Cleavers are one of the most versatile tools in your kitchen, handling everything from large cuts of meat to delicate cloves of garlic. Here’s how to choose the right cleaver for your needs.
Types of Cleavers
A heavy-duty meat cleaver can be up to 7 inches long. Use it to prep thick slabs of meat. Butcher cleavers can easily cut through large bones, but you won’t need a blade that heavy in most home kitchens. Most standard cleavers can handle soft bones, meat, fish and vegetables, as well as harder fruits and vegetables like butternut squash and watermelon. Fillet and carving knives also work well for these tasks.
If you need a multipurpose tool that can cut through small bones, meat and smaller veggies, look for a lighter knife with a shorter blade height. The Japanese-designed Nakiri knives are a specific style of cleaver. Their narrow blades and more rounded ends easily cut vegetables.
Choose a knife that comes with a meat cleaver sheath for safe storage.
How to Use a Meat Cleaver
Use a meat cleaver for a variety of cutting methods:
• Chopping. Heavy blades of a cleaver knife cut through meat and bones with minimal effort.
• Slicing. For dicing, place your free hand on the back of the vegetable cleaver, and gently roll the blade back and forth to finely slice foods like onions and peppers.
• Smashing. The wide, flat cleaver blade makes quick work of smashing garlic and tomatoes, as well as tenderizing meats. Simply place the flat side of the blade against the food item and carefully strike the other side with your free hand.
A cleaver makes a great addition to your kitchen knife set, and it's the perfect housewarming or birthday gift for the chef in your life.