A meat cleaver is often touted as the heavy-duty tool of the kitchen. And with its ability to make literal mincemeat of chicken and pork, there’s no question that it’s deserving of this title. But there’s a lesser-known cleaver that is also worthy of foodie praise (and purchase).
Allow us to introduce you to the humble vegetable cleaver. This razor-sharp blade can tackle a vast array of everyday kitchen tasks, like chopping tough vegetables and fruits, splitting lobster shells, or even mincing delicate herbs. It’s been a staple in Chinese cutlery for generations on account of its high versatility.
The cleaver itself is slightly smaller than its carnivorous counterpart with a blade that typically measures a few inches shorter. This means it can pull off those delicate knife maneuvers and still deliver brute cutting force when necessary. The flat blade also doubles as a makeshift plate which you can scrape ingredients onto. It’s really is the multipurpose workhorse that you never knew you needed.
We’ve rounded up four of the top vegetable cleavers available to add to your kitchen arsenal.
1. Mac Knife Japanese Series Vegetable Cleaver
This 6.5-inch vegetable cleaver is forged from a single piece premium steel to ensure maximum durability and precision. The double-beveled design delivers superior control—even when tackling something difficult like a pumpkin or pineapple—while the polymer handle ensures a comfortable grip and less fatigue. While it’s designed for vegetables, you can also use it to cut meat and fish as well.
Pros: Its cutting edge is extremely sharp.
Cons: Not dishwasher safe.
2. Enso HD 7-Inch Vegetable Cleaver
Enso has been forging professional Japanese chef’s knives for more than 80 years and the expert craftsmanship shines through in this impeccable 7-inch vegetable cleaver. Fashioned from 37-layer Damascus steel, it features a traditional tsuchime (hammered) finish. The double-bevel blade is fit for right or left-handed use and has been hand ground to a supremely sharp 12° cutting angle. The svelte knife weighs just 11 ounces and is lighter and thinner than most Western blades. On top of that, it’s balanced to perfection to allow for controlled slicing.
Pros: The black canvas micarta handle has an elegant look, but won’t crack like wood can.
Cons: Occasionally, the hammered tsuchime finish may cause a little drag or attract small pieces of food.
3. Dalstrong Nakiri Vegetable Cleaver
Each one of these high-quality vegetable cleavers takes more than 2 months to make. Dalstrong combines ancient Japanese sword making techniques, like the 3-step Honbazuke method, with the latest in breakthrough technologies, such as nitrogen cooling. The end result? A ruthlessly sharp 6-inch cleaver that is at once precise and robust. The hammered blade is crafted from 66 layers of high-carbon stainless steel and boasts a lofty 62+ Rockwell hardness which means it’ll hold its scalpel-like edge for far longer than many other knives. The “military-grade” hand-polished handle supports a professional pinch grip, with thumb and index finger on the blade, for safe and comfortable cutting.
Pros: This premium blade represents great value.
Cons: You’ll need to grip with care: the sharp edge is no joke.
4. Shun Classic 7-Inch Vegetable Cleaver
Shun is renowned for churning out premium knives and this vegetable cleaver is no exception. The perfect mix of traditional Japanese design and state-of-the-art tech, each hammered cleaver takes at least 100 painstaking steps to complete. The 7-inch double-bevel blade is hand-sharpened to 16° and can slice and dice with incredible finesse. It’s forged from Shun’s specially formulated “super steel” that’s heat-treated to make it stronger, thinner and sharper than most other blades on the market. It’s fitted with a classic Japanese Pakkawood handle, which is not only elegant but also waterproof, incredibly durable, and won’t harbor bacteria.
Pros: The traditional Japanese handle offers graceful control.
Cons: It’s at the pricier end of the spectrum.