Kitchen Knives 101: The Best Cleavers Reviewed 2021 | Knife Scout

May 2, 2021

Few knives can muster the same aesthetic, heft, and power as the cleaver. Compared to other kitchen knives, a cleaver is just in a different league in hacking prowess. Some chefs rely on a single trusty cleaver knife to chop up giant vegetables and tenderize meat.

Appearances are one of the 'it' factors we look for when purchasing a knife, but a chef cleaver knife is primarily a tool before beauty. As it turns out, there are more possibilities with this knife than meets the eye. If you're a home chef, you must learn how to get the most value out of a chef knife cleaver. 

Whether we're discussing a Chinese cleaver or a classic meat cleaver, both are irreplaceable in the kitchen if you're facing huge chunks of meat daily. If you think your Wusthof chef knife can breeze through all those chicken bone-meat layers, you're in for a disappointment. A cleaver is capable of menial tasks like slicing and dicing but truly shines when it comes to heavyset work like chopping meat, bones, and large fruits.

Who Needs a Cleaver Knife?

There's no knife in your 8-piece cutlery collection that can withstand as much exertion as a cleaver knife. Your chef's knife has gotten you through so much, but it will consistently fall short of a cleaver's chopping prowess. And that's perfectly fine—different blades, different specialties. For outdoor enthusiasts who want an everyday-carry alternative to a utility knife, a cleaver pocket knife or cleaver folding knife may be more suitable. Its lack of pronounced edge makes it more appropriate to wield in public.

The Whys of Getting a Good Cleaver Knife

We've established that if you regularly find yourself chopping, cutting, and slicing meat and bones, you should add a cleaver to your kitchen. So why should you invest in a good one? 

More often than not, cheap kitchen cleavers are not as cost-efficient as they seem in terms of maintenance and upkeep. You might find yourself running back to the store to buy another because your penny cleaver became no better than a hammer. If you want to take your kitchen work up a notch, it's a no-brainer to invest in a quality kitchen knife cleaver, and that doesn't always come with a discounted price tag. 

Cooking should be an excellent experience. You're taking a whole chicken and chopping it down to edible portions so you can serve a dish that's pleasurable and fulfilling. When you cut with a dull edge, the whole thing becomes a mashing fest, which is why it is always best to make a good purchase so your kitchen time can be time and energy-efficient.

The Pros of a Good Cleaver Knife

  • The heavier build makes chopping and slicing through chunks of meat a breeze.
  • The long-lasting sharpness makes it convenient for quick portioning of meats, fruits, and vegetables.
  • High-quality materials like high carbon stainless steel are usually used and provide lasting durability and sharpness.
  • Ergonomic handles offer reliable grip and allow knife use for hours with minimal fatigue.

The Uglies of a Low-Quality, Cheap Cleaver

  • Cheap cleaver knives usually are not designed with balance between the blade and handle in mind; thus, they may feel unwieldy.
  • It uses obscure metal alloys that generally can't hold an edge after several uses.
  • Quickly dulled edges can be a kitchen hazard since the user has to use more force with the knife.
  • A subpar cleaver lacks the power and heft instrumental in accomplishing chopping tasks in the kitchen.
  • Low-quality handles may be difficult to grip and easily chip and break with vigorous use.

The Best of the Best

Let's get to know how the above factors come into play by discussing our top recommended cleaver knives in the market.

TUO Cleaver, Black Hawk Series

Tuo, translated into English, means "to explore and adventure." The Tuo company is a multi-awarded brand, winning "China Good Design" in 2018 and “Kitchen Knife of the Year” in Atlanta’s Blade Show in 2019. A relatively budding competitor in the knife market, the TUO company hasn't been amiss in incorporating all the recent technology and design in their quality knives that frankly aren't too hard on the pocket.

Quick specs:

  • 7-inch blade
  • Material: German 1.4116 steel (High-carbon)
  • Construction Type: Forged
  • Full tang
  • Pakkawood handle
  • Rockwell hardness score of 56
  • 14 to 16-degree edge on each side


The Chinese-made TUO cleaver black hawk series is constructed from top-notch German high-carbon stainless steel, specifically the 1.4116 alloys, the primary steel used by other big brands Wusthof and Messermeister. The material is heat-treated, allowing it to hold a sharp edge while remaining convenient to sharpen. With a Rockwell hardness of 56, you can rest assured this cleaver won't dull quickly.

The full-tang design means that the blade's entirety extends down into the handle, supporting the knife's balance and overall tensile strength. The blade spine is also polished and rounded out, so it doesn't hurt when you use the pinch-grip technique.

The elegant Pakka wood combined with the full-tang and a slight curve gives this cleaver an extremely comfortable grip. It minimizes hand fatigue so that you can use the knife longer. The triple rivets combine functionality with beauty as they look very stylish on the black handle while securing the knife tang's attachment to the handle. This meat cleaver comes in an exquisite gift box covered by a 100% money-back guarantee.


  • Washing in the dishwasher can accelerate knife dulling
  • Not suitable for cutting through bones 

Dexter-Russell S5288 Cleaver

Dexter cleavers has been in production since the early 1800s. Talk about a company that has withstood the test of time. This cleaver is a top-notch all-rounder that can chop pretty much anything, from beef to poultry and fish.

