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While cleavers aren’t as popular as kitchen knives, in many ways they are just as versatile. Ideal for chopping up vegetables, fruit, herbs, meat, fish, and even splitting bones, a high-quality cleaver knife can be worth its weight in gold. Due to their large blades, cleaver knives can also be used for crushing ingredients such as garlic or ginger, as well as transferring them from a cutting board to a bowl or pan.
Most modern meat cleavers are forged from stainless steel, which makes them not only durable but also corrosion and stain-resistant. It also means that they are easy to sharpen with a whetstone. Ranging in size and weight, cleaver knives feature rectangular blades to provide knuckle clearance during use. They are also relatively sturdy, measuring high on the Hardness Rockwell Scale or HRC. Most knives fall between HRC 53 and HRC 63 with 53 indicating the softer end of the spectrum and 63 being very hard, as per Savernake Knives. If you find all of this confusing, don’t worry — we’ve dug up the best cleavers on the market in 2022.
How we selected products
While cleavers are generally larger than kitchen knives, they are by no means all created equal. And we aren’t just talking about size. Cleaver knives range in quality, design, and characteristics. And the countless available brands and models can turn a simple shopping expedition into a mind-boggling experience. To help you select the right cleaver knife for your specific needs, we have spent hours sifting through some of the best products on the market. We have also consulted both community and expert reviews to ensure that the cleavers on our list meet or exceed your expectations.
In our quest to bring you the best cleaver knives in 2022, we looked at a number of factors, including each utensil’s size — most cleaver blades range between 4.5 and 9 inches. We also took into consideration each cleaver’s handle since we believe that prepping ingredients shouldn’t be uncomfortable. Last but not least, we took into consideration each gadget’s construction and ease of use.
Whether you’re after a product to chop vegetables or dismantle entire chickens, here’s our roundup of the best cleaver knives in 2022.
Best overall cleaver knife
Just like its name suggests, the Wüsthof classic 6-inch cleaver is made in Germany, a country renowned for its craftsmanship. Great for chopping meat, ribs, and bones, the cleaver knife is extremely sturdy thanks to its single-piece high carbon stainless steel build. It’s also resistant to rust and stains. Plus, the utensil’s full tang blade, which extends right to the end of the handle, is triple riveted for durability (via Amazon).
The Blog of Dad calls the Wüsthof classic 6-inch cleaver well-crafted, balanced, and enjoyable to hold, giving it 5 out of 5 stars. "The blade is chunky — an absolute must for achieving that desirable weight. That being said, it isn’t the heaviest cleaver around; in fact it is the lightest in [the] Wüsthof’s range.," the blog explains.
Amazon shoppers are also impressed with the cleaver, awarding it an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars. And while some Amazon shoppers mention that the cleaver’s blade isn’t sharp enough out of the box, one customer explains, "[It’s] a blade designed for axe-like chopping through heavy muscle and bone, it is not intended for knife-like cutting. Very sharp blades tend to dull very quickly when chopping, which is why cleavers are supposed to have an axe-like edge."
At the time of this writing, you can purchase the Wüsthof classic 6-inch cleaver from Amazon starting at $125.
Best budget cleaver knife
Pairing a stainless steel blade and a comfortable handle, the Utopia Kitchen cleaver knife has been designed to encompass both quality and ease of use. More specifically, the utensil’s 7-inch blade has been forged with an 18-degree angle for easy cleaving. While the Utopia Kitchen cleaver is dishwasher-safe, the manufacturer recommends handwashing to preserve the integrity of the blade (via Amazon).
According to Ben North, who reviewed the Utopia Kitchen cleaver knife for Nothing But Knives, the kitchen utensil outperforms some of its more expensive counterparts. Despite its low price tag, the cleaver makes easy work of chopping through meat and bone. On the downside, North says that while the cleaver’s handle is comfortable, it can get slippery when wet. North also comments that the cleaver may need to be sharpened after purchase.
The Utopia Kitchen cleaver knife has received top marks on various platforms, including 9.3 out of 10 on Don’t Waste Your Money and 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon. One happy Amazon shopper recommends the cleaver, saying, "Have [had] this for years and [it] still looks new and still sharp. Very sturdy and high quality. The handle can get a little bit slippery if your hand has meat slime on it so dry your hands."
At the time of this writing, you can purchase the Utopia Kitchen cleaver knife from Amazon starting at $16.99.
Best cleaver knife for a splurge
Sharp, sturdy, and aesthetically appealing, the Shun cutlery classic vegetable cleaver features a wide 7-inch blade with a square front and a comfortable ebony-finished pakkawood handle. While the cleaver can make easy work of cutting up meat and greens such as cabbages, it’s not designed for bones and joints.
So what makes the Shun cutlery classic vegetable cleaver worthy of its steep price tag? Unsurprisingly, the cleaver is perfect for what it’s been designed to do — namely, chop up veggies and protein. Forged with a proprietary VG-MAX core with 34 layers of Damascus, the full tang cleaver isn’t just sturdy but also rust and stain-resistant. The utensil also features a razor-sharp 16-degree edge for precise slicing.
The Shun cutlery classic vegetable cleaver has the thumbs up from Amazon customers, who award it 4.7 out of 5 stars. One Amazon customer calls the cleaver "expensive but exquisite," adding, "This cleaver is outstanding. [It’s] incredibly sharp and magnificently balanced. I could not rate it any higher. The only precaution is that the blade is brittle so caution must be taken not to chip the edge. If you can afford it, it is truly a pleasure to use in the kitchen."
