The Chinese cleaver is one of the most versatile cutlery pieces you can possibly purchase. Choosing the best Chinese cleaver may not be the easiest task for those who are not familiar with cleavers. That’s exactly why I’ve put together this guide, which will help you choose the appropriate cleaver for your needs.
We will talk about some of the best models you can buy, and will also go through some of the aspects you ought to consider when choosing the best one for yourself. Now let’s get started with the guide.
What Is A Chinese Cleaver?
As you would expect, Chinese cleavers bear their current name because they originated from China. They were being used there for centuries. Japanese chefs adopted the cleavers as well and they are now called “Chukabocho”.
One thing that should be made clear right of the bat is that while this kitchen helper is called a cleaver, it is in no way supposed to do the same job as the western butcher’s cleavers. The Chinese cleaver is a chef’s knife. It’s designed to be extremely sharp, lightweight, and versatile. You are not supposed to be butchering meat with this knife as it will quite likely damage the thin sharp edge of the cleaver.
The cleaver has a slightly different shape than a traditional sturdy western cleaver. The blade has a rectangular shape, and a very sharp edge usually ground at about 16 degrees angle.
What Are the Benefits of Chinese Cleavers?
What’s so unique about the cleaver is the fact that it’s extremely versatile. While most other kitchen knives are designed to do only one thing well, the Chinese cleaver can be used for a variety of tasks. It can be used for chopping, slicing thin pieces of vegetables, peeling, or even deboning. The flat surface of the blade is great for crushing garlic cloves. If you need to pound some meat, the spine of the blade can be used for that as well. The wide blade is also great for scooping and transferring food from your chopping board into a pan.
Now if you are asking “Isn’t a boning knife better for deboning or isn’t a smaller knife better for peeling?” the answer is – they might be, but they are not so versatile. The Chinese cleaver can still be effectively used for these needs, and that’s what makes it great.
The Best 4 Chinese Cleavers For 2022
In this section of the guide, we will take a look at some of the best-rated Chinese cleavers currently available on the market. First, let’s have a look at a comparison table of the chosen cleavers.
And now let’s have a look at the knives in detail.
Global G-49/B Chop & Slice 7-Inch Chinese Chef’s Knife/Cleaver
- CROMOVA 18 stainless steel
- Rust, corrosion, & stain resistant
- Carefully weighted to ensure perfect balance and performance
- High quality steel – CROMOVA 18
- Simple and functional design
- Holds sharp edge very well
- Seamless construction
- Well balanced
- Quite expensive
- Some people might prefer traditional handles made from wood, plastic, or rubbery materials
I’ve reviewed a couple of Global knives and all of them performed very well. The same can be said about Global's Chinese Cleaver.
It is a cleaver with a 7-inch blade forged from the Global’s CROMOVA 18 steel. This is high-quality steel that allows the knife to attain excellent sharpness (56 to 58 Rockwell scale) and very good edge retention. The manufacturer claims it is stain and rust-resistant, however that does not mean it will not rust at all. The knife still requires proper care to prevent rust formation. Forget about putting the knife into a dishwasher if you want it to last.
The blade is 3.25″ wide and the edge is ground on both sides which results in a straight sharp edge. At the spine, the blade is 2.2 millimeters thick.
As we are used to with Global knives, the blade seamlessly blends into the handle. There are no handle scales at all. The whole knife is just a single piece of steel. I understand this design may not be to everyone’s liking but I personally like it. The handle has the signature dimpled look and feel. the small round indentations are there to provide better grip and prevent slippage when using the knife with wet hands.
The cleaver is made in Japan.
Why would I choose this cleaver? Mainly because of the design and Global’s proven history of making high-quality kitchen knives. I only wish it was a bit cheaper and can totally understand it might be way too expensive for casual use.
Yaxell Ran Plus 7-inch Cleaver
- Constructed of Japanese VG10 Cobalt Molybdenum Vanadium stainless steel; Japanese kanji is hand...
- Features 34 layers of hard and soft stainless steel on each side, resulting in 69 layers total
- Black resin and linen Canvas Micarta handle with two stainless steel rivets; enclosed full tang...
- High quality steel – VG-10
- Stunning looks with the Damascus pattern on the blade
- Holds sharp edge very well
- Very expensive
- Some people might find it a bit on the heavier side
Yaxell is well known for making high-quality and good-looking kitchen knives. The full tang 7-inch Ran Plus series Chinese cleaver is no exception to this. The core of the blade is made of VG10 steel. This is high-quality high-carbon cutlery steel made in Japan. It’s actually one of the most popular knife steels in Japan.
There are 34 layers of stainless steel on each side of the blade forming the beautiful Damascus pattern. There is also a hand-engraved kanji on the blade. I have to say it’s one of the best-looking cleavers I have ever seen. But a beautiful look is not what cuts the food, right?
