9 Best Chinese Cleavers To Buy For Your Kitchen

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    Key Features

      Attractive traditional design

      Value to price ratio

      Perfect for Amateurs or Professionals

      Rust resistant, easy to maintain blade

     High quality German steel

     Comfy Pakkawood handle

    Both functional and attractive, our pick for the best Chinese cleaver is the Imarku German high carbon stainless steel cleaver. This beautiful knife is perfect for a variety of kitchen tasks and can easily replace many of the knives in your kitchen.

    Knife and cucumberThe cleaver, it brings to mind visions of a comical chef hacking at a large cut of meat. The cleaver is a big knife and it can do big jobs, but a Chinese cleaver is a completely different type of cleaver than what you might have in your mind.

    Chinese and Japanese chefs prefer to work with one knife, instead of switching between a variety of blades for different tasks. The knife set as we know it, is a preference of European and American chefs, and frankly for many people, can be confusing. The Chinese have perfected the chef’s knife, and have developed one single knife for a variety of kitchen tasks.

    Unlike the European style cleaver, the Chinese cleaver is a much more delicate knife. It is thinner, lighter weight and more versatile than the European cleaver. European cleavers are heavy, with thick blades, which are made for hacking through bones and hard meats. The Chinese cleaver would snap if wielded through a thick bone, but it makes effortless work of trimming meats, slicing veggies, and even chopping herbs and greens. This knife does have a robust and heavy handle which can also be used for crushing or grinding garlic, nuts or other aromatics.

    When you are considering a Chinese cleaver, there are three versions that you should consider. Each has its own purpose, so you should find the one that is right for you.

      • Slicer – Also called a Ping knife, this style of Chinese cleaver is also known as a vegetable knife. They have a very thin blade, a narrow bevel and are exceedingly sharp. These cleavers will have a similar shape to other Chinese cleavers but will be a bit smaller. The slicer is made for cutting vegetables, chopping herbs, or making thin slices of meat. This is a delicate knife, so never use it on bone.
      • Chopper – Probably the most versatile of the Chinese cleavers, this knife can handle just about any kitchen task you can throw at it. It easily chops and slices vegetables. It can trim meats with precision, and minces garlic and herbs perfectly. It is larger than the slicer, and has a thicker blade, so it has a bit more versatility. Also the larger size of the blade makes it a handy scoop for transferring foods from the cutting board to pans or dishes.
      • Cleaver – Yes, there is a Chinese meat cleaver. The Chinese call them bone choppers. They are heavy, have thick, sturdy blades, and are made for hacking though pork ribs, chicken bones and the thick connective tissue in joints. These blades aren’t made for other tasks, but will make quick work of just about any cut of meat.

    If you think a Chinese cleaver is a good addition to your kitchen, but aren’t sure which to buy, then consider our list of the 9 best Chinese cleavers. Our list has something for every chef. We’ve chopped and sliced and tested, and read many customer reviews, to create a list of nine great products. We’ve also put together a handy buying guide that will help you find the right cleaver for your kitchen.

    Our favorite Chinese cleaver is the Imarku German High Carbon Stainless Steel Cleaver. It is a great all-purpose knife. It was great at a variety of kitchen tasks, but isn’t a great option if you just want a meat cleaver. This is a great kitchen tool, and will serve any chef well.

    For the complete product list, please continue reading…

    Top 9 Best Chinese Cleavers (2020 Reviews)

    1. Best Overall – Imarku German High Carbon Stainless Steel Cleaver


     Blade holds an edge along time
     Very well balanced
     Comfortable wood handle
     100% satisfaction guarantee


     Needs sharpening out of the box


      • Size: 7 inch
      • Material: High Carbon Stainless Steel and Pakkawood handle
      • Dimensions: 11.42 x 3.35 x 0.87 inches
      • Weight: 13.1 ounces

    The Imarku cleaver is made from German produced, high carbon content stainless steel. This makes the blade of this cleaver exceptionally strong and durable. The wide blade is well balanced and easy to control. The thin edge of this knife makes it perfect for slicing, chopping and mincing. Use the large blade to easily transfer foods to pans and bowls.