At the time of this writing, you can purchase the Shun cutlery classic vegetable cleaver from Amazon starting at $269.95.
Best cleaver knife with a stand
Designed for all culinary purposes, the Dalstrong Obliterator meat cleaver is a part of the brand’s Gladiator series. Crafted from high-carbon German steel, the cleaver is both sharp and heavy-duty. More specifically, the full tang, 9-inch cleaver is 9 millimeters thick and rates HRC 60 (via Amazon). At 2.9 pounds, it’s also rather hefty. The Dalstrong Obliterator meat cleaver comes with a handsome acacia wood stand and carries a lifetime warranty for defects.
Standing testament to its quality and durability, the Dalstrong Obliterator meat cleaver has received 4.8 out of 5 stars from Amazon customers. One Amazon shopper calls the cleaver a serious weapon, adding, "This thing is bigger and heavier than I imagined! You could wage medieval war with this cleaver. Super solid, well balanced. Very nice stand […] included, which is a nice perk." On the downside, another Amazon reviewer complains that the cleaver required sharpening before use.
At the time of this writing, you can purchase the Dalstrong Obliterator meat cleaver from Amazon starting at $129.
Best lightweight cleaver knife
As its name suggests, the Zhen Japanese Damascus steel 8-inch slicer is forged from lightweight 67-layer Japanese Damascus steel. The full tang cleaver also comes with a stylish non-slip pakkawood handle. Both the steel and wood combined weigh just 12 ounces, making the cleaver one of the lightest on the market. Despite this, the utensil’s 1.8-millimeter blade is both razor sharp and exceptionally sturdy, coming in at HRC 60-62. That being said, it’s important to note that the Zhen Japanese Damascus steel 8-inch isn’t designed for cutting through bones (via Amazon).
Amazon shoppers have awarded the Zhen Japanese Damascus steel 8-inch slicer 4.5 out of 5 stars, with 81% of reviewers giving it 5 out of 5 stars. Perhaps one Amazon customer sums up the cleaver best, saying, "I have had this knife for almost a year now. I use it every day at work. It’s still the sharpest knife in the kitchen. Goes right through vegetables like they’re not even there. This is not a cleaver for cutting bone. This is a vegetable slicer."
At the time of this writing, you can purchase the ZHEN Japanese Damascus steel 8-inch slicer from Amazon starting at $141.
Best rocking cleaver knife
Ideal for chopping vegetables, fruit, herbs, and meat, the Dalstrong rocking cleaver knife comes with a 6.5-inch curved blade that enables rocking chop motion. And while the high-carbon German steel cleaver isn’t the sturdiest option on the market, coming in at HRC 56, it’s more than sufficient for what it’s been engineered to do. The Dalstrong rocking cleaver knife features an ergonomically-designed handle with an appealing mosaic-style engraving (via Amazon).
The Dalstrong rocking cleaver knife has been embraced by Amazon shoppers who have awarded it a very respectable 4.7 out of 5 stars. One Amazon customer praises the cleaver’s curved blade, saying, "[It] makes it nice to slice and chop. It’s weighted enough to go right through whatever you are cutting. Pork shoulder was so much easier to chop up with this cleaver. I have used it on chicken which was no challenge at all, and I easily moved over to cut vegetables with it, that’s where the curved blade comes in handy."
At the time of this writing, you can purchase the Dalstrong rocking cleaver knife from Amazon starting at $79.
Best Serbian cleaver knife
Combining the bulk of a meat cleaver and the curved spine and sharp blade of a Japanese santoku knife, Serbian knives are both sturdy and well-balanced, as per HDMD Blog. The XYJ 6.7-inch Serbian chef’s knife is no exception. Forged from high carbon steel, the cleaver comes with a comfortable full tang handle for maximum leverage. However, while the cleaver’s 5-millimeter blade is perfect for chopping up fish, meat, veggies, and fruit, it shouldn’t be used on bones. The XYJ 6.7-inch Serbian chef’s knife comes with an elegant gift box and a leather sheath with a belt loop (via Amazon).
According to the Knives Academy, the XYJ 6.7-inch Serbian chef’s knife is comfortable without being excessively bulky. In particular, the blog praises the cleaver’s versatility and balance, saying, "This is the type of blade you can take anywhere, from outdoor cooking to a professional kitchen to preparing your grandmother’s stew at home […] The full tang adds more weight to the knife but also creates a better balance. […] The blade really is larger than you expect so having a good balance made it easier to manipulate blade movement."
At the time of this writing, you can purchase the XYJ 6.7-inch Serbian chef’s knife from Amazon starting at $36.99.
Best mini cleaver knife
With a blade of just 4.5 inches, the Dalstrong mini meat cleaver is one of the smallest cleavers on the market. Straddling the line between a standard cleaver and a kitchen knife, the prepping utensil is ideal for a huge range of kitchen tasks from chopping vegetables to slicing meat (via Amazon).
With high-carbon stainless steel and a 56 HRC rating, the Dalstrong mini meat cleaver is both sturdy and stain resistant. In addition, the full tang cleaver features a triple-riveted handle for a steady grip during use. The Dalstrong mini meat cleaver has received an outstanding reception from Amazon shoppers who have awarded the utensil an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars. One Amazon customer says that after they bought it, "It has since become the most-used knife in my collection."
At the time of this writing, you can purchase the Dalstrong mini meat cleaver from Amazon starting at $52.