For aspiring chefs, the value of a good knife is almost indescribable. This includes an excellent cleaver knife.
Most of us however are mere cooks, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t use the best kitchen tools to improve our culinary skills.
But there are so many choices out there, so how do you know which one is the best?
Most busy chefs don’t have time to trawl through countless reviews to find the best cleaver knife.
And you don’t want to buy an expensive cleaver knife and then realize it’s not appropriate for what you want to achieve.
So, we have sliced through the competition and cut to the chase to find the best cleaver knife for you.
OUR TOP PICK
WÜSTHOF Classic 6″ Cleaver Knife
Dexter-Russell 8″ Stainless Heavy Duty Cleaver
OUR TOP PICK
WÜSTHOF Classic 6″ Cleaver Knife
When you need a sturdy and powerful cleaver knife, you can’t go wrong with the WÜSTHOF Classic 6″ Cleaver.
Its 6.3 inch blade is made from a single piece of high carbon steel with a Rockwell hardness of 56 which will slice through meat and bone with ease.
The finely honed razor-sharp blade is corrosion and stain resistant
The 5-inch handle is made from polypropylene, a resilient synthetic material, and the triple riveted full tang adds to the overall strength and durability of this cleaver knife.
The handle makes the cleaver comfortable to use and gives the knife an excellent balance.
The range of uses for this German made cleaver knife is impressive.
From chopping through bone to precision trimming of meat, cracking open coconuts to mincing garlic, its repertoire is extremely versatile.
- Lifetime warranty – WÜSTHOF knives carry a lifetime guarantee against manufacturer’s defects
- High carbon steel blade – the blade is 20% sharper than average knives
- Precision edge technology – ensures a sharper blade with twice the edge retention
- Contoured handle – this provides a comfortable grip and gives confidence to the use of the cleaver knife
- Expensive – the cost is a reflection of the quality of the materials and manufacture, but is a lot for an amateur cook
Also available at: WÜSTHOF, Williams Sonoma
Dexter-Russell 8″ Stainless Heavy Duty Cleaver
The Dexter Russell heavy-duty cleaver will effortlessly cut through meat joints, bones, poultry and fish.
The blade is 8 inches long and made from a proprietary high carbon steel which is precision ground for durability.
Its unique edge geometry ensures excellent edge retention and consistent performance, which is restored with every sharpening.
An elegant rosewood handle appeals to those who prefer the tradition of a wooden handled knife.
It is comfortable and durable, while at 8 inches also has a high degree of functionality.
The handle will last as long as the blade, provided the cleaver knife is properly cared for and maintained.
The balance of the cleaver is what makes it a highly efficient and useful tool in the kitchen.
Unlike most utensils, the cleaver is meant to pack a punch, but it is also capable of precision slicing, chopping and mincing. A truly versatile piece of kitchen equipment.
- Unique edge geometry – providing superior edge retention and performance restoration after every sharpening
- Durable tough blade – sustains repeated heavy use but also provides precision and flexibility
- Rosewood handle – for traditionalists who prefer wooden handles
- Limited lifetime warranty – warranty dependent on the knife being properly used and maintained
Also available at: Dexter Russell Cutlery, Restaurant Supply
HENCKELS 6″ Meat Cleaver
Although manufactured in Spain, this 6” meat cleaver by Henckels is made with high quality German stainless steel.
The fully forged rectangular construction features a straight transition from blade to handle.
This ensures a balance to this cleaver which facilitates effortless cutting through meat, poultry and bone.
For more precision and confident cutting, the fine V edge is perfect.
The ergonomic, exposed tang handle is made from a black matte plastic and is triple riveted for strength and durability and measures just under 5 inches.
This handle allows fatigue free use, while the satin finish blade itself is finely honed to deliver consistent sharpness.
The blade is formed from stain resistant carbon steel which has been hot drop forged for durability.
The cleaver is dishwasher safe, but hand washing is recommended.
There is a hole in the cleaver to allow convenient hanging and easy access when needed.