Quick Specs:

  • 8-inch blade
  • Weighs 2.5 pounds
  • Material: Dexsteel High carbon stainless steel
  • Construction type: Stamped
  • Full tang
  • Polished rosewood handle


The Dexter-Russel cleaver is sturdily meant for heavy-duty work. Its 8 inches high carbon steel blade provides reliable sharpness. The blade is honed by hand in the factory and ground repeatedly to withstand harsh blows expected from working with dense meat, cartilage, and bones. The sturdy blade spine can crush foods like garlic and gingers or tenderize meat.

Three large brass compression rivets reinforce the full-tang for extra strength and durability and improved balance in handling. The handle is made from elegant and well-polished rosewood that is ergonomic and comfortable for any grip.

This meat cleaver comprises proprietary DEXSTEEL high-carbon stainless steel with high corrosion-resistance properties. The unique edge geometry contributes to the longevity of the edge and ease in restoring sharpness. Despite the material, the knife is not entirely safe from rust and stain.

The Dexter-Russell cleaver is covered by a limited lifetime warranty, which means factory defects are always replaceable as long as it's still in the original owner's hands.


  • The blade can still rust without proper maintenance.
  • It may prove unwieldy for those with hand and wrist conditions.

Global Meat Cleaver

Global is a Japanese company of kitchen knives considered by many as the best in the market. With thin, elegant knives that are stronger than they look, Global knives are wrought from a significantly harder steel alloy. Their unique knives consist of three different parts expertly welded together to achieve a seamless appearance. Professional chefs like Anthony Bourdain and Michel Roux Jr. have all attested to Global knives' mesmerizing quality.

Quick specs:

  • 6.5-inch blade
  • Material: CROMOVA-18 high-carbon stainless steel
  • Construction type: Stamped
  • Full tang
  • Stainless steel handle
  • Blade edge sharpened to a 15-degree angle


The Global Meat cleaver is an apex of Japanese sophistication, incorporating lightweight and thinness with impressive hardness and a hair-splitting sharpness. When you buy this meat cleaver, you're purchasing into an art form crafted with Japanese precision and creativity.

Depending on the chef's cutting technique, the Global meat cleaver's sharp 15-degree edge more than compensates for its reduced heft in terms of cutting or chopping power. Global's edge is far-renowned for its long-lasting, razor-sharp edge. This cleaver is constructed with Cromova 18 stainless steel containing a unique mix of molybdenum, vanadium, and chromium, which all synergize to imbue the blade with extra hardness long-lasting edges. Despite its hardness, the steel is still soft enough to facilitate convenient sharpening.

The blade is shaped in the traditional square outline with its straight-edge blade hand-sharpened to a blistering 15-degree angle. The Global Meat cleaver comes with a bolster less design, allowing a more robust handle grip and facilitating easier sharpening. The hollowed handle is designed to improve the handling balance. While some chefs may be reluctant with the steel handle, Global's signature textured grip surface makes it very easy to hold and less prone to slipping. The seamless design of the stainless steel maintains better hygiene overall.


  • Costs more than other models
  • Might sustain damage with thicker bones
  • Dishwasher incompatible
  • Lack of finger guard

KOFERY Cleaver

Kerry takes pride in its commitment to forging traditional Chinese blades by hand. Their knives are made with subtle details anyone would gloss over but are very significant in giving the knife its stellar qualities. Every knife goes through expert artisans who use unique techniques handed down by ancestors.

Quick specs:

  • 7-inch blade
  • Material: 4CR13 stainless steel
  • Construction Type: Forged
  • Full tang
  • Pearwood handle
  • Blade edge sharpened to a 15-degree angle


The KOFERY Cleaver is a monster of a knife, nicknamed by a certain few as the "Bone Killer.” So whether it's a frozen turkey or pig ribs, the Kofery cleaver won't ever disappoint. Its slice-and-hack brute strength is top-grade and would go to waste on delicate, soft foods like fruit.

KOFERY cleavers are forged using top-of-the-line heat treatment technology. Their repeated quenching and tempering method results in a long-lasting edge that's easy to sharpen and more resistant to deformations. The blade also comes with a V-shaped bevel that lessens cutting resistance. The 15-degree edge imbues the blade with ultra-sharpness that aids in other kitchen responsibilities like peeling, garnishing, mincing, dicing, and slicing softer foods, although this may result in quicker fatigue as the knife is primarily designed to be heavy to facilitate quick work with bones.

The material used, 4CR13 stainless steel, gives the cleaver the qualities it needs to survive heavy-duty work. Stainless steel has increased corrosion resistance. As the stainless steel blade is 4.5-inches wide and has a thickness of 0.19-inches, this cleaver is the ideal tool for slicing, cutting, chopping, or shredding thick meat.

The knife handle comes with an exquisitely elegant natural pearwood handle sourced from South Asia. The extra factory polishing has given it a smooth roundness that's ergonomic for the hand. The handle is completely secured to the blade's full tang with the help of three solid rivets. The cleaver blade has the classic hole on the top portion for easy hanging and storage in your kitchen. For extra peace of mind, the KOFERY cleaver is covered by a risk-free full refund guarantee. The cleaver is also available in a 7-inch size.


  • Maybe too heavy for kitchen work outside cutting through bones


A quality kitchen cleaver can be one of the most exciting tools to have in your kitchen. It’s versatile, sharp, and can stand up to way more abuse than your average kitchen chef’s knife. All of the kitchen cleavers mentioned in this article are excellent picks and you won’t go wrong by picking any of them to go home with.

The go-to guide of sewing professionals and enthusiasts
Subscribe to our newsletter
Subscription Form
Be first to know about specials!
Join our mailing list.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram