When it comes to the scariest kitchen implement, I believe nothing would come close to the meat cleaver. This rugged and ancient piece of tool survived the test of time and still finds usefulness even in a modern kitchen. The sheer size and structure of this tool are enough to intimidate the faint of heart.
But despite its scary appearance, this tool is the most abused of all kitchen implements. What do you use to cut through tough flesh? The meat cleaver. What do you use to break those fossil-like bones? The meat cleaver. Because of this, this tool needs to be tougher than everything you throw its way.
If you have been looking for a meat cleaver to add to your kitchen implements, you might find yourself in a quandary because there’s just too many to choose from. Not only do you need to weed out the low-quality items, you also have to choose wisely among the good brands. To make your life easier, here we added buying guide.
How to Choose Quality Meat Cleaver
Since most people don’t butcher their own meat, they tend to think that they don’t need to include a meat cleaver in their household kitchen. You may not be slaughtering a cow in the middle of your kitchen, but using a meat cleaver can be economical for your household and your grocery list, especially when it comes to buying meat in bulk. But don’t for a second think that only meat eaters benefit from having this kitchen essential.
Imagine being able to cut a watermelon with one swoop of a knife? Having a meat cleaver sure could save you a whole lot of time and frustration. Now that you understand why you should have a meat cleaver, let’s talk about what you should be looking for when you buy one.
Because a meat cleaver is continuously coming into contact with bone, cartilage, and thick cuts of meat, it should always be made out of a tough, resilient steel. In order to achieve this resilience, the steel of a meat cleaver needs to be tempered in a range of 54-58 HRC (hardness on the Rockwell Scale). This will ensure that the meat cleaver never buckles, rolls, or chips. The most commonly used edge for meat cleavers is the flat grind or “V” edge, which gives a durable edge for chopping or batoning. The cutting edge of a meat cleaver can be straight or it can have a slightly curved belly. All in all, it breaks down to what your personal preference is.
The profile of a meat cleaver comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Ultimately, the one you choose comes down to what your personal preference is.
Western Design – This blade profile is thick from the spine to the cutting edge. They are considered the most durable, and have an undeniably strong striking force.
Wedge-Shaped Design – This blade typically feels dull when chopping, resulting in foods that are torn or smashed instead of smoothly sliced.
Chinese Chef’s Knife – This meat cleaver has thinner blades and the cutting edges are ground to a tighter angle. They’re typically more precise, agile, and give the user greater control. Unfortunately, because they are thinner, they can wear down quicker from nicks along the cutting edge.
Another important feature of a meat cleaver is the spine. You want it to be hefty and thick, and you want it to be at least ¼ to 3/16 inches if you want to be able to use it for a wide variety of projects.
Length and Height
When it comes to cleaving large items, the length of the meat cleaver is extremely important. And making sure that your meat cleaver has the right height is important to keep the knife cutting on a straight plane, as well as, adequate knuckle clearance. Ideally, you want to find a meat cleaver that has measurements between 7 and 7.75 inches in length, a height of 3.25 inches.
My Top 10 Best Meat Cleavers
1. Utopia Kitchen 7 Inches Cleaver Knife
It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional chef, a farmer, or a homemaker, everyone can find a use for a meat cleaver in their life. If you’re looking for a meat cleaver, whether it’s to buy meat in bulk or to quickly chop fruits and vegetables, you should most certainly check out this cleaver knife from Utopia Kitchen. This heavy duty, 7-inch cleaver is made out of 100% stainless steel, so it has absolutely no problem cutting through large pieces of meat and bone. The ABS+430 handle is extremely easy to grip and it provides hassle-free movement.
Thanks to the superior quality of the stainless steel blade, you’re provided with a long lasting meat cleaver that has a mind blowing cutting performance. This meat cleaver was built and designed to be used for the high demands of a professional kitchen, so you can best believe that it is capable of keeping up with the demands of your kitchen at home. Even though this product is dishwasher safe, it’s recommended that if you want the fine quality to be retained, then you should hand wash it, instead. If you’re looking for a tough, reliable meat cleaver, then make sure not to miss out on this exceptional product.
