Best Meat Cleavers

Kitchen & Dining

The so-called cleaver is used primarily when it comes to the professional processing of meat. The cleaver takes over rather than the rough work in the kitchen. It is used to cut large pieces of meat and even cuts through cartilage or bone with one stroke. For this purpose, it has a much thicker blade than conventional chef’s knives. The quite insensitive grind and the high weight are among the special features of the cleaver. Our guide takes a closer look at the handling and shows you, popular models.

However, not only in the professional field but also in the home kitchen can be resorted to the knife.

It is suitable for meat lovers as well as hobby chefs. In addition, the knife can also be used for other foods.

What exactly is a cleaver, what advantages it has over other knives, and what makes it so special, is explained in the following article.

  • What should I look for when buying and own tests in general?
  • Is the handle well-made and can withstand high forces?
  • Is the weight well-balanced and supportive when chopping?
  • Can the cleaver be sharpened well?

The blade on the cleaver – especially wide and insensitive

The cleaver differs from conventional chef’s knives in the width and shape of the blade. It has an angular shape and is much thicker. This gives it a fairly insensitive and robust grind that can handle even gristle and boil. While you would only damage a filigree grind with a notch, the cleaver will glide through even difficult cuts of meat. The professional models have a length of 12 to 16 inches and are mainly found in the catering industry or in butcher stores.

In addition, there are cleavers with a smaller length of about 6 to 8 inches. They are ideal for home use and cut meat and bones without any problems despite their small size. On the other hand, these models lie a little better in the hand and, with a little practice, can be used for other ingredients, such as herbs, vegetables, or fruit. The heavyweight makes your work easier, so you have to use less force or momentum yourself. You will then be able to hold out much better, especially for longer or more laborious tasks.

The material – robust blade steel

A cleaver is usually made of robust and strong blade steel. This is noticeable not only in the thickness but also in the weight. The blade is much wider and not so sharply ground. However, the weight helps you when cutting the pieces of meat, because you can work with a powerful swing.

Meat Cleaver – Best Choice

Sky Light Meat Cleaver

Sky Light Chopper Knife

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  • Blade Length: 7″.
  • Thickness: 3 mm.
  • 0.618 golden ratio arc-shaped cutting edge.

The handle – firmly riveted and not too small

If you want a robust and heavy blade, you need a certain counterweight in the handle. The handle of a cleaver must not be too small and must lie well in the hand. This is the only way to get enough sensitivity even with the somewhat larger blade. There must never be a danger of losing the knife in the swing or slipping off. For this reason, the handles are usually specially shaped and somewhat thicker at the rear edge. In terms of materials, you have a choice between plastic, wood, or stainless steel. The latter look quite cold but meet the hygienic requirements in the catering industry. Make sure that the handle on the cleaver is firmly connected and preferably riveted.

Advantages and disadvantages of the meat cleaver


  • wide and angular blade;
  • robust grind;
  • high weight;
  • versatile;
  • resistant;
  • divides bones and cartilage.


  • practice required;
  • not for delicate work.

The Best Professional Meat Cleaver

Imarku Cleaver Knife

Imarku Cleaver Knife

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  • The thickness:  is 2.5 mm.
  • German high carbon stainless steel.
  • For home and restaurant kitchens.

Range of application and handling of cleavers – with a powerful swing

A cleaver is basically designed for one-handed use. That is, you perform a powerful and sweeping motion to cut the right part of the meat. Only larger models for professional use are wielded with two hands. This is more in line with the everyday work in a butcher’s shop. In your own home, you should be clear: this is a large and dangerous tool. Therefore, a cleaver should never be kept within reach of children.

The heavier the model, the less pressure you need to apply to the cleaver yourself. Bones cannot be cut through with a delicate and careful cut. The whole thing is much cleaner with a strong blow and a sharp edge. Of course, you can also use the kitchen helper for fruit or vegetables, but then it should be a Chinese cleaver with significantly more sharpness. A simple cleaver has a very limited range of use and is too coarse for all other work in the kitchen and not sharp enough on the cutting edge. For further cutting or filleting of meat as well as detaching it from the bone, the filleting knife or boning knife is more suitable.

Important: Handling the European and especially the Chinese models requires some practice. In addition, you must be able to hit the target accurately so as not to splinter the bone unnecessarily.

The Best Ergonomic Meat Cleaver

TUO Meat Cleaver

TUO Meat Cleaver

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  • High carbon German stainless steel.
  • Hand-polished by a skilled blacksmith.
  • Ergonomic pakkawood handle.

Advantages of a Meat Cleaver

As mentioned above, the Chinese kitchen knife has several advantages. For one, it is great for cutting bones. Depending on its length, it can also be used for other things like fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

The effort required is relatively low, and the result is close to perfect. Also, because of the sharp blade, important nutrients in fruits and vegetables are not lost during cutting. On the whole, the cleaver is a real all-round knife in any kitchen.

