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Last updated: October 13, 2022
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Whether you’re a professional chef or just a home cook, one essential tool you must have in your kitchen is the best meat cleaver. Nobody that knows their way around the kitchen will argue against this. While everyone knows that there is a wide range of knives used by culinary masters, it’s important to know that each knife is designed for different purposes. That means, when you’re looking to slice through a meaty portion of animal flesh, you don’t want to be using delicate gears that could injure you or get damaged.
With that in mind, we’ve scoured the nook and cranny of the internet to compile a list of the five best meat cleavers. Of course, we would be lying if we said this compilation was easy, but we assure you that the five products we’ve included are the best out there, with the DALSTRONG Cleaver Butcher Knife being the best overall. Also known as The Ravenger, this knife is a powerful knife that’s designed to effortlessly cut through any chunk of meat that stands in its way.
As is custom, our picks were influenced by some vital features, which include the materials used, the blade length, and the knife’s length. Needless to say, the material used is an important consideration as it determines the knife’s power. Then, the blade length and overall length are important as they determine the knife’s ease of use. We’ve collected all this information to create in-depth product reviews. Meanwhile, we’ve designed this article to make it as easy to navigate as possible, including important elements like a comparison table and a buying guide.
Construction: high-carbon German steel; laminated Pakkawood handle
More features: 4.2mm blade thickness; hand polished edge at 14-16 degrees per side
The DALSTRONG Cleaver Butcher Knife is our Editor’s Choice by quite clear margins. Manufactured by one of the most reputable brands in the world of knives and being one of the Gladiator Series, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. This knife is so good that it has become synonymous with durable construction and high performance. Apart from being designed beautifully, this knife is also known for its incredible performance, which makes it a great addition to your kitchenware. On top of that, it’s also an incredibly versatile model, as it can be used for practically any cooking preparation.
Furthermore, this knife from DALSTRONG is very powerful, which is due to its high-grade steel blade that is produced using German carbon. Apart from being strong and powerful, the blade is also extremely sharp, making your meat-cutting process as easy as a pie. With all the rigorous tasks the knife is likely to be used for, the manufacturers have produced it with the latest artisanship and technology. Thanks to the pakka wood from which it’s made, the handle of the knife offers a very strong grip. This means optimum comfort as it lessens the wrist tension and makes it easy to use for a long period.
It’s also worth noting that this knife is resistant to heat and wear, which highlights the high quality with which it is described. Apart from being super sharp, the blade also measures seven inches in length, which means it’s long enough for convenient usage. To top it off, the knife is designed to perfection at 56+ Rockwell hardness and hand-polished to a satin finish. Besides, the knife is also not difficult to maneuver, which adds to its incredible ease of use. The only little drawback we might have is that the knife is a bit heavy.
Manufactured in the United States, the Dexter-Russell S5288 Traditional Cleaver is a high-quality cleaver that’s designed to make life easier for chefs. It’s ideal for cutting all kinds of meat, such as beef, pork, fish, poultry, and lamb. Not only that, but it’s also strong enough to cut through strong animal bones. With its heavy-duty construction, this excellent cleaver from Dexter Russel is engineered to swing like a hammer. Despite its heavy-duty construction, it has an eight-inch high-carbon stainless-steel blade that is super sharp.
Furthermore, the hand-honed and individually ground blade edge is capable of withstanding repeated blows into thick and dense meat and cartilage. Besides, the knife has a strong spine that you can use to smash foods such as ginger and garlic. While the Dexter-Russell S5288 Traditional Cleaver is a very functional knife, the manufacturers also had attractiveness in mind during its production. Its full-tang handle is designed from strong, stunning polished rosewood that has a proper balance and feels very comfortable in your hands.
For additional durability and strength, the knife also comes with three large brass rivets. And since the knife features a high-carbon stainless-steel blade, then it can stain and rust. To prevent this, you need to hand-wash it and dry it after every use. It’s also important to note that this cleaver may not be the ideal option for you if you’ve got small hands. With that being said, the knife comes with a limited lifetime warranty, so you can be confident that you’ve got a product that’s been designed to last for a very long time on your hands.
Construction: high-carbon German stainless steel; Pakkawood handle
More features: 2.5mm blade thickness
With its ability to be used for an extensive variety of food preparations such as slicing, dicing, mincing, and chopping thick meat chunks and chop vegetables and slice bones, the Imarku Cleaver Knife is a great option for restaurants as well as home kitchens. The seven-inch thick stainless-steel blade comes with a super-attractive mirror finish and has a high Rockwell hardness of 58 to 60, which makes it easy to chop large pieces into smaller pieces.
