We here at ALOM would be willing to wager that if you’ve made it this far on your search for the perfect cleaver knife that you probably have a drawer full of speciality knives at home too. But we can’t blame you for wanting to add a cleaver knife to your collection. After all, they are some of the most versatile knives you can have in your kitchen. They are no longer just for butchers and meat lovers, and we are sure you have noticed that the cleaver knife has gained a cult following as an excellent all-rounder and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. People are learning that Julienne cut vegetables are a breeze with such a large and broad blade, as is producing the perfectly fine cubes of a brunoise.
And it doesn’t matter if you are looking to take your knife skills to the next level or if you are just looking for your next collection piece, we have found the perfect knives to suit whatever you are looking for. So rather than spending the next few hours researching the differences in steel hardness and blade angles, let us do that work for you and save yourself a bunch of time (and money!) by checking out the best we could find online.
Best Budget Pick
Winco 8″ Heavy Duty Chinese Cleaver with Wooden Handle
If you are looking to dip your toes into using a cleaver knife in and around your kitchen, then you might want to start with an affordable option. This offering from Winco is exceptionally well priced and will give you an excellent taste of what you can expect with almost all the other cleavers on this list. Its wooden handle provides ample grip as well as looks stylish amongst your other knives. Triple-riveted for greater durability, you are unlikely to find a single fault with this handle.
The blade itself is the traditional Chinese style shape, benefitting from centuries of refinement amongst some of the best cooks in history. Slightly curved at the edge to help cleave through tough ingredients, the blade is well-shaped and is likely to last you a long time cutting hard vegetables and with careful use on hard bones.
Best Beginner Pick
Victorinox Cleaver 7″
Synonymous with quality, this Victorinox cleaver is no exception to the great brand that they have managed to build. We are all familiar with these types of knives, with their emphasis on ease of use and safety. This synthetic handle is present along the entire line of Victorinox cleavers and is the product of decades of research into the best shape and texture for new cooks and professionals alike.
The blade on this cleaver knife is slightly shorter in stature than the others on this list, but just like every other thing in the knife world, that is entirely down to preference. The edge itself is excellently durable and is sure to stand up to some of the toughest tasks in the kitchen. Its lightweight nature means that although you might need a little more muscle power to cleave through some bones, you will have much greater control when it comes to common vegetable tasks such as slicing and dicing. This was deservedly the runner up to our favourite knife on this list!
Best Small-Sized Cleaver Knife for Tiny Hands
Mac Knife Japanese Series Vegetable Cleaver, 6-1/2-Inch, 6.5 Inch, Silver
Sometimes a huge cleaver shaped knife can get in the way, or maybe it’s simply just too much to handle for slightly more petite hands. In that case, you want to find a great middle ground. This vegetable cleaver has all of the same benefits that a traditional cleaver has like a squared blade and familiar shape, whilst being much smaller. This is a great option for people with dexterity issues too, as it is much lighter and can be used by even the most dextrously challenged individuals.
We must consider, however, that due to its smaller size it may not be fully suitable for heavy chopping tasks such as hard bone and squash. For those applications, you need a lot more weight to cleave through the dense material. So if it is butchery you are hoping to accomplish, we recommend looking at another on this list.
Best Heavy Duty Cleaver Knife
ZWILLING Pro 6-inch Meat Cleaver
There are many reasons that you would need a cleaver knife, but none more so than for heavy-duty work like breaking down bones and carcasses. For these types of kitchen jobs, you need a partner that is built to last, and this pro-grade 6-inch option from ZWILLING is a perfect choice. Its ice-hardened blade ensures that when it cleaves straight through bone and into your work surface it stays sharp. And when we say it cleaves, it really does! The laser edging technique employed for this knife creates a perfect angle that has been torture-tested for years by ZWILLING to produce not only the best cuts but the easiest.
Its extremely thick blade adds some much-needed heft to such a heavy-duty cleaver, meaning that you can let gravity do most of the work in your kitchen, saving your arms for other tasks like whisking (which no one really likes).
Best Workhorse Cleaver Knife
ZHEN Japanese VG-10
A striking entry into this roundup, this Japanese 3-layer steel cleaver knife is an excellent all-rounder that is half cleaver and half chef knife. The similar shape of the blade to a cleaver lets it accomplish every task that the cleaver can and more. Its curvature allows for rock chopping far more than a traditional flat cleaver edge and so there is no downtime between different cuts in your kitchen. The thermo-rubber handle is excellent for reducing slippage due to moisture and will make sure that you use it safely and efficiently regardless of how sweaty you might be getting.
