Butcher Knife Vs Breaking Knife: How Are They Used & What Are The Differences?

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 03/16/21 •  6 min read

The butcher and the breaking knife are quite similar in appearance, with long, relatively thin blades that swoosh up to a pointed arc at the tip. The difference is that the former is a bit more rigid, used to break down large pieces of soft meat into small one while the latter is more bendable so it can cut through tougher skin and even cartilage and small bones.

Aside from the butcher’s and breaking knives, there are several others used to process a whole animal.

And it’s a huge challenge to identify these pieces because a lot of them look exceptionally similar to each other (e.g. butcher’s, breaking, and the cimeter).

But if you visit a butcher’s shop, you will see that all these are must-haves for particular steps in the process and parts of the meat.

For now, let’s focus on the two featured knives, see the difference between the two, and know why you should have these.

Related: The best cleavers for your money

What is a Butcher Knife?

The butcher knife is popular in the meat processing business.

It is often mistaken as the cleaver because of its function, but it has a much lighter and thinner blade.

This allows the user to make perfect cuts, unlike the cleaver that chops with larger chunks.

Obviously, a real cleaver is heavy with a taller rectangular blade shape.

Compared to other knives, this has a blade made from thick and hard steel.

The blade may restrict bending, so another knife may be needed to get around the bones.

The sturdy blade allows the user to chop or slice meat pieces without breaking the knife.

This item is characterized by its durability and balance, that it can even go through beef or deer bones.

There a lot of butcher knives with Graton edges, with helps to avoid the sliced meat sticking to the surface.

It will allow easy meat slicing without shredding the side that is being sliced.

This types is usually available in different sizes, ranging from 8 to 14 inches, depending on the manufacturer or seller.

What is a Breaking Knife?

Breaking knives are often seen to be similar to butcher knives, having the main purpose of cutting and chopping large meats into smaller pieces.

It can break meat into tinier parts, perfect for a barbecue or preparing a slice of meat to be cooked.

The blade is quite long, with a little bend on them.

It usually has thinner blades, and the tip has a curve upwards to the spine.

Unlike the butcher’s knife, some prefer to have a small breaking knife to allow easier handling and flexibility.

Some knifemakers create bigger breaking knives, popular with butchers and meat shops.

The usual size of this one is about 7 to 8 inches.

Uses of a Butcher and Breaking Knives

As the name suggests, a butcher knife is commonly used by butchers that will help them in butchering or breaking down animal carcasses.

The bigger the blade, the better it is in splitting and cutting meat.

With its thick blade, it is usually used for cutting through the bone.

It helps to break down meat into more manageable portions.

For non-meat purposes, a butcher’s knife with taller blades is used by some to cut pizza, considering the longer lengths that are perfect for reaching one edge of the pizza to another.

Unfortunately, some people do not own it, as meats available in the retailer, supermarkets, and meat shops are already in easy-to-use portions.

But if you are a hunter, or just like preparing the meat for yourself, this type of knife is perfect for you.

On the other hand, a breaking knife can help to further breakdown the meat chopped.

Its characteristics would help the user to break small bones, tough skin, and cartilage.

It can also be used in trimming or removing the fats in the meat.

More household owns this one, as it helps them chop or slice market-bought meats into sizes that they prefer or what the dish they want to cook requires.

Why it is Important To Have Them

Buying meats in bigger portions will ensure that you are getting all of the meat in the same portion.

This will ensure food safety for the meat you are using.

It will avoid getting mixed with other cuts, or even blended with stale ones, a tactic being used by some supermarkets or meat shops to cut on costs and lessen waste.

As mentioned, if you like hunting or owns a meat shop, these knives will be essential to you.

It will help to break down the meat into manageable parts.

Chop large-sized meats from the whole animal’s body by using a butcher’s knife, and create different cuts with the use of a breaking knife.

Where to Buy

As this is seen as one of the essential knives in a kitchen set, these can be purchased easily in supermarkets and home goods stores.

Therefore, buying these kinds of knives online should not be a concern.

Popular manufacturers may already have an online store, and this gives assurance in getting an original piece.

Knifemakers and sellers include important information such as FAQs about the item, and you may even read customer reviews.

This will help in deciding what to buy.

Just like in any other cutter, remember to consider the thickness of the blade and if it is made with high-quality stainless steel.

Using substandard ones may cause accidents, especially that these knives deal with bones and large-sized meats.


Both these knives are an important piece to chefs and those meat lovers out there.

Both are mainly used for breaking down meats into desirable pieces.

We can say that the butcher’s knife can chop and slice through thicker meats, while the breaking knife assists in making the pieces smaller and easy to prepare.

Both also have a curve-shaped blade, that aids in making better slices in a single slicing motion.

Further reading:

The Butcher’s Guide to Knife Skills

Ryan Leavitt

Hi my name is Ryan Leavitt a Marine Corps Veteran and currently an over the road trucker (Long Haul). I am no expert chef but am enjoying preparing my own meals on the road and testing all the different knives.