The 10 Best Cleavers

Updated June 07, 2017 by Christopher Thomas

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We spent 38 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Whether you are a butcher who needs to hack through meat and bone all day long with the least amount of effort, or a home chef looking for a precision instrument for cutting vegetables, one of these cleavers will be ideal for the job. We've included a wide selection of models, with some priced well for amateur cooks and others built to withstand the daily use of a commercial kitchen. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best cleaver on Amazon.

10. Juvale Cleaver

The 8" Juvale Cleaver features a no-fuss design that gets the job done on a budget. It is the perfect tool for home cooks who need to hack though bones periodically, but shouldn't be the go-to choice for professionals, as the quality isn't top notch.
  • curved blade for swift chopping
  • slices through vegetables easily
  • wooden handle is roughly finished
Brand Juvale
Model KC701
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Kitchen Essentials Butcher Knife

The Kitchen Essentials Butcher Knife is perfect for prepping fruits, vegetables, herbs, meats, poultry and fish on a daily basis. It has a high quality stainless steel construction that is built to last and will not tarnish or rust over time.
  • heavy duty grip
  • sturdy and practical
  • doesn't stay sharp for long
Brand Product Stop, Inc
Model pending
Weight 13.6 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

8. Zhen VG-10

Made of 2 layers of low carbon steel on each side, the Zhen VG-10 is your ticket to cutting with ease. Utilizing a durable, waterproof, and comfortable oaken grip, this beauty comes in a handcrafted gift box for easy storage.
  • stainless steel bolster
  • has a nonslip handle
  • may chip when chopping bones
Brand ZHEN
Model A11O
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

7. A Cut Above Cutlery Medium Duty

The A Cut Above Cutlery Medium Duty has got you covered in both style and quality at an amazing price. Its forged, heat tempered and finely polished blade is highly durable and made of high-end steel for use on meats, poultry, octopus and squid.
  • comes sharp out-of-the-box
  • money-back guarantee
  • included box isn't very durable
Brand A Cut Above Cutlery
Model SYNCHKG061310
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Utopia Kitchen UK63C

If you want a high-quality product without the high price tag, the top-rated Utopia Kitchen UK63C makes a great choice. It is perfect for food preparation at home or in a commercial restaurant kitchen as it can cut through large fruits and meat without unnecessary hacking.
  • great for segmenting larger pieces
  • fits well in the hand
  • stays sharp through many uses
Brand Utopia Kitchen
Model UK0087
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. Dexter-Russell S5288

The Dexter-Russell S5288 boasts a classic design with a beautiful rosewood handle that is secured to the blade tang with classy brass rivets. It has the heft needed to smash through bones, while its high-carbon steel blade is sharp enough for precision cutting jobs.
  • fells well balanced in the hand
  • has a convenient hanging hole
  • from the top knife maker in the usa
Brand Dexter-Russell
Model S5288
Weight 2.9 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Winco Heavy Duty

A great choice for both home use and large-scale corporate culinary operations, the Winco Heavy Duty is a low-cost way to cleave apart meat, vegetables, bones, and anything else with only a solid flex of the arm and a little bit of follow-through.
  • solid wooden grip
  • durable steel resists chips
  • used by restaurants everywhere
Brand Winco
Model KC-301
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

3. J.A. Henckels 31134-161

The moderately-priced J.A. Henckels 31134-161 makes a great addition to your kitchen with its heavy construction that virtually does the work for you. It has a soft looking satin finish that won't glare, and is dishwasher safe for hassle free cleanup.
  • good balance of price and quality
  • ideal for butchering bones and meat
  • made by a respected manufacturer
Brand Henckels
Model 31134-161
Weight 14.4 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

2. Global G-12

The square bladed design of the premium Global G-12 can cut through any bone with accuracy and precision. It is super lightweight to hold thanks to its thin blade and provides maximum agility with less hand fatigue during those extensive jobs.
  • versatile bolsterless build
  • hand-sharpened at a 15 degree angle
  • high-hardness stainless-steel alloy
Brand Global
Model G-12
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

1. Wusthof Classic 4685/19

Made of heavy, high-quality German steel, the Wusthof Classic 4685/19 is powerfully relentless when it comes to cutting through thick slabs of meat or large bones. Handcrafted in the city of Solingen, it has a laser tested edge for long-lasting sharpness.
  • strong 3-rivet synthetic handle
  • full-tang construction
  • separates any food with ease
Brand Wüsthof
Model 4685/19
Weight 2.6 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Leave It To Cleaver

One of the exciting things about working in a kitchen is the versatility and specialization of both the tools and appliances available to you when preparing your meals. This is true, regardless of whether you're a professional chef cooking for your customers or a homemaker looking to prepare dinners for your family. When you need a tool with a lot of torque and dedicated edges to chop tough ingredients, a cleaver can be a valuable asset.

