Best Meat Cleaver – Chef’s and Butcher’s Cleaver Knives for Chopping Meats and Vegetables

Cleavers are used for cutting beef, lamb, pork, fish, poultry, and bones with much less effort than normal knives. The challenge is that there are just too many cleavers out there with so many promises. Can you possibly, as a consumer, determine which one to buy, based on what you see and read? This is why we have taken the time and pains to review five of the best meat cleaver brands and the various cleavers they make, to make your buying decision easier. You can now read this review with some confidence that you stand a better chance of making a great buy. Remember, these brands have more in their kitty than just the products we have reviewed here.

For our featured products, our goal was to provide a variety of options, at a mixture of price points. This is because we understand that not every home cook and chef can afford a top-of-the-line blade or an antique meat cleaver. As a result, this meant that some superior quality knife brands didn’t make our list. For example, Dalstrong is definitely worth your consideration if you have at least $100 to spend. And for those of you looking for a giant meat cleaver, you will want to see their 9" Gladiator Series Obliterator Meat Cleaver.

If you are in the market for Chef’s quality Asian cleavers or Damascus steal meat cleavers, we recommend looking at the KYOKU Daimyo Series Japanese VG10 Steel Core Forged Damascus Blade or the TUO Cutlery Japanese AUS-10 Damascus Steel Hammered Finish Cleaver. Both of these knives are not only beautiful to work with, but also to look at. And finally, we want to give a shout out to the Zelite Infinity German High Carbon Stainless Steel Cleaver. This razor sharp forged blade will cost about $50, but it is well worth the investment.

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Overview
PROS
CONS
SPECS
Style
Blade
Material
Handle
Weight
Our Top Choice
Dexter-Russell Heavy Duty Meat Cleaver
Dexter-Russel inherited a culture of cutlery manufacturing excellence from two of America’s legendary cutlery companies and has continued in that tradition with this cleaver.
Comfortable wood handle. Very sharp blades. Ideal weight for smashing hard bones.
Could rust easily. Wooden handle has a tendency to break easily.
Heavy duty
8 inches/Flat blade
Carbon steel
Rosewood
2.5 lbs
Best Value
Utopia Kitchen Stainless Steel Cleaver Knife
A top-rated manufacturer of lifestyle products, Utopia Deals’ kitchen line produces cleavers like the Heavy Duty Cleaver, which is safe and durable with quality blades that don't dull easily.
Well priced. Has good balance, weighing a little more towards the blade end. It’s very sharp and can cut through nearly anything.
The blade thickens from sharp end to blunt side, causing vegetables to break open rather than slicing cleanly. Sometimes comes unsharpened.
Heavy duty
7 inches/Flat blade
Solid Stainless steel
ABS plastic grip
1.1 lbs
Global One Piece Solid Meat Cleaver
Japanese sword-smiths, 1,000 years ago, developed the superior art of sword making, providing strong, sharp blades for the Samurai. This Cleaver G-12 by Global embodies this art.
Perfect weight balance. Cuts through bones easily.
This cleaver can become brittle over time.
Lightweight
6.5 inches/Square blade
Solid Stainless steel
Steel 1 Piece Design
1.3 lbs
High Carbon Japanese Cleaver Knife
If you are looking for a cleaver backed by a no-questions-asked lifetime warranty, then you should go for Product Stop products. This sturdy cleaver is designed to last a lifetime.
Stays sharp for very long periods. Well priced. Attractive.  A continuous sheet of stainless steel throughout; no joins.
Very light. Not good for very hard stuff.
Heavy duty
7 inches/Flat blade
Titanium
Steel
0.85 lbs
Winco Heavy Duty Meat Cleaver
Winco has enjoyed growing nationwide patronage through its innovative product offerings, exemplified by the Winco Heavy Duty Cleaver.
Very durable. Well priced.
Blade dulls when used to crack very strong bones.
Heavy duty
8 inches/Flat blade
Stainless steel
Wood
0.93 lbs

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What Is the Best Meat Cleaver Knife to Buy? Read Our Meat Cleaver Reviews!

Determining the best cleaver can be very tough, depending on your tastes and needs. So, we counsel that as you read through these reviews, you pay attention to the various features of the brands and their products and determine which serves your needs the best.

Related: 5 Unique Kitchen Gadgets You Didn’t Realize You Needed!
Our Top Choice
Dexter-Russel has continued to deliver to its customers across the United States top class cutlery, with the 8" Stainless Heavy Duty Cleaver in line with this unbroken reputation. Dexter-Russel has a variety of cleaver styles and sizes. Another popular choice is the 7" Stainless Steal Sani-Safe Series Cleaver, available with wood grain or white handle.

