Chinese cleavers are an underrated utensil in a kitchen. Sharp, huge, and surprisingly versatile - these knives are slowly becoming a staple across households that love to cook.
It’s less about mimicking a professional kitchen, and more about experimenting with food through using high-quality utensils.
Known as a Chukabocho, a Chinese cleaver can range in thickness and size depending on its purpose and versatility. These knives are designed to slice through meat effortlessly, as well as other foods such as fruits and vegetables.
If you’re looking for a Chinese cleaver, you’re going to want a top-quality product that can last a lifetime. That’s why we have found the best Chinese cleavers on the market to suit every purpose - from budget cleavers to traditional ones.
There are some strong brand contenders in the knife industry, so we have found some of the best - including Zwilling J.A. Henckels, Winco, Dalstrong, TUO, and Dexter-Russell.
Zwilling J.A Henckels Chinese Cleaver Knife
TUO Vegetable Chinese Cleaver
Winco Blade Chinese Cleaver
Dexter-Russell S5198 Chinese Cleaver
Dalstrong Mini Cleaver
Dexter-Russell S5198 Chinese Cleaver
Before we jump into the product reviews, let’s take a look at the key criteria points we used to compare and contrast the cleavers.
Some Chinese cleavers have a thicker and larger blade than others. A cleaver isn’t better or worse than one that is smaller than it, because the size and blade thickness only indicates what the cleaver is suitable for.
For example, thick blades are more suitable for meats and butchery than finer blades that offer precise chopping. If you’re looking for versatility, you’ll need a cleaver with a medium thickness.
Traditional Chinese cleavers are made from carbon steel - a material that can retain its sharpness for longer than other blade materials.
However, as carbon steel has a tendency to rust, modern cleavers have adopted the stainless steel blade material. High carbon stainless steel is a blend of both materials, which is ideal for those who don’t know which one to get.
Traditional Chinese cleavers have a sturdy wooden handle. The only problem with wooden handles is that if you put the cleaver in the dishwasher, the wood will get rougher and rougher each time. This is why modern cleavers have adopted handles made of plastics or stainless steel.
Whether the cleaver claims to be dishwasher safe or not is irrelevant. Sure, it’s easy to wash the cleaver with your other dishes in the dishwasher after cooking, but this should only happen if the knife is truly designed to withstand water and humidity like that.
Stainless steel knives can handle that, but carbon steel ones cannot. To be on the safe side, we recommend washing the cleavers by hand to prevent rust.
Best Chinese Cleaver
1. Best Overall Chinese Cleaver: Zwilling J.A Henckels Chinese Cleaver Knife
This is a 7-inch cleaver with a medium blade thickness, making it an ideal choice for versatility. It is surprisingly light, weighing only 10 ounces, which is great for maneuverability. The blade’s edge is also angled 15 degrees each side to allow for extra precision.
This cleaver is made from high carbon stainless steel, meaning it has the benefits of sharpness and rust resistance from both materials. The blade is made of Zwilling’s signature ice-hardening technology that helps to keep the blades sharper for longer.
This cleaver features a full tang handle to prevent the blade from separating away from the handle. The handle itself is made of polymer and is ergonomically shaped to fit the natural curvature of a hand, meaning users can comfortably use the knife for long periods.
This product is dishwasher safe, however, to be on the safe side, it is recommended to wash it by hand. It shouldn’t need to be sharpened as much as a stainless steel knife due to the high carbon steel material.
Zwilling J.A Henckels originated back in 1731 in Solingen, Germany - otherwise known as the “city of blades”. As one of the oldest and most reputable brands of knives across the world, Zwilling provides high-quality craftsmanship in all of their products - including both German and Chinese knives.
Zwilling established a joint venture in China in 1995, which is when the brand became highly desirable across Asia.
Why this is the best overall knife?
This knife has everything you could need from a Chinese cleaver. It’s made of high-quality materials, doesn’t weigh too much, features an incredibly sharp blade, and comes from one of the top brands of knives in the world.
It is designed for comfort and easy maneuverability with its ergonomic handle, meaning you can chop vegetables and meat for hours on end without discomfort.
Customers are very satisfied with the quality of this cleaver. People have complimented the maneuverability and lightness of the product, as well as how easy it is to slice foods precisely.
Some customers have warned that the blade is incredibly sharp, which can be a hazard if not stored properly.
