If you’re a fan of Chinese stirfry, vegetable soup, or daily platters of crispy crudités, investing in a cleaver designed specifically for vegetables is a smart move.
Chinese vegetable cleavers are lightweight, very sharp, and easy to handle without a lot of force, making it easy to chop and slice a huge quantity and variety of vegetables without straining your hand or arm.
But what are the best Chinese cleavers for vegetables? The best Chinese cleavers for vegetables will fit perfectly in your hand and will have a well-balanced but light weight to them. They should have a sturdy handle and a strong blade that retains its sharpness for a long time.
In this article, we’ll teach you the most important features to pay attention to when shopping for a Chinese vegetable cleaver, including the size and weight, handle material, blade material, and blade thickness.
We’ll also share our top 7 picks for the best Chinese cleavers for vegetables on the market today!
What Is a Chinese Vegetable Cleaver?
A Chinese cleaver, or vegetable cleaver, looks very similar to a conventional meat cleaver designed to chop through bones, but they’re not designed to be used with meat.
These cleavers are lighter, making them easier to handle for longer periods and more versatile. The blades are also thinner, again making them easier to handle.
Vegetables don’t require as much force to slice as hard bones, so the blades can be thinner and still incredibly effective.
With a high-quality Chinese vegetable cleaver, you should be able to slice and dice the entire contents of your produce crisper without breaking a sweat or getting a cramp in your hand.
How to Choose a Chinese Cleaver
When you’re shopping for a Chinese vegetable cleaver there are only a few features that you really need to pay close attention to but, though few, they’re each very important.
1. Size and Weight
This is the hardest to judge when shopping online, but it’s important to feel comfortable using the knife you buy, especially when it’s as sharp as a vegetable cleaver.
You’ll want to find a cleaver that fits well in your hand and isn’t so heavy that you can’t handle it for long.
2. Handle Material
The handle of your cleaver is important in many ways. First, it should be comfortable.
Some people prefer the feel of wood and others are more comfortable with a metal handle. It’s more than just the aesthetic of the design, but the feel of it in your hand.
How the handle is constructed can also impact the quality and control of your knife.
A full-tang handle means that the blade and handle are one, continuous product. A partial tang incorporates two or more pieces, as in the case of wooden handles attached to metal blades.
A high-quality Chinese cleaver should not be at risk of falling apart, but a full-tang is a single piece of metal and therefore physically cannot come apart.
It’s something to keep in mind, but not usually the deciding factor over quality and comfort.
3. Blade Material
The blade material is one of the most important considerations. As you’re shopping, you’ll probably find impressive Chinese vegetable cleavers made out of stainless steel, carbon steel, or a combination of the two.
Stainless steel is the most common metal used for making blades in 2021. It is durable and rust-resistant and less costly than carbon steel, but it doesn’t hold as sharp of an edge for as long.
Carbon steel is a more traditional metal, probably because it retains sharpness incredibly well. Unfortunately, it is prone to rust and can also leave a slightly metallic taste in your food.
Most professional chefs will use either high-quality stainless steel or a combination of stainless steel and carbon fiber.
4. Blade Thickness
While most meat cleavers have blades a minimum of 0.32” (8mm) thick, vegetable cleavers don’t need to withstand as much force and can therefore be thinner. Thinner blades are lighter, making them easier to handle.
On the flip side, the thinner the blade the more brittle it will become at the sharpest edge. Chinese cleavers will typically have an edge that is somewhere between 0.07”-0.32” (2-8mm) thick.
Think of how you will be using the cleaver most frequently.
Do you slice vegetables very thin and precisely for recipes like sushi or dishes that are going to be judged on their appearance, or are you more likely to chop through dense potatoes and root vegetables for soup and stew?