- Made from high quality German steel – a stain resistant and forged steel
- Precision cutting – the V edge is ideal for exact cutting and mincing while being easy to sharpen
- Ergonomic handle – the handle is comfortable and allows for tireless chopping
- Lesser quality steel than some other similar knives
- Handle is narrower and shallower than some of Henckels other knives
Also available at:Zwilling, Target
SHI BA ZI ZUO Heavy Duty Cleaver
For heavy-duty chopping jobs in your kitchen, this heavy-duty cleaver from Shi Ba Zi Zuo is just what you need.
It is made from 40Cr13 stainless steel with a hardness rating between 55-57, being manufactured under a hot forging process. This gives the blade its strength and performance.
The weight of the knife is around 2.2 pounds, giving it incredible heft to deal with all kinds of meat, poultry, fish and large bones.
Part of the reason for its increased weight is that the blade extends into the handle for enhanced balance and stability.
The elegant handle is made from rosewood and features an extended finger guard for added comfort and safety.
A double beveled blade edge which is set at 45-50°gives excellent sharpness and durability while allowing equal use by right and left-handed people.
It can be sharpened with an appropriate sharpening tool to maintain the cleaver’s performance.
Cleaning is best done after every use under running water and the knife stored in a clean, dry place.
- Ideal for chopping bones and large meat joints – the weight of the cleaver and hardness of the blade make it a heavy-duty cleaver for tough chopping jobs
- Strong thick blade – the blade has a hardness rating of between 55-57
- Extended handle for balance and comfort – the rosewood handle is triple riveted for durability and strength
- Weight – the cleaver weighs around 2 pounds, so may be tiring for some people to use for any length of time
Also available at: KMart
Utopia Kitchen 7 Inches Cleaver Knife
If you need a good cleaver knife without spending a lot, then the Utopia 7 inch cleaver may be just what you need.
It is an unpretentious addition to your knife collection but will still pull its weight when it comes to chopping, dicing and mincing.
The blade is made from quality stainless steel and built to meet the demands of most kitchens.
It cuts and chops with ease through meat, poultry, fish and vegetables, although it may struggle with larger bones.
However, it is a sturdy and durable cleaver knife for its price bracket.
An ergonomic and comfortable handle makes slicing and chopping easy and quick while minimizing wrist tension.
The blade is corrosion and rust resistant and also very easy to clean.
- Ergonomic handle – making it comfortable and stable to use
- Sharp blade – allowing precise cutting and ease of use
- Comes with a guard but no sheath for protection
- Handle can be slippery when wet
Also available at: eBay
In order to find the best cleaver knife, you need to know which features of the knife you should be looking for to help you make the right choice.
Of course, the purpose of the knife will be a main consideration, whether you are going to be using it mainly for large meat joints and bones or for poultry, fish or vegetables.
This should help you narrow down your choice. But let’s look at some of the important features of cleaver knives to help you decide.
Perhaps the most important aspect of a cleaver knife is the manufacture of the blade.
This will include the type and grade of steel used, as well as the process by which it is manufactured.
A knife that is precision made from a single piece of high carbon steel will be highly corrosion resistant and hard.
These are two important features in a cleaver knife. Unlike other kitchen knives, a cleaver is designed to be used with repeated force against tough foods such as bone.
For this reason, a high carbon, martensitic stainless steel is best for cleavers.
The edge of a cleaver knife blade will typically either be V shaped or have a bevel.
Cleaver knives with a steeply angled beveled edge are better suited for chopping large meat joints, while V edged knives can be used for vegetable slicing and dicing.
Another feature to look for is extended finger protection. This is the rear of the blade and protects against cutting from the blade edge. The larger the rear of the blade, the better the protection.
The properties for a cleaver knife blade that you can consider are the hardness, durability, edge retention and corrosion resistance.
Hardness or strength in the blade is the resistance to deformation, which in a cheaper cleaver knife might happen when chopping hard foods such as meat joints or tough fruit and vegetables.
Durability is a knife’s ability to withstand force which might otherwise cause chipping.
This might happen when chopping bone or tough materials such as coconut shells. Edge retention refers to the length of time that a cleaver knife will remain sharp before needing to be sharpened.
