Buyer's Guides Chinese Cleavers Cleavers

Best Chinese Cleaver: 2020 Buyer’s Guide for Products with Ultimate Cutting Power

MyAsianCooking is supported by its readers. If you buy through our links we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn more.

Chopping board block

Nothing beats using the best Chinese cleaver when it comes to the ultimate all-purpose cutting tool in the kitchen. Each part of the knife is put to work, making this type of cleaver very versatile, especially when it comes to chopping, slicing, dicing, and cutting even the toughest meats and veggies. In fact, it’s more versatile than a standard vegetable cleaver. Many pro cooks swear by this type of knife, but if you don’t have any experience using one, then searching for the best model can start to feel like work.

That’s where I come in. I’ve tested out several of the best-selling models, narrowing it down to five that cooks of all skill levels will love and quickly find themselves using daily. I’ve also created a buyer’s guide, which includes information on the benefits of this style of cleaver, what features you’ll want to look for when you’re shopping around, and how to put this type of cleaver to work in the kitchen. Below, you’ll find a buyer’s guide that includes information about each of the models that made it onto my list, the best features they offer, and how each cleaver rated.

Chinese Cleaver Comparison Chart

ProductBlade
Material
Handle
Material
Blade
Length
Rating
TUO Cutlery Cleaver
Shop On Amazon!
Carbon Steel/
Stainless Steel
Wood8"
Wusthof Gourmet Chinese Cleaver
Shop On Amazon!
Carbon Steel/
Stainless Steel
ABS8"
Kitory Chef's Knives Cleaver
Shop On Amazon!
Stainless steelWood8.5"
Global Kitchen-Knives Chop & Slice
Shop On Amazon!
Stainless steelStainless Steel7"
Victorinox Chinese Classic Cleaver
Shop On Amazon!
Stainless steelABS7"

TUO Cutlery Vegetable Cleaver


Our Rating: (5/5)

This seven-inch cleaver comes equipped with a Pakkawood handle, for ultimate durability, and an ergonomic handle design that improves user comfort. This is a full-tang style knife with a razor-sharp edge and a blade that’s made out of stainless steel and carbon steel. The cleaver also features an edge that’s hand polished and a design of eighteen degrees per side. The blade is also stain resistant and precision tempered.

Pros

  • Pakkawood handle
  • Eight-inch long blade
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Full-tang

Cons

  • Not dishwasher safe

Conclusion

This model comes with a one-hundred percent money-back guarantee, so buyers can try it risk-free and return it with no questions asked, for a full refund. The knife itself is very versatile and can handle cutting up even the thickest cuts of meat and the toughest veggies. It’s perfect for a wide variety of jobs in the kitchen and will quickly become your go-to knife for most cutting, slicing, and mincing tasks.

Wusthof Gourmet Heavy Chinese Cleaver


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This eight-inch cleaver is a great choice if you’re looking for a model that can handle chopping through tendons and thicker cuts of meat. It features a blade that’s made out of high-quality carbon steel and stainless steel and features a handle that’s made out of ABS polymer, for improved durability. The handle is resistant to high heat, so the cleaver can be placed in the dishwasher after use. The handle is triple riveted, so you know it’s designed to withstand heavy-duty use. The knife itself weighs in at just twelve and a half ounces, so users will enjoy total control when it comes to cutting action.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Eight-inch long blade
  • Triple-riveted handle

Cons

  • Handle is made out of plastic

Conclusion

This lightweight Chinese cleaver is designed with user comfort in mind. It’s durable, well-built, and features a razor-sharp edge and an ergonomic handle with a triple-rivet design, which allows you to use this cleaver to chop through bones and tendons, or finely slice through delicate meats and veggies. It’s a great buy for the cook in need of a multipurpose model that can handle it all, including a run through the dishwasher.

Kitory Chef’s Knives Cleaver


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This 8.5-inch cleaver is longer than the average Chinese cleaver, which typically measures in at 8-inches. The design is very streamlined, making it more comfortable to use for a longer period of time. This knife can easily handle mincing, dicing, slicing, and chopping up all types of fruits, veggies, and meats. Its lightweight design is one of its biggest selling points, since it makes the knife easier to handle and allows the user to have total control during use.

Pros

  • Lightweight design
  • Versatile
  • Longer than average blade
  • Durable

Cons

  • Must be washed by hand

Conclusion

The stainless steel blade design, with longer cutting action, combined with the thick Pakkawood handle, make this cleaver both user-friendly and durable. While it must be washed by hand, this is a low maintenance cleaver that retains an edge well, which means you won’t need to sharpen it often. It’s also a great buy for the cook on a budget in search of a high-quality, lightweight cleaver that’s built tough and affordable.

