Cleavers and butcher knives have always been among the favorites of amateur and professional chefs. While the butcher knife is mostly used in meat processing and trading, the cleaver has similar abilities; the only difference is that cleavers have a more refined and thinner blade, making it ideal for accurate cuts.
What’s In A Butcher Knife?
A butcher knife is a go-to option for your neighborhood butcher and is widely used for dressing and trimming meat. It has a heavy and curved blade that can work on any section of meat that you may choose for cooking. No matter whether you wish to prepare a BBQ, steak, or roast, this weapon should always take place in your kitchen arsenal. These knives can break down large chunks of meat effortlessly and also help in slicing off any unwanted gristle or fat for a leaner cut.
Best Usage of a Butcher Knife
- Cleaving meat out of the bone
- Ideal for dressing and prepping raw meat
- Good for in-bone, thick and tough cuts
What’s In a Cleaver?
Cleaver is one of the most versatile kitchen blades to own. It has hefty-built and generally comes in large size. Because of the thick and soft steel of the blade, it can chop right through large chunks of meat, bone, and cartilage without any loss of edge. The heavier side of the knife is excellent for tenderizing the flesh or crushing any fresh ingredient for cooking. One noticeable difference between a cleaver and a butcher’s knife is that the cleavers come with a hole in the upper part of the blade.
Best Usage of a Cleaver
- Best fit for all sorts of meat preparation
- Helps in cleaner and more precise cuts
Butcher Knife Vs. Cleaver: Which One to Buy
The most important rule of thumb is that if you wish to keep your meat clean, you can go for a butcher knife while the meat cleaver is mainly devised for stripping thicker strands of meat. If you are a professional and love meat, you will want to own both these beasts in your kitchen. But if you have to make the heart-breaking decision of choosing any one of these, then let’s take a look at a few important pointers that can help you in this regard:
Size Of The Blade
When considering butcher knife vs cleaver, you will notice that both these kitchen blades comprise thicker blades than most other knives you use in the kitchen. They are heavy-duty and designed to take care of large pieces of flesh and fat that the other blades will struggle to cut. Both of them come in a broad array of sizes which allow you to choose the one that meets your preferences.
In most cases, butcher knives consist of blades ranging from 6 to 14 inches. The smaller your knife, the smaller pieces of meat you will be able to work on. Butcher knives are perfect for chopping and filleting and can also help you work with bones.
On the flip side, if you generally work with larger chunks of meat, you should choose a bigger knife. They are highly suitable for skinning and can also be used for breaking down the meat into as small pieces as you want. If you are a home chef, you can go for a butcher knife ranging between 8 to 10 inches.
Cleavers are more typically suited for severe pounding. They have a classic rectangular shape and comes with thicker blades and a variety of sizes. But the most commonly found sizes again range from 6 to 8 inches. This is mainly preferred since all of us have different arms lengths, and when it comes to using a cleaver, you would want to have the maximum comfort in the hand.
You will also look for a balanced blade made of high-carbon steel that can easily cut through the flesh. Even if the blade loses its sharpness to some extent, you can use the blunt force to tear through the meat.
Ability To Cut Bone
Both these knives can tackle the skeleton (read bone and meat) but only one of them has been crafted for the task. Butcher knives don’t have much flexibility in their blades, so they can only handle smaller bones like poultry. But if you need to deal with anything larger, you should go for a cleaver.
Butcher knives are versatile tools, but their major use is separating flesh from bones rather than smashing through. You can use it for chopping through small bones and flesh with this blade, even though the knife is not specifically suited for the task. If the blades are curved, then they will help in getting around the bones very quickly.
The knockout power of your cleaver is mostly felt when you are cutting through larger pieces of meat. If you have a heavy-duty and sturdy cleaver, you will be able to control it easily and bust through the bones with great force. The amount of force needed for this itself implies that it’s the primary job of the cleaver.
Weight Of The Knife
Even though both of the tools are heavyweight instruments, there are fair differences between the two.
Since these knives come in a range of sizes, the weight is also supposed to vary. For instance, if the blade is around 8 inches, the knife will weigh about 3 ounces. You know the task you will be mainly using the knife for, so you can select accordingly.
The weight of the cleaver is also in correspondence to the length and height of the blade. And some of them are even 2.5 pounds in weight. But when it comes to the regular jobs in the kitchen, you should go for something that weighs within a pound.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to butcher knife vs cleaver, the choice ultimately boils down to the task you will be using it for. To find out which knife is better, consider how you plan to use it and what you plan to cook to get the choicest pick.