- Cuts with ease and precision
- Reasonably priced
- Corrosion and rust resistant
- Handle may crack
- Blade may get water spots
- Handle may break
2. Top Rated Epica Stainless Steel Cleaver/Chopper
It goes without saying that it’s important to find a meat cleaver that will last you for quite some time, which is why you should consider purchasing this Top Rated Stainless Steel Meat Cleaver by Epica. This meat cleaver is made out of high-grade ice-tempered stainless steel, so it has no problem sliding through roasts, steaks, chops, and melons with ease. The full-tang blade has been bonded to the handle, so it makes the knife feel like it’s an extension of yourself.
It goes without saying that it can be unbelievably annoying when your ingredients get stuck to the blade of your knife. Luckily, with this Stainless Steel Cleaver from Epica, you never have to worry about that happening. Thanks to the hollow ground edge of this cleaver, ingredients fall off of the blade with no problems at all, saving you time with every cut. There’s no denying that this meat cleaver from Epica is quite impressive, so what are you waiting for? This cleaver should definitely be added to your grocery list as soon as possible!
- Cuts through chicken, goat, and salmon with ease
- Heavy duty
- Extremely sharp
- A bit on the heavy side
- Needs to be sharpened frequently
- Handle could have a better grip
3. Sky Light 7 Inch German High Carbon Cleaver Knife
After reading through this, you should be able to understand why you should add a meat cleaver to your collection of kitchen utensils. If you’ve been convinced to buy a meat cleaver for your own kitchen, then this 7 Inch German High Carbon Cleaver from Sky Light is worth your attention. This cleaver is capable of fulfilling all of your typical kitchen needs, including chopping, slicing, dicing, mincing, and cutting slabs of meat. This knife, which has a 17 degree angle on each side, has been hand polished by seasoned craftsmen for quality and dependability.
The all-purpose wide blade of this knife is extremely thin and exceptionally sharp in order to make the precise cuts that you need. This knife has been forged by high quality stainless steel to ensure that it’s durable, stain resistance, corrosion resistant, and wear resistant. The full tang construction of this knife creates a seamless transition from blade to handle, which provides impeccable balance and a secure grip. If you’re looking for a durable meat cleaver, then you shouldn’t pass up this unbelievably efficient knife by Sky Light.
- Dishwasher safe, but it should be hand washed to retain quality
- Made from premium German steel
- Comfortable grip
- Shouldn’t be used on bones, joints, or tough pieces of frozen meat
- Blade needs to be sharpened frequently
- Handle may crack
4. Sato Forged Heavy-Duty Meat Cleaver
If you want to cut through tough meat and bones with minimal effort, the Sato Forged Heavy-Duty Meat Cleaver is what you’re looking for. With its 1.6lbs weight, you don’t need to add too much of your strength just to cut through those pork ribs that you want to grill.
This cleaver is made of forged stainless-steel guaranteed to hold the edge longer and does not require constant sharpening. The walnut wood full tang handle fits the hands well, it’s like an extension of it. The blade’s entire dimension is 8″ x 4″ x 3.5 mm, big enough for all cutting and hacking purposes. While this cleaver is so good at the job it is designed for, it also looks great just sitting on your kitchen rack.
- Weight is perfect for all cutting jobs
- Great for both household and professional use
- Aesthetics is also great
- Might be too heavy for leaner people
5. Vegetable Cleaver, Chinese Cleaver
Chinese cleavers are very popular for those who want a cleaver that is lighter than the usual one you find. This cleaver only weighs 1.1 lbs and is ideal for a majority of chopping and hacking work. Made from stainless steel, this stamped cleaver is a good addition to your collection of kitchen cutlery. This heavy duty chopper is razor sharp, it can cut through bones and meat easily.
It has a full tang and its handle is triple riveted for strength. It’s easy to clean and since it’s tarnish resistant, the possibility of bacterias contaminating your food is greatly reduced.
