In the world of knives, it is rare to come across the level of versatility and possible improvisations that can compete with the “ciao dao". Although it sounds like the name of a Chinese magician, and a Chinese magician might be a metaphorically appropriate description for this tool, it actually translates to what some of us might be familiar as "the Chinese Cleaver." When we hear the word "cleaver" the first thing that comes to mind is a muscular butcher brutally chopping down on a whole duck, and it might make you think that this kind of knives specialize mainly in cutting with brute force rather than with precision.
But this is where the Chinese cleavers are different from other cleavers. Compared to other cleavers, the Chinese cleavers have a thinner blade, are lighter, and are applicable for multiple purposes starting from cutting chicken cartilages to making thin slices of onions. Apart from cutting, the broad and rectangular surface of a Chinese cleaver’s blade is very useful for crushing ginger and garlic, as well as being a transferring tool for safely taking the chopped food from your cutting board to a wok.
If you are a person who loves cooking and has not tried using a Chinese cleaver yet, then you should consider trying it out at least once during your culinary journey because it has a very high potential for becoming a chef’s favorite cutting tool. Chinese cleavers are made by different manufacturers and are made with different materials and with variable designs, and so we came up with the idea of going on a quest for the best Chinese cleavers that are available in the market and to share the findings with you so that you do not have to waste your valuable time looking for all the possible options and thinking hard on which one to buy.
This cleaver from Zwiling J.A. Henckels that has won the best pick position on our list has been made in Germany with a specially formulated German steel which makes it lightweight yet extremely sharp and precise.
The budget pick cleaver on our list is from iMarku and this product proves that a high-quality kitchen tool with exceptionally good performance does not necessarily have to be accompanied by a sky-high price. With an ergonomically designed wooden handle and a stainless steel blade with a mirror finish, this will surely give you satisfactory results in the kitchen.
Table of Contents
- Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Chinese Cleavers
- 1. Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature 7-Inch Vegetable Cleaver
- 2. iMarku 7-Inch Chinese Vegetable Knives
- 3. SKY LIGHT 7" Cleaver, Chinese Butcher Knife
- 4. Winco Blade Chinese Cleaver
- 5. LedgeON 7" Professional Cleaver
- 6. CPK Elite 7" Professional Cleaver Knife Stainless Steel with Ergonomic Handle
- 7. SPEVORIX Cleaver Knife
- 8. Shun DM0712 Classic 7-Inch Chinese Vegetable Cleaver
- 9. Victorinox Cleaver Chinese
- 10. Wusthof Gourmet Heavy Chinese Cleaver
- Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Chinese Cleaver
Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Chinese Cleavers
While it may seem like cleavers are very similar to each other, they are the kind of tools where a small subtle difference can make it the best kitchen companion for one user but a completely unusable piece of metal for another user. And so, we did not stop looking even after we found our best and budget pick, and have broadened your options by keeping ten Chinese cleavers on our list. We have compared the ten Chinese cleavers on the next section so that you can easily select the one that suits you the most out of them.
1. Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature 7-Inch Vegetable Cleaver
If you are interested in specialized knives, Zwilling is a name that you would want to remember. This German manufacturer makes versatile kinds of cutting tools that are of designer quality and combines high-quality materials with cutting-edge technology to produce knives that deliver astounding performances.
One such product is this cleaver, which has been made of Friodur blade. This is a special kind of steel with a high carbon content that has been processed with ice-hardening technology which adds valuable qualities to the blade.
This manufacturing process and the material make this blade resistant to stains, flexible, and able to retain a sharp edge for a long time. This means that your cleaver will stay free of corrosion, and stains from cutting different type of food materials, and will also require less frequent sharpening. On each side of the blade’s edge, there is a 15 degrees angle, which is the highly desired angle for precision cutting.Special care has also been put into the making of the handle, which has been made of a polymer that has been contoured into a shape that provides good grip and comfort at the same time. To make the handle extra durable, it has been secured with triple-riveting which will endure the test of time and heavy-duty usage.
2. iMarku 7-Inch Chinese Vegetable Knives
When we look for a kitchen knife, many of us search for wooden handles since they give the knife an authentic appearance and an organic touch to the hands when we hold the knives.