    This cleaver is not made for chopping through bones, but does do a good job of cutting through tough meats and tendons in joints. We found that the blade of this knife stayed sharp even after substantial work, but did require a bit of honing right out of the box. The Pakkawood handle is really attractive, and felt nice in our hands. Overall this is a great knife, and would make a great addition in any kitchen.

    Wrapping up

    If you want a knife that works well, but also looks nice, our pick for the best Chinese cleaver, the Imarku cleaver is a perfect balance of functionality and attractive styling.

    2. Runner up – ZHEN Japanese 67-Layer Damascus Cleaver


      Beautiful stylish design
      Very durable sharp blade
      Perfectly balanced
      Does come is 3 sizes


     Not for bones
     Hand wash only


      • Size: 8-Inch 
      • Material: Damascus Steel and Pakkawood handle
      • Dimensions: 8 x 4 x 0.07 inches
      • Weight: 12 ounces

    Imported from Japan, our runner up is a great knife as well, and frankly you can’t go wrong picking either of our top picks for your kitchen.

    The Zhen Damascus steel cleaver is a beautiful knife. You’ll impress guests in your home when you show off your culinary skills with this knife. The thin, sharp blade of this knife is perfect for working veggies, herbs and greens. At the same time it is also perfect for thin slicing meats for stir-fry or for dissection of meat joints. 

    We found that this knife also kept a sharp blade even after a lot of use. It was easy to hone back to sharp so you don’t have to work too hard to keep this blade in perfect working condition.

    This knife is hand wash only, due to the pakkawood handle. This is really our only complaint about the Zhen Damascus steel Chinese cleaver.

    3. Best Budget – Winco Heavy Duty Chinese Cleaver


      Great for meats
      Value priced
      Nice weight to it


     Not as durable
     Not as good with veggies


      • Size: 8 inch
      • Material: Wooden handle and stainless steel blade
      • Dimensions: 12.75 x 3.5 x 0.75 inches
      • Weight: 16 ounces

    You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get a great knife. Certainly our pick for best budget cleaver proves this theory.

    The Winco heavy duty Chinese cleaver is a great knife from a quality company. Winco has been making professional grade kitchen equipment for nearly 30 years. They are a leader in the industry, so you can trust that your money is well spent on this cleaver.

    This cleaver is made for chopping meats and will chop through bone. It wasn’t super with veggies, but if you work at it, and practice, you can coarse chop veggies with cleaver. For more delicate work, you will need another knife.

    Honestly, for around $10 you can’t beat this knife. It’s even dishwasher safe. Though do make sure you oil the handle occasionally to keep it from cracking.

    4. Best High-End – Shun Classic 6-Inch Meat Cleaver


      Excellent balance
      Elegant traditional design
      Very comfortable professional handle
      Slight flex in the blade


      No pattern on blade, as with rest of line of knives
      Handle is straight, not for everyone


      • Size: 6 inch
      • Material: Pakkawood handle and High-carbon steel
      • Dimensions: 12 x 0.75 x 3 inches
      • Weight: 15.4 ounces

    If you do want to spend some extra money on a great knife, then we’d suggest the Shun 6-inch classic meat cleaver. This robust knife is perfect for prepping meats and dressing poultry. The strong, high carbon content, stainless steel blade is robust enough to power through bones, but does still have some flex.

    This knife is superbly balanced, and the smooth pakkawood handle feels nice in your hand. The handle is really straight, which may not work for everyone. The Shun line of knives is really attractive and features a unique pattern on each blade. We were disappointed that this cleaver doesn’t feature the same pattern, but that doesn’t impact the knife’s performance.

    This knife easily held a sharp edge, despite chopping through bone and tendon. It also hones easily. The pakkawood handle does mean that this knife is not dishwasher safe.

    5. Best Meat – Concord Cookware Heavy Chinese Full Tang Meat Cleaver


      Great for tougher meats
      Heavier and durable
      Forged full tang construction
      Knife hole for hanging


      Not as good for veggies
      Blade not as sharp


      • Size: 7 inch
      • Material: Stainless steel
      • Dimensions: 12 x 6 x 1 inches
      • Weight: 16 ounces

    If you are looking for a cleaver for the sole purpose of working meat, then you’ll want to consider the Concord Cookware heavy Chinese meat cleaver. This large knife makes quick work of even the toughest meat and bone.