7 Best Chinese Cleavers for Vegetables
Now that you know what to look for in a Chinese vegetable cleaver, let’s look at the 7 best options available.
|Rank||Product||Material and Weight|
|1.||Tuo Chinese Chef's Knife||Wood and high carbon stainless steel, 10.4oz|
|2.||Henckles Zwilling Chinese Cleaver||Polymer and high carbon stainless steel, 10oz|
|3.||Shi Ba Zi Zuo Chinese Cleaver||Rosewood and stainless steel, 8.43oz|
|4.||Winco Chinese Cleaver||Wood and high carbon stainless steel, 12oz|
|5.||Mueller Chinese Cleaver||Pakkawood and German stainless steel, 12.7|
|6.||Kitory Chinese Chopper Knife||Wood and manganese steel, 16oz|
|7.||Shun Classic Cleaver||Ebony pakkawood and "Super Steel," 13.6oz|
1. Tuo Chinese Chef’s Knife
Made with a high carbon steel blade and gorgeous pakkawood for the handle, this cleaver is not only one of the most beautiful on our list, but also of the highest quality.
It comes with a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects.
The design and construction ensure maximum strength and durability, but it also feels great in your hand and is perfectly balanced to keep your hand from tiring out.
- Wooden handle with high carbon stainless steel blade
- 7” blade, 0.1” thick with an 8-12-degree angle on both sides of the blade for optimal sharpness
- The entire cleaver weighs only 10.4 oz
The style of this cleaver is more rounded than many of the other cleavers on this list, which for some makes it easier to handle using a rocking motion to chop and dice, but others find it less manageable.
If you’re already used to Chinese vegetable cleavers, Tuo does have more traditionally rectangular blades made to the same high standards that you can explore within the same Amazon listing.
2. Henckels Zwilling Chinese Chef Knife
While you may expect the best Chinese cleavers to be made in China, Henckels is a brand to be reckoned with in the knife space.
They are well known for the incredible quality of their German steel that is both lightweight and incredibly durable. The blades are sharp and will retain their sharpness over time without chipping.
- Ergonomic polymer handle is perfectly bonded to the full-tang, special formula high carbon, stainless steel blade
- 7” blade, 0.07” in width at the spine and 15-degree angle on both sides of the blade
- Cleaver total weight is 10 oz
The only slight drawback of this blade is that the spine is not rounded.
Depending on how you’re using your cleaver, the straight edges of the spine can become hard on your fingers if you have a big job of chopping and dicing to do.
3. Shi Ba Zi Zuo Chinese Vegetable Knife
This is one of the top knife brands in China, making it an obvious choice for a manufacturer of Chinese cleavers.
We thoroughly appreciate how light it is, and the well-designed blade with a protective nook for your finger makes it easy to use for large volume vegetable chopping requirements.
- Rosewood handle with a comfortable anti-slip grip and full-tang stainless steel blade
- 6.7” blade, 0.1” thick with 25-30 degree blade angle
- The net weight of the cleaver is 8.43 oz
If you’re used to and prefer a heavy, weighted cleaver, this is not the blade for you.
It is the lightest on our list, which is usually a selling feature, but it can feel too lightweight for comfort in certain hands.
4. Winco Blade Chinese Cleaver
High carbon steel is the pinnacle material for an incredibly sharp blade that maintains its strength and sharpness well over time.
It is light for its size and extremely wieldy, making vegetable preparation a breeze.
While the manufacturer does state that it’s dishwasher-safe, we highly recommend you hand wash and dry immediately after use to protect the lifelong quality of the blade.
- Hefty wooden handle attached to a high carbon stainless steel blade
- 8” blade, 0.08” thick with a 17-20 degree angle
- The weight of the cleaver is approximately 12 oz
Our biggest disappointment with this blade is the lack of transparency from the company about the details. It can be very difficult to accurately measure the angle of a blade at home, though it makes a difference.
5. Mueller Chinese Chef’s Knife
Mueller is well-known for its quality knives and this Chinese cleaver is no exception.
The German stainless steel blade is thin enough to slice elegant julienned strips and sturdy enough to chop through the woody exterior of a coconut.
