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Whether you’re a casual cook or a Michelin-starred chef, you’re probably well aware that a reliable knife is one of the most important tools in the kitchen. Of course, there are a lot of different kinds of knives out there, ranging from the general (chef’s knife) to the hyper-specific (grapefruit knife). Somewhere in the middle is a meat cleaver, which is a purpose-built knife meant for chopping through tough cuts of meat and separating bones and joints. If you’re regularly working with large cuts of meat, a meat cleaver can be a worthwhile addition to your collection.
Investing in a meat cleaver has a few key benefits. By using a meat cleaver instead of a chef’s knife or some other knife, you help keep your other blades sharper for longer. Plus, a meat cleaver allows you to make quick work of tough jobs, saving you time in the kitchen. And perhaps most importantly, they’re just fun to use. Where most knives are meant for delicate and deliberate slices and cuts, a meat cleaver is built for aggressive chopping and cleaving.
Of course, you need a meat cleaver that can actually keep up with the tough jobs you put them up to, and it can be hard to tell just by looking at pictures online. That’s why you’ll see several key terms that are often indicative of higher quality.
- Full Tang – A full tang means the metal from the blade extends the entire length of the handle, making for a more balanced knife that’s also durable.
- High-Carbon Steel – Steel is an alloy primarily made from iron and carbon. Higher carbon steel is abrasion-resistant and retains its shape and sharpness.
- Bolster – A bolster is a bulky part of the knife between the handle and blade, which prevents slippage and is indicative of a knife’s durability.
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite meat cleavers that you can buy online, including premium options from J.A. Henckels and Wusthof, as well as affordable picks from Faberware and Cuisinart.
1. J.A. Henckels International Meat Cleaver
Germany is revered for its knife manufacturing, and J.A. Henckels is one of the oldest German blade makers. The blade is hot-drop forged for durability, and the high-carbon steel blade is made to resist rust. The classic triple-riveted handle adds to the durability, There’s also a hanging loop at the top for easy storage.
2. Dexter-Russell Stainless Heavy Duty Cleaver
The detail that sets this cleaver apart from others is the beautiful wood handle, which is made from rosewood. The blade is made from high-carbon steel, adding durability and meaning it’ll resist rust. The cleaver is made in the US, and the super heavy weight means you don’t have to be afraid to be a little rough with it.
3. Wüsthof Classic Cleaver
Legendary German knife makers, Wusthof, bring their seven generations of experience to this simple and sturdy meat cleaver. The blade is precision-forged from a single piece of high-carbon steel, and the full-tang handle features three rivets to ensure the durability and balance of the handle. The knife is made in Germany.
4. KitchenAid Classic Forged Triple Rivet Cleaver
If you’re not likely to use your meat cleaver every day, you might not want something too expensive. That said, you also don’t something that’s cheap. This affordable cleaver is from KitchenAid, and it’s made from high-carbon German stainless steel, and it has a full tang and bolster, ensuring the handle’s balance
5. Farberware Cleaver Knife, Black
Not only is Faberware’s meat cleaver affordable, but it’s built with several convenient features that extend the longevity of the blade. The cleaver comes with a unique sheath that not only protects the blade but actually sharpens it. The blade is made from high-carbon steel as well.
6. Cuisinart Classic Triple Rivet Cleaver
Stylish, sturdy and reasonably priced — that could describe most of Cuisinart’s offerings, and the same is true of this 6-inch meat cleaver. The handle is triple-riveted and has a full tang, ensuring durability, longevity and comfortable balance. The high-carbon stainless steel also makes the blade more durable. It doesn’t have a hanging loop, so you’ll need to store it in a drawer or a magnetic knife bar.
7. Mueller Meat Cleaver Knife
Beautifully designed and durable, the Mueller meat cleaver is a splurge-worthy blade that costs less than it looks like it should. It has a stainless steel handle that extends from the blade in one piece, with a plastic cap on the bottom of the handle to make it more comfortable to hold.
8. Imarku Cleaver Knife
This cleaver from Imarku features a stain and rust-resistant German steel blade with a full-tang handle made from luxurious-looking pakka wood. The hanging loop at the top of the blade makes this knife easy to store.