    This knife is well balanced, and we really like the contoured handle which makes controlling this knife easy. The extra-large blade of this knife allows you to use it as a scoop, transferring cuts of meat on to your grill or into cooking pots.

    For the price, we felt that this knife was well constructed. It held its sharpness well, and was easy to hone. This cleaver is dishwasher safe, so it is safe and easy to clean, when you’re done cooking.

    6. Best Value – Cook N Home Cleaver


      Durable sharp blade
      Full tang construction
      Nice balance
      Blade is magnetic


      Hand wash only
      Not rust resistant


      • Size: 7 inch
      • Material: Stainless steel
      • Dimensions: 12 x 1 x 3.5 inches
      • Weight: 8 ounces

    Back to traditional style Chinese cleavers, we recommend the Cook N Home Chinese cleaver as the best value cleaver on the market. This cleaver is fairly well balanced, and comes with a very durable but sharp blade.

    This knife made quick work of just about any veggie we threw at it. The Cook N Home cleaver also worked well on slicing tender meats. However it is not made for tough meats or bone, so be aware that these foods could damage this cleaver.

    Priced at less than $30 this is a great, all-purpose knife. It is magnetic, so you can attach it to a magnetic knife strip, if you have one in your kitchen. This knife is hand wash only, and we did notice a bit of rust after washing a few times.

    7. Best German – ZWILLING J.A. Henckels TWIN Signature Chinese Cleaver


      Very durable
      High quality full-tang design
      Blade stays sharp longer than most
      Comfortable ergonomic handle


      Not as well balanced
      On lighter side


      • Size: 7 inch
      • Material: High Carbon Stainless Steel & Polymer Handle
      • Dimensions: 15 x 5 x 1 inches
      • Weight: 10 ounces

    Honestly, if you like German knives, then you just can’t go wrong with the Zwilling-J.A. Henckels Chinese cleaver. This beautiful knife is a bit more expensive than some of the other cleavers on our list, but the price is well worth it. 

    The high-carbon stainless steel blade of this knife is sharp and ready to use straight from the box. The blade is decently balanced and despite the size, fairly lightweight and comfortable for most all chefs. The handle on this knife is ergonomically made and very comfortable to hold.

    Of all the knives we tested, the Zwilling-J.A Henckels cleaver held its sharpness best. If you select this knife, you’ll find that it will stay sharp for longer, without needing to be honed as frequently. Certainly this is a testament to the quality construction that J.A Henckels is known for.

    More products from this brand here.

    8. Best Basic – SKY LIGHT Cleaver Knife


      Full tang construction
      Very well balanced
      Multi-functional cleaver
      Blade is corrosion and stain resistance


      Only 1 year warranty


      • Size: 7 inch
      • Material: High Carbon Stainless Steel & Polymer Handle
      • Dimensions: 11.9 x 2.4 x 3.14 inches
      • Weight: 13.4 ounces

    A good basic knife that doesn’t skip on the quality is the Sky Light Chinese clever. This simple but well-made knife is perfect for the chef that wants to experiment with a Chinese cleaver but doesn’t want to spend a ton of money, or need something fancy.

    The Sky Light cleaver has a thin, lightweight blade that is surprisingly well balanced, considering the price tag. The hardened German high-carbon stainless steel is durable, and maintains its sharpness well. We found that it didn’t need frequent honing which is also great for a beginner or a home chef that just wants a handy knife.

    This knife worked well through veggies and greens, and did a proficient job with chopping delicate herbs. It is not made for hard meats or bones, as it is styled as a traditional Chinese chef’s knife not a meat cleaver.

