Calling All Home Cooks: Here's Why You Should Own a Cleaver

It's a fantastic kitchen tool for butchers and home cooks alike.

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Wusthof classic cleaver
Photo: Courtesy of Wüsthof

There are a few essential knives that every home cook needs: an all-purpose chef's knife; a serrated bread knife; and a small paring knife. We believe there's another style that you should consider investing in, and that's a cleaver. Yes, it looks a little scary, and yours might even give you visions of an intense butcher working behind the scenes to prepare meat for the case in your local grocery store. "While every knife in the kitchen plays a role, the main reason to reach for a cleaver over a chef's knife or santoku is to efficiently chop through dense, heavier pieces of meat, including bone and cartilage," says Viola Wüsthof, co-CEO of WÜSTHOF. And while a cleaver is certainly useful for cutting meat, it can also be used for cutting through tough produce such as butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and pineapple.

Why Invest in a Cleaver?

If you have an arsenal of sharp knives, why add another one—and a very large one at that—to the mix? "While a chef's knife is one of the most versatile knives in the kitchen, it's not the best tool for disjointing cuts, carving thicker meats, or hacking bones the way a cleaver can," says Wüsthof. A cleaver can take on heavy vegetables like different varieties of squash and root vegetables with more force than a chef's knife or santoku knife.

Aside from breaking down tendons and bones, cleavers can also be used for pounding, mincing, dicing, and slicing of a variety of other foods. "The broader side of the blade can crush a clove of garlic in one swift motion," adds Wüsthof.

Cleaver Versus Nakiri Knife

When shopping for a cleaver, you may come across a Nakiri knife that looks similar. While a cleaver is somewhat all-purpose in that it's just as useful for cutting through tough cuts of meat as it is vegetables, a Japanese Nakiri knife is more suited for cutting through vegetables with precision. "A cleaver is generally more blade-heavy, making it ideal for heavier-duty tasks that require more weight and force. A Nakiri knife is generally lighter and nimbler with a thinner, more refined blade," says Wüsthof.

Wüsthof Classic Cleaver

This classic Western-style features a heavy-duty, rectangular-shaped blade (choose from six- or eight-inches) made from high-carbon steel. The tang is triple-riveted to the handle for durability.

Shop Now: Wüsthof Classic Cleavers, $99.95-$119.95,

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