Dexter-Russell Traditional Series 8" Stainless Heavy Duty Cleaver - Built with Enough Heft to Smash Bone and Meat Easily


Features

Dexter-Russell, with ancestors like the Harrington Cutlery Company and the John Russell Cutlery Company, both known for excellence in cutlery, has continued this tradition, churning out cutlery that exceed expectations. It has become the largest maker of professional cutlery in the United States.

The Dexter Russell Traditional 8" Stainless Heavy Duty Cleaver does the job of cutting beef, lamb, pork, fish, poultry, and bones very well. This cleaver, like all cleavers produced by Dexter-Russel, saves you from breaking your kitchen knives while chopping meat.

This cleaver also features:

  • Quality blade shape for easier slicing
  • Uniquely designed edge geometry for durable, easily restored performance
  • Hand honed for a great edge
  • Polished rosewood handle aids comfort and functionality
  • Durable handles that require minimal maintenance if cared for properly
  • Large brass compression rivets

Dexter-Russel cleavers are made of stainless steel blade, high-carbon steel blade or a patented Dexsteel blade built with enough weight to smash bone and meat easily.

Best Value
Utopia Kitchen’s pledge to always produce top-class, affordable lifestyle products has resulted in this Cleaver Knife made from 100% solid stainless steel – from tip to handle. Want to keep the blade sharp? Consider adding the highly rated Utopia Kitchen Honing Steel and Sharpening Rod.

7” Vegetable and Meat Cleaver - Comfort Handle, High Carbon Stainless Steel Chef's Chopping Knife, Heavy Duty for Home, Kitchen and Restaurant


Features

Utopia Kitchen, an innovative retail company, strives to serve its customers by providing well-priced and top-quality products. Its variety of lifestyle products meets the needs of its well-defined customer segments.

The Utopia Kitchen Stainless Steel Cleaver Knife is a top-rated, heavy duty stainless steel chopper with safe, long-lasting and superior blades. The very sharp blade and perfect weight combine to make cutting meat and large items like melons and pineapples almost effortless.

See here some of the other reasons we have selected this cleaver:

  • 7-inch size means the knife cuts easily through very thick pieces of food
  • Safe for dishwasher
  • ABS+430 handle makes for easy grip and hassle-free movements
  • Made of superior quality stainless steel blade which holds an ultra-sharp edge delivering lasting and superior cutting performance
  • The blade is tarnish-resistant and rust-resistant
  • Easy to clean

This cleaver comes with Utopia Kitchen’s full, no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee.

Global, following a tradition of over 1,000 years, produced the 16cm Cleaver with thin blades (for a lightweight cleaver), giving you more agility with less fatigue. If you are shopping for more than a cleaver and want excellent quality knives, we recommend checking out the Global 3 Piece Starter Set. It includes a chef's knife, chef's utility knife, and a paring knife made from the same high-tech CROMOVA stainless steel as the cleaver.

Global 6 ½ inch Solid Construction Stainless Steel Meat Cleaver - Designed By Legendary Designer Komin Yamada


Features

Global prides itself in the production of knives whose blades embody the famed sharpness of the swords used by the Samurai, the feared Japanese warrior caste.

The Global Meat Cleaver is the commercial meat cutter’s trusted companion with its very sharp blades sharpened by hand at a 15% angle. This means that meat and bones are cut through with much less difficulty and to perfection.

This cleaver, like all of Global’s cleavers, possess the following:

  • Square-bladed design to butcher and cut through bones
  • Made entirely of high-tech molybdenum/vanadium stainless steel for durability
  • Hollow handle, weighted for balance
  • Black synthetic grips prevent slipping when chopping meat and bones
  • Lightweight, guaranteeing agility
  • Dishwasher safe (though hand washing is recommended)
  • Edge retains razor sharpness remarkably well

This cleaver has a no-bolster design, allowing for full edge use and full-blade sharpening. 

Product Stop is known for making products that come with lifetime, money-back guarantees. The Professional Cleaver Knife is a multipurpose knife for chopping and dicing which lives up to that expectation. Looking for a higher end Japanese cleaver? Take a look at the Shogun Series of Damascus steel blades from Dalstrong. You will be happy you did, even if just dreaming!

Professional Stainless Steel Butcher Knife - Heavy Duty Japanese Meat Cleaver Slicing Knife


Features

Product Stop, founded by a Harvard alumnus 12 years ago, was established out of an intense desire to stop the selling of cheap and overpriced products to unsuspecting customers. It has delivered on this promise ever since, selling its products exclusively on Amazon.

