Should Steak Knives Be Serrated?
By Bobby B. | April 2022 | Knife Blog
In the culinary world, there is a big debate about whether or not steak knives should be serrated. Some argue that the smooth blade of a non-serrated knife allows for a cleaner cut that doesn’t rip the meat. They say non-serrated knives provide us with a better user experience. Others maintain that a serrated edge is key for cutting through tougher meat fibers with less effort. Both are correct in their thinking, and there’s even more to it than that.
Below, we’ll dive into the pros and cons of both serrated and non-serrated knives. We’ll also tell you which makes the best steak knives so you can go out and buy a set and stop worrying about these kinds of things.
Serrated vs Non-Serrated Steak Knives
Which is better is a question that’s been debated for quite some time. Steak knives are some of the most frequently used blades in your kitchen, and they’re also used by everyone, not just the person doing the cooking like most of your knives. So it’s no wonder why steak knives are important to you.
There are a few things you should take into consideration when trying to decide which type of steak knife is best for you. Below, we break down the main differences between serrated and non-serrated steak knives:
Ease of Sharpening: Non-serrated steak knives are much easier to sharpen than their serrated counterparts. This is because you only have to sharpen the one flat edge of the blade. With serrated steak knives, each serration needs to be sharpened individually which can be time-consuming and difficult to do if you don’t have the right tools.
Edge Retention: Serrated steak knives will stay sharp for longer than non-serrated steak knives. This is because the serrations act like tiny saw blades that can cut through tough meat fibers more easily. Non-serrated steak knives have a single sharp edge that will dull over time with extended use.
Cutting Performance: When it comes to cutting performance, serrated steak knives are better at slicing through tough meat fibers. The serrations on the blade act like tiny saw blades that can easily slice through the meat. Non-serrated steak knives have a single sharp edge that can struggle to cut through tough meat fibers.
As you saw above, there’s more to consider than just your steak knife’s performance characteristics. In fact, besides serrated and non-serrated knives, there are also micro-serrated knives that are a different breed altogether Below we dive into each type of blade in more detail, covering the pros and cons of each and why you should or shouldn’t consider them.
Serrated Steak Knives
The most common type of edge used in steak knife blades is a serrated edge. Serrations are the small teeth on the blade that make it look more like a saw blade than a knife. The rationale behind using a serrated edge for steak knives is easy. They need to be sharpened far less often vs non-serrated blades. This is because only the serrations make contact with the plate when you cut your steak.
Frequent cutting against hard, ceramic dinner plates will dull a knife very quickly. The valleys, or arched areas, between the points stay sharper since they only touch the soft meat and never the plate. Even when the points do become dull, it’s not as noticeable because this area does most of the cutting and continues to be sharp.
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A serrated steak knife can also make it easier to slice through tough meat. The serrated blade is similar to a saw and can be used with little force if used in a back-and-forth sawing motion.
There is a drawback to a serrated steak knife, however. They can be more difficult to sharpen since the blade is not a single, long and straight edge. The good news is that there are many sharpeners capable of sharpening serrated knives. It should be stated though, while touching up the edge of a serrated blade is easy enough, repairing or reshaping a damaged serrated blade is nearly impossible.
Straight Edge Steak Knives
Everything mentioned above is just the opposite for non-serrated or straight-edge steak knives. They have a single, continuous edge that makes contact with whatever you’re cutting your steak on. This means it will likely dull much quicker. So it’s a good thing this type of blade is much easier to sharpen with a honing or sharpening steel.
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Unlike a serrated knife that can rip and tear through meat, straight-edged knives cut through it smoothly as long as it has a razor-sharp edge. This is a popular choice among top chefs as it’s estimated this helps preserve the juices and flavor when it comes to steak.
So, to summarize, while maintenance is required more often with non-serrated blades, they do save many people from learning the tedious sharpening techniques needed for serrated knives, which can take a long time.
Micro-Serrated Steak Knives
Surprise, surprise, you’ve probably seen a third type of knife edge that we should cover. These are micro-serrated blades and they’re most often found on cheaper steak knives. There are different types and sizes, but they are all very difficult to sharpen and they lack durability. When these knives get dull, it’s usually best to just dispose of them and start over. It’s not worth trying to repair or try to restore its sharpness.
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They make it easier for manufacturers to use cheap steel because so little of the blade actually touches the cutting surface. These blades often rely on ripping and tearing through the meat rather than cleanly slicing through the tough exterior of a seared steak.
When choosing a steak knife, we recommend you stay away from these cheap knives as they don’t last long. It’s always better to spend just a little more and get a decent steak knife set that uses better materials.
Which are Better: Serrated vs Straight Edge Steak Knives?
The answer is a difficult one since it’s actually about personal preference and depends on how you cook, eat, and maintain the kitchen knives in your home. If you read 10 different articles on the topic, you’re likely to find five that say one is better and five that say the exact opposite. We believe there are some really good steak knives of both variations out there.
In reality, for most families, serrated steak knives are probably a better choice. The reason is two-fold. First, it’s a well-known fact that a large majority of us “home chefs” aren’t professional cooks. We don’t always make the most tender and juicy steaks or even opt for those more expensive cuts. This being said, the serrations will help cut your steak more efficiently. And secondly, we’re all busy people and most don’t keep their knives as sharp as they should. For non-serrated steak knives to be effective, they need to be razor-sharp.
However, there’s a major caveat to that. If you’re willing to spend the extra money and get a higher-end steak knife set that uses better materials and stays sharp longer, non-serrated knives are also an option. This is especially true if you’re making better cuts of meat that are more tender. We just recommend that you be careful in cutting your steak with straight edge steak knives so they don’t become dull quickly. Cut your steak over a wood cutting board versus on your ceramic plate. This will greatly extend the life of a sharp blade.