Best Chinese Cleaver – Which Gets The Chop?

Best Chinese Chef’s Knife

Looking for a Chinese Chef’s Knife for under $40?  We tested and compared a couple of very affordable and popular knives. The Living Well Chinese Traditional Cleaver and the Dexter S5198 8″ x 3-1/4″ Chinese Chefs Knife with Wooden Handle. There’s around $10-15 difference on average, depending on where you buy from.Best Chinese Cleaver s5198

Our Choice For The Best Chinese Cleaver

The winner is the Dexter Russell 8-Inch Traditional Chinese Chef’s Knife with Wooden Handle.

Whether you are a home chef or a professional, you will appreciate the professional feel of the Dexter Russell Traditional Chinese Chef’s Knife. Every Oriental restaurant kitchen has at least one chefs cleaver. In fact, in many Chinese kitchens, they don’t have a block of knives with different sizes and designs for different jobs. Virtually every job is done with this knife;  including chopping, slicing, dicing, paring, skinning, smashing garlic.

Dexter Russell is a well-respected maker of cutlery.  Fortunately, this knife is one of the least expensive items in Dexter Russell’s line of Chinese knives. Despite the price, we found that the high carbon steel was individually ground and honed to an extremely sharp edge. The blade is securely fastened to the hardwood handle by a brass compression ring and rivets giving the entire knife a solid, secure feeling.

Carbon Vs Stainless Blades?

Please note that this Chinese chef’s knife is made using traditional high carbon steel, not stainless steel like many Western knives. As a result, the blade will darken when you cut onions or acidic food.  Over time with plenty of use, it will eventually develop a lovely patina.

Even though the blade is not stainless steel, maintenance is easy. Just wipe off your blade after cutting acidic foods, then when you are done using it, give it a quick wash with soap and hot water and wipe it dry. If you do this your knife should never rust and should last you a long, long time.

Take Care – Use Sensibly.

Please note that while this Chinese chef’s knife or cleaver is incredibly versatile, it does have its limits. By design, this knife has a very thin blade which is designed for slicing and dicing, not chopping or “cleaving”. For slicing vegetables or slicing meat this knife is excellent, but it was not designed to cut bone. If you try to chop or cleave something like bone there is a good chance the blade will break.

If you want a good, sharp, highly versatile Chinese chef’s knife or “Chinese cleaver” you can’t go wrong with this one. Dexter Chinese chef’s knives are an industry standard in Chinese kitchens around the world and for good reason. They are well made, easy to sharpen and hold an edge, and will last forever; they are a perfect all-round kitchen knife. As an added bonus they are made in the USA.


Blade Length: 8″

Blade Width: 3.25″

Handle Length: 3″

Overall Length: 11″.

Dexter Russell also makes a 7-inch version of this knife if you prefer a slightly smaller blade.

Live Well Chinese Traditional Chef Meat Cleaver Knife with Wooden Handle

A nice sharp knife, ideal for vegetables, fruit and even possibly raw chicken.

After being told years back that a Chinese Cleaver is meant to be used for veg as opposed to a traditional meat cleaver, the correct name should be Chinese Chef Knife. We personally don’t use these for cutting meat.


Blade size;  8- 3/4″ x 4- 1/4″

Weight; 15 ounces.

We thought this product was suitable but just didn’t quite meet the same expectations as the S5198. It’s a stainless steel blade with wooden reinforced wooden handle, compared to Carbon Steel for the Dexter. This was the major influencing decision. Now don’t get me wrong here, this product is still pretty good for the price. You can still buy this easily enough. Bigger budget or different requirements? Check these products below, there’s sure to be the one for you here.

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Best Chinese Cleaver – Which Gets The Chop?

time to read: 3 min