Nonetheless, wooden handles come with their own disadvantages of being prone to warping and promoting mold and bacterial growth especially when they are in a moist and wet environment of the kitchen.
To tend to the users' desire for wooden handles but at the same time maintaining a high durability, iMarku has made the clever choice of using Pakka wood for the handles. This is a special material known as composite wood, which gives you the feel and appearance of real wood but is resistant to warping and stays waterproof to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi on it. This makes the handle long lasting even in adverse conditions and heavy-duty usage.
The blade of this cleaver is no less impressive than its handle, and you will know why once you know that it is made of a special type of stainless steel called 7Cr17mov. It is a grade 440A steel that has been modified with the addition of Vanadium to it, which makes it highly wear resistant, corrosion resistant and increases its ability to retain the sharpness of its edge once it has been sharpened.
This makes the cleaver suitable for rough usage, making sure that you can use it for any type of heavy duty purposes on a regular basis. Apart from that, the blade is 7 inches long and 3.3 inches wide, which makes it an excellent tool for transferring food from the cutting board to your pan.
3. SKY LIGHT 7" Cleaver, Chinese Butcher Knife
This is a cleaver that would not fail you if you are looking for a cleaver that is powerful enough to process whole poultries and to chop down hard, thick bones such as ribs. As you can guess, this cleaver is heavier than the others since you would need that strong weight coming down on the hard food materials to cut them into the pieces you want.
To stand up to the challenge of any touch butchering work, this clever comes with a blade that has been made of X50CrMoV15 stainless steel which has superior hardness, measuring 58+ on Rockwell Hardness scale, and hence is suitable for applying brute force for cutting bones and hard meat.
Not only is the blade exceptionally hard, it is also resistant to stains and corrosion, which makes it a cleaver that can be used for a long time without having to be replaced. Besides being able to apply a strong cutting force, it is able to cut and slice with a high precision, thanks to its bevel angles that are 17 degrees and as a result are very sharp and precise.
Although Sky Light seems to be focused on making their knife blades very hard, they understand that you do not want the handles to be hard, and they have constructed the handle with a polymer that is of military grade and is comfortable to touch but is resistant to mechanical, heat or cold temperature damage.
4. Winco Blade Chinese Cleaver
This Chinese knife comes with an authentic wooden handle and a blade that has been made of carbon steel. The carbon steel makes the blade highly wear resistance and gives it a good edge retention.
What it means is that the knife will sharp for a long time and will require you to sharpen it less often. The blade also has a length of 6.75 inches and a width of 3.5 inches which gives it a large surface area for accomplishing various cutting techniques with ease. The wooden handle has been designed with ridges so that it provides comfort and a good grip at the same time.
5. LedgeON 7" Professional Cleaver
If you are thinking of going premium with your Chinese cleaver, then this is a knife that would be worth checking out. It comes in an elegant box which makes it an ideal gift, as well as keeps the knife stored safely if you want to use it only for special occasions.
The handle of the knife has been made of Pakka wood which is a composite wood with the appearance of wood but with a high resistance against bending and mold formation. To enhance the durability of the handle, the Pakka wood has been triple riveted which has made it popular even among many restaurants where it has to undergo heavy-duty usage.
The blade of the knife has been made with a high carbon content stainless steel which has been treated with heat and has been reinforced with a forging process which not only makes the blade sharp and powerful but also highly durable. The specialty of the bade of this cleaver is that it can perform both heavy duty meat and bone cutting, as well as delicate and precise cutting such as removing the skin from a fish. This ability to do both types of cutting makes this cleaver stand out among other Chinese cleavers since many of them are not capable of doing power cutting.
6. CPK Elite 7" Professional Cleaver Knife Stainless Steel with Ergonomic Handle
If durability is a factor that is high on your priority list, then you should definitely check this knife out. It is a full tang knife where the handle and the blade is one solid piece instead of being separate pieces.
This prevents the risk of the blade coming off from the handle and gives you a great control over how you want to use the knife. To make sure that the handle is not only durable but also comfortable to hold, a separate ergonomic material has been used on the handle so that you do not have any hand cramps even after cutting a whole batch of vegetables.
