How do you choose the best meat cleaver?
Great question, as whilst they all seem pretty similar there are actually a lot of differences in quality from brand to brand which is why I reveal the top 3 meat cleavers here.
But just a reminder of why you need one...
You’ll find an array of knives that will be useful in dicing up chicken, beef and other thick morsels of food and knives that are purpose-built to chop up meat cleanly and hygienically such as; a fillet knife, a paring knife, a chef’s knife...and a meat cleaver.
The latter of which is probably the most important for slicing and dicing meat, as well as giving you the dexterity to remove unwanted organs from your raw cuts.
However, even if you’re not a gourmet chef at a three-star rated Michelin restaurant, you can’t beat the durability and dexterity of a good cleaver.
A solid and resilient cleaver will be able to cut through muscle, tissue and bone like butter. It should also be very hygienic and easy to clean in the dishwasher.
Ideally, a cleaver should only be used for the additional slicing and dicing work, allowing you to segment up the meat before moving on to using smaller tools for the intricate work of measuring your cuts.
The cleaver is the no-nonsense approach to cutting meat and thicker vegetables, this is why they have lengthier and sharper blades.
But where can you find the best meat cleavers?
What features and what materials should a meat cleaver be made out of to give you the quickest, most efficient and cleanest cut of meat?
How much can you be expected to pay for a decent meat cleaver in terms of price?
Well, chefs and advanced home cooks the world over can rest easy, because we’ve compiled a list of some of the best meat cleavers currently on the market here...
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
Our first meat cleaver is one designed by the very reputable brand Dexter-Russell, known for manufacturing high-quality utensils at affordable prices.
Judging by the number of positive reviews this cleaver has received, it seems like they haven’t dropped their standards, weighing in at just over 2 pounds with a rosewood handle and a carbon steel blade - introducing the Dexter-Russell 7-inch Stainless Cleaver.
This cleaver represents the traditional kind that we’ve all seen in many professional kitchens.
It comes made from a carbon steel blade that is one of the most durable materials on the planet, with a flat handle that you can also use for various other applications such as crushing garlic cloves or other herbs and spices.
The rosewood handle is not only very attractive to look at and will blend in with the surroundings of your kitchen, but it is also incredibly durable and thick, giving you the ideal amount of control. This will be incredibly important when chopping meat and other tough foodstuffs.
- The smooth blade is very easy to clean and the whole thing is dishwasher safe. When it comes to having a good cleaver, you’ll want something that reduces bacteria from one use to the next.
- The carbon steel - this is an incredibly durable substance, it can withstand years, even decades of slicing without fracture or breaking, although you will have to sharpen it periodically.
- The rosewood handle is very easy to grip and won’t cause the cleaver to slip out of your hand when wet.
- The weight - this is a very light cleaver, which makes it great to chop and wield. The composition of the blade will ensure that it cuts through meat easily.
- This blade might be too unwieldy in the handle for users that have smaller hands and would prefer something they can have more control over.
Our next cleaver is slightly smaller than the first, although there is a 7-inch version of this blade available.
However, the sharpness of it will still make short work of both poultry and beef bones, meaning that you’ll be able to prep all your ingredients ready for stew, bone broth or just a decent Sunday dinner - introducing the Messermeister Four Seasons Handcrafted Heavy Meat Cleaver.
The blade has a 3 and three-quarter inch width that can also be used for crushing garlic and other herbs and spices, ready to add to your meal.
The handle is made from molded polypropylene, which means that you can clean and wash it a lot easier. This plastic material is known for its resistance to bacteria and grime.
The carbon alloy steel is remarkably durable, you can be chopping chunks of pork and beef for hours and still not notice any diminishing in the quality of your cuts.
The curved blade makes chopping much easier and it even has a hole in the top so you can hang it along with all of your other cutlery once you are done with it.
- This cleaver is made from stainless steel and with a polypropylene handle, so you can be sure that it will be able to resist a lot of wear and tear and will not accumulate bacteria over time.
- You can easily store this cleaver in your backpack or in a chef’s briefcase, which will be very important if you’re carrying your knives from one kitchen to another.
- The blade comes with a handy hole in the blade that will allow you to hang it up once you have finished using it.
- The handle is thick and molded to be comfortable enough to be used by most hand shapes. It gives the user optimum control over their slicing technique.
- The polypropylene handle might be slightly more abrasive than a traditional lacquered wooden handle.
Our next cleaver is another 6-inch model that will be easy to store in a modest-sized kitchen.
This manufacturer uses precision technology to ensure that this blade has a cutting edge of over 20 percent sharper than your average cleaver with a whopping 200 percent improvement on sharpness retention - introducing the Wusthof Classic Cleaver.
This cleaver has a unique 14-degree cutting angle that makes it ideal for cutting through hard bone.
The increased sharpness retention will mean you can keep cutting for much longer, which will allow you to get through more meat per ounce, which will certainly be important if you’re prepping and cooking to a tight schedule.
The level of detail that has gone into the making of this blade is incredible, with a finishing polish delivered by a master craftsman in Germany before being shipped out.
With the high-precision construction and the high-carbon stainless steel blade, you can’t get much better than this cleaver.
- The 20 percent added sharpness elevates the functionality of this blade way over all the others. The increased sharpness retention also gives this knife a much longer lifespan.
- This knife is adaptable for both delicate cutting and more intensive hacking. Its versatility will be crucial if you’re thinking about switching between different varieties of meat.
- The final buffing of the blade shows that this cleaver is the product of a lot of love and attention - the hundreds of positive reviews from users are a testament to that.