Corrosion resistance is a blade’s ability to resist rust or other corrosion caused by moisture, humidity or salt.
All of these elements are important features of a good cleaver knife, but will not always be achievable in one knife.
For example, a cleaver that is high in corrosion resistance will not be as high in edge performance due to the chemical makeup of the steel.
Handle Design & Material
The handle of a cleaver knife will be either a resilient plastic such as polypropylene, or it will be made from wood.
The most important feature to look for in a cleaver knife handle is comfort.
If the handle is not comfortable to hold then not only will the cleaver be unpleasant to use but in the worst case it may cause you to lose your grip. This could cause you or someone else serious injury.
The tang is the part of the blade that extends into the handle. It can be either partial or full.
A partial tang will only go halfway down the handle, but a full tang will go the length of the handle, giving better balance.
Most good cleaver knives will have three rivets which hold the tang and the handle together.
Not all knives will have rivets, but they are a sign of a good quality and solid knife.
Some handle materials can become quite slippery if it or your hands become wet.
So look for a handle design and material that offers good grip even if it becomes wet, as can happen when chopping fruit. If possible, try out the knife before you buy it to make sure that it feels comfortable in your hand.
While wooden handles such as rosewood can look very elegant and stylish, be aware that they need higher maintenance than a plastic handle.
No cleaver knife should be put in the dishwasher, but even hand washed knives can get water in the handle.
For this reason, you need to take care to dry a wooden handled knife carefully and store it in an airy place.
Many cleavers have a hole in the blade to allow it to be hung on a peg or hook rather than being stored in a drawer.
One of the most important things to think about when choosing a cleaver is the balance of the knife.
Typically, the blade will be between 6-7 inches and the handle will be about an inch or so shorter.
A full tang is going to improve the balance of the knife as the blade extends all the way down the handle.
The balance of the cleaver should enable you to not just chop tough foods, but should also allow precision slicing and cutting.
For this reason, the weight of the blade should be slightly heavier than the handle, but only slightly.
If the blade is a lot heavier, it will tip the cleaver forward and will mean only the front part of the blade is making contact with the food being prepared. This can make the knife ineffective and inefficient.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Cleaver Knife Used For?
There are several ways in which a cleaver knife can be used. Some people prefer to use their cleavers for dicing vegetables, while others prefer to use them for slicing meat or chopping bones.
However, most cleavers can also be used for precision cutting, slicing and mincing depending on the type of blade and the balance of the knife.
If you’re looking for a versatile tool, then a cleaver knife is perfect for you.
How Do I Sharpen a Cleaver Knife?
To sharpen a cleaver knife, you can use a whetstone. A factory made whetstone is manufactured from diamond, ceramic or aluminum oxide.
Naturally occurring whetstones include Skerper Arkansas sharpening stones, which are mined from the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas.
The blade of the cleaver knife is sharpened by moving it along the whetstone from the heel of the blade to the tip.
The blade is held at an angle while moving it over the sharpening stone.
It is important to maintain the same profile while sharpening, or you could damage the blade. The process is then repeated with the opposite side of the blade.
Once the blade is sharpened, it should be wiped down with a cloth to remove any metal shards and then rinsed down with water to clean it.
Why Shouldn’t I Put A Cleaver Knife In The Dishwasher?
A knife that is put in the dishwasher can be dulled or chipped by knocking against other utensils in the dishwasher.
Additionally, the salt in a dishwasher can corrode or stain the blade of your cleaver knife.
Handwashing is generally recommended, even for cleavers that can technically be cleaned in a dishwasher.
A cleaver knife is probably the biggest and most versatile knife that you will buy for your kitchen.
It needs to perform lots of functions while staying sharp and looking good. So, it’s not surprising that it can be difficult to choose just one.
The elements that you need to consider will depend on the end use of the knife, but quality in blade, handle and balance will be paramount to getting the best out of your new cleaver knife.
There are a lot of options when it comes to buying a cleaver knife, and the choices can seem bewildering.
But by following the advice and information in our guide, the task of buying a good cleaver knife should be much easier. Happy chopping!