The wide surface area of the blade has different components each of which can be used for versatile kitchen techniques, for example, you can use the sharp tip of the blade peel vegetables, the flat part to crush garlic, and the spine of the blade to pound various meat. Contrary to other Chinese cleavers with an authentic appearance with wooden handles, this cleaver has a very contemporary design which makes it a stylish kitchen tool that you can store in a visible area to add to your kitchen décor.
The blade of the knife has a hole at one corner so that you can hang it for drying and for storage. Another great thing about this cleaver that we love is that it comes with an odor-removing metallic soap which you can use to remove the smell of food materials such as fish and garlic from the blade. The soap and the cleaver come in an elegant box which makes it a great gift for anyone who loves cooking.
7. SPEVORIX Cleaver Knife
This cleaver is a powerful cutting tool that has been made to the standards approved by certain organizations such as FDA, LFGB, etc. so you can stay assured about the quality of this cleaver. The blade has been made of a stainless steel of the model 9Cr15, which has a high Chromium content which makes it highly resistant to corrosion.
To equip the blade with excellent edge retention and sharpness, the blade has been forged with heat treatment. If you are familiar with blade angles, then you would be familiar with the fact that 15 degrees bevel angles are very popular because they are extremely sharp.
The sides of the blade of this cleaver have been sharpened to 15 degrees angles to make it the perfect knife for making thin slices of vegetables, meat, fish, etc. One factor that can cause hand cramps while using a cleaver is the resistance that the hand has to go against while slicing with a knife having a wide blade. To prevent this resistance and to keep the blade flexible enough to smoothly slice through any type of food, the cutting edge of the blade has been tapered.The handle of the cleaver has been made with a black colored Pakka wood which makes the cleaver sleek and stylish. At the same time, the Pakka wood makes the handle durable and resistant to bacterial growth even when the cleaver is kept in moist surroundings of the kitchen. The knife is full tang and has been triple riveted to prevent the blade from being separated from the handle, no matter how much roughly the cleaver is used.
8. Shun DM0712 Classic 7-Inch Chinese Vegetable Cleaver
This is a unique Chinese style cleaver that has been made in a city called Seki in Japan, which is the capital of Japanese sword making. This cleaver comes with a blade that is dangerously sharp even when it is right out of the box. This cleaver employs several unique features especially within its blade part that makes it stand out among the others on the market.
The material that the blade is made of is an exotic Japanese steel called VG-10, which is a cutlery grade steel and thus contains materials that make it easy to sharpen, durable, and resistant to corrosion and abrasive damages.
Another thing that we highly admire about the blade is that it has been designed with cladding with 16 layers of SUS410/SUS431 stainless steel on each side. This Damascus cladding describes a pattern that has been popular in sword and knife making since a long time ago and is characterized by patterns banding and mottling which looks similar to patterns of flowing water. This Damascus cladding design gives the blade an exquisite appearance, but this cladding does more than adding to the beauty of the blade.
The microscopic air pockets created by the cladding process reduces friction while cutting, increases the blade’s durability and makes it resistant to staining. The angle of the blade at the edge is 16 degrees on both sides, which makes the blade extremely sharp and precise, perfect for making uniform and very thin slices of vegetables and meats. The hardness of the blade is at the higher end of the Rockwell’s Hardness Scale, rating 60 – 61, which makes sure that the blade retains its sharp edge for a very long time.
The handle of the cleaver is made of Pakka wood which is a wood impregnated with resin to maintain the feel and appearance of wood but making it more resistant to moisture-retention and warping. The handle has also been contoured in a D-shaped which gives you a secure and comfortable grip when working with the cleaver.
9. Victorinox Cleaver Chinese
Almost any person you meet would probably be familiar with Swiss Army Knives and their kitchen cutlery line is called Victorinox. This Chinese cleaver has been made by the famous manufacturer of the Swiss army knives and you can expect the standard and quality of this knife to be exceptionally high as a result.
This cleaver would also be highly appreciated by anyone who is looking for a cleaver which is not only good for cutting vegetables and meat but is also capable of chopping through bones. Whether it be processing a whole poultry or cutting rib meat into pieces for a barbecue party, this cleaver will have you covered.
The handle of the cleaver has been made in a round cylindrical shape rather than being flat, which gives you an ergonomic grip and makes it easier for you to apply force for cutting through hard food materials.