The blade with its 12-degree ground edge is extremely sharp. Thanks to the layers of stainless steel on the sides, it’s also fairly corrosion-resistant. I would not put it in the dishwasher though. Cleaning-wise, the manufacturer’s recommendations state to use just warm water and mild detergent.
The handle is made of Canvas Micarta. Micarta is a durable composite of thermosetting plastic and other materials such as linen, paper, or glass fibers. Two rivets are used for fastening. There is also a stainless steel endcap on the handle that provides improved balance.
Why would I choose this cleaver? I would choose this cleaver if I was looking for a luxury-looking Chinese cleaver. It is also very well made and looks absolutely awesome. One downside of the cleaver is its high price, which will surely be too high for some people.
ZHEN Japanese 67-Layer Damascus VG-10 8-Inch Cleaver
- MADE WITH TOP GRADE JAPANESE 67-layer Damascus Steel, VG-10 cutting core, HRC 60-62 hardness for...
- Blade size (length x width x thickness): 8 inches x 4 inches x 1.8 millimeters; net weight 0.75...
- Full tang design with sealed-tight, waterproof, and durable brown color Pakkawood handle for a...
- High quality steel – Japanese VG-10
- Beautiful Damascus steel pattern on the blade, although not as nice as on the Yaxell Ran cleaver
- Very good edge retention
- The 8-inch blade might be too big for some people, but a smaller version of the cleaver is available as well
- The English writing on the side of the blade is detracting from the cleavers overall look
This cleaver is not as expensive as the previous models we looked at so far. It is made in Taiwan by a company called Zhen. While many people prefer the USA or Japan-made cutlery, this cleaver is actually very well made from high-quality materials. The most important material in knife-making is obviously steel. The stell used for this knife is the Japanese-made VG-10 steel. Yes, the same steel was used for the expensive Yaxell Ran cleaver.
Also similarly to the Yaxell cleaver, this full tang knife has a layered blade. The core is made of VG-10 steel, and the sides feature 33 layers of Damascus pattern steel. The overall beautiful look is slightly marred by the English text on the side of the blade. I think a company logo is more than enough. Is it really necessary to include the rest of the text?
The handle is made of Pakkawood, which is a modern material made of resin-impregnated plywood. It looks as if it was made from a single piece of wood and provides better durability and is not as prone to water damage as natural wood. The handle provides a secure grip and prevents slippage.
If the 8-inch blade is too large for you, Zhen also offers smaller versions of the cleaver.
Why would I choose this cleaver? I would choose this cleaver if I wanted to own a beautiful Damascus steel cleaver without having to pay over 200 bucks for it. The overall look of the knife is beautiful and the knife is made of modern high-quality materials. Please, if you decide to buy the knife, do not use it for chopping hard materials such as bones. This is not the right tool for these tasks and it will result in a damaged edge.
Dalstrong Shogun Series X Chinese Cleaver
- A Dalstrong culinary revolution combining outstanding and award-winning craftsmanship, cutting-edge...
- Unrivalled Performance: A multi-purpose culinary titan, this Chinese style cleaver is one of the...
- Dalstrong Power: An ultra sharp AUS-10V, Vacuum Sealed Japanese super steel cutting core at 62+...
- High quality steel – AUS-10V
- Beautiful looks
- Very sharp
- Sheath included
- Made in China – if you care about that
- Not as polished as the previous cleavers
- On Amazon, the manufacturer recommends using this as a heavy-duty cleaver for general butchery
Having started in the knife-making business in 2012, Dalstrong is a relatively new company on the market. However, their knives are already quite popular among cooks all over the world. Know though, that their knives are made in China, so if that’s something that bothers you, skip to another cleaver.
The Dalstrong Shogun Series X Cleaver is a beautiful light to medium-duty Chinese-style cleaver that’s fitted with a 7-inch blade. The core of the full-tang cleaver is manufactured from AUS-10V Japanese steel which has a potential hardness rating of 62+. On each side of the blade, there are 33 layers of steel resulting in the beautiful Damascus finish. Not only has the blade the Damascus finish, but it is also hammered in the fashion of an extraordinary tsuchime finish. The small indentations created by the hammer impacts help prevent food from clinging to the blade.
The handle is made of the G10 material. To put it simply, G10 is a plastic laminate made of layers of fiberglass mesh impregnated with synthetic resin. G10 handles are lightweight, durable, and provide great traction both in dry and wet conditions. The handle scales are attached via two rivets and there is a mosaic pin with the company’s logo between them.
Just like with other Shogun Series knives, a sheath is included in the package.
