BLADE Magazine

5 Best Meat Cleaver Options [2022]

The Meat Cleaver Is The Heavyweight Of Kitchen Tools And Can Cut Things As Hard As Bone. These Five Are Among Some Of Today’s Top Models.

Today we’re talking cleavers, specifically meat cleavers. Industry folks prefer the shorter form when referring to the cutting implement, but we’re going with the longer, common man vernacular for this piece.

Why? Because cleaver abound nowadays, but we’re specifically talking about the type meant to cut meat. And with the way folks find stuff online, going long is likely to get the right person to the right information. Sorry if that bends any noses out of place.

What Is A Cleaver?

The cleaver is a fascinating tool that has existed in some form for millennia. Tools described as cleavers date as far back as the Acheulean period more than 1.5 million years ago, and probably date back even further. It’s a stout, heavy piece that differs from the standard kitchen knife in numerous ways.

The most obvious difference is the shape. A cleaver doesn’t taper to a point but is usually rectangular in shape. It may have a curve along the spine, but the basic shape of any cleaver will be a rectangle. 

Many cleavers, and almost every one on our list, have a large hole in the corner opposite the handle. This is because many butchers prefer to hang their cleavers on a hook rather than leave them on a flat surface to avoid potentially damaging the blade.

Five Top Cleavers Available Today

The best meat cleavers all have one thing in common: toughness. They’re all able to stand up to the abuse of the job. These five are among the top cleavers available today at a variety of price points.

Wusthof Classic 6-Inch Cleaver

Wusthof Classic 6-Inch Cleaver

When it comes to kitchen knives there are few companies with more history than Wusthof, and they have once again made a leader in the field with their Classic 6-inch Cleaver. Forged in Germany, the Classic looks like the archetype of what you expect a cleaver to be.

The blade is 6.3 inches long and 2.8 inches wide, which allows you to do things like crush garlic and ginger or use it like a bench scraper to scoop up ingredients. It comes with a triple-riveted handle that is easy to grip and feels good in your hand.

It’s a bit pricey, with an MSRP of $300, but this is a cleaver that should last you years.

Messermeister Four Seasons Heavy Cleaver

Messermeister Four Seasons Heavy Meat Cleaver, 6-Inch

If you’re looking for a quality cleaver at an affordable price, Messermeister has you covered. The Four Seasons (no connection to the hotel chain) is stamped from a single piece of 1.4116 stainless steel with a 56-57 HRC and features a molded polypropylene handle.

The fact that it is stamped, rather than forged, keeps the costs down tremendously, and it comes in two versions: a 6-inch and a 7-inch. It’s a good tool. It might not have the fanciest steel or hand-carved wood handle, but if you’re looking for a tough cleaver at a fair price, this is the one for you.

The MSRP of the 6-inch is $47.95, and the 7-inch costs $59.95

Zhen VG-10 67-Layer Damascus Large Cleaver, 8-Inch

Zhen VG-10 67-Layer Damascus Large Cleaver, 8-Inch

This one is beautiful. The Damascus Large Cleaver from Zhen Premium Knives is visually stunning and one heck of a cutter. The blade was made with VG-10 stainless steel (60-62 HRC) and features a Pakkawood handle. 

The damascus pattern waves and curls across the blade to give it a dynamic, kinetic energy. That’s not even discussing the caliber of the cleaver, which is professional grade and comes with a lifetime warranty against defects.

Four inches wide, this cleaver is large in terms of overall area and is a phenomenal multi-use tool in the kitchen. At an MSRP of just $135, it’s actually a bargain for a professional-quality model of this caliber.

Dalstrong Obliterator Cleaver 9-Inch With Stand

Dalstrong Obliterator Meat Cleaver 9-Inch

From Dalstrong’s Gladiator series comes the Obliterator, a massive cleaver built to withstand anything you can throw at it in the kitchen. The massive blade is made from heat-treated 7Cr17MoV steel with a 60 HRC. It weighs 2.9 pounds and is .236-inch thick. It truly lives up to its name. 

The handle is made of thick G-10, which is great to withstand the forces of cutting up a rack of ribs or spatchcocking a turkey. 

The Obliterator also comes with an acacia wood stand so you can proudly show off your chopper. With an MSRP of $120, the Obliterator won’t obliterate your wallet.

Henckels Classic 6-Inch Cleaver

Henckels Classic 6-Inch Meat Cleaver

Forged from German stainless steel, the Henckels Classic is a quintessential cleaver. Not as girthy as the Obliterator, the Classic is well constructed and designed to be used every day. The blade isn’t as hard as most of the others on this list, with a 55-58 HRC, but this is still an excellent tool.

The satin-finished blade is sharpened and honed to stay sharper longer, and the full-tang, triple-riveted handle gives the cleaver balance in your hand. You’ll feel confident using this one each and every time

It’s a lightweight piece, at just around 12 ounces, and is about 10.5 inches in overall length. MSRP: $64.99.

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