Knife Buzz Logo

Butcher Knife vs Meat Cleaver: How To Tell The Difference?

Its common for the meat cleaver to be confused with the butcher knife. So, how do you tell the difference? In this article we review the butcher knife and the meat cleaver to reveal their core differences.

What is a Butcher Knife Used for?

What is a Butcher Knife Used for?

The traditional butcher knife is designed to cut through thick meat and bones easily. This knife boasts a curved tip and a wide blade, making it ideal for slicing and trimming raw meat seamlessly.

The blade is usually bulky and heavy, giving the right balance to butcher any meat. This type of knife doesn’t require a lot of precision to cut through significant cuts of meat, and it powers through to get the job done.

Although there are now specialist skinning knives, the butcher knife was originally designed to skin animals. You can use thsi knife to skin animals, but it wont be as precise as a modern skinning knives that are designed for this task.

The butcher knife, which typically measures 6 to 14 inches, has the right length and shape to serve as a reliable utility knife for camping and hunting. You can also trust your butcher knife for other all-purpose outdoor uses such as portioning and food preparation.

What is the Cleaver Knife Used for?

What is the Cleaver Knife Used for?

As we hinted earlier, meat cleaver is designed to help butchers cut through meat, although it’s slightly different from the traditional butcher knife. It is a heavy-set, thick knife with a sharply beveled edge. The thickness of a meat cleaver depends on the purpose of the cut, so you’ll need to buy one that can provide you the level of cut you need.

Butchers around the world don’t use only butcher knives; they also use the meat cleaver. The cleaver, which typically measures between 6 and 12 inches, usually boasts reliable steel in the blade. The shape of the blade often varies between manufacturers, but it’s generally almost rectangular and wider than other types of kitchen knives.

Furthermore, the meat cleaver’s blade features a touch edge crafted to cut into small bones, cartilages, and meat repeatedly. Besides the blade sharpness, the cleaver relies upon additional momentum to power through cartilages and bones.

Butcher Knife vs Meat Cleaver Features (Face to Face)

FeatureButcher KnifeMeat Cleaver
Length6-14 inches6-12 inches
Blade MaterialHigh-carbon stainless steelStainless steel

Standout Features Between Butcher Knife vs Meat Cleaver

By now, you know that butcher knife and meat cleaver are different kitchen tools even though they share some similarities. We will examine the distinct differences below:

1. Cutting thick meat

As we have explained severally, the butcher knife is specially designed to cut through thick meat or dress animal carcasses. Thanks to its heavy construction, it gets the job done efficiently and seamlessly. With the knife’s thick blade, you can power through huge cuts of meat to make a dish like Easy Roast Beef.

2. Precision cutting

If you need precision cutting, the meat cleaver is the better tool to consider. The cleaver’s lighter and thinner blade allows you to cut through any meat to prepare your favorite dish gently. The butcher knife doesn’t provide precision cutting due to its thick blade.

3. All-purpose

It doesn’t hurt to have a butcher’s knife to perform many other tasks in the kitchen. Between the butcher knife and the meat cleaver, you get more from the cleaver. While the meat cleaver provides virtually all the functions of the butcher knife, the latter is not as versatile.

With a meat cleaver in your hand, you can split meat from the bone. You can use it for beef, chicken, pork, and other thick types of meat. Also, you can use your cleaver to split thicker and larger vegetables such as squash and melons. In addition, a smaller cleaver can be used for dicing fruits and vegetables without hassle. All of these functions make the meat cleaver a good value for the money.


While you expect the butcher knife to cut through the thickest of meat, the meat cleaver helps you power through thick meat. While both tools are great in the kitchen, its best to choose the blade that you will best suit your needs and cooking style.

Share This Article


Knife Buzz offers independent product reviews on a wide range of knives used in the kitchen, home, outdoors and at work.We Make It Easy For You To Find The Right Knife At The Best Price

Popular Reviews

Recent Articles

Ceramic Rod Knife Sharpener

Ceramic Rod vs Steel Knife Sharpeners

Whether you have your stainless steel or ceramic knife sharpener handy, it’s important to know how to use them so you can keep up with the demand for quality food

Interesting Knives