Professional chefs have all the proper utensils to ensure their preparation work in the kitchen is done efficiently and quickly. Probably the most essential utensils of all are the knives they use, each with its own properties and of the finest quality. Even an amateur cook will need a good set of knives, and a meat cleaver is one. Which are the best meat cleavers for cutting easily through bone?
The eight best meat cleavers for cutting through bone include several American-made products, as well as German and Chinese cleavers. The Dexter-Russell cleaver is considered by experts to be the best of all, made by a company that has been based in Springfield, Massachusetts since 1818.
Not all knives are able to cut through bone, not even all cleavers. But a meat cleaver is designed especially for this purpose. A quality meat cleaver will do so easily, provided you use it correctly and know the correct technique. We’ll examine the best meat cleavers on the market.
The 8 Best Meat Cleavers That Easily Cut Through Bone
There are a wide variety of cleavers from manufacturers around the world, so we have selected those with the highest quality and design for you to choose from. This list is by no means definitive, and there are many other excellent cleavers, but we believe these are eight of the very best.
Dexter-Russell 8-Inch Heavy-Duty Meat Cleaver
This meat cleaver is ideal for use in butcheries and commercial kitchens as well as for amateur chefs. With an eight-inch blade made from high-carbon stainless steel, this meat cleaver has the following features:
- The blade is designed for easier slicing.
- Hand-honed edge with unique geometry to ensure durability, but one which is easily resharpened.
- Polished 6-inch rosewood handle fixed with large brass rivets is exceptionally comfortable in the hand.
- Weighs 2lbs 11 oz, an above-average weight, making cutting through bone less of an effort.
Dexter Russell has been making knives in America for nearly two hundred years, and they are designed to last a lifetime.
- COMMAND THE COOK with a knife that stands up well to tough chopping jobs including large chunks of meat
- HEAVY DUTY this cleaver has a thick, durable blade, a handle that will hold up to tough use and the right weight to get the job done
- STURDY WITH AN EDGE that makes chopping and separating quick and easy
- STAIN-FREE, HIGH-CARBON STEEL BLADE, in thick gauge, is a real workhorse in the kitchen and includes a handy hang hole for easy storage
- BUILT FOR POWER, the traditional hardwood handle stands up to heavy use with thick scales and heavy duty brass compression rivets
Dalstrong Gladiator Series Meat Cleaver
The Obliterator has a nine-inch blade forged from premium quality German steel, with a durable precision edge and high stain resistance.
Its features include:
- A weight of almost 3 lbs., making it one of the heftiest cleavers on the market and highly efficient at cutting through cartilage and bone.
- A full-tang handle (meaning the blade tang into the handle runs the entire length), which is hand-finished to provide a comfortable grip.
- A beautiful knife combining design flair with quality materials.
- The Gladiator Series R 'Obliterator' cleaver serves a single ferocious purpose - to obliterate any culinary obstacle in it's path with one brutal chop. Featuring outstanding craftsmanship, cutting-edge technology, stunning design elements, and materials. Peak performance has never looked so good
- Incredibly razor sharp edge, full-tang, Forged from high-carbon 7CR17MOV Steel and heat treated to 60HRC, this 9" steel behemoth weighs in at 2.9lbs and 6mm thick. With a menacing shape inspired by medieval weaponry, this heavy-weight titan is sure to power through anything placed before it with brutal efficiency. National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certified (Applies to knives only)
- With heft, materials and quality feel. The blade's edge is razor sharp, allowing for surprising precision, while the extra-thick black G10 handle provides a solid grip from which to wield. Capable of sailing through virtually anything it may face, from beef, poultry or pork to tough-skinned fruits and vegetables, cutting with this mega-beast will put a smile on your face. Laminated and polished for a sanitary build, perfect for busy kitchens
- Engineered to perfection and hand polished to a satin finish. Carefully tapered for improved hardness, flexibility, and minimal slicing resistance. Tall blade height provides useful knuckle clearance. Included with the cleaver is a stylish handcrafted acacia wood stand, which serves the purpose to both store and display this savage instrument of chopping power, which is sure to garner attention where ever it is placed. Also included for those on the go is a PerfectFit saya with pin and string
Wusthof Classic Meat Cleaver
Wusthof cleavers are German-made and are rated one of the best meat cleavers at the top end of the price range.
- It has a tapered edge to reduce drag when cutting, and that edge is computer-controlled during manufacture to ensure its precision.
- The edge is sharpened to approximately 25 degrees, making it one of the sharpest cleavers available.
- The full-tang handle is made of a high-density synthetic material that requires no maintenance and doesn’t fade or discolor.
- With a 6′ blade and weighing only 1 lb., the Wusthof Meat cleaver is ideal for women chefs and those with smaller hands.
- The blade of a Wusthof cleaver is made from an exclusive high-carbon stainless steel, and each one is buffed and polished by hand.
