Meat cleavers get a bad rap for their intimidating appearance and frequent role in horror movies.
However, they can be an extremely handy tool when it comes to preparing your favorite meats.
Meat cleavers are the largest, heaviest kitchen knives out there, made for a job that no other standard kitchen knife can do.
With so many mean cleavers available, we want to give you a quick overview of what do look for in a great meat cleaver and our favorite ones out there.
Comparison Chart of the Best Meat Cleavers
Best Meat Cleaver
Best Meat Cleaver Runner-up
Best Two Handed
What is a Meat Cleaver?
In general, meat cleavers stand apart from other knives because of their shape, size, and weight. A meat cleaver has a characteristically large, sharp, rectangular blade.
Unlike most other knives, a meat cleaver must be swung down similar to a hammer.
A meat cleaver is designed to be durable to withstand the force of repeatedly swinging it down onto the chopping block. Its primary purpose is to slice easily through bone, cartilage, or thick cuts of meat.
By design, it can cut meat quickly in one swift motion, instead of forcing you to saw away for hours on end.
Aspects of a Great Meat Cleaver
One of the most important features to look for in a great meat cleaver is a strong blade.
Experienced users suggest buying a meat cleaver that is “full-tang.” This means that the steel of the blade is formed into the handle as one piece, so as to avoid the blade coming loose mid-swing.
Additionally, the handle should be comfortable and easy to grip.
When shopping for a meat cleaver, you’ll also want to check into the dimensions of the blade. As a general rule of thumb, a broader blade works best for tough, thick cuts of meat.
It's important to remember, though, that with size comes more weight. If a meat cleaver feels light, it's probably not the highest quality.
A heavy blade means that you should be able to cut through meat easily with one swing. Make sure it’s not too heavy though, as that may make it difficult to use.
The best meat cleaver is also versatile. With many different sizes and levels of sharpness available, certain meat cleavers are best equipped for particular types of meat.
Instead of worrying about switching cleavers for each meal, we recommend purchasing a multipurpose cleaver that can be used for a variety of meats.
Review of the Best Meat Cleavers
Now that you have a little more information about what makes a good meat cleaver, we want to talk about our favorites. For each one, we’ll give you a brief overview along with the pros and cons, so you can make an informed decision on which meat cleaver suits your needs.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the best meat cleavers of the year.
1. Best Meat Cleaver Overall: Zelite Infinity Cleaver Knife
Let’s jump right in with the best overall meat cleaver. The Zelite Infinity Cleaver Knife Comfort-Pro Series is specially crafted with quality, high carbon stainless steel. This steel is rust, corrosion, and stain resistant.
The blade is tough, with a rating of 56 on the Rockwell Hardness Scale. The 7” blade is extremely sharp and just the right weight for multipurpose use.
To top it all off, the full-tang ergonomic handle is balanced perfectly for long-lasting comfort. You won’t want to use any other knife in your kitchen.
Our pick for the best meat cleaver is the Zelite Infinity Cleaver Knife. With an ultra-sharp, balanced blade and versalite for use with both veggies and meats, the Zelite Infinity Cleaver knife is a great option for anyone looking for a quality meat cleaver.
2. Best Meat Cleaver Runner-up: Dalstrong Cleaver - Gladiator Series
Our next runner up for best meat cleaver is the Dalstrong Cleaver from their Gladiator Series. This 7”, multipurpose cleaver has the perfect heft and a 55 Rockwell hardness.
The black, pakkawood handle is full-tang and ergonomically designed for ease of use and comfort.
Dalstrong also accounted for knuckle-clearance by making the ultra-sharp blade extra tall. As an added bonus, a handy protective sheath is included to keep your cleaver ready to go for next time.
The bottom line is, if you’re looking for an all-around great meat cleaver at an affordable price, the Dalstrong Cleaver- Gladiator Series is a great option for you.
3. Best Selling Meat Cleaver: Dexter-Russell (S5288) - 8" Heavy-Duty Cleaver
Aside from the top two best quality meat cleavers out there, this is the best selling meat cleaver on the market: The Dexter-Russell 8” Heavy-Duty Cleaver.
This cleaver is built with good heft, so that you can slice through bone and tough meat with ease.
The creators made sure this cleaver would be perfectly balanced for ultimate comfort. The sharp blade is crafted from stain-free, high-carbon steel and measures at a whopping 8-inches in length.
All in all, the Dexter-Russell meat cleaver is a heavy duty option for people who mean business. If your goal is to easily slice through bone and thick cuts of meat, you may want to give the Dexter-Russell cleaver a try.
4. Best Two Handed Meat Cleaver: J.A. Henckels International Classic Stainless-Steel Meat Cleaver
The J.A. Henckels meat cleaver is a great option for those just entering the world of cleavers.
This 6” cleaver is made in Spain, with a satin-finished German stainless steel blade. Its full-tang construction makes it extremely durable.
It also has an ergonomic, well-balanced, triple-rivet, handle and the blade has a hole in the top corner for easy hanging on a hook or peg. To top it all off, this cleaver is dishwasher safe.
Overall, the J.A. Henckels meat cleaver is a perfect option for someone looking for a super sharp, balanced, and affordable cleaver for cutting vegetables and meat.
5. Best Large Meat Cleaver: Wusthof Classic 7-1/2-Inch Heavy Cleaver
Next on our list, the Wusthof Classic 7 ½” heavy cleaver, is not for the faint of heart. This cleaver is made to be extra heavy, so cutting through large bones and thick cuts of meat is a piece of cake.
The full-tang, stainless steel blade is crafted from a single slice of high-carbon German steel.
The blade is also laser-tested for sharpness and to ensure a long-lasting edge. Finally, the sleek black handle has 3 rivets for ultimate strength and durability.
If you’re in the market for a heavy-duty meat cleaver, the Wusthof Classic won’t let you down. This large cleaver is an all-around great choice for someone who wants a heavy cleaver that means business.
6. Best Mini Meat Cleaver: Mini Meat Cleaver Steak Knife Set
Last but certainly not least is the Mini Meat Cleaver Steak Knife Set by Rare Fool. Included in this set are two, compact, full-tang, stainless steel cleavers. They are very sharp and are perfect for cutting veggies or meats.
The wooden handles are beautifully carved and well-balanced for comfort and grip. They are presented in a handy wooden case, perfect for storage or gift-giving. Finally, they have a lifetime warranty so you can rest assured they will last.
The Mini Meat Cleaver Steak Knife Set is perfect if you’re looking for a slightly less intimidating option. Perfect for slicing up your favorite cuts of meat, compact, and sleek, you can’t go wrong with this set of two mini cleavers.
A great meat cleaver is hard to come by, but we think any of the products mentioned above will be a great addition to your kitchen. For those who need the perfect tool to prepare thick cuts of meat, bones, or vegetables, we’ve got you covered.
Let us know in the comments below what your favorite meat cleaver is. We love hearing from our readers. Enjoy!