutting through faster. To do this effectively, you need to get rid of the pineapple top and bottom before moving on to make vertical pineapple slices and then finish by removing the skin off each portion as quickly as possible.

5. Tomatoes

Yes, this also applies. A tomato has a tough endocarp that needs the care to cut through. In fact, due to the tomato’s nature, it is usually used as a means to test for the knife’s sharpness. However, that does not mean a smooth knife is the ideal kitchen tool for a tomato; this is because the tooth of serrated knives can easily lay hold and cut through a tomato without the need to apply much pressure from your end. However, based on the size of tomatoes you want, you can either use a standard serrated knife or a serrated utility knife.

Finally, a serrated knife looks menacing; hence, it is also used by military personnel or even wilderness travelers. This is possible because of its intimidating look that can scare opponents away. You should however know that a serrated knife is ill-suited for dicing or chopping food items like vegetables, or meat. For this, you’ll need a plain smooth knife.

Maintenance Of A Serrated Knife

Moving on, having looked at how a serrated knife looks like and what its uses are, it is also crucial you understand how to clean your serrated knife as this will ensure your knife lasts longer than other knives that are not maintained properly.

  •  Avoid washing with a dishwasher as much as possible, even when the manufacturers claim the knife is dishwasher safe. This is because using a dishwasher dulls the knife’s blade faster than when not used. Therefore, we recommend handwashing, using warm soapy water and a soft sponge that can pass through the blade’s tooth.
  • You also need to avoid leaving your knife in water for a prolonged timeframe to soak. This is because soaking affects the handles of your knife.
  • Store in a safe place; this could be a knife block, magnetic strip, or drawers separated into slots for holding blades and other items.
  • Do not store in a free drawer as it could cause your blade to become dull quickly and get nicked, thus, chipping off the knife’s teeth.
  • Sharpen them when dull (this is not often as serrated blades often remain sharper than a smooth knife). For serrated knives not all sharpeners are used, so you need to get the correct type of sharpener to get your blade sharper when dull.


A serrated knife has a tooth arranged along the edge of the knife’s blade. The tooth is sharp and designed to break into the interior of a material. Compared to a smooth knife, a serrated knife has two sections; the edge made of teeth (serrations) used for breaking the skin and the inner part used for slicing the food item. It works in a back-and-forth motion like a saw.

Read more: What Are the Parts of a Chef Knife?

Therefore, it is essential to answer the question; what is a serrated knife used for? The answer to this question would help you see the need to have at least one serrated knife in your kitchen, rather than having only smooth knives that won’t get the job done with more efficiency. After reading this article, I’m confident you’ll be visiting the market next time with a serrated knife on your list of items to stock. Feel free to do that, and make life a lot easier for you in the kitchen.