The Best Method on How To Sharpen a Serrated Knife

by HexClad Cookware

sharpened serrated knife cutting bread

Knife skills are absolutely critical to have in the kitchen. They result in cleaner minces, dices, and chops for various ingredients and can help keep you safe. However, there is so much more that goes into proper knife skills than just the ability to craft a perfect julienne.

Even the best chefs will falter if their knives aren’t in good shape. A dull knife can lead to all sorts of issues in the kitchen. Anything from the state of your dish to the state of your fingers can suffer, so it really is not something to play around with.

Contrary to what you might think, we actually know that sharp kitchen knives are safer than dull ones.

A dull knife requires more force and gives you less control. Meanwhile, a properly sharpened knife gives you plenty of control, and you will need fewer movements to get the blade on the cutting board.

The process of sharpening a knife can become a bit more complicated when you are dealing with anything other than a classic straight-edge blade. This is where serrated knives come in. While it’s easy to see the plentiful uses that a serrated knife can have, it can be less simple to figure out how to sharpen it.

This article will give you a step-by-step guide on how to sharpen serrated knives. You might use them to cut through bread, but it’s going to feel like you’re cutting through butter.

Do You Need a Special Sharpener for Serrated Knives?

When it comes to finding the best knife sharpener for a serrated blade, you have a few options. Some electric knife sharpeners will come with a setting for serrated knives specifically.

Since the way serrated knives are sharpened differs from how you would do it for your average western or Japanese knives, you’re looking for a sharpener with some specific attributes.

A typical kitchen blade without serration (like a chef’s knife or a paring knife) can be sharpened best with honing steel.

The honing steel is excellent at evening out microscopic grooves in straight-edged blades, making them sharper and more uniform. Serrated blades, though, such as those used in bread knives, need to maintain their grooves to stay effective.

In fact, it is more important for the separate levels of the blade to be distinct than for them to be particularly sharp. Since the needs of a serrated knife are unique from those with a straight cutting edge, sharpening steel is not necessarily the best tool to use.

Instead, we recommend employing the use of either a ceramic sharpening rod or a diamond rod. Either of these options will work much better as a sharpening tool to keep your serrated knife cutting for longer. The materials are better for the job, and a sharpening rod is specifically shaped to fit in the grooves of a serrated knife.

What Is the Best Way To Sharpen a Serrated Knife?

The reason that serrated knives cut crusty foods like bread so easily is due to the difference in pressure from the serrated edge. What you’re really looking for in a serrated knife sharpener is to pronounce the ridges even more.

With use over time, the scallops will naturally get duller and more uniform. Even if you are not using a serrated bread knife as often as other options in your knife set, it still needs to be maintained.

This sharpening process can seem a bit more complicated for a home cook than what is involved with caring for straight-edged knives, but it’s still completely possible to do at home.

All you need are the right tools, a little technique, and some patience.

Use a Diamond or Ceramic Sharpening Rod

A sharpening rod, as opposed to a honingThe primary difference between a ceramic honing rod and a steel one is the texture.

Ceramic is incredibly smooth and effortlessly maneuvers around edges. This is one of the most important features to look for in a serrated knife sharpener. As you will read in a bit, this type of sharpening rod has to get in between parts of the blade to keep them good as new. This is an ability that ceramic has in spades.

As for why diamond is also an effective material to use for this purpose, diamond is the hardest naturally occurring mineral found on the planet. This sharpness lends itself perfectly to both smoothing out and creating precise edges, depending on what you need and how you use it.

And, hey, if all else fails, you could always use a diamond sharpening rod in the weirdest proposal ever.

Start at the Back End of Your Knife

Starting at the back end of the knife means that you will have an easier time keeping track of which serrations you still need to hone.

The process of sharpening a serrated knife can feel a bit tedious at times, but we guarantee that it’s so worth it in the end. Trust us, the lack of crumbs on your cutting board will speak for themselves.

Place the Sharpening Rod in Each Gullet

Hold the sharpening rod in one hand at an angle. Then, place the knife partially down so that the sharpening rod is inside the first serrated divot. These divots are also called “gullets.”

Now, you’ll maintain the sharp edge of the knife by pulling the rod all the way through the gullet. Go one by one down the line in order to achieve the sharpest edge.

Pull the Flat Side of Your Knife Against a Finishing Stone

For this final step, you need to put the side of the blade flat against a finishing stone. This will help to maintain the integrity of the exteriors of your knife. Then, move the knife up and down against the sharpening stone several times.

How Often Do Serrated Knives Need To Be Sharpened?

Unlike other kinds of knives that are used more frequently, serrated knives don’t need to be sharpened all that often.

Rather than having a strict timeline, it’s better to consider how often you use it and sharpen it when you notice the knife’s performance lacking.

How Can You Tell When It Is Time To Sharpen Your Knife?

If you suspect that your serrated knife might be in need of sharpening, pay close attention to it the next time you cut a loaf of bread.

How smoothly does it cut through? Are there a lot of crumbs left over on the cutting board once you’re done? How much pressure did you have to use?

If you find plenty of crumbs left behind, and you really had to work at cutting the bread, it’s time to sharpen your knife.

Does One Sharpening Rod Fit All Serrated Knives?

Just like there are different sizes of knives and gullets, there are also different sizes of sharpening rods. Which one you need will depend on the specifics of your knife.

The Bottom Line

You will eventually have to sharpen your serrated knife no matter what, but you should still invest in a quality blade. That way, you can probably get more use in between when you have to sharpen it. A high-quality blade will also have more durability and a longer lifespan.

All of HexClad’s knives are made of Damascus steel, which is made by piling several layers of metal on top of one another. Not only does this create an aesthetically stunning final result, but the knives are also more solid and sharper. These knives are an investment in both your culinary present and future.

We mean future pretty literally, by the way, since they all come with a lifetime warranty.


Be Careful With Kitchen Knives | University of Rochester Medical Center

Diamonds: The Hard Facts | University of Melbourne

How to Use a Honing Steel | Simply Recipes

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