Global Kitchen-Knives Chop & Slice


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This seven-inch Chinese cleaver is one-inch shorter compared to the other models in my top five lineup. It also weighs in at 4.8 ounces and is made out of stainless steel, as is the handle. The stainless steel handle is what adds some serious weight to this knife. The handle is also much wider than a standard cleaver, which can make it difficult for people with smaller hands to use this cleaver comfortably for a long period of time. This model is durable, dishwasher-safe, and well-built, but due to the shorter blade and the wider handle design, this cleaver won’t be a good choice for everyone.

Pros

  • Stainless steel handle
  • Low price
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Durable

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Wider handle makes the cleaver a poor choice for people with small hands

Conclusion

This low-priced cleaver may not be for everyone. While the shorter length for some will not matter much, the heavier, design and the wider handle can make this cleaver difficult for some users to control. However, the cleaver itself is well-built and dishwasher safe, which also makes it low maintenance. Overall, this model is a great buy for the amateur in search of an affordable cleaver that can withstand daily use.

Victorinox Chinese Classic Cleaver


Our Rating: (4/5)

This cleaver features a seven-inch blade design, and a thin, sharp, delicate edge, with a lightweight design that makes this model very easy to control, even if you’re cutting through thicker meats or veggies. The blade is made out of stainless steel and ends with an ergonomic ABS handle. The handle is dishwasher safe and heat-resistant and very comfortable to hold, so you can use your cleaver longer, in total comfort.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Ergonomic
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Knife is easy to control

Cons

  • Smaller blade
  • Plastic handle

Conclusion

This model features a lightweight design that makes it easy to control and comes equipped with a tough ABS handle that’s heat-resistant and dishwasher safe. The cleaver itself is best described as versatile and can be used to dice, mince, scoop, scrape, and more. It’s a great knife if you’re looking for a multipurpose model that you can rely on to prepare a wide variety of dishes, and it’s available at a price that won’t break the bank.

Chinese Cleaver Buyer’s Guide

When most people think of a cleaver, they imagine a large heavy knife that’s used to chop through ribs, poultry, and thicker bones. However, when it comes to the Chinese cleaver, that’s not the case. The Chinese cleaver may look the same as a meat cleaver, but It has a much lighter design and a thinner edge to it. Its versatility may also surprise you. Big brands will make these cleavers in a variety of blade thicknesses ranging from two millimeters up to eight millimeters. The cleaver with a thinner cutting edge will be much sharper than models with an eight-millimeter edge. However, a thinner edge can also make the cleaver more susceptible to damage.

As I mentioned above, the Chinese cleaver is a very versatile cutting utensil. Every part of the cleaver can be used, with the sharp edge utilized for cutting and the top blunt edge used to tenderize and pound meat. When the cleaver is placed on its side it can be a great tool to use to smash ginger and garlic. It can even be used to transfer cut up food from the cutting board right to the frying pan and can be used to transfer rice cakes or other types of rice desserts to an awaiting wok. The flat end of the cleaver’s handle can also be used for a pestle. This type of cleaver is that versatile. However, before you hit that buy now button, ordering the first cleaver you come across, it’s important that you learn more about the features to look for that indicate quality, and the benefits of using this style of cleaver over the traditional cleaver and other types of cutting utensils.

Keep in mind, this type of cleaver can’t do it all, so, if you’re starting from scratch, I also recommend purchasing a full knife set, for large and small jobs around the kitchen. To learn more, click here to read my guide on the best Japanese kitchen knives.

Benefits of Using a Chinese Cleaver

The Chinese cleaver offers many benefits, which is why so many chefs swear by them.

  • To start, these knives are very versatile and can perform a wide range of cutting tasks in the kitchen.
  • The large blade can also be used to scoop food from off a bamboo cutting board and quickly transport it to an awaiting pot or pan.
  • The blade on this type of cleaver is often much thinner than those that you’ll find on a standard cleaver. This translates to a much sharper edge.
  • The materials used for this type of cleaver improves its durability and cutting power. In fact, the cutting edge holds up very well. Any time the edge goes blunt, it can easily and quickly be sharpened with a honing stick.

Other Important Features

Below, you’ll find a list of some of the most important features to look for when you’re shopping for a new cleaver. These features will allow you to quickly identify a good cleaver from one that can’t withstand heavy-duty use.

Blade Material

In the past, the blades of a cleaver were made out of carbon steel. But it’s a well-known fact that this material is susceptible to rust. Additionally, it can also leave a metallic taste behind. These days, many of the pros recommend using cleavers that are made out of a combination of carbon steel and stainless steel, or straight stainless steel. Fortunately, there are many top of the line cleavers that are now made with stainless steel blades.

Functionality

While this type of cleaver looks very similar to a butcher cleaver, that doesn’t mean that it can be used to chop up bones. Heavy cleavers are designed for that purpose. The main purpose of a lightweight cleaver is to slice meat. Chopping up bones with a Chinese cleaver can ruin the blade.