- Heavy duty and tarnish resistant
- Full tang and triple riveted to the handle
- Made from stainless steel
- Highly affordable compared to other cleavers of the same quality
- Since it’s lightweight, you will need a little more effort when cutting through larger bones
6. Imarku 7-Inch Stainless Steel Chopper Cleaver
Known for its long history of manufacturing knives, the Imarku 7-Inch Stainless Steel Chopper Cleaver is one of the flagship product of the Imarku brand. Made from 7Cr17Mov steel, this forged cleaver comes with a bolster for balance and a full tang that is attached to a Pakka handle.
It’s not as heavy as I would like, but this cleaver can deal with any cutting job that you throw its way. The blade is 7 inches in length and the handle is 5 inches, giving you a total length of 12 inches. This size is big enough to deal with vegetables and meat if you want to reduce them to smaller sizes.
The Pakka wood is known to have some anti-bacterial effect, and the blade is made of stainless steel, you can be sure that no bacteria will contaminate your food through your cleaver.
- Forged steel so it holds the edge longer
- Easy to clean
- Very nice to look at
- The Pakka wood tends to break when cutting very hard materials like bones
7. Professional Stainless Steel Butcher Knife
If you want a meat cleaver that can serve all the double role that you want from a regular knife, the Professional Stainless Steel Butcher Knife is what you’re looking for. It is made of stainless steel all throughout and it gives an impression that it’s forged because the bolster is well bonded and polished. But this is a stamped meat cleaver and the handle is welded to the blade very well that it seems to have no disconnect from it.
But even if this is a stamped cleaver, it’s capable of holding the edge for a long time and you don’t need to sharpen it often. With its blade at 7 inches, you can hack away at anything and this cleaver won’t hiccup.Unlike other cleavers, this one is dishwasher safe. You don’t have to wash it by hands and potentially cut your hands while doing it.
- Holds the edge like forged blade
- The weight is just right for heavy duty work
- Dishwasher safe and easy to clean
- Unbelievably affordable
- The cleaver came dull so you have to sharpen it yourself
8. Dexter-Russell (S5288) 8″ Heavy-Duty Cleaver
Another quality stamped meat cleaver is the Dexter-Russell (S5288) 8″. It has a full tang which is as thick as its spine and by the looks of it, you can already tell that the blade is strong.
If you are looking at heavy duty hacking, this cleaver has enough heft to cut through bones and meat without too much effort on your part. The 8-inch long blade is heavy enough for some serious cutting and its made from high-carbon stainless steel.
Pork, beef and tuna are no match for this blade, you don’t have to avoid them in your next grilling schedule.
The handle is so comfortable to hold and it’s made from Rosewood which it’s triple riveted to ensure strong attachment to the tang.
- Designed for professional use
- The weight is perfect for some serious hacking
- This is a really strong full tang blade
- To big and heavy for home use
9. Chicago Cutlery Belmont 6 1/2-Inch Cleaver Knife
Made by the popular Chicago Cutlery, the Chicago Cutlery Belmont 6 1/2-Inch Cleaver Knife is capable of cutting through soft bones, thick meat cuts and firm vegetables. This forged cleaver knife is sharpened to precision and is capable of holding the edge like a true forged blade.
It has a full tang that provides strength and a bolster that provides better balance for precision cutting. The polymer handle is a bit slippery to hold especially when your hand is oily. But on the plus side, this handle reduces bacterial contamination to the food.
You can keep the blade clean with a little hand washing since it’s made from stainless steel.
- Full tang and bolster ensures good balance and strength
- Forged blade and made from high carbon stainless steel
- Polymer handle may break
10. Kiwi #504 3″ Mini Cleaver
If you have smaller hands and the regular cleaver is too heavy for you, the Kiwi #504 3″ Mini Cleaver might just be what you’re looking for. This meat cleaver is an authentic Kom-Kom knife that is imported all the way from Thailand. It’s made from authentic stainless steel and is ideal for cutting mid-size meat carcasses like chicken and turkey. You might find this cleaver too small for heavy-duty use.
If you are only looking at cutting smaller meat sizes, this is the best blade for the job. But if you’re looking at taking down bigger carcasses, you would do well to look for the real deal.
