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It's that time of year again. Time to pick our bird, prep our pies, and get to celebrating the holidays. This means you may be digging that electric knife out of the backwoods of your pantry or cabinet. After all, why struggle with carving the turkey if you can have a little help?

Before you go to town on the star of the Thanksgiving show, be sure that your knives are sharp and ready. We know about the importance of a well-sharpened chef's knife, but when it comes to a serrated knife, the rules are a little different. Here's everything you need to know about how to sharpen electric knife blades.

serrated electric knife
Credit: Getty Images

Should You Sharpen Your Serrated Knife?

First things first: If you have time, sharpening your serrated knife, electric or not, should really be left to a professional. The other alternative is to replace the blades entirely, according to Mary Beth Brault, Hamilton Beach Brands Group Manager.

Unlike a chef's knife, which you can run through a sharpener along the flat edge, a serrated knife should not and cannot be sharpened in this manner. Instead, if you do try to sharpen the blade, you must do so one serration at a time.

One myth says that serrated knives don't need sharpening. While not true, it is correct that these types of knives require less maintenance.

"Serrated knives usually cut better [and last longer] due to the angle of the serration to the food," Brault shares. "They are made of hard stainless steel, so sharpening is rare and difficult due to the hardness. In most applications, it's better to simply replace the knives or have them professionally sharpened."

Honing Steel vs. Sharpening Rods

If you're keen on sharpening your own knife, then make sure you have the proper equipment and know the difference between a honing steel and sharpening rod. Contrary to popular belief, the honing steel has no sharpening power. It simply serves to realign the edge of the knife blade and will not grind the metal.

What you really want is a sharpening rod. Unlike the honing steel, it is tapered, meant to accommodate the different serration sizes. Unfortunately, you'll see many honing steels advertised as sharpeners, so know that if it's not tapered, it's probably not what you're looking for.

Before you buy, check your (electric) knives in question and take a look at their serrations—you will need to buy a sharpening rod of the same shape.

Related Items

serrated electric knife sharpener rod
Credit: Amazon

DiaFold File Serrated Knife Sharpener

BUY IT: from $23.70; amazon.com

Choose a from coarse, fine, or extra fine diamond sharpener. This one in particular would work well for round serrations. 

How to Sharpen Serrated Electric Knife Blades at Home

To sharpen your electric knife blades at home, you'll need a good dose of patience. You'll have to work on each individual serration.

Before you begin, it is absolutely imperative that you make sure your knife is not plugged into a power outlet. Remove the blades from the motor or handle if you can.

Start by matching the correct section of sharpening rod to the curve of the serration. Then, keeping the rod flush with the bevel, run it across the serrations. Good practice states that you should treat each serration about five times—so plan ahead.

After you've worked on the serrated edge, sharpen the flat edge of the knife on a sharpening stone or some sandpaper.  

Good Electric Knife Care and Use Tips

"The counter-reciprocating blades are designed to pull against each other to cut with minimal reactive forces on the food," Brault says.

If you've come across a particularly tricky section of your turkey, don't try to force the blades to cut through. Some other key care tips to heed:

  • Keep your blades clean.
  • Store properly—don't let them float in the back of the kitchen cabinet. It'll be painful if you've forgotten about them. Plus, you risk nicking the blades with other materials that find their way into storage.
  • When using the knife, be careful not to cover the motor vents.
  • Avoid contaminating the vents. Keep your food prep space clean so that you don't run the risk of the vents ingesting stray ingredients.