- Reputable brand - Made from one of the best brands for knives in the world
- Premium materials - High carbon stainless steel blade is both sharp and rust-resistant
- Lightweight - Ergonomic handle and lightness makes this knife easy to use
- Very sharp - Sharpness can be a danger hazard if stored improperly
- ULTRA RAZOR-SHARP: ZWILLING knives start out razor-sharp and stay sharper longer, even with minimal care. 57 Rockwell Hardness = excellent edge retention. Edge angle 15 degrees per side.
- THE LAST KNIFE YOU’LL EVER NEED TO BUY: Zwilling knives are built to last. They are German engineered informed by almost 300 Years of masterful knife making.
- ZWILLING has been making knives since 1731 in the renowned “City of Blades” Solingen, Germany and we are constantly innovating to bring you the best knives possible.
- LARGEST MANUFACTURER OF KNIVES GLOBALLY: As the largest manufacturer of knives globally, we own our factories so we can control the quality at every step of production.
- SUPERIOR CRAFTMANSHIP: Special formulated German stainless steel perfected for almost 300 years. Ice-hardened FRIODUR blade starts sharper, stays sharper longer, and has superior resilience. Made in Company Owned German Factory.
2. Best Chinese Cleaver for Vegetables: TUO Vegetable Chinese Cleaver
This is a 7-inch cleaver with a thin blade that is designed to precisely cut through vegetables. The precision is achieved through the sharpened edges that are angled at 18 degrees per side, allowing for a razor sharp blade. Watch those fingers!
This product is made from high carbon stainless steel, which is ideal for a cleaver as it exhibits the benefits of both materials - it is both sharp and rust-resistant. Plus, the knife only weighs 10.4 ounces.
The handle is full tang and made of a strikingly attractive polish pakkawood. Not only does this look good, but the handle is thick, sturdy, and ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in a hand.
This handle is also densely packed and sealed so it is largely waterproof, meaning it won’t split like regular wooden handles.
Though the handle is largely waterproof, it is recommended to wash this cleaver by hand to keep it in top condition for longer.
TUO is a Chinese cutlery brand that is named after the Chinese word “tuo”, meaning “to explore and adventure”. This sums up TUO’s brand ethics as they continue to strive for the ideal cutlery and utensils for household and professional kitchens alike.
Since its establishment, TUO has become one of the most popular international brands for cutlery and kitchen utensils.
Why this is the best Chinese cleaver for vegetables?
This product features a super-sharp blade that can easily and precisely slice and dice vegetables with minimal effort. While it can still successfully work with meats, you won’t find a better knife for vegetables in specific.
Plus, the handle is ergonomically designed, it has a lightweight construction, and the price point is very affordable for the quality.
Customers are very impressed with the quality of this cleaver, with most of the reviews claiming that it is now a staple in their kitchen.
Customers have complimented the balance point, the sharpness of the blade, the sturdy and solid construction, and how easy it is to precisely slice through vegetables.
- Precise slicing - Extra-sharp blade is great for precisely slicing through vegetables
- Sturdy construction - Balance point is ideally placed for a lightweight and sturdy knife
- Affordable - Cheap price for such a high-quality product
- Maintenance - Not dishwasher safe and needs to be stored in a knife block to prevent sliced fingers
- PROFESSIONAL CLEAVER KNIFE: TUO vegetable cleaver featured curved blade profile, the sharp tip can cut up vegetables, the middle part of the blade can smash garlic while the bottom can mince meat. This 7-inch Vegetable Chopper is perfect for mincing, chopping and cutting ingredients, offering you unrivalled cutting performance like no other.
- WELL DESIGNED: From the striking grain of the polished pakkawood handle to the gentle curve of the blade, this is an ergonomic handle with polished bolster design for exceptional comfort and maneuverability. The full tang structure ensures you the stability and durability of the knife.
- SUPER STEEL: Forged with premium High Carbon German Stainless steel DIN:1.4116 (X50CrMoV15), this Chinese chef’s knife is precisely tempered with High-Tech Vacuum Heat Treatment to reach the hardness of the blade to. HRC56±2. TUO experienced bladesmiths hand sharpen each edge with 18 degree per side to ensure you a razor sharp blade.
- PAKKAWOOD HANDLE: Pakkawood is a very dense product that is largely waterproof, providing much of the same look and feel as wood, but without the warping and splitting common in real wood. The Pakkawood (sourced from Africa) is unique for each piece, giving you a both luxurious and beautiful look.
