A Chinese vegetable cleaver can not only do everything a typical Western chef’s knife can do, but it can also easily scoop up chopped ingredients and peel vegetables with its square-tipped, thin blade. The best Chinese vegetable cleavers have a lightweight steel blade that can easily chop all of your ingredients or smack open a head of garlic, as well as a comfortable handle that allows you to cut with precision for long prep sessions.
When shopping for a Chinese vegetable cleaver, you’ll want to consider the material and of the blade. Most knives are made with either stainless steel or high carbon steel. High carbon steel makes for durable, hard blades that are easy to sharpen, but they are somewhat brittle and susceptible to chipping. Stainless steel blades, on the other hand, are more rust-resistant and less likely to chip, but can be more difficult to sharpen.
You'll also want to consider blade length. Many Chinese vegetable cleavers are about 7 inches long, which is enough to handle large chopping tasks without wearing out most peoples' shoulder or wrist muscles. Those who are on the taller side may want to reach for a cleaver that is 8 inches or longer, as shorter blade lengths might leave your muscles feeling cramped.
The handle is also something to pay attention to when shopping for a Chinese vegetable cleaver. Some options feature sleek round handles that can double as a pestle in a pinch but might feel a bit slippery if you’re not used to the shape. Others might prefer a Chinese vegetable cleaver that has an ergonomic handle more similar to those found on Western-style knives.
With that in mind, here are five of the best Chinese vegetable cleavers you can find on Amazon.
1. A Classic Cleaver Made From German Steel
- Handle material: Polymer
- Blade length: 7 inches
- Blade material: High carbon steel
This Chinese vegetable cleaver is precision-stamped from German high carbon steel, which creates a strong yet lightweight knife. The steel is then ice-hardened using Zwilling’s FRIODUR process, further strengthening it and protecting it from rust or chips.
It also has a full-tang construction, meaning the knife’s metal extends throughout the handle, which increases the knife’s durability and helps it feel well-balanced in your hand. The tang is then bonded to the ergonomic polymer handle with three rivets, ensuring that it'll withstand a lifetime of chopping and slicing.
According to Zwilling, this Chinese vegetable cleaver is dishwasher safe, but it’s still a good idea to gently hand-wash your knife whenever possible to prolong its life.
One reviewer wrote: “I bought a Zwilling chef knife around 3 years ago when I used to be a sushi chef. It was very nice and efficient to cut countless sushi rolls. As I started to cook at home more, I decided to buy this same brand cleaver. It did not disappoint me. It is sharp and durable. Good to be used for various cooking skills. I am very satisfied with this knife.”
2. An Heirloom-Quality Cleaver With A Gorgeous Finish
- Handle material: Canvas micarta
- Blade length: 7 inches
- Blade material: Stainless steel
This gorgeous Chinese vegetable cleaver from Enso HD is a statement piece that will look great in any kitchen. The 7-inch blade consists of VG10 stainless steel made in Japan, which is folded over itself in the forging process to produce a unique wavy finish found in Damascus knives. It also has a beautiful dimpled pattern across the blade that not only looks attractive, but can also prevent food from sticking to it.
The blade’s full-tang construction extends throughout the canvas micarta handle, which gives the appearance of wood without the vulnerability to water damage or cracking.
This vegetable cleaver performs as well as it looks, and it holds its razor-sharp edge with minimal maintenance. The 2.75-inch tall blade is great for scooping up ingredients with such ease that it’ll nearly put your handy bench scraper out of business. To care for your Enso vegetable cleaver, gently hand wash it and dry immediately after use — this knife is not dishwasher safe.
One reviewer wrote: “Love this knife! I have been using it for nearly a year now (professionally), and it is my go-to, among a slew of western and Japanese knives. Comfortable, sharp, and beautiful, this knife has it all. Holds its edge very well, though, like most knives, a bit of work on the stone will get it sharper than factory, but unlike most knives, this one actually holds the refined edge.”
3. A Traditional Chinese Vegetable Cleaver Used By The Pros
- Handle material: Wood
- Blade length 8 inches
- Blade material: High carbon steel
This inexpensive Chinese cleaver from Winco is a favorite among professional chefs (and is one of the most common brands sold in restaurant supply stores) as an unassuming powerhouse in the kitchen. The blade clocks in at 8 inches long and 3.5 inches tall, making it a versatile tool for taller cooks or working with larger vegetables, like pumpkins or squash. The blade itself is made of high carbon steel, so it’s easier to sharpen than a stainless steel knife, but also can be brittle and more prone to rust and corrosion.
Although this cleaver is meant for cutting through hearty root vegetables, reviewers noted that it can also chop through small chicken bones with little effort. The rounded wood handle of this vegetable cleaver is also great for cracking whole peppercorns or serving as a make-shift pestle. However, the handle is susceptible to water damage, so you should always wash this knife by hand and dry it immediately.
One reviewer said: “I like this knife. It isn't unwieldy in the hand and I find that I can cut most objects with ease. The blade itself has enough weight to slice through garlic, tomatoes, and other softer foods without having to exert, if any, downward force. This knife feels good in the hand and can compare to knives five to ten times its cost.”
4. A Sleek, Lightweight Vegetable Cleaver
- Handle material: Pakkawood
- Blade length : 7 inches
- Blade material: stainless steel
This super sharp vegetable cleaver from Tuo has everything you want in a solid Chinese vegetable cleaver. The stainless steel blade is heat treated, so it's more resistant to staining or corrosion. It comes expertly sharpened right out of the box, and reviewers noted that it keeps its edge well with regular maintenance and sharpening. The curved shape of the blade will also feel a bit more familiar for those more used to the rocking motion of cutting with Western chef’s knives.
The full-tang knife features a pakkawood handle, which is commonly made from an engineered wood and plastic composite that's waterproof and durable. Reviewers loved how well-balanced this knife feels while cutting as well as how beautiful it looks. As with any quality chef’s knife, you should always hand wash this cleaver to prolong it and preserve the sharpness of the blade.
One reviewer wrote: “I have had this knife now for about a month, I love it. The size is great for just about everything. I now have no desire to go back to a traditional 8" chef's knife. Coming from a former chef, I highly recommend this knife to everyone from the home-cook to the professional. It has a nice solid weight which I love, so far it has been holding a great edge.”