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Using A Bread Knife to Cut Meat: Yay or Nay?

Using A Bread Knife to Cut Meat: Yay or Nay?

With so many different types of knives in your kitchen, it's easy to get confused about when to use each knife. The confusion is magnified if you've never been taught about the different uses for knives, and you've just been figuring it out as you go. So, let's clear up a common misconception.

Do not use a bread knife to cut meat. Bread knives have serrated edges designed to cut through foods with hard exteriors and soft interiors, like freshly baked bread. Using a bread knife to cut meat will result in dulling the bread knife and producing a poor-quality cut of meat.

Read on to discover more about why this type of knife is a wrong choice for meat, along with learning which types of knives are perfect for slicing up your meat.

Never Cut Meat with a Bread Knife

Meat has its own needs, and a bread knife meets none of them. Tearing through meat with serrated edges will produce uneven cuts of meat, along with dulling your bread knife.

You might be thinking about table steak knives that are serrated:  

  • For one, they are designed with tougher serrated edges that are sharp on both sides, as opposed to the one sharp side of a bread knife.
  • Secondly, steak enthusiasts look down on serrated steak knives and say that smooth-edged steak knives are the only valid option.

Additionally, cutting cooked meat is an entirely different task than cutting raw meat. A bread knife might do a passable job at cutting cooked meat, but it will likely completely destroy raw meat. An entirely different selection of knives is needed to cut raw meat correctly.

What to Do If You've Dulled Your Bread Knife on Meat

If your bread knife has been dulled due to being used for meat, don't worry, it can be saved. However, you might need to call in professionals.

Thanks to the serrated edges only being sharp on one side, a whetstone, honing steel, or an electric sharpener are all out of the question for the inexperienced knife sharpener.

While it is possible to sharpen your bread knife, you are more likely to ruin your bread knife in the process while practicing. 

  • Find a professional. Look for a local specialist in knife sharpening to restore your bread knife. If you have a local farmer's market, odds are you'll find one set up there.

What Knives Should Be Used to Cut Meat?

Are you looking for the right option to slice up that cut of beef? Perhaps you want to slice that chicken breast in half? Well, several different types of knives can be used to cut meat, such as:

  • Chef's knives – These types of knives have various uses in a kitchen, hence the name. They are great for cutting any meat that isn't too dense. They are not meant to handle bones at all.
  • Utility knives - A utility knife is similar to a chef's knife but a little smaller. Much like a chef's knife, they are made for a wide range of uses, including cutting cooked or raw meat. They are not the best choice for dense meat or anything to do with bones.
  • Slicing Knives – These knives are known for having long, thin blades that typically have a pointed tip, although it can be rounded. These knives are used for cutting thin slices of meat, whether you're dealing with pork, fish, chicken, or beef. They are a terrible choice for dense meat or anything to do with bones.
  • Cleavers – Often known as a butcher's knife, these heavy, thick knives are explicitly created for splitting the meat from a bone. Cleavers come in different thicknesses depending on their specific use, so it's not uncommon for serious meat chefs to have several different sizes and thicknesses. A cleaver is the knife to cut bones in half, although the cleaver should be the right thickness to do the job.

While a bread knife shouldn't be used to deal with meat at all, a cleaver is a poor choice for cutting your steak. Knowing the differences between the different meat knives will make your life much easier when preparing your next meat-based meal.

Knives for Cutting and Trimming Raw Meat

There are different types of raw meat with unique needs, so let's go over what kinds of knives you would need for the common meats that you'll be dealing with:

  • Beef – You'll only need a chef's knife or utility knife for working with most cuts of beef. However, specific tasks might require something a bit heavier, like a cleaver. It all depends on the amount of bone involved.
  • Chicken – Chicken is a much softer meat than beef, so you can do most cuts with a chef's knife or utility knife. You may need to involve a slicing knife if you're going for extremely thin cuts.
  • Pork – Much like chicken, all you'll need is a utility or chef's knife for most cuts, along with a slicing knife if you need thin cuts.
  • Fish – As the softest meat out there, a standard utility or chef's knife is all you'll need

When it comes to picking a knife, you ultimately need to think about how dense the meat is and how much bone you're working on. Cleavers are the only knife equipped to deal with cutting bones, while utility and chef knives are perfect for cutting around bones. Slicing knives are mainly used for creating thin slices of meat.

Difference Between a Carving Knife and a Bread Knife

Carving knives have indented divots on their blade, which often leads people to confuse them with bread knives.

  • A bread knife is serrated, meaning it has clear valleys and peaks.
  • A carving knife, while also long and thin, does not have any serrated edges.

Confusing these two specialty knives end up destroying your bread knife.

Can You Use a Carving Knife to Cut Bread?

Using a carving knife to cut bread is going to ruin your bread. Much like using other knives to cut bread, it will result in smooshing the piece that you cut off. Sure, it'll get the job done, but you won't enjoy eating what you've cut from the loaf. This is because a carving knife isn't designed to quickly break through a hard exterior in the same way that a bread knife is.

What Else Can You Cut with a Bread Knife?

Bread knives earned their name thanks to being commonly used to cut, well, bread. However, they aren't limited just to cutting fresh-from-the-oven bread. You can use them to cut anything that has soft insides but a somewhat more challenging exterior:

  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Tomatoes
  • Pineapple
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cakes
  • Pastries

Even though people aren't cooking fresh bread as much as they used to, bread knives have remained a staple in knife sets due to their versatility. It's always good to have one on hand; you never know when you'll have the perfect use for it.

Using the Correct Knives is Important

The types of knives that we see in modern knife sets have their roots in thousands of years of trial and error. They all may seem pretty similar, but chefs and home cooks have found what works best. The rest of us get to benefit from their knowledge by being equipped with the right knife for the job.