Even though the blade on this knife is thin, it has long-lasting sharpness and impressive edge retention, which are two of the attributes for which the world’s best knives are known. This knife is not only functional, but it’s stylish as well, as you can see with its ergonomic Pakka wood handle. Apart from being comfortable to grip and smooth, the handle also comes with great antibacterial qualities. To be honest, great attention was paid to details during the design of this knife. To enable you to be able to store it easily, the handle has a hole, which you can use to hang it on a peg or hook.
However, it’s important to note that the blade isn’t engineered to be heat resistant, so we advise you to restrain from using it for chopping frozen food or using it over very hot flames. This could affect the sharpness of the blade. Also, the knife is not dishwasher-safe, so we advise you to hand-wash when it’s time for it to be cleaned. To make up for the drawbacks, the knife is backed by a lifetime warranty.
Construction: 3 layers of Japanese forged steel; Thermo rubber handle
More features: the handle is non-slip and waterproof
Sometimes, keeping things simple can be everything you need, as proven by the ZHEN Japanese VG-10 3-Layer Forged Slicer. While this Japanese knife set isn’t a sophisticated product, it provides everything you will probably need in your kitchen, with solid construction and premium-quality materials. That apart, the knife comes at a very affordable price. If you’re looking to have a flawless Sushi dinner, you can’t need more than this.
In truth, this knife reflects the true genius and artistry of the Japanese workmanship. It is made of a three-layered VG10 stainless-steel that has a whopping Rockwell hardness of 60-62 degrees. If you are familiar with these metrics, then you should know that that is a rather high score that will allow for extraordinary edge retention, extreme sharpness, and remarkable durability. These make the knife the perfect option if you’re looking for affordable quality.
However, the blade is not sharp out of the box, but you can sharpen it with a high-grit wet stone. While you will need to invest some time into this, we assure you that the result will be very satisfactory. The handle of the knife provides the same quality, boasting a waterproof wood construction and a full-tang design for a non-slip, firm, and comfortable grip. In terms of drawbacks, we’d also like to mention that the factory edge on this knife is horrific and extremely uneven.
Despite being probably the cheapest meat cleaver on this list and the market in general, the Utopia Kitchen 7 Inch Cleaver Knife is a pretty decent knife with some great features. If you didn’t know better, it could even pass as a costly knife. Therefore, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly meat cleaver that still can slice through thick meat and tough bones, this might just be the most suitable option. Its stainless-steel blade is sharp and can cut with optimum ease and precision. Besides, it is extremely durable and is capable of lasting through any kind of usage.
The edge of the knife has longer retention, which makes it remain sharp for a long period. However, the knife is very thin, which makes it lack the versatility required by professional chefs. What it doesn’t have in versatility, however, is made up with the handle’s ergonomic design. It has a well-balanced weight, making it ideal for everyone, including a petite woman. With the plastic handle and stainless-steel combination, the knife offers a great grip. On top of that, maneuvering it is very easy, adding to its convenience of use.
However, the handle can become slippery when it’s wet, which means you need to be very careful. To prevent accidents, ensure that the entire knife and your hands are dry whenever you’re using it. Another drawback is that the blade is not sharp out of the box, so you might need to sharpen it before your first use. Meanwhile, it’s important to mention that the knife is dishwasher-friendly, but we highly recommend hand washing for quality maintenance.
What stands out?
Stays sharp for a long time
Easy to use and maneuver
The handle offers a great grip
What cons did we manage to find?
The handle gets slippery when wet
The blade isn’t sharp out of the box
Things to Consider
The market is packed with numerous types of meat cleavers today, and it’s confusing sometimes since each model is advertised as the best. The task may get complicated if you’re not an expert, or you had no experience with these tools before. Nonetheless, we have compiled this buying guide to arm you with everything you need in your search for the right meat cleaver for your kitchen.
Why invest in a meat cleaver
Thanks to their incredible versatility, apart from cutting meat and bones, meat cleavers can also be used for other cookery tasks. If you’re wondering why you need to invest in one of these products, below are some reasons.
Allows you to cut bones easily – As suggested by its name, a meat cleaver is designed specifically for cutting meat easily. It can cut through meat bones and thick meat without any hassle, which makes practically any cooking experience way easier. In comparison, a normal knife is incapable of doing this kind of thing. If you try to use a regular knife to cut strong bones, they might get damaged.
Chopping and slicing food – As we already noted in the beginning, meat cleavers are incredibly versatile, which allows them to help you in slicing and chopping foods as well as meat. They can chop or slice foods like carrot, potato, onion, herbs, and more. However, we advise you to sharpen the knife’s blade very well before using it for this kind of task.