Why would I choose this cleaver? This cleaver is made from premium Japanese steel and looks just gorgeous. While it is not as polished a product as Japan-made knives, it still has a lot to offer for a relatively reasonable price.
Best Budget Chinese Cleavers
The previous cleavers were on the rather expensive side of the spectrum. For those who are not prepared to spend so much on a kitchen knife, I’ve also put together a list of pretty good and inexpensive Chinese cleavers.
As before, let’s have a look at a comparison table first.
And now let’s look at the cleavers.
Top Chef by Master Cutlery 7″ Chopper/Cleaver
- Ice-Tempered x30cr13 Stainless Steel Blade with Precision Sharpened Cutting Edge
- Hollow Ground to Reduce Sticking
- Full Steel Handle with Seamless Bonded and Polished Bolsters and Non-Slip Surface
- Low price
- Heavy duty cleaver
- Sharp out of the box
- The steel is certainly not among the best knifemaking steels
- Not perfectly balanced – slightly blade heavy
- The handle may be too narrow for bigger hands
If you are tight on budget, you may consider getting this inexpensive cleaver by Top Chef by Master Cutlery.
The blade is 7 inches long, and it’s made of ice tempered x30cr13 stainless steel, which is not the best steel in the world, but it is quite a common type in budget knives. The hollow ground of the blade prevents slices of food from sticking. It ships super sharp and will likely not need to be sharpened before use. Even though stainless steel has been used, I would not recommend putting the knife in a dishwasher. There is a laser-etched logo on the blade. It is not too big so it is not as distracting and ugly as on some other knives.
Unlike some of the other cleavers mentioned before, this one is heavy-duty and can also be used for chopping bones.
The handle is quite comfortable and feels good in the hand. It also has a rubbery anti-slippery finish, which is always a good thing.
Why would I choose this cleaver? Overall, this is one of the most popular cheap cleavers available on the market. With the low price, the knife can be recommended to someone on a budget. However, if you can afford to spend slightly more, you might want to consider getting a cleaver made of better steel.
WINCO Chinese Cleaver With Wooden Handle
- High carbon steel
- Wooden handle
- Handle length measures 4. 5"
- Low price – good value for the money
- Sharpens very well
- Good choice for those looking for a large cleaver
- Might too big and heavy for some users
- Build quality could be better
- Edge retention is not spectacular
- Confusing product listing stating two different values for blade length
If the previous model was still too expensive for you, I present to you the Winco Chinese Cleaver.
At the time of writing, the knife had hundreds of customer reviews on Amazon, and the majority of them were positive.
It is one of the larger Chinese cleavers on the market with its 8-inch blade. The blade is made of stainless steel but the exact type is not mentioned anywhere. Given the low price, one cannot expect the cleaver to be made of premium steel though.
The blade is quite thin and I think it would not survive a lot of thick bone chopping. You can possibly use it to chop thin chicken bones. However, it is certainly more suitable for veggies and deboned meat.
The handle is made of wood. It is nothing fancy, but it does work OK. To prevent slippage, the handle features a couple of notches, providing a secure grip.
As expected, this cleaver is a bit on the heavier side. It weighs 13 oz or approximately 369 g.
The manufacturer states the knife is dishwasher safe, but I would still recommend hand washing.
Why would I choose this cleaver? I would buy this cleaver if I were looking for a large and extremely inexpensive Chinese cleaver.
TUO Vegetable Cleaver – Chinese Chef’s Knife
- PROFESSIONAL CLEAVER KNIFE: TUO vegetable cleaver featured curved blade profile, the sharp tip can...
- WELL DESIGNED: From the striking grain of the polished pakkawood handle to the gentle curve of the...
- SUPER STEEL: Forged with premium High Carbon German Stainless steel DIN:1.4116 (X50CrMoV15), this...
- Good quality steel – X50Cr15MoV
- Comes with a case
- Very sharp
- Good looking
- Made in China – if you care about that (but the knife is called Chinese cleaver, you know?)
Here’s the last well-made Chinese chef’s knife I am going to present to you today.
This cleaver is produced by a Chinese company called TUO in the city of YangJiang, the Chinese capital of kitchen knives.
It has a 7-inch blade made of stainless steel. Given the price, you would probably expect some unknown steel, but you are wrong. This cleaver is made of X50CrMoV15 German steel. It might not be the best of the best, but it is a good choice of steel for reasonably priced kitchen knives.
Unlike the other cleavers we looked at in this article, this one does not have a strictly rectangular blade. It looks more like a crossover between a Chinese cleaver and a Santoku knife.
Its primary use should be veggie chopping and I certainly wouldn’t recommend using it for bone chopping. A more durable and thicker cleaver is needed for that kind of work and TUO has one available as well. The cleaver comes very sharp though, and it’s also really great for meat slicing.
