How to Sharpen a Serrated Knife

How to Sharpen a Serrated Knife

Serrated knives are jacks of (almost) all trades. They’re the solution to getting the perfect slice of bread or to get through tomato skin. From all sorts of citruses to vegetables, to carbs, serrated knives are ideal for cutting. Along with the many perks of this knife, you don’t have to sharpen it very often. So if it is your first time, here are some options on how to sharpen a serrated knife. 

I’m sure you’re wondering how these knives can cleanly slice without squishing the food or destroying its shape. This is because of the special scalloped edges that provide the ideal pressure and friction to slice through food. To continue using your knife, you’ll want to learn how to maintain the blade.

There are several options to choose from when considering how to sharpen your serrated knives. This article mainly focuses on the manual process but also provides alternatives.

Do It Yourself Manually

do it yourself manually

A loaf cut in half with a serrated knife laying on top of it with a cutting board.

This method is the cheapest and quickest way to sharpen your knife. You can find ceramic honing rods for as little as $3, while others may be up to $100. The prices vary due to the material and type used for the rods. For beginners, we suggest purchasing rods based on customer reviews. 

Ceramic Honing Rod

The equipment typically used for sharpening serrated knives is called a ceramic honing rod, also known as a sharpening rod. Besides the material used, the difference between a steel rod and a honing rod is that the honing rod tapers off to a point so that each groove can be sharpened all around. Honing rods vary in width, so you can purchase yours based on the width between each gullet (the curve between each point). 


The recommended angle for honing is between 15 to 20 degrees. Since each serration is already slightly angled, all you have to do is align it flush to the rod. To avoid cutting yourself, be sure to drag the knife away from you! 

The Process 

Starting from handle to tip, position your knife at the correct angle and glide with a light pressure away from you. If using a tapered rod, simply position the knife to the correct width. Move the knife back and forth for each serration about 10-20 times or until it feels sharp to you. You may notice that after sharpening, the other side might have created a burr, an uneven edge. To remedy that, simply flip the knife over, lay it flat against the rod, and move horizontally a few times to balance that edge. Once you finish sharpening, wash the knife and dry!

Electric Knife Sharpeners

This method is more expensive than using manual sharpeners. Electric knife sharpeners range from $30 up to $200. 

Using electric knife sharpeners can be a great alternative if you aren’t great with your hands. It is quicker than sharpening manually, but there are some restrictions. Most electric sharpeners on the lower price side don’t include a fitter for serrated knives. Therefore, you may have to spend a bit more on an appliance that includes it. Also, since electric sharpeners are manufactured for all knives in the same way, this may not be the best option suited for your specific knife to obtain the sharpest edges. 

Hire a Professional

Do you not trust yourself to sharpen your own knives or simply can’t find the time to? Consider shipping your knives in to have professionals sharpen them for you. This service is provided by many manufacturers, and chances are that your knife brand might already provide this service. The pricing may differ depending on the provider. Oftentimes, you’ll be asked to pay $1 for each inch of your knife, or you can pay for a $5-$15 subscription which involves shipping in your knives every few weeks to be sharpened. Otherwise, you can find an option that allows you to ship in a set of knives for sharpening at a set price of around $60. 

For this option, you’ll want to consider the amount of time this process could take. Shipping, sharpening, and shipping back can take up to a week or more.

How to Sharpen a Serrated Knife Without Special Tools

how to sharpen a serrated knife without special tools

Serrated knife with a macro image of gullets

We’ve gone over an array of options, but if you can’t afford them or access them, you can use this untraditional method. Consider this a life hack! 

Coffee Mug Knife Sharpening

For this method, all you need is a ceramic coffee mug. Simply flip the coffee mug upside down and use the rim to sharpen your knife. You would follow the same directions as the ceramic rod process. There are some things to keep in mind for this though. This process is more dangerous compared to the other methods since you are working with a smaller surface area which will make it easier to slip and harder to find an angle on the knife to sharpen with a thin rim. However, it does work if a mug is all you have on hand!


Before you begin, dampen a cloth and set it below the mug or around the mug between your legs. Doing it this way will decrease the chances of your mug slipping during the sharpening. 

How Do You Maintain a Sharp Knife? 

how to maintain a sharp knife

Serrated knife with multiple kitchen knives placed on top of each other

To maintain your knife’s edge, make sure to store it properly so it won’t grind against other utensils. Some good ways to do this involve purchasing a strong magnetic strip to hang your knives on the wall or getting a counter knife block. Before purchasing, think about your kitchen setup and hazards in your space like children or animals. 

How to Sharpen a Serrated Knife: Final Thoughts

Serrated knives take a long time to wear down but when they start to dull, you’ll want to make sure to sharpen them. Having dull knives can really damper the cooking process and slow you down, so be sharp and take a few minutes to sharpen your knife or have it professionally sharpened. That way, you can continue to focus on the more important things, like eating your perfectly sliced bread!

Written by Tina Wu

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