- KITCHEN WORKHORSE – The WÜSTHOF Cleaver is essential for preparing any meal. This all-purpose cook’s knife can be used for chopping, mincing, slicing and dicing
- WÜSTHOF CLASSIC SERIES – The Full Tang, Triple Riveted handles of the Classic Line offer the widest range of cutlery that can satisfy every home cook or professional chef. The WÜSTHOF Classic Series has been our best-selling series for generations
- DURABLE – WÜSTHOF Cutlery is crafted to resist corrosion and dulling. This German made Kitchen Knife set Comes with a limited Lifetime Warranty
- PRECISION FORGED – forged from a single block of High Carbon Stainless Steel and tempered to 58-degree HRC. The Precision Edge Technology (PEtec) yields a blade that is 20% sharper with twice the edge retention than previous models
- CENTURIES OF TRADITION – Family owned for seven generations, WÜSTHOF was founded in Solingen, Germany over 200 years ago. WÜSTHOF’s cutlery carries the Solingen name, a designation reserved for products that meet the strictest quality standards
Kitory 6.5” Heavy Duty Meat Cleaver
An unusual axe-shaped blade differentiates the Kitory from other meat cleavers and makes bone-cutting particularly easy.
- High-carbon blade forged with heat treatment technology to provide exceptional hardness and durability.
- Pear wood handle with full tang, ergonomic design, and non-slip finish
- Weight of 1.83 lbs. with a 6.5-inch blade featuring a thick spine and 35-degree edge
- Excellent bone-cutting ability but also very versatile for slicing and dicing vegetables and fruit
Henckels Classic 6” Meat Cleaver
While part of the same company as Zwilling (see below), the Henckels cleaver is an entry-level brand and offers exceptional value for money.
- Manufacture in Spain from high-quality German stainless steel
- A fully forged blade provides a sharp, durable edge.
- Sufficient weight at 1.3 lbs. to easily cut through meat and bone.
- Triple-riveted handle synthetic handle surrounds a full tang.
- Made in Spain
- Fabricated from high quality German stainless steel
- Fully forged construction offers durability and a seamless transition from blade to handle
- Professional, satin finished blade boasts precision cutting and is finely honed for long lasting sharpness
- Ergonomic, traditional triple rivet handle gives balance and comfort
Zwilling Pro 6” Meat Cleaver
Sharing the same design features as the Henckels but of even higher quality, manufactured in Germany to the highest standards.
- The blade is ice-hardened in a unique process to stay sharp longer, with greater resilience.
- Laser-controlled sharpened edges.
- Curved bolster for more precise cutting.
- Forged from special-formula stainless steel.
- Beautifully weighted and balanced.
- Curved bolster encourages cutting with improved precision, safety and comfort
- POM handle is durable and resiliant
- SIGMAFORGE knife is forged from a single piece of Special Formula High-Carbon NO STAIN stainless steel
- Ice-hardened FRIODUR blade starts sharper, stays sharper longer, and has superior resilience
- Precision-honed blade and laser-controlled edge ensures ideal cutting angle for sharpness and durability
Utopia 7” Meat Cleaver
We’ve included the Utopia in our range of best meat cleavers because of its fantastic value, at a small fraction of the price of the others we’ve chosen. It’s also excellent quality at the price.
- At under $15, it offers exceptional value and will last for years.
- Well-balanced, with a stainless steel 7″ blade and a well-designed synthetic handle.
- Fully dishwasher-safe, although hand washing is recommended.
- The only downside is that the sharpness could be better, and the cleaver may need more frequent resharpening.
- Heavy duty cleaver is made from 100 percent stainless steel
- cleaver knife cuts easily through large pieces of food and is perfect for bone cutting, chopping and cleaving
- ABS 430 handle allows for easy grip and hassle-free maneuvering and the superior quality stainless steel blade holds an ultra-sharp edge providing lasting and superior cutting performance
- Designed and built exclusively for the tough day-to-day demands of the commercial kitchen
- Dishwasher safe; hand washing is recommended to retain the fine quality of the exceptional blade
Juvale Meat Cleaver
Very highly rated for quality and design, particularly the ergonomic wooden handle, which makes it easy to use the cleaver for heavy chopping through joints and bones.
- The long 6-inch handle, 8-inch blade, and hefty 2.1-lb weight make this cleaver a genuine heavy-duty cleaver.
- Quality stainless steel blade is longer than most and very adaptable for use with vegetables and fruit as well as meat.
- Excellent value at under $20, but as with the Utopia, it will need regular sharpening.
- Wood Handle Butcher Knife: This meat cleaver knife heavy duty is made from durable stainless steel with full tang detailing throughout the ergonomic solid wood handle
- Perfect For: This long handle cleaver is an ideal meat and bone cutting knife, great for professional and home kitchens
- Easy Storage: This heavy duty meat knife has a hole at the top corner for easy and convenient storage on a hanging hook or peg in your kitchen or restaurant
- Dimensions: The kitchen cleaver with wooden handle measures 6 inches in length, the blade measures 8 inches; the meat cleaver butcher knife weighs approximately 1.9 lbs
- What's Included: You will receive 1 stainless steel meat cleaver heavy duty bone chopper
So there you have it – seven highly recommended meat cleavers for you to choose from, ranging from Chinese-manufactured value-for-money products to hand-finished, high-quality German-made cleavers at a premium price.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can A Meat Cleaver Cut Through Bone?