What should you look for when buying a cleaver?

Anyone interested in buying a cleaver should pay attention to different things. Always important is the question of the size of the knife:

  • Private demand: cleavers with a length between 6 and 8 inches.
  • Commercial need: cleavers with a length between 12 and 16 inches.

Furthermore, there are models that must be guided with one hand or with both hands. This depends on the type of preparation. For fruits and vegetables, one hand is enough.

It is important not to forget the cutting base. The Chinese kitchen knife can become relatively heavy. Accordingly, the cutting board should be adapted to the characteristics of the knife.

Materials made of glass, ceramic, or plastic are not well suited. For optimal results, it is worthwhile to reach for the wooden board. This will not only protect the cutting base but also the blade.

Best Safety Meat Cleaver

Mueller Meat Cleaver Knife

Mueller 7-inch Meat Cleaver Knife

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  • Multipurpose knife for professional applications.
  • Sturdy and labor-saving grip.
  • Suitable for both home and restaurant kitchens.

Purchase criteria for cleavers – pay attention to size and weight

Cleavers are available in several lengths and, above all, with different sharpness. As already mentioned, amateur chefs get along well with the smaller versions. However, you should still ask yourself how sharp the knife should be and for what purpose you need it. The following points then play an important role when buying:

Criterion Notes
  • very wide;
  • angular shape;
  • not particularly sharply ground;
  • approx. 18 cm for home use;
  • over 25 cm for professional use;
  • strong back of the blade.
  • special blade steel;
  • robust and durable;
  • heavyweight;
  • Chinese models made of Damascus;
  • offer sharper blade.
  • mostly made of stainless steel or wood;
  • ergonomically shaped;
  • must lie well in the hand;
  • form counterweight to the blade;
  • firmly riveted.
Special features:
  • many models rather blunt;
  • Handling with a strong blow;
  • only suitable for meat;
  • cuts cartilage and bones without problems;
  • pay attention to the base;
  • mostly to be operated with one hand;
  • some practice required.

The Best Meat Cleaver for Breaking Bones

KITORY Meat Cleaver

KITORY Meat Cleaver

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  • Professional Butcher’s knife.
  • Full tang wooden handle.
  • Blade Thickness: 0.2 inches.

Cleaning and care – sharpening chopping knives regularly

Cleaning and care are two important points if you want to maintain the sharpness and quality of the knife for as long as possible. So you keep as long as possible the cutting results, as at the beginning. Only the very wide shape of the blades makes cleaning a bit more complicated. It must be done with great care so that you do not hurt yourself. It is best to rinse the cleaver with lukewarm water immediately after use. However, meat can leave quite a greasy residue on the material. A little gentle dishwashing liquid and a soft cloth will help here.

Important: A cleaver should not be used only for chopping bones, as this use goes to the substance of the material. Proper care and regular sharpening will prevent the signs of wear.

Sharpening a cleaver – on the belt grinder

Over time, notches appear on the edge of the blade. So if you have been using the knife for a long time, you should resharpen it. To do this, use a belt grinder and contact a professional who knows how to do this. The belt grinder can best adjust the very crowned edge. This is difficult to achieve with a whetstone or sharpening steel. Therefore, the conventional knife sharpeners from home use are not suitable for the cleaver. Of course, there is no belt grinder for home use either, which is why contacting a professional is so important.

cleaver knives for meat

The right storage – hanging on the hole

Almost every cleaver is equipped with a small hole in the blade. This design is reminiscent of the traditional shape of the models but has a practical purpose. The small hole should allow to hang of the knife on a hook. Thus, it does not hit other blades or otherwise be burdened. However, since it is not a particularly sharp cutting edge on some models, storage in the drawer is also conceivable. It is important that you store the model out of reach of children.

Chinese cleavers, of course, require different care and storage. They have a quite sensitive and sharp blade edge, which must be protected in any case. Even contact with other blades or materials can leave a nick. So, when storing them, rely on a special drawer insert or a magnetic bar. The cleaver is clearly too big for a knife block. Some manufacturers offer their products with a beautiful gift box. This can be used for storage at the same time to protect the material for as long as possible.

Conclusion – powerful kitchen helper

A cleaver or chopper is primarily used for cutting bones and meat. These models are equipped with a fairly thick and robust blade edge. For home use, you should only pay attention to a compact size and a balanced handle. This way you use the momentum directly without having to put a lot of pressure on the meat. Chinese cleavers are in a class of their own, significantly sharper and more versatile in use. Therefore, they cannot be compared with European models. Think carefully about the area of application for which you need the knife. Then choose the right model for your preparation needs based on material, handle, and length.

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Steve Toomey

The main inspirer and creator of this resource. In passion about gardening, home decor & interior. Also, likes to DIY projects and interesting in house gadgets. Moreover, he likes to find out how to make cooking easier and simple with kitchen gadgets. Read More.

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