The handle is made of Pakkawood and provides a secure and comfortable grip and as a plus, it looks pretty good.
Given the low price and positive customer reviews, it is certainly a good cleaver to consider.
Why would I choose this cleaver? I would choose this cleaver if I wanted to save some money but at the same time didn’t want to get the cheapest knife out there. The steel used for this knife is very good for its price and the knife is well made.
How To Choose The Best Chinese Cleaver?
Just like with other knives, there are some considerations you have taken into account when choosing a cleaver. Let’s go through them now.
If you have read any of my other guides, you already know that I always recommend full tang knives. The Chinese cleaver is no exception. If you can, get a full tang cleaver. Partial tang knives are susceptible to breaking at the point where the blade meets the handle. If that would happen with a cleaver, it could end up in a bad injury.
The choice here is usually between stainless steel and high carbon steel. Sometimes a mix of those is used. Carbon steel’s downside is that it is not corrosion-resistant, and it tends to add an unpleasant taste to the prepared food. Many chefs, therefore, prefer to use stainless steel knives.
While it is to some degree a matter of personal preference, I would aim for a cleaver with a blade that is at least 7 inches long. If you went for a smaller one, you would, in my opinion, hamper the versatility of this Chinese chef’s knife.
Chinese cleavers are made in different variations with blade thickness being one of the important differences. Thinner blades are suitable especially for vegetables. On the other hand, if you were to chop a bone with a 2mm thick blade, you would likely damage the blade. For meat and bones, a thicker blade will be needed – something like 8 mm will be a good choice.
Of course, you take the middle route and choose a cleaver in between, which would usually be used for both situations. You’d just have to avoid chopping through thick bones.
To some extent, the handle is also a matter of personal preference. The choice will most likely have to be made between wood, composite, steel, or some sort of molded plastic. Wood and wood composite such as Pakkawood has the advantage of looking really good, unlike for example plastic. Make sure you choose a cleaver, which will not slip out of your hand.
The price tag of the top-of-the-line cleavers can be quite surprising for some people. If you’ll choose to purchase one of the Shun Chinese cleavers with layered steel blades, you can expect to pay more than 200 bucks. On the other hand, most chefs find they don’t need the most expensive blades in their arsenal. There are quite good cleavers that will not set you back by more than 50 bucks.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Angle To Sharpen a Chinese Cleaver?
Chinese cleavers have thin blades and the edge needs to be very sharp to easily cut through vegetables and meat. The general recommended angle of the cutting edge is between 15 and 20 degrees. It is possible to sharpen the edge to even a steeper angle, however, it may affect the edge retention and possibly result in chips. If you know what angle was used for factory sharpening, it is generally a good idea to use the same angle.
What Type of Chinese Cleaver Does Martin Yan Use?
Martin Yan is a Chinese-American chef and writer best known for hosting his cooking show called Yan Can Cook. He is using the traditional Chinese cleaver during his show. While he has most likely used many different brands of cleavers, he has his own signature cleaver called simply “Chef Yan’s Signature Knife”. It is relatively inexpensive and can be bought from https://yancancook.com.
How To Store a Chinese Cleaver?
The best way to store a Chinese cleaver is to put it into a wooden knife block. This however can be a bit tricky because the vast majority of knife blocks do not have slots designed for cleavers. Alternatively, slotless universal blocks or magnetic knife holders can be used as well. If you really have to store your cleaver in a drawer, it is wise to protect the edge with a blade guard or a cleaver sheath.
Are There Any Sheaths For Chinese Cleavers?
Yes, there’s actually a wide selection of sheaths and blade guards designed specifically for cleavers. It is not that surprising considering that most knife blocks lack a slot or a cleaver. These sheaths generally do not cost much and they are made of various materials such as PU leather, nylon, or plastic. For those wanting to store their cleaver in a drawer among other cutlery, such a sheath is, without doubt, a good investment.
Cutting Board For Chinese Cleaver – Is Anything Special Required?
Since the traditional Chinese cleaver is not used for chopping with too much force, you don’t really need a special cutting board. A standard wooden cutting board is your best bet.
In today’s article, we’ve gone over some important factors one should focus on when choosing a suitable Chinese cleaver. Moreover, we’ve also looked at some of the best-rated cleavers currently on the market. I personally would choose the Global cleaver as I have pretty good experience with their knives. For those who do not plan to use the knife regularly or are on a tight budget, I would probably settle for one of the less expensive alternatives. Additionally, if you are not convinced that the Chinese cleaver is right for you, I would suggest checking out either the Japanese Santoku chef’s knives or the traditional western chef’s knives. Of course, if you were looking for a meat cleaver, the Chinese cleaver will do you no good and you should look at some heavy-duty cleavers instead.
Last update on 2023-03-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API