The cleavers we’ve listed can easily cut through bone. However, while this is true of the bones of poultry and smaller animals, if the bones are dense and solid, as in the leg, even a heavy-duty meat cleaver will not be suitable. You will find butchers who are cutting through bone many times during their working day, using an electric or manual bone saw rather than a cleaver.
Can A Cleaver Knife Cut Through Bone?
A cleaver knife, or Chinese cleaver, is shaped like a cleaver but is lighter and smaller than a meat cleaver, with a thinner blade. While it can cut through chicken and turkey carcasses, it is more suited to the delicate slicing and chopping of vegetables and fruit. It would get blunt very quickly or even break if used to cut bone.
What Knife Is Best For Cutting Through Bones?
Bone, which is not only very dense but also has a grain, is probably the toughest material for a knife to cut through. A meat cleaver, specially designed for this purpose, is the best knife for cutting through bones, but it is not the only one. An excellent butcher’s knife, such as the Wusthof Classic Butcher’s Knife or the Dalstrong Breaking Cimitar Knife, is perfectly capable of cutting through most bones.
How Do You Use A Meat Cleaver On A Bone?
As discussed, cutting through solid bone is difficult, even with a heavy meat cleaver. The first step is to grip your cleaver properly. There are two ways to do this, depending on the handle’s shape and which is most comfortable.
The first is to grip near the blade with the thumb on one side and four fingers curled around the other. Alternatively, you can have the thumb on one side, the forefinger balancing it on the other side, and three fingers curled around the handle.
Then, raising the knife above the point at which you want to cut, bring it down with the wrist in a chopping motion using the weight of the cleaver to cut through the bone.
If you only get partly through the bone, use your other hand to apply pressure to the cleaver to complete the cut. If you remove the cleaver and chop again, you are unlikely to get it into the existing cut, and you will land up hacking the meat instead of cutting it.
How To Choose The Best Meat Cleaver For You?
If the time has come to expand your culinary skills, and you need to add to your range of knives to make life easier in the kitchen, the meat cleaver has a definite role to play. But whether you’re a keen amateur chef, cooking for your family, or in a commercial kitchen producing many meals a day, there are certain criteria that will influence your choice:
Your budget: You can buy a meat cleaver for under $10 or go for the very best at around $250 – it depends on how often you’re going to use it, how much you can afford, and whether it’s going to do the job you intend it for. Remember that cleavers can be very versatile, but some are more versatile than others – choose one that will become your go-to knife in the kitchen.
Your size: or, rather, the size of your hands. A heavy 3lb cleaver like the Dalstrong we recommend is going to work for a chef with big hands. If you’re petite, a 1-lb Wusthof will suit you a whole lot better.
The design: Some cleavers have wooden handles, perfectly shaped for bigger hands, and others have slimmer synthetic handles that favor the smaller-handed chef. If you’re able to physically test the “feel” of the knife, that’s ideal, but if you’re buying online, you should read all the reviews to check what other buyers are saying.
Other aspects of the design include the weight balance, the materials used to manufacture the cleaver, and whether it looks good – all these factors can make a difference between one knife and another.
Even the hole in the blade, which some cleavers have and others don’t, might sway your choice – it’s there to allow you to hang the knife up when you don’t need it. It also reduces friction while cutting and can be used to pull the blade out when it gets stuck. A small item but quite an important one.
Are Meat Cleavers Worth It?
If you are a person who loves cooking, takes pride in producing great meals, and spends time in the kitchen rather than in the McDonald’s Drive-Thru, you’ll find that a meat cleaver is worth every cent you paid for it.
We’ve recommended cleavers that cost under $15, like the Utopia, while we also regard the Wusthof Classic as excellent value at $130. Some prestigious Japanese cleavers, which we haven’t included, sell at over $250. All of these knives are worth their price; you generally get what you pay for.
The cleaver firstly allows you to buy large meat portions or even whole animals like a lamb, for example, at discounted prices and cut it up to your personal requirements – a considerable saving which will cover the cost of your cleaver in no time.
Secondly, a meat carver can be used for other purposes in the kitchen, such as crushing garlic or ginger with the flat of the blade. It’s great for slicing or chopping hard-skinned vegetables such as butternut or squash, and it’s perfect for scooping up and transferring cut-up vegetables from the cutting board to the pot. You’ll soon find it’s become the go-to utensil in your kitchen.
How Do I Maintain My Cleaver?
While the advertisements will tell you that your cleaver is dishwasher-safe, the best advice we can give you is to wash it by hand. Because you’re working mainly with raw meat and vegetables, it is essential that the blade and handle are kept spotlessly clean and also dried immediately after they have been washed. Leaving it in a dishwasher, even if rinsed first, allows moisture to remain on the cleaver, encouraging bacteria and even affecting the knife’s sharpness.
While a meat cleaver isn’t an essential piece of kitchen equipment, it is the only knife that cuts through bone easily, so if you enjoy roasts, joints, and ribs, you will make very good use of one. We’ve recommended some of the best to you, and they all, apart from cutting meat and bones, are versatile enough to assist in the preparation of many other food items. You won’t regret getting one!