    9. Best Damascus – KATSURA Cutlery Chinese Cleaver


      Very elegant Damascus blade
      Exceptional sharpness
      High quality full-tang design
      Nice balance


     Hand wash only
     On higher price side


      • Size: 6.5 inch
      • Material: High Carbon Stainless Steel
      • Dimensions: 13.1 x 4.5 x 1.2 inches
      • Weight: 12.4 ounces

    Damascus steel is known for its hardness, and ability to maintain a sharp blade with little work from the user. These blades are also highly attractive, thanks to the process used to forge the steel. 

    Our pick for the best Damascus blade comes from the Japanese manufacturer Katsura. This knife maker is known for exceptionally high quality kitchen knives, making it an easy pick for the best Damascus blade.

    This traditional Chinese cleaver is perfect for tender meats, veggies, herbs and greens. It is well balanced and features a comfortable, military-grade, polycarbonate handle. Besides being easy to use, and a quality product, this knife is also beautiful, it’s almost like using a work of art to cook your dinner.

    Our complaints? This knife is not dishwasher safe, so hand washing is a must. And, it is a bit expensive. However, this is such a quality knife, the price tag isn’t a huge surprise.

    Final Verdict

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    Our pick for the best Chinese cleaver, the Imarku German High Carbon Stainless Steel Cleaver, is a great kitchen tool, and when used properly and well cared for, will be a long lasting investment for your culinary adventures.

    A Chinese cleaver can be a great alternative to the full set of kitchen knives. Made to accomplish a variety of tasks with a single blade, it is the perfect tool for the chef that desires performance, but also wants simplicity.

    How to Choose the Best Chinese Cleaver

    Not sure how to pick the right Chinese cleaver for your kitchen? Never fear. We’ve compiled a list of the features that you should consider when you’re shopping for a Chinese Cleaver. This list will help you make the best pick from the nine in this review, or allow you to find another Chinese cleaver that we might not have considered.


    Size is really a matter of preference. But it can also be the difference between a knife that you enjoy using and a knife you just don’t feel confident with. Select a knife that has a sufficient size blade to make easy work of the foods you cook the most. If you want to use your knife as a scoop, a larger blade will be important. Also, think about storage, when it comes to size. You will need to have a safe, storage place for your Chinese cleaver. Make sure that you select a cleaver that will fit in your kitchen drawers or knife block, without causing damage to the blade.


    No matter what kind of cleaver you pick, Chinese or European, you should expect a knife that is heavier than others in your kitchen. There is a lot of metal that goes into making the larger blade, and especially with Chinese meat cleavers, the added weight is what makes it possible to chop through thick bones.  If you are going to be using your Chinese cleaver to do a lot of chopping and prep work, then select a knife that is lighter weight, and well balanced.

    When considering weight, you should also consider the balance of the knife. A well balanced knife, even though it might be heavier, will be easier to use. Knife balance will also reduce fatigue in your hands and forearms if you are doing a lot of prep work all at one time.


    Selecting the right materials for your Chinese cleaver makes a big difference in both functionality, and ease of use. 

      • Blade: When it comes to blade material, it is important to consider the style of cleaver you are purchasing. Most all knife blades are made from some sort of stainless steel alloy. Chinese and Japanese blades are usually processed to be harder than European blades. This makes it great for precision cutting, but harder steel can also be more brittle, which isn’t great for chopping meats. There are ceramic and carbon blades out there. They are lighter weight, but don’t have the same level of durability that steel blades have.
      • Handle: Handle material is really a matter of preference. Some chefs prefer the feeling of wood handles. Others like polycarbonate or steel for its durability. We recommend selecting a handle that gives you the most comfort and best grip. Keep in mind that polycarbonate or steel are a bit more durable, and generally dishwasher safe, so if easy cleanup is a must, then select this option.


    When it comes to maintaining your Chinese cleaver, you’re going to want to consider the hardness of the steel, and the material of the handle. Harder Chinese and Japanese steel alloys require less maintenance in the form of honing or sharpening. Though they are often a thinner blade, when used as intended you’ll find that you’ll hone less often, and still have a sharp blade. 

    When it comes to handles, if you like the feel of a wood handle, you need to know that they take more care. They are not dishwasher safe, and will require oil to keep the wood from cracking. This is especially important if you live in a dryer climate. If you want a knife that is easier to care for, consider one with a steel or polycarbonate handle.