- The high carbon stainless steel blade is ideal for anyone who wants to cut a lot of meat in a relatively short space of time, keeping it clean and hygienic in between slices.
- Another polypropylene handle that might not suit people who are accustomed to the smoothness and flexibility of a wooden handle.
This next cleaver is certainly a heavy-duty one and judging by the literally thousands of positive reviews on Amazon, you can be certain that it is up to the task of slicing and dicing your meat and vegetables.
This cleaver is made from the very unique and durable manganese steel, with the handle and blade merged without soldering - introducing the XYJ Full Tang Butcher Knife.
This knife is handmade from the very best steel in the world, merging in the handle as one single piece, allowing you to exert as much force as possible.
The knives are sharpened manually and are not allowed to leave the factory without passing rigorous quality control tests.
The handmade quality of this blade means that it will serve you well over time without breaking.
It also comes with a leather knife sheath that will enable you to keep your knife clean and hygienic, which is very important for cutting raw meat.
- This blade comes with an ergonomic handle that will suit most hand shapes. Very often a lot of chefs and home cooks find it difficult to wield a blade with a handle that is too thick and not molded to the standard hand shapes.
- The length and shape of this cleaver are hefty, you’ll only have to take one look at it to realize that it is more than capable of chopping the toughest meats.
- The handle and blade are merged into one piece, which means you can exert as much pressure on it as you like without worrying about it coming apart.
- The handle of this blade is non-slip, which is perfect if you’re planning on using it to excavate particularly messy innards and bloody organs.
- Some users have reported that the handle of this cleaver can bend after one too many uses.
Our final cleaver is a very sharp blade that is a good all-round performer, with high-carbon steel construction that is very balanced in the handle and the blade.
This results in a cleaver that doesn’t feel too unwieldy and heavy in the head, giving you more control when chopping a variety of meats or vegetables - introducing Manual Forging Chef’s Meat Cleaver.
You can ensure that your meat slices come out neat and clean, resulting in a hygienic cut, crucial for a restaurant environment.
The shape and metal of this blade are made all the more robust by repeated recasting and reforging, with high-quality hardness.
The front is perfect for slicing and the back ideal for chopping, making it a very versatile cleaver.
The blade is forged using ancient techniques, resulting in a handle and blade composition that has centuries of reliability tried and tested through many generations.
This cleaver comes with a traditional wooden handle, which is very easy to grip and maneuver through thick and thin pieces of meat.
- This blade comes made from hand-forged high-carbon steel, which will certainly appeal to those chefs who want to maintain that semblance of traditional cuisine.
- The blade is handcrafted to ensure that it is well-balanced in both the blade and the handle. This is very important for having a knife that isn’t too unwieldy.
- The handle itself is constructed from wood, allowing you to hold it firmly. It also has great non-slip properties, which makes it perfect for persevering when things get messy in the kitchen.
- You can’t slice and chop vegetables as well as meat, making this item one of the most versatile cleavers on this list. This will also appeal to someone who doesn’t want to spend too much money on multiple utensils.
- Some users have complained that this cleaver has trouble chopping bone. This might deter more experienced chefs who want a cleaver that can handle any substance.
Best Meat Cleaver Buying Guide
Buying a new cleaver is not always as easy as it first seems, as you’ll really need to think about the level of cutting that you’ll be doing as well as how frequently you’ll be using your blade.
If you are a chef at a local restaurant and anticipate that you’ll be cooking food repeatedly throughout the day, then you’ll probably be wanting a more durable blade that comes as a one-piece with a handle. You will also want a blade that is easy to clean and sharpen.
What Is The Width Of Your Cleaver Blade?
It is common to have a blade width of around 6 to 8-inches, although certain manufacturers have blade widths that can go up to 16-inches. If you have a longer width, then you’ll be able to better chop through large meats with a single downward stroke.
If you have larger hands, then you’ll also be looking for a cleaver with a much thicker handle. This will give you greater control over your blade and that extra precision when chopping and slicing.
What Is The Height Of Your Blade?
The blade height shouldn’t cause you as much worry as your blade width, and many cleavers come in radically different heights. Most of the cleaver blades you’ve seen on the list above come in the traditional square shape, although you can get other blades that are longer and slimmer.
The blade height only matters if you are thinking of cutting in a straight line through beef or poultry, as it will determine the length and the straightness of your cuts.
How Balanced Is Your Cleaver?
The balance of your cleaver will all depend on the kind of chopping and dicing that you’ll be doing. The length and weight of the handle need to be proportionate to the length and weight of the blade, as this might lead it to feel top-heavy and harder to control.
The balance of your cleaver should be accurately weighted to allow for a smooth cutting motion, allowing you to hit that spot you're aiming for with the highest level of precision.
What Is The Overall Weight Of Your Cleaver?
The overall weight of your cleaver is a lot different from the balance and will depend a lot more on the length of your arm rather than the length and grip in your hand. If your arm is long and your overall cleaver weight too heavy, then it might be difficult to use.
However, you don’t want your cleaver to be too light, as it needs to have the heft to strike forcefully into cartilage, bone and muscle with one single strike.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Best Type Of Steel For Your Cleaver?
The best type of steel for a cleaver is traditionally German or Japanese, as both are very resilient and manufactured to the highest degree.
Some of the blades listed above have a very high carbon count, which makes them very durable and easy to clean. Having a stainless steel cleaver will also give you a heightened level of hygiene, which is invaluable in any kitchen.
Some blades are heat treated and then cooled to make them a lot stronger, and the best blades are usually hewn from one billet of stainless steel alloy. You must take care to dry a stainless steel blade, as it will succumb to corrosion from exposure to water over time.