Despite its smaller form factor, this cleaver is well balanced and its handle is double riveted to the tang.
- Nice piece for decoration
- Small form factor for smaller hands and lighter work load
- Not as useful as larger cleavers
Forged or Stamped? Which Meat Cleaver Should You Get?
A meat cleaver relies on its weight and sharpness to cut through meat and bones. It’s popular among butchers in shops and restaurants but this is also a good implement to have in your kitchen. In fact, any cook worth his or her salt would have this in the kitchen.
As far as construction is concerned, there are two ways in which a cleaver is made–forging and stamping. Although I tend to prefer forged blades over stamped ones, there are advantages and disadvantages to both and at the end of the day, it’s really up to you.
A forged cleaver is created from a heated single bar of steel that is pounded into shape. The process makes steel stronger because the shaping of the molecules makes it less flexible. This results in the cleavers ability to hold the edge longer.
Stamped cleaver, on the other hand, is made from a sheet of steel that is formed into shape by “stamping” or cutting out, then honed, sharpened and heat-treated to hold the edge. Forged cleavers are usually heavier and stronger than stamped ones.
Why Would You Need a Meat Cleaver?
As a cook, how many times did you find yourself cutting through huge chunks of tuna with just a small size knife? Did you wish you had a cleaver? How many times did you find yourself cutting hard meat into smaller portions and wished you had a cleaver?
While professional cooks may need to hack on huge carcasses, would a home cook need a cleaver? The answer is a definite yes. You might not always find the need to use this humongous tool, but when you do, you should have one. That is the primary reason to need a cleaver at home.
Like I said, if you have spent your share of time in the kitchen, you definitely used a cleaver at one time or another.
Some cook would even go on to say that the cleaver is the only knife that you need in the kitchen. While this is a bit extreme, I would rather be left with a cleaver than a regular knife if I have no other cutting tool.
With a cleaver, not only can I cut huge chunks of meat into smaller portions, I can mince spices with it as well. It can be an all-around, cutting, mincing, hacking and chopping tool because it won’t hiccup when any of these jobs are thrown its way.
How Do You Choose a Meat Cleaver?
As we said before, choosing the right meat cleaver is entirely based on your needs and personal preference. Just remember, the quality of the steel of the cleaver that you’re looking into purchasing is extremely important. Also, make sure to pay attention to the thickness of the blade, especially if you want to use it to cut bone or tough pieces of frozen meat.
Should a Meat Cleaver Be Sharp?
Like any other knife, you certainly want it to be sharp, but how sharp is dependent on what you’re going to use it for. For example, if you’re just cutting up vegetables you wouldn’t necessarily need it as sharp as it would need to be to cut a slab of meat. As long as you know what you’re planning to cut with it, you should have no problem figuring out how sharp it should be.
Why is There a Hole in a Meat Cleaver?
The reason that there is a hole in a meat cleaver comes from the long history of convenience for butchers. Back in the day, and present day in some cases, meat cleavers were hung on the wall, on hooks, or even on the butcher’s belt. The convenience of easy access led to butchers wanting holes on their meat cleavers.
All the meat cleavers that I’ve reviewed here are good but my clear winner is the Sato Forged Heavy-Duty Meat Cleaver. It can serve both home and professional use and the fact that it’s a forged blade, are really the deciding factor for me. I have already mentioned at the start of this review that I tend to gravitate towards forged blade against stamped ones.
That being said, the stamped blades that I have reviewed here are also good. If I would be looking at professional cutting and hacking purposes, I would go for the Dexter-Russell (S5288) 8″ Heavy-Duty Cleaver. This thing is one serious blade. It is a bit of an overkill for home use and you might even find it too heavy for cutting smaller meat sizes typical of home dining.
If you’re are only looking for some light hacking and cutting, the Kiwi #504 3″ Mini Cleaver would be sufficient. The only reason I rated it the lowest here is that it’s too small for most of my purposes. But if you’re the kind who has small hands and you have no plan of using a cleaver professionally, this one is perfect.
What kind of meat cleaver do you use professionally or at home? Do you use any of the ones reviewed here? Why not share your thoughts in the comment section below