- TUO LIFETIEM GUARANTEE: 100% SATISFACTION OR MONEY BACK GUARANTEE, try it risk free. We guarantee a superior product that will give you a lifetime guarantee against manufacturer defects. With the luxury case, it is the wise choice as a gift.
3. Best Budget Chinese Cleaver: Winco Blade Chinese Cleaver
This blade is 8” long and 12 ½” long with the handle, making it one of the longest cleavers on our list.
The blade of this cleaver is made of high carbon steel, meaning it features the benefits of both parent materials - edge retention, sharpness, and rust resistance. It is also the lightest product on our list, weighing only 1.6 ounces.
This is a traditional-style Chinese cleaver, featuring a wooden handle. The handle itself isn’t ergonomically shaped like other products, but it gives a good sense of traditional Asian cooking. This isn’t a full tang cleaver.
Due to the wooden handle, it is not recommended to put this cleaver in the dishwasher. This is because the water will damage the wooden handle, which will make it rough.
Winco is an American company established in 1992 that specializes in kitchenware products, ranging from cutlery and utensils to cooking equipment and beverages. The ethos of the company is to produce good-quality products at a low price.
Why this is the best budget Chinese cleaver?
Not everyone can afford a professional-grade cleaver in their kitchen. For students, new homeowners, and those generally on a budget, spending tens of dollars on a kitchen knife might not seem like a priority.
This Winco knife, however, proves that you don’t have to break the bank to experience a great cleaver!
Sure, this cleaver doesn’t quite match up to the Zwilling cleaver, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a worthy place on this list. It does the job and has everything you could need from a cleaver - it’s sharp, the blade is made of great material, and it is ideal for chopping vegetables and meat alike.
Customers are surprisingly impressed with the quality of this cleaver in comparison to the price. People have complimented the price point as some have found that the cleaver works similarly to professional cleavers.
All in all, customers highly recommend this knife for beginners looking for an introduction to Chinese cleavers.
- Affordable - Don’t break the bank for a decent cleaver
- Traditional handle - Wooden handle is the traditional Chinese cleaver design
- Multipurpose - Medium thickness blade is ideal for meats, vegetables, and more
- Edge retention - Requires more frequent sharpening than the other products on our list
- High carbon steel
- Wooden handle
- Handle length measures 4. 5"
- Blade length measures 6. 75" long and 3. 5" wide
4. Best Traditional Chinese Cleaver: Dexter-Russell S5198 Chinese Cleaver
The blade of this cleaver is 8” long, making it one of the longest blades on our list. While it is large, it has a lightweight design and is slim - ideal for precisely cutting vegetables and soft meats.
This is a high carbon steel blade that is sharp, has excellent edge retention, and rust resistance. The edge is ground and honed to allow for a slight amount of flexibility to effortlessly slice through vegetables of all levels of hardness.
This cleaver is about as traditional as it gets with its wooden handle. These handles have stood the test of time, and this particular handle looks like it means business. However, the handle is not full tang, meaning the blade doesn’t run through it.
Due to the wooden handle, it is not recommended to wash this cleaver in the dishwasher.
Dexter-Russell is a family-owned American company that specializes in kitchen knives, from oyster knives to Santoku knives. The company has been perfecting its knife designs for over 200 years, and it has successfully become the largest manufacturer of professional utensils in the country.
Why this is the best traditional Chinese cleaver?
It all comes down to the handle. Traditional Chinese cleavers feature a sturdy and short wooden handle, which this cleaver exhibits. What better way to delve into Asian cuisine and cooking than a traditional-style Chinese cleaver?
Customers are impressed with the standard and usability of this cleaver. Not only does it look good, but it slices through vegetables effortlessly with minimal sharpening compared to other stainless steel knives. Plus, customers like that it is made in the USA.
- National business - Made in the USA from the most popular knife manufacturer in the country
- Traditional - Wooden handle is a characteristic of a traditional Chinese cleaver
- Thin blade - Ideal for precise slicing
- Not full tang - Blade does not run through the handle
- Blade has Individually Ground and Honed Edge
- Stainless High-Carbon Steel Blade
- Made in USA
- Model Number: S5198-1
5. Best Mini Chinese Cleaver: Dalstrong Mini Cleaver
This is a mini cleaver with a 4.5” blade, which is ideal for beginners in the world of cleavers. The small size is great for cutting small pieces of meat and any vegetables.
