Buying Wisely: How to Choose a Good Cleaver for Meat

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Who doesn’t know what a cleaver is? We’ve seen butchers weaving them around like mad, and Chinese cooks are famous for being dexterous with this particularly useful tool. And if you don’t have a cleaver yet, maybe it’s time for you to equip your kitchen with one, especially if you like chopping your own meat on the bone.

Cleavers are inherently handy for any kitchen in many respects. But if you are in the market for a cleaver, would you know how to choose one that’s right for your needs? This is precisely the reason why we’ve come up with a convenient guide for choosing the ideal cleaver.

Personal choice

You can ask as many experts as you want, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to personal choice. Before you buy a cleaver, you should assess how comfortable it is in your hand. Try to wield it and see if it fits comfortably. The important point is that you should be able to use it for a long period of time, just like any other knife. If it is too heavy or hefty, then you might want to consider going for a lighter one.

32 Buying Wisely: How to Choose a Good Cleaver for Meat

Look for a cleaver which feels solid but not too unwieldy or heavy. Your hand shouldn’t be strained while using the cleaver.

Know the difference between a Chinese cleaver/knife and a heavy-duty cleaver

In your quest to buy a good cleaver, there’s one thing that you should remember: There are also the so-called Chinese knives, which may look like a regular cleaver, but are actually not built for the same purpose. A Chinese cleaver is slightly thinner and more lightweight than a regular cleaver, and it is not precisely designed for chopping through the bone. In fact, it is more likely used for chopping vegetables. When you are in the market for a cleaver, ask the supplier or manufacturer if it is a heavy-duty regular cleaver or a Chinese cleaver. If you want a cleaver that can cut through spare ribs and split chicken carcasses and other fowl, then you would want a traditional, heavy-duty butcher’s cleaver that you can use alongside a mallet for better hacking results.

Check for quality

Just like buying other types of knives, when you are buying a cleaver you have to make sure that it’s made with the highest standards. Check the handle and feel the grip. You can choose to have a cleaver with a wooden or plastic handle – it’s really up to you. Or you can also opt for a cleaver with an innovative hollow handle made for better balance and dexterity. Always choose a cleaver made from high-quality stainless steel, particularly ice-tempered steel, which makes it more durable.


Once you have chosen a cleaver for your kitchen, you should be able to use it for most heavy-duty tasks. Cut through a chicken with ease, slice thick steaks from huge fish, and even smash garlic and ginger with it (just remember to turn it on its side). With good cleavers, you can become an expert in your kitchen in no time.

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