Handle

When you’re shopping for a cleaver, you should also pay attention to the handle. The handles will vary in design, length, and material. Your preference may heavily depend on what feels comfortable to you and what can give you more control over a cut. If you prefer the feel of a traditional handle, then go with a model that has a handle that’s made out of wood. Keep in mind, the handles that are made out of alternative materials are easier to clean and more durable.

Partial or Full Tang

Do you want a full or partial tang design? A full tang refers to a blade that runs the full length of the knife, including the handle. A partial tang will usually stop at the handle. Full tang models have a reputation for lasting longer than partial tang knives.

Weight

The weight of a cleaver really matters since using a model that’s too heavy can make it difficult to control. Try testing out the weight of a few cleavers before you decide to buy.

Comfort

The cleaver you choose should have a solid feel to it, but it shouldn’t be too heavy. If your hands hurt and feel unsteady when you’re using a cleaver, try using a different one. Using a model that feels comfortable in your hand will give you more control while you cut. A comfortable handle will be crucial for people with past hand and wrist injuries, and those with arthritis. For ultimate comfort, look for a cleaver that features an ergonomic handle design.

Sharpening

The blade must be sharpened regularly. A dull cleaver will force you to use more pressure to cut, which can lead to rough cuts and personal injury. There are many ways to sharpen a cleaver, but using a sharpening stick is one of the most popular. Some models will come with a sharpening stick, which consists of a thin steel rod with a handle on one end. This sharpening tool doesn’t remove any metal but realigns the blade edge at a molecular level instead. To use a sharpening stick, all you have to do is keep the stick stationary as you slide the knife along the stick, away from you, several times, until the desired edge is achieved.

Maintenance

When it comes to storing and cleaning a cleaver, protecting the blade is the most important thing to keep in mind. A cleaver must be stored in a knife block, where there is much less risk of damage.

When it comes to cleaning the cleaver, it should always be washed by hand, in warm soapy water and dried promptly, to prevent rust.

Price

These cleavers are available in a variety of price brackets ranging from twenty dollars up to one hundred. These versatile knives are definitely worth the investment, since you can rely on them to handle pretty much any job you can think of in the kitchen, except cutting through bone. Models with a higher price tag will come with a longer blade design and a full tang, while lower-priced cleavers will feature a partial tang and a shorter blade design. The type of handle and blade material used will also be reflected in the price. Typically, blades made out of carbon steel will be pricier than those that are made out of straight stainless steel.

Use

Every part of the cleaver can be used, which explains why so many chefs have them in their home and commercial kitchens.

  • The sharp thin edge can easily dice, mince, and slice, which results in pieces of fish, meat, or veggies that are paper-thin.
  • The blunt edge can be used to pound or tenderize meat and poultry.
  • The sides of the cleaver are flat and wide, which makes them perfect for smashing herbs. You can even use the side as a bench scraper, which will save you plenty of time and work in the kitchen. These knives can be used to make any type of dish from sushi, to your favorite Filipino rice recipe.
  • While the Chinese cleaver is referred to as a cleaver and it’s shaped like a traditional cleaver, it’s not really capable of handling the same types of jobs that a regular cleaver is. You won’t want to use this type of cleaver to hack through bones, although there are some thicker bladed models that can handle the job. But for the most part, these cleavers are not the right choice for you if you’re looking for a model that can handle the same types of cutting tasks. Instead, these cleavers are a better choice for julienning, mincing, and dicing. They can also slice meats and fish and can handle cutting through thick cuts of meat and tough veggies. This type of knife will take some getting used to, especially if you normally use western style knives or Japanese knives. The hand is placed higher on the handle, so the balance is difference, and the blade has a very subtle curve to it. With a little practice, you can easily adjust to using this type of knife.
  • You will also be less likely to use certain types of cutting techniques that are commonly used with western-style knives, such as seesawing the blade back and forth or rock chopping. This is because the Chinese cleaver doesn’t have enough curve in the blade for back and forth sawing. It’s a better choice for push cutting, although it can be used to slice foods via the blade running along the food.
  • The fact that this type of cleaver doubles as a bench scraper is probably one of the best things about it. You’ll find yourself relying on it as a bench scraper often, if you need to transfer food from the cutting board to a wok or pot.
  • While the cleaver will not fully replace a bench scraper, it does do a great job and removing any stuck on and transferring food from your cutting board.

Final Thoughts

The best Chinese cleaver is one that’s built solid, designed to withstand heavy-duty use, and one that you can easily control. The right model for you will depend on the types of foods that you cut up regularly in your kitchen and the weight and style that feels the most comfortable to you. The models in my top five lineup each earned high marks for durability and quality and scored well for both blade and handle quality. This buyer’s guide and my product recommendations will make it easy for you to choose a model that works for you and your cooking needs, whether you need a cleaver to create an amazing stir fy, one to prepare sushi, or a model that can do it all.