Commonly used by butchers and Chinese chefs, the cleaver is a type of heavy-bladed, broad knife designed to cut through heavy materials, such as thick meats, dense cartilage, coconut, and bone. Unlike other conventional kitchen knives, the cleaver is characterized by a hard edge that withstands repeated blows to the same cutting surface, making it a truly resilient tool because of its soft steel construction and thick blade.

One might think soft steel would be easier to damage, but its thickness absorbs impacts more easily than that of thin, hardened steel, which is more likely to fracture under stress. Because of its durable nature, the cleaver is one of few cutting tools that can actually be swung like a hammer with a greater dependence on the use of blunt force instead of the sharpness of its blade to hack through bone or other materials.

The cleaver resembles a hatchet with a squared blade connected to a shaped and textured handle often made from wood for superior hand comfort. In addition to cutting through bone, the tool can also be used to chop and prepare vegetables. Due to its thickness, the surface of a cleaver's blade can also be used to crush nuts or garlic.

Two main types of cleaver include the butcher and Chinese varieties. The all-purpose butcher's cleaver is typically wide-bladed with a thick spine built to cut through meat or poultry bones using its weight and momentum as leverage during repetitive chopping motions. The Chinese cleaver also features a wide-bladed design with a rectangular shape, but with a narrower spine than that of the butcher variety, making it useful for removing meat from bones or scooping previously-chopped ingredients into additional cookware (e.g. pots and pans). The Santoku knife is the Japanese equivalent to both the Chinese and butcher cleavers, ideal for slicing meat into thin cuts.

Thanks to the curvature of its blade, the Santoku promotes a natural rocking motion when used to slice through vegetables and fruit. Some Santoku knives also have Granton edges, which are characterized by hollowed-out grooves running along the length of both sides of a knife blade. These grooves create small air pockets between the items being cut and the blade for improved accuracy and ease when slicing, making the Santoku perfect for producing thin slivers of poultry, roasts, and other meats.

Chopping With Choice

When working with a kitchen tool that is naturally bulky with wide-edged blades, one's comfort is the first thing to keep in mind. Finding the best cleaver means ensuring its handle is ergonomically-designed to support the wrist and allow for powerful cutting action, but without excess weight.

Many cleavers have perforated grips, which easily prevent slipping and possible injury, while also minimizing user fatigue from extended use. Unlike some other types of knives, the carbon steel blades that power the cleaver don't have to be nearly as sharp, since you'll be using blunt force with the tool in your kitchen. For that reason, durability of both the handle and blade matter.

A cleaver is not for the faint of heart, meaning that it won't necessarily operate like a regular chef's knife with less force to make precision cuts. The tool is meant for heavy-duty applications, so paying a bit extra for a sturdy handle and a rustproof blade can make all the difference, particularly in a professional setting when cooking a regular menu for large groups of people. However, safety must also be an important consideration with any cutting tool in your cutlery arsenal.

One's cleaver should also have a built-in hole for easy wall or rack hanging, as something of this size and width could take up quite a bit of room in a cutlery drawer.

A Brief History Of The Cleaver

The knife dates as far back as prehistoric times and the rise of the modern human civilization with the use of manually-sharpened stones. Oldowan stone tools represented the first rudimentary, yet vital tools for the evolution of the human race due to their simple construction and ability to be applied as a means for survival, combat, construction and food preparation. These sharpened stone tools continued to evolve over time to a point at which they would resemble their modern counterparts.

Double-bladed knives were some of the most popular tools used before fire was harnessed to melt metal for shaping. Wooden or stone handles were often decorated with animal skins and feathers, displaying a sense of pride and tradition for those who used them. This practice continued well into the Bronze Age.

With the eventual birth of metallurgy, it was now possible to forge knives out of softer metals. Throughout the later centuries, iron and steel became commonplace for the creation of knives, making them more durable and easier to maintain. The evolution of design and forging blossomed into the use of swords, spears and axes during the times of medieval Europe.

By the early fifteenth century, the wealthy began to carry personal knives for both protection and eating purposes, many characterized by a slim, double-bladed profile meant for cutting and piercing foods.

The indistinguishable design for the modern table knife, from which many other knives have evolved (including the cleaver), can be attributed to French Cardinal Richelieu in the late 1630s. Richelieu hated the idea of having to use sharp blades to scoop food or clean teeth after a meal. He eventually convinced King Louis XIV of France to ban the use of double-bladed knives from the entire country in order to reduce violence.

This gave birth to the eventual popularization of blunt-tipped knives that would grace most standard European dining tables by the nineteenth century. Today's table knives and other utensils were standardized by the early twentieth century with the invention of stainless steel, giving rise to bread and carving knives as well as the butcher's cleaver.

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Last updated on June 07, 2017 by Christopher Thomas

A traveling chef, musician, and student of the English language, Chris can be found promoting facts and perfect copy around the globe, from dense urban centers to remote mountaintops. In his free time he revels in dispelling pseudoscience, while at night he dreams of modern technology, world peace, and the Oxford comma.

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