Though we’re raving about its use as a vegetable cleaver, it is truly a multipurpose blade that will function well across many culinary tasks in your kitchen.
- Layered pakkawood handle with a sturdy comfortable grip and high-quality German stainless steel blade
- 7” blade, approximately 0.1” thick with an 18-degree cutting angle
- Net weight of 12.7 oz
The most common complaint from this knife is that it doesn’t always arrive extremely sharp but should be sharpened before use.
If you’re planning on buying a serious cleaver, it is crucial that you have a great sharpening tool in your kitchen as well. This isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, just somewhat disappointing.
6. Kitory Chinese Traditional Cleaver
This cleaver is not just an incredibly useful tool for chopping, slicing, and dicing vegetables, it is also a one-of-a-kind piece of art.
Each and every blade that leaves the factory is hand-sharpened using manual knife grinders.
The workers responsible for your traditional cleaver have decades of experience creating traditional, exceptional quality blades.
- Wooden handle integrated into a blade made of high carbon clad manganese steel
- 8.66” blade, 0.25” thick with a hand-sharpened angle between 17-20 degrees
- Cleaver total weight is approximately 1 pound or 16 oz
This is a weighty cleaver and, being carbon steel, it is prone to rust and needs to be carefully maintained. It is not the most ideal choice for convenience but it is by far the most traditional Chinese cleaver.
7. Shun Classic Cleaver
Shun is a Japanese brand but that doesn’t mean they can’t produce an exceptional Chinese-style vegetable cleaver.
The 100-step process used to create their handcrafted blades combines traditional craftsmanship with state-of-the-art technology. These blades are as effective in a home kitchen as they are in a commercial setting.
- Water-resistant ebony pakkawood handle with proprietary Shun VG-MAX “super-steel” Damascus-clad blade
- 7” blade, approximately 0.1” thick with 20-25 degree cutting angle
- This cleaver has a total net weight of 13.6 oz
This is one of the heaviest blades on our list and it’s surprising what a difference 2 ounces can make in your hand after chopping vegetables for 10-15 minutes without pause.
If you have small hands or chop large volumes of vegetables on a regular basis, one of the lighter blades might be more convenient for you.
How to Sharpen a Chinese Cleaver
A sharp blade is a safe blade. While this may sound counterintuitive to some, a sharp blade will slice with little effort.
The majority of knife-related injuries occur either by not paying attention to where your fingers are, or having to apply too much force, causing the blade to slip or move where it is not intended.
To keep your cleaver appropriately sharp, we recommend adding a knife sharpener to your kitchen utensil arsenal.
This 2-stage knife sharpener from KitchenIQ has a setting for your old, coarse, and dull knives as well as a fine setting for polishing and regular touch-ups. It will keep your Chinese vegetable cleaver sharp with just a few quick pulls.
How to Use a Chinese Vegetable Cleaver
To handle a Chinese vegetable cleaver, you first want to get your grip right.
Use your thumb to squeeze the handle against your forefinger, while your remaining fingers hold the handle firmly, though not with a death grip. You need to keep your hand relaxed, comfortable, and in control.
To slice, start with the tip of the knife and follow through with the rest of the blade downwards smoothly towards the cutting board.
Alternatively, start with the tip of the knife resting on the cutting board and use a rocking motion to cut your vegetables with the center of the blade.
For your fingers holding the vegetables, to keep them safe, curl the tips underneath your knuckles slightly.
The flat blade of the cleaver can harmlessly brush against your knuckles without the sharp end of the blade coming close to your fingertips.
For fine dicing, you can guide the blade from the top, rather than holding onto the food.
If you’re more of a visual learner or aren’t yet 100% sold on getting one of these amazingly versatile knives, here’s a demonstration from the Yin & Yang Living channel on YouTube explaining how to use one and what it can be used for.
Up Next: 8 Best Japanese Knife Sharpeners