The blade is made of high carbon steel and is covered in a Titanium Nitride non-reflective coating, giving this unique cleaver its distinctive matte black appearance.
The matte black handle of this cleaver is made of fiber-resin and military-grade G10. The shape of the handle is unique and ergonomically designed. This is a full tang cleaver.
This cleaver can be washed in the dishwasher, but it is recommended to wash it by hand. As for storage, this product comes with a sheath for protection.
Dalstrong is a UK-based knife company that takes pride in its high-quality products inspired by professional kitchens. This is a fairly small company that continues to strive for the next best knife.
Why this is the best mini Chinese cleaver?
Not every cleaver has to be huge! If you’re worried about lack of space or the possibility of injuring yourself from a large cleaver, this 4.5” cleaver will eliminate your concerns.
Despite its size, it can still successfully chop and precisely slice vegetables and meats. Plus, the sleek matte black design is certain to turn heads in the kitchen.
Customers are very impressed with this cleaver. It is sharp, precise, sleek, and comes with a useful protective sheath. Some previous reviews have said that the cleaver isn’t as sharp as they expected, but it seems that Dalstrong have since eradicated this issue.
- Compact size - Mini blade is still great for cutting vegetables and meats
- Sleek design - Attractive matte black coating looks great in modern kitchens
- Sheath included - Ideal for protecting the blade from other utensils and from cutting fingers
- Price - Some may consider this an expensive cleaver option
- Menacing Design, Exceptional Craftsmanship: Designed from the ground up to be as sleek, aggressive and muscular looking as they are effective, the Dalstrong Shadow Black Series stands out from the pack. They’re not simply cutting-edge, high-performance tools; they're a statement about who you are and your unique sense of style as a chef.
- Astonishing Performance: A ruthlessly sharp scalpel-like edge is hand finished by expert bladesmiths to 15° per side using the traditional 3-step Honbazuke method. Nitrogen cooled for enhanced harness and flexibility. Each Shadow Black Series blade receives a Titanium Nitride non-reflective coating, improving robustness, corrosion resistance and enhancing non-stick properties. Crafted from a single piece of steel, each hand polished blade is full-tang for maximum durability.
- Striking angles, Life-Long Durability: A midnight black ergonomic, fiber-resin and military grade G10 handle is nearly impervious to heat, cold and moisture. The handle geometry is uniquely designed to tuck snuggly into your palm, giving you a firm grasp regardless of the grip style you use. A hand-polished spine is smooth and comfortable to the touch while the G10 handle is slightly textured to provide anti-slip properties.
- Dalstrong Shadow Black Series Power: Featuring high-carbon 7CR17MOV-X super-steel with an added vacuum heat treatment at 58+ HRC which allows for extraordinary performance and edge retention. Unforgettable styling, sophistication and functionality, sure to turn heads in any kitchen. Each blade comes with a matching black space-saving sheath. National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certified.
- Dalstrong Trust: Rocksolid 100% SATISFACTION OR MONEY BACK GUARANTEE, try it risk free. LIFETIME WARRANTY against defect. Renowned Dalstrong customer service. See why over 250,000 chef's around the world trust and love, 'The Dalstrong Difference'. Dalstrong luxury gift box packaging make Dalstrong knives an excellent gift for yourself or others. Now you are slicing with POWER. Dalstrong POWER!
Frequently Asked Questions
A Chinese cleaver is one of the most popular and well-used parts of a professional chef’s kitchen, which is why they are becoming increasingly popular in household kitchens.
These are versatile knives due to their sturdy yet incredibly sharp blade that can successfully cut and slice through vegetables, fruits, and meats.
Depending on the design, some cleavers are better suited for cleaving meats than others. Some will have a thick blade that can chop through bone like butter, while others have a thinner blade for precise slicing on vegetables and softer meats.
While they are expensive, Chinese cleavers are some of the best knives in the world.
In short, yes! Cleavers are very versatile and can cut through just about anything due to their incredibly sharp blades.
If you want a cleaver specifically for vegetables, then look for one with a thin blade as this will be better at slicing vegetables precisely. The vegetables this can handle will range from carrots and potatoes to mincing delicate herbs and garlic.