The Product Stop Inc. Japanese Cleaver Knife is a professional stainless steel butcher knife designed and built to last a lifetime. With a 7-inch size, it is perfect for chopping fruits, vegetables, herbs, meats, poultry and fish.
Here are some of its other features:

  • Dishwasher safe
  • Tarnish and rust resistant
  • Big, full steel handle with seamless bonded and polished bolsters improve grip
  • Designed to be non-slip

If for any reason you are not satisfied with any of Product Stop’s cleavers, you are covered by a 100% money-back guarantee.

Winco’s commitment to assisting their customers through quality products and competitive pricing has led to the manufacture of the Winco Meat Cleaver. This 8" cleaver is made of stainless steel. If you are more interested in an Asian style cleaver, you might like the Winco Chinese Cleaver with Stainless Steel Handle instead!

Winco 8" Heavy Duty Chinese Cleaver with Wooden Handle - Corrosion Resistant Stainless Steel


Features

Established in 1992, Winco, a manufacturer and global importer of kitchen and table ware, has dedicated itself to providing professional chefs and restaurateurs with top notch products and services.

The Winco Heavy Duty Cleaver with Wooden Handle is made of highly corrosion-resistant stainless steel. It has the right weight necessary for cutting through soft and hard stuff.

You should consider its other features to help with your decision making:

  • Wooden handle for comfortable and pain-free grip
  • Handle length of 5" which distributes its weight efficiently
  • Blade length measures 8" long and 3.5" wide, enabling it to cut through very thick meats and bones with one strike
  • Dishwasher safe

Best Cleaver for Chopping Meat and Vegetables Guide – What to Look for in a Butcher Cleaver or Chef’s Meat Cleaver

Slashing through bones or tough vegetables requires a sufficient amount of energy and momentum. Aside from a good-quality meat tenderizer, a meat clever is the only kitchen appliance designed to be swung around like a hammer, which puts it on the list of the few chef knives that are tough enough to survive the daily abuse of hacking through animal bones, taking apart chickens, mincing meat, or chopping hearty vegetables. While a serrated knife can come in handy when cutting through those steaks, nothing beats a reliable meat cleaver, especially when it comes to separating wings or cutting through a thick roast.

With its large, rectangular blade offset from the handle, the force is transmitted to the cleaver’s blade to prevent the user from knocking their hands against the cutting board or table while chopping. Also, the blades are heavier and wider than those of other knives, and this generates enough momentum required to chop through large chunks of food in one easy cut.

Aside from all the chopping, the wider side of the cleaver helps in crushing ingredients such as ginger and garlic during food preparation, while the blunt side of the blade can be used in place of the traditional meat tenderizer to tenderize meats. To enjoy a variety of meat recipes, do not forget to invest in a good grinder to help you grind those ingredients.

So, how do you choose the best meat cleaver? When shopping for a cleaver, it is good to bear in mind that this tool is used more like a hammer than a slicing tool, so its edges do not have to be particularly sharp. Well, it’s true that a cutting edge has to be maintained, but it needn’t be carefully honed like that of a chef’s knife.

Let’s look deeper into some of the factors to consider when shopping for a cleaver before diving into our picks.

Video: How to Use a Meat Cleaver

Using a Cleaver for Heavy Duty Cutting. | Courtesy of The Denver Post
Price

Quality is paramount when choosing a meat cleaver. Every chef knows that low-quality or unreliable knives can be risky in any situation, so you may want to avoid very cheap meat cleavers that will not stand all the daily abuse that you intend to subject it to – one particular safety issue with low-quality cleavers is that the blade might come loose from the handle while you are swinging it down. You definitely want a high-quality product that will last you a long time. Prepare to spend between $10 and $230 for a good-quality cleaver, with the price depending on the features of the cleaver and the materials it is made of. For instance, you will pay more for cleavers that are completely made of stainless steel, compared to those made of other materials.

Features

Despite its versatility, there is one thing that the meat cleaver does best, compared to any other hand tool – breaking large, difficult chunks of food into smaller, manageable pieces. But, be very careful not to choose the wrong tool or you will make cutting meat seem like a real chore.