Crushing the ingredients – Since meat cleavers usually come with wider blades, they are also suitable for crushing foods. Therefore, you can use them to crush ingredients such as onion, ginger, and garlic for your everyday culinary preparation.
Features to consider while choosing a meat cleaver
Like we have been noting since the beginning of this article, there are many brands and models of meat cleavers available today. To choose the right meat cleaver for your kitchen, there are some specific factors you need to take into account. Below are some of those important factors:
The length and height of your blade are key factors since they affect the overall dexterity and efficacy of the knife. The length is very important, especially if you want to cut large items. You need an adequate height to ensure that the cleaver cuts on a straight plane. It’s also useful for sufficient knuckle clearance.
Excessively short blades, sometimes, tend to get stuck when cutting large items. Also, excessively long blades may become cumbersome, with a considerable accuracy loss and a gawky feel. That said, the knife with the longest blade on our list is the DALSTRONG Gladiator Series The Ravenger, while the ZHEN VG-10 has the shortest blade.
Materials used for the blade
Since a meat cleaver is utilized to cut thick meat and meat bones sometimes, it is important to get a sharp and durable cleaver. Previously, metal meat cleavers used to be produced using carbon steel. However, carbon steel usually gets rust rather quickly, so we don’t recommend it. These days, meat cleavers are produced using stainless steel, so we recommend you to get a model made of this material, such as the Utopia Kitchen 7 Inch Cleaver Knife and the Dexter-Russell S5288.
When choosing a cleaver, it’s important to choose a model that has a full tank handle. Full tang cleavers are durable, strong, and well-balanced. We advise you to completely stay away from partial tank models as their top is likely to break or crack in no time at all. The best handles, in our opinion, are produced using woods and molded rubbers. They are sanitary, durable, and offer great grip.
Stainless-steel and plastic handles are acceptable as well. However, many chefs often find them to be slippery, particularly when they are wet. Some brands make up for this with specially textured and shaped handles. While conventional rosewood handles are considered perfect by some people, they need regular maintenance and careful attention. Otherwise, they’ll crack and warp.
A cleaver’s weight, in most cases, often varies with the length of the blade. Therefore, longer the cleaver’s blade, the heavier it will be. It’s also the same thing with the blade’s height as well. Of course, heavier cleavers can slice through nearly everything. If you are not strong enough, however, a heavier model will be tiring and cumbersome.
This may lead to fatigue around your wrist and your forearm. Balancing a heavy cleaver usually proves tricky to a lot of users, and this may lead to inaccuracy or an injury to the user. Therefore, we advise you to consider the weight of the cleaver you’re looking at and make sure it won’t be overwhelming for you.
Of course, it’s always recommended to find a meat cleaver that comes with a warranty. While these products are usually designed to last for a lot of years, that doesn’t mean there are not some cheaply made models that won’t last for as long they should. Some models included here are backed with a lifetime warranty, which indicates that you’re in good hands. Some of those models include the ZHEN VG-10 and the Imarku Cleaver Knife.
Obviously, it’s difficult to mention all the features you need to look for in this guide. Some other small but important things you may need to check are if the cleaver is dishwasher safe or not and if it comes in a gift box or not.
Meat cleavers were originally designed heavy and thick to help professional chefs and butchers easily cut through meat bones. However, as time went by, home chefs found them to be useful for other tasks. Apart from their ability to cut meat, the right cleavers can also chop, mince, or slice vegetables easily and in a quick manner. On top of that, a meat cleaver can help you to effortlessly cut through strong squashes, and they can be used to smash foods like garlic cloves and onions. They can even be used to precisely and cleanly cut fruits.
While you may need to learn the skills to effectively carry it out, it’s actually easy to sharpen the blade of a meat cleaver. To do this, it’s either you use a hand-held knife sharpener or a stone sharpening tool. For when you need to sharpen the blade, we recommend you to sharpen it after every use.
Great attention was paid to details in the manufacturing of the DALSTRONG Cleaver Butcher Knife, which makes it the most fitting choice for our Editor’s Choice. Made from German stainless steel, this knife was engineered to produce a great performance, no matter what you’re looking to cut or slice. Durable, sharp, and beautiful, this knife from DALSTRONG is easily the best meat cleaver on our list.
Moving on, the super-long Dexter-Russell S5288 takes the second spot on the pecking order. While its remarkable length is obviously one of its strong points, it has other things to merit its high ranking.
After that comes the Imarku Cleaver Knife, which comfortably sits at the third spot. Thanks to its incredible versatility, this knife can be used for a lot of other things apart from cutting meat, and that’s a strong reason why we rate it so highly.