What Are Meat Cleavers Used For?

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 07/08/18 •  5 min read

The design of a meat cleaver allows it to break through tendons and bones. The knife is also used to handle heavier vegetables as it has more force than a standard chef knife. Chefs also use cleavers for pounding, dicing, mincing, and slicing when a chef knife is not enough.

Every meat lover needs a proper meat cleaver in their kitchen.

It’s a heavy and large knife that can handle tough ingredients like meat and tendons.

On top of slicing and cutting meat, a cleaver can also be used for heavy vegetables and a wide variety of ingredients.

Some chefs even prefer using meat cleavers over chef knives because of their strength.

Since they are one of the most useful tools for chefs and butchers, the meat cleaver is one of the most popular knives out there.

In this article, we take a look at all the different uses of a meat cleaver and whether you need one in your own kitchen.

Read on to learn more.

What is it anyway?

It is a large knife that is usually has a rectangular shape.

It has a thicker metal and not to be confused with a vegetable cleaver, which has a much thinner blade with almost the same wide surface.

The thicker metal allows the knife to withstand heavy use.

It also ensures strength and durability.

They differ in size, but the most prominent feature is the obviously thick knife blade compared to other regular household kitchen knives.

what are meat cleavers used for

The difference in sizes will be helpful as individuals have different arm reach, which affects the use of this knife.

Therefore, it is important for the user to consider the size of the knife he or she will use when buying.

They have a straight-edged blade, compared to a vegetable cleaver with a little curve to it and to the fish cleaver that has a descending surface from the blade’s heel.

It is not intended to chop in a rocking motion, but it is for an up-down motion to cut through the meat.

Since it mostly deals with meat that could have blood on it, high-quality stainless steel is the most preferred material with this kind of knife.

It is high is resistant to corrosion, which is great in terms of food safety.

This is an important tool in restaurants and butcheries as it easily breaks down things into manageable pieces while making food preparation safer.

(See more: top rated cleavers for your kitchen)

What are meat cleavers used for?

Coming from its name, a meat cleaver is used for breaking down large pieces of meat while allowing it to cut through bones.

Especially in a butchery or during hunting, it will help in getting the raw materials out from the body of the animal.

It allows the knife user to get the part it would like to prepare for cooking or storing.

Not everyone sees the convenience of owning a food processor or a mincer.

If you own one, you may also use it to make minced meats.

Since the blade’s straight edge allows up and down motion, you can use it to turn large chunks of food into ground pieces.

To make ground meats, start by making thin strips using the knife, then lay sliced meat in the other direction.

Chop the slices in a way that it will allow you to create square pieces.

Once it is in much smaller pieces, collect the meat into one pile.

Continue to chop in different directions, allowing the blade to continuously chop through the pieces.

Collect the meat in the center of the chopping board once it is scattered.

Continue until everything turns to be sticky and fine.

With its large surface, professional chefs and cooks also use it to pick up chopped items from the board to the pot or pan.

Whenever we watch cooking shows, some chefs use the same cleaver to pick up small pieces or all throughout the cooking process.

It helps the transfer easier.

It’s also not limited to use with just meats.

You can also use it for large fruits such as dividing watermelons.

However, very thick ones may not help in having uniform cuts.

Even it is a large knife, you may also use it on smaller items such as whacking the garlic or peppercorns with its wide surface.

Using it safely

This is a very sharp and dangerous knife, that has the capability to cut your own fingers – if not used properly.

Well, that might have discouraged you to get this knife – but just like in any other sharp object, proper use is the key to safety.

The user should be aware that safety is also in his hands.

The first thing to consider is the cutting board.

It does not necessarily be a butcher block, but it should be sturdy and does not move too much with every motion.

It should be stable in a counter where the user is comfortable considering the height.

Next is to properly hold the knife using the prominent hand.

Choose where you are comfortable, but most people recommend holding the handle in full.

This is where the four fingers should be touching the handle, and the thumb should be touching the index finger from the opposite side.

Then, prepare the item to be chopped.

Place the knife in the direction you want the knife to be chopped.

Use the free hand to push down the knife.

Repeat until the desired size is achieved.


This knife can also ensure you consume fresh meat, as it allows you to chop your own pieces.

There is an alarming rate of butchery and supermarkets that mix old meat stocks with new ones, to increase their profitability by avoiding waste.

We also saw that it is not just for chopping meats, but for other purposes as well.

Grab one and see how it will complete your kitchen!

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.