10. Wusthof Gourmet Heavy Chinese Cleaver
Anyone who is familiar with kitchen knives has surely heard about Wusthof, a Germany based company that has been in the knife-making business since the 1800s. So it is not surprising when they make a Chinese cleaver which delivers an excellent performance along with an elegant design.
This cleaver has an 8-inch blade which will provide you with the strength and force needed to cut through bones, meat, and hard vegetables. The blade is made of a stainless steel that has a high carbon content which further increases the hardness of the blade, preventing it from chipping or breaking when chopping through bones.
Although the blade is very hard, the handle has been made of ABS polymer which has been securely riveted to provide you with a firm and comfortable grip. The handle is also heat and impact resistant to make it suitable for being used in rough and heavy-duty settings.
Since Chinese cleavers are a special type of knives, they are not as easy as other types of knives to buy but you can easily choose the right one for yourself if you know the important factors that are important in determining which Chinese cleavers would be the most fitting to play its role in your kitchen. In the next section, we are going to discuss those factors so that you can know all you need to know about it once you are done reading this article.
Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Chinese Cleaver
Size and Weight
The size of the Chinese cleaver is an important factor to be aware of before you make your purchase since it depends on what kind of cutting you want to use your cleaver for. If you are looking for a cleaver to do your everyday dicing, mincing, and slicing, it would be best to go for a small to medium size. But if you want to use your cleaver for heavy-duty purposes such as taking apart a whole chicken or chopping through hard rib bones, then you have to look for a bigger size.
The size of the cleaver also determines how well it is going to fit in your hand and hence being aware of how big and strong your hands will be very helpful in choosing the correct size cleaver. Another thing about cutting tools that affect how comfortably you can use them are their weight.
A bigger cleaver does not necessarily mean that it will be heavier since the weight of a cleaver heavily depends on the type of materials used in its construction and hence it is important to check the weight of the cleaver before you buy it to make sure that you can lift it up and maneuver it with ease.
Type of material used
This is where things get a little technical but there is no need to worry since we are here to give you a basic idea of what the materials can be and how you should choose your preferred material. When it comes to the type of material used in the blade of the cleavers, it is no longer simply ‘stainless steel' but a specific type of stainless steel, for example, 9Cr15, VG-10, 7Cr17mov, Friodur, etc.
Although the names of the steels look intimidating to understand, a quick search on the internet will reveal their basic properties and hence you can easily know what kind of cutting actions your cleaver will be good for. Other than that, a general idea that is good to have is that any steel with a high carbon content has a high rating of hardness, which means it will be good for cutting processes that require a lot of strength, whereas a high chromium content makes your blade highly resistant to corrosion.
Another aspect of the type of material used in making the cleaver is the material used in the handle, which should also be taken into consideration since it will largely determine the comfort and firmness of the grip you will get from the cleaver. If you are looking for authenticity in appearance and feel of the handle, you can go for wooden handles, while other materials such as composite wood and ABS polymer gives you a high durability along with a decent amount of comfort.
Since Chinese cleavers use sophisticated materials in their construction, they require proper caring and maintenance to prolong their longevity. Depending on the type of materials used and the design, your cleaver may or may not be safe to be washed in the dishwasher.
For most types, it is best to wash them with hand and with mild soap rather than using abrasive detergents or sponges on them since that can damage the blade’s sharpness and precision. Also, some cleavers come with wooden handles and it is best to keep them as dry as possible so you can look for the cleavers which come with a hanging hole on their blades so you can hang them for drying after cleaning them.
Purpose of the cleaver
Although by ‘cleaver', most of us understand a knife that is used for heavy duty bone chopping, that is not the case for Chinese cleavers. Most of them are suitable for cutting vegetables and meat and are not made for chopping bones. So it is important to understand what type of purpose you are going to use your cleaver for, and then make your purchase depending on those criteria.
A Chinese cleaver is the kind of kitchen tool that once you get used to the cleaver, it will replace most of your cutting tools in the kitchen because of its versatility and efficiency. That being said, it is important to cross-check your requirements and what each of the Chinese cleavers on the market offers to find the best Chinese cleaver for yourself. We hope that this article has made it easy to bring the perfect Chinese cleaver home so you can start honing your cooking skills and enjoy using your own “ciao dao” to make delicious meals.