Here are some of the features that you should prioritize:

  • Material – In the past, meat cleavers were mainly made of carbon steel – which is known to acquire rust pretty quickly. Today, cleavers come in different materials, including carbon steel, stainless steel, and titanium, among others. Cleavers made of stainless steel are preferred, due to their lightweight nature and the fact that they are dishwasher safe and durable.
  • Blade – The blade of a meat cleaver is meant to be slightly dull, as its efficiency relies more on its weight and the user’s swing, rather than the blade’s sharpness.
  • Size – Most cleavers come with a 15cm (6-inch) blade made of either stainless steel or high-carbon steel. Go for a wider blade for tougher meat and a narrower blade for softer meat.
  • Handle –You will find cleavers with the handle and blade fused as one piece, and others with an attached plastic or wooden handle.
Construction and Design

There are many options when it comes to choosing the right cleaver for your needs. Chinese cleavers, for instance, are thinner and more delicate. They are ideal for cutting both meat and vegetables, but are not good for splitting bones. Western cleavers, on the other hand, have a thick spine and are ideal for poultry and meat. They are excellent for cutting tough food or bone!

Here are other construction and design considerations that you should make when buying a cleaver:

Design

Meat cleavers are the kitchen’s machete. Well, to be able to cut through animals’ thick meat, bones, cartilage, and sinews, you will need a solid blade that can perform the task with just a single swing. As a rule of thumb, it is better to go for a heavier meat cleaver!

Blade

As mentioned above, a cleaver is specially designed to be slightly blunt, as a razor-sharp blade will make it fragile. A fairly blunt edge increases the lifespan and capability of the blade.

Commercial cleavers are made using one of two techniques – stamping and forging:

Forged blade

A forged blade is made by roughly shaping a heated steel bar under a drop hammer, making the steel take massive pressure. The blade then goes through honing and grinding to attain the final shape and smoothness. While forged cleavers are known to be more expensive than stamped ones, they are stronger, heavier, and thicker. They also have a shaft between the heel and the handle and offer better balance.

Stamped Blade

A stamped blade is made by cutting a flat steel sheet into a suitable blade using a hydraulic press. Thereafter, the blade blanks are sharpened by going through multiple grinding and honing steps. Stamped blades do not have a shaft between the heel and the handle, and do not offer the same balance as their forged counterparts. They are thinner, lighter, and less expensive than the forged ones.

Video: Sharpening a Meat Cleaver

How to Sharpen a Meat Cleaver. | Courtesy of Ghayaz Ud Deen
Performance and Ease of Use

A cleaver does not work like a regular kitchen knife, which uses less power to make precision cuts. This tool is designed for heavy-duty tasks, so spending a little extra for a rustproof blade and sturdy handle can go a long way, especially in a setting where cooking large meals is the norm. The handle should not cause redness or any discomfort on your hands! It should also be ergonomically designed to safeguard the wrist and provide powerful cutting action without excessive weight.

Many meat cleavers come with perforated grips to prevent slipping and potential injuries, while also reducing fatigue from continuous use. Also, choose a cleaver with a built-in hole to allow easy rack or wall hanging, as something of its size could take up quite a bit of space in the cutlery drawer. Storing it in a knife block will also ensure there is minimal damage!

As for caring for the cleaver, the most important thing is to protect the blade when cleaning and storing. While there are some dishwasher-safe models, the best way to wash your cleaver is by hand, using warm, soapy water. And, always remember to dry meticulously before storage – even stainless steel is prone to rust!


Get the Best Meat Cleaver of 2021!

Now that you have taken the time to read this review, we trust that you are better equipped with the information you need to buy the best meat cleaver for your cooking adventures. Our list has a perfect cleaver for every chef, but you are free to check out other alternatives from the same brands.

Our Top Choice
Dexter-Russell Heavy Duty Meat Cleaver
Best Value
Utopia Kitchen Stainless Steel Cleaver Knife
Global One Piece Solid Meat Cleaver
High Carbon Japanese Cleaver Knife
Winco Heavy Duty Meat Cleaver

Meat Cleaver FAQs

What is a meat cleaver?
A meat cleaver is a large knife that looks like a hatchet with a rectangular blade. It is excellent for cutting lean meat in the butchery or the kitchen. Other uses include cutting onions and crushing garlic.
How to use a meat cleaver?
Before using a meat cleaver, set up the cutting board so that it is sturdy. That way, it wouldn’t slide around while you are using it. It would help if you relied on the weight of the knife and cut the food steadily. In the case of meat, put it on the chopping board with the other hard far away. Then chop the meat using a little more strength.
How to sharpen a meat cleaver?
To sharpen a meat cleaver, use a 300-grit Japanese whetstone if the knife is slightly sharp. Start sharpening from the heel to the toe on one side and move on to the other side. When you finish sharpening, wipe down the meat cleaver before use. If your cleaver is blunt, sharpen at an angle of 22.5 degrees so that the sharpness can remain durable. It would be best if you kept sharpening until the meat cleaver is adequately sharp.