Imagine making a menu with a wide range of foods, from the softest vegetables to the toughest animal meat. Each may require different methods of preparation, which may change depending on the tool at hand: a cleaver knife. What is a cleaver knife used for? By answering this question, you open yourself up to an exciting finding of one of the most useful and flexible tools in the kitchen. 

What is a Cleaver Knife Used for?

A cleaver knife is easily identifiable from its broad and rectangular blade, typically ranging from 4 to 8 inches in length. It is commonly made from high-carbon or stainless steel. The following are five specific ways to use a cleaver knife in the kitchen:

1. Slicing Through Boneless Meats

The weight and flat blade of a cleaver knife make it a suitable and efficient tool for cutting stripes and cubes. This method allows for precise cuts and even mincing meat finely enough for dishes like tartare. The design of the cleaver knife can facilitate quick, clean cuts through multiple layers of meat at once.

2. Splitting Open Tough Vegetables

A cleaver is ideal for handling large and tough vegetables such as gourds, watermelons, or bulky root vegetables like daikon radishes. The cleaver knife’s wide blade can make it easy to cut. 

3. Crushing Garlic

The broad and flat surface of a cleaver knife's blade is perfect for crushing garlic cloves. This method not only simplifies the removal of garlic skins but also makes it easier to mince the cloves afterward.

4. The Rocking Method

The cleaver knife's large blade is also advantageous for the "rocking method" of mincing, which involves moving the blade back and forth over the ingredient to achieve a fine chop. 

5. Transferring Ingredients from Cutting Board

The cleaver knife can also work as a tool for transferring chopped ingredients from the cutting board to the cookware, similar to how chefs use bench scrapers. The large face of the cleaver blade facilitates the easy lifting and moving of ingredients without spillage, simplifying kitchen workflow and maintaining cleanliness.

How to Choose Your Cleaver Knife?

After exploring the incredible versatility of cleaver knives, it is time to use your cleaver knife if you have got your ideal one. If you currently do not own a cleaver knife, or want to get an even better one, here are several factors that you can carefully evaluate to ensure you choose a knife that meets your culinary needs.

Kyoku Japanese Cleaver Knives | Samurai Series | Kyoku Knives

1. Materials of the Blade: Stainless Steel or Carbon Steel

Any cleaver knife's blade is its central component. Stainless steel or carbon steel are the two most common materials used to make cleaver knives. Stainless steel blades are resistant to rust, making them a great choice for users who don’t want to spend much time maintaining them. Carbon steel blades, on the other hand, may be preferred by professionals for their sharpness and durability, although they require more care to prevent rusting.

2. Knife Weight: Around 1 lb

A cleaver knife's weight has an impact on both its usability and effectiveness. By utilizing the weight of the blade to aid in the cutting process, a heavier cleaver knife can reduce the amount of work required to cut through thick meat and bones. Generally, a cleaver that weighs around 1 lb has enough power to give you a clean cut with accuracy.

3. Comfortable Handle

The handle should feel comfortable in your hand and provide a secure grip, even when it is wet. Handles can be made from a variety of materials such as wood, plastic, or composite. Wooden handles offer a classic look and a good grip but may be easily damaged by water and heat. Plastic and composite handles are more durable and easier to clean. 

Top Cleaver Knives on the Market

Having discussed some key factors to consider when choosing a good cleaver knife, here are some high-quality cleaver knives currently available from Kyoku, each with unique features designed to enhance your cooking experience.


This versatile cleaver knife features a 7-inch blade of Damascus steel with a distinctive herringbone pattern to prevent food from sticking. Ideal for fish, meats, and vegetables, it combines aesthetics with practicality. The fiberglass handle is also durable, lightweight, and easy to clean.


This cleaver knife is made from Japanese 440C steel, heat-treated for strength, and features a sharp 13–15 degree edge. It’s perfect for precise cuts through a variety of foods. Besides, the rosewood handle ensures comfort and balance, while the Rockwell hardness of 59–60 also guarantees excellent performance and edge retention.


This knife features a full-tang and high-carbon stainless steel blade. Adorned with mosaic pins, the wooden handle is also ergonomic, which is very helpful in minimizing hand fatigue during complicated tasks in the kitchen. 


This cleaver knife of the Gin series features VG-10 Japanese steel, which is cryogenically treated for durability. It is also coated with silver ions for hygiene. Furthermore, the sharp edge and robust full tang design can help to provide effortless cutting. Its fiberglass handle is also easy to clean. 

How to Maintain Your Cleaver Knife?  

Taking care of your cleaver knife is important for making it last longer and work better. To keep it in great shape, here are some useful tips.

Clean After Use: To keep your cleaver knife from rusting or corroding, clean it right away with warm, soapy water and dry it completely. This is especially important if it is made of high-carbon steel.

Regular Sharpening: Regular sharpening will keep the edge of your cleaver knife sharp. Honing steel moves the edge back into place, and a sharpening stone grinds away material to make a new edge. This makes sure that your cleaver knife can work at its best.

Proper Storage: The best way to store your cleaver knife is in a knife block, on a magnetic strip, or in a sheath that can protect the tip. Don't put it in a drawer, where it might easily get broken or dull.


Many people love the cleaver knife because of its good use. If you ask, “What is a cleaver knife used for?" you will find out that the cleaver knife is indispensable for many kitchen chores and that it can make cooking more enjoyable. Hence, try to look for the cleaver knife that fits you best from Kyoku now.

Edward Thompson
Hello, my name is Edward Thompson and I'm a writer who loves Japanese food and culture. I went to a great cooking school in New York and have been to Japan several times to learn more about Japanese cooking and knife culture. I know everything there is to know about Japanese knives, from their past to how they are made to how to use them every day.