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Cleaver vs Chef Knife: The Battle of Chopping Knives

Cooking great dishes start with a smooth presentation. Without the right knives in place, you won’t get anything done. For instance, a cleaver and a chef knife are kitchen tools a chef can’t do without. Despite being kitchen knives, they boast different constructions and functions.

In this article, we will pit cleaver vs chef knife and help you understand all there’s to know about the kitchen tools. 

Meat Cleaver Uses

Splitting meat from the bone, splitting thicker and larger vegetables, and cutting thick meat are beyond the cutting power of smaller kitchen knives. Unsurprisingly, butchers around the world usually turn to a cleaver to help them do the job. This tool should not be confused with the traditional butcher knife which is also specially designed to cut thick meat and even vegetables.

Meat Cleaver Uses

Besides, the Cleaver, which measures between 6 to 12 inches in length, boasts substantial steel in its blade, making it powerful enough to get the tough jobs done without hassle. The blade’s shape varies between manufacturers, but it’s generally almost rectangular and quite wider than other types of kitchen knives.

This cutting tool also possesses a tough, sharply beveled edge designed to continuously cut into cartilages, meat, and even small bones.

How to use a Cleaver?

The power of the cleaver does not lie in only the sharpness of the blade, it also lies in the momentum. When cutting tough bones and cartilages, butchers usually use a towel and their other hand to crush down on the thick blade’s top, thus providing the extra momentum needed to power through.

Here’s a video on how to properly use a Cleaver:

Also, the thickness of a cleaver’s blade can vary dramatically based on its intended purpose. Some smaller cleavers won’t handle tougher meat but they help to dice fruits and vegetables.

Chef Knife Uses

A Chef Knife, as its name suggests, is a kitchen tool used by chefs for food preparation. It’s easily the most popular kitchen knife due to its multipurpose functions. This type of knife is the one you leave in the family kitchen to cut, slice, mince, and chop foods.

Chef Knife Uses

Moreover, the chef knife typically measures between 6 to 14 inches in length regardless of the style. Different countries have their style of a chef knife. For instance, the French makers craft their chef knife to have an almost straight edge that curves up to the tip while the German manufacturers make their knife to be continuously curved along the cutting edge.

Plus, the chef knife’s blade can be either forged or stamped. The blade is typically made of stainless steel, carbon steel, a laminate of the two metals, or ceramic. As we mentioned earlier, the chef knife is a multipurpose knife designed to do several different kitchen tasks.

This tool is not some specialist knife like the cleaver. It can be used for slicing, chopping, and mincing vegetables, disjointing large cuts, and slicing meat.

Cleaver vs Chef Knife Features (Face to Face)

FeatureCleaver Chef Knife
Length 6-12 inches 6-14 inches
Weight Heavyweight Lightweight
Construction Forged Forged or Stamped
Blade material Stainless steel Stainless steel, carbon steel,
a laminate of the two metals,
or ceramic
Bevel Single Single

Standout Features Between Cleaver vs Chef Knife

That the cleaver and the chef knife are very different knives is a safe conclusion but what are their standout features? We will explain them below:

1. Cutting tough meat

As we have mentioned several times, the cleaver is specially designed to cut tough meat you won’t expect your chef knife to cut. It is typically heavy-duty with substantial steel in its blade. With the power of this tool, you can cut tough meat to prepare Marinated Lamb Chops. The chef knife, on the other hand, doesn’t have the power and is restricted to cutting lighter food items.

2. Chopping

The chef knife’s functions include chopping vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, onions, amongst others. As long as you keep the blade sharp, chopping is a breeze but its power is limited to the smaller and softer vegetables. You need a small cleaver to chop thicker and larger veggies such as melon and squash.

3. All-purpose

The chef knife is the undisputed winner when it comes to the option that offers more functions. While the cleaver deal with the tough cuts, the chef knife helps to do the many light cuts in the kitchen.


Comparing the cleaver vs chef knife shows the difference between the two kitchen tools is quite clear. One is heavy-duty, the other is for lighter works. While the cleaver helps you cut the tough foods, the chef knife offers great precision to get neat cuts. Both kitchen tools are a great addition to any kitchen. If you have to choose only one of them, pick the one that better serves your needs.

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