Best Easy Cleaning Cleaver Knife
Wüsthof Classic Cleaver – 6″
Just like Victorinox before this, Wüsthof is also regarded as a top-tier knife maker, with some of their knives being the blade of choice for chefs all around the world. This knife, in particular, is an excellent cleaver, with a length of 6″ and made using their specialized techniques that allow for a claimed 20% sharper cutting edge and twice as long edge retention.
But the main benefit of this knife is found in its handle. Made of a synthetic material that is also triple rivetted to the blade, it takes no issue with strong cleaning methods and won’t bat an eye if you are constantly wiping and soaking it. Just be careful that you don’t send it for a trip in the dishwasher, knives are prone to chipping and corrosion when subjected to the jets of a home dishwasher.
Best Traditional Pick
Mercer Culinary Kitchen Cleaver, 6 Inch
If you are looking for a no-frills option, then this is it. Simply put it is just high carbon German steel with a robust handle that will be sure to last you years to come. The entirety of the tang makes its way to the end of the handle and provides an excellent amount of heft for cleaving through anything you can think.
If that wasn’t enough to persuade you, Mercer supplies most of the culinary institutions in the US and is a proven producer of quality equipment that can be counted on by even the most rigorous chefs.
Best Looking Cleaver Knives
DALSTRONG Massive Cleaver Knife
This cleaver knife is a statement. One that says you definitely know what you are doing and anyone that questions that will soon find out. This enormous 9″ cleaver in shadow black is sure to turn heads just as well as it cleaves through food. Made of what Dalstrong call ‘super-steel’, this high carbon metal is sure to last almost a lifetime, and with the included polymer sheath, you would seriously impress me if you actually manage to damage it!
Practically, it possesses a unique shape, with some wide serrations on the top as well as sharp, angled corners on all sides of the knife. These interesting shape choices mean that although it may not have been intended, you can produce some very exotic knifework with just a little imagination.
Plus, it’s huge!
DALSTRONG Massive Cleaver Knife – 9″ – “Obliterator” – Shadow Black Series – Black Titanium Nitride Coated – High Carbon – 7CR17MOV-X Vacuum Treated Steel – Sheath – NSF Certified
- Exceptional and Striking Design
- High-Carbon ‘super-steel’ for excellent edge retention
- Lifetime warranty against defect
- Polymer Sheath
- It’s huge!
Best Overall Cleaver Knife
ZWILLING Twin Signature 7-Inch Chinese Chef Knife, Chinese Cleaver Knife, Stainless Steel, Black
Here it is, our king of cleaver knives. This is not the first ZWILLING knife on this list, but it is definitely the best. Its blocky shape is a slight improvement on the traditional curvature of a cleaver knife, and it shows. This shape helps you to produce very fast and precise push chops in all manner of vegetables and meats, gliding through them like butter. Also, its 15° edge angle ensures that you are always gliding through everything your blade meets. We here at ALOM love it when knife makers tell us the angle of the edge because then sharpening it down the line becomes much easier for everyone!
We also love to see German steel in a knife. It has the benefit of decades of proven quality and a new ice-hardening technique that ZWILLING is using in this knife just makes us even happier! And this steel is sure to pack some serious weight, meaning that hard chops are 50% strength and 50% gravity – making it much easier on your arms.
How do you sharpen cleaver knives?
Just like a normal knife! Grab a whetstone or another knife sharpener that you know how to use, and sharpen it as you would any other knife. Cleaver knives are a little more forgiving than other knives when sharpened by an amateur as a lot of the moves performed rely more on the weight and speed of the knife rather than the precise edge.
When should I use a cleaver knife?
That all depends on what you want to use it for. We have seen people use a cleaver for every task they possibly could and they love it, but if that is not your style then you can stick to hard vegetables and bones. Whatever you use it on, you can do it with the confidence that between the heft and the edge, you’ll cut through it.
Does size matter?
A larger cleaver knife will mean more mass and therefore a much easier cutting experience. But if you have your eye on a slightly smaller cleaver then don’t worry – its size and shape allow for excellent leverage and force from even smaller sized cleavers.
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