What Do You Use a Meat Cleaver For?

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A meat cleaver is one of the most important among the long list of knives you’ll want to have in your kitchen.

However, for someone who has never used one before, you are likely wondering what do you use a meat cleaver for.

While the answer is obvious, there is a whole lot more to it.

Not only is it a reliable kitchen tool for chopping meat and bones, but you can also use it for vegetables and other food items.

With that said, is it something you need in your kitchen, or can you do without it?

What Is a Meat Cleaver?

Meat cleavers are large knives that are almost always rectangular in shape.

Often, they are made using high-quality stainless steel to ensure corrosion resistance.

However, you will also find some models that use high-carbon steel.

Compared to other kitchen knives, they feature a thicker metal but with a much thinner blade.

Its thicker construction gives the knife the strength needed to cut through bones while ensuring durability at the same time.

You will find meat cleavers in different sizes, but their prominent feature is their thicker blade.

Like other knives, the size will significantly affect how a meat cleaver performs in the kitchen.

As such, you will have to be extra careful when looking for the perfect size that’ll work for your needs.

What Do You Use a Meat Cleaver For?

A meat cleaver is a highly versatile kitchen tool that allows you to mince, slice, and tenderize meat.

They are especially useful when you regularly use large pieces of meat still attached to the bone.

Even though it is called a meat cleaver, you can also use it for fish and vegetables.

Let’s briefly talk about how you can use a meat cleaver on each of these foods.

Using the Meat Cleaver for Meat

A meat cleaver is particularly known for one specialty, which is its ability to cut through tendons and bones with absolute ease.

This unique functionality is all thanks to the way the knife is built.

Its large-sized and razor-sharp blade edge is designed to cut the flesh away from the bone, including the skin and fat.

Since the blade is so thick and can handle more heavy-duty tasks in the kitchen, it can cut through smaller poultry bones almost effortlessly.

Even if you’ve got a thicker and larger piece of meat, you’d be able to achieve the exact cut of meat you are looking for.

To use it to cut meat, simply place its sharp edge anywhere you want to cut.

From there, you can take advantage of the cleaver’s weight to push down and through the meat.

As you can imagine, you will find no better way to cut larger chunks of meat than with this heavy-duty knife.

Using a Meat Cleaver for Fish

Scaling a fish usually needs a bit more finesse than just cutting a large piece of meat.

However, following the right technique, you can still use a meat cleaver to do this.

All you need to do is grip the meat cleaver differently to gain more control over it and slice the fish more delicately.

On the cutting board, place the fish you want to descale.

While holding down the fish’s head, use your other hand to use the meat cleaver.

Slowly start running the blade up and down at a slight angle. Continue this process until you’ve completely descaled the fish.

Afterward, you can use the meat cleaver to cut the fish into slices.

what do you use a meat cleaver for

Using a Meat Cleaver for Vegetables

Even if you extensively cook with vegetables, a meat cleaver is an excellent tool to have in your kitchen.

Below are some interesting uses of a meat cleaver for vegetables.

Chopping and Slicing

Cleavers work very well to slice, dice, and chop vegetables.

To use it for this task, you will have to use it a bit more gently to get the right amount of control.

In a smooth downward motion, cut the vegetable and lift the cleaver all the way off the board before you take it down to make another slice.


Because of its size, meat cleavers work brilliantly for crushing ginger or garlic.

In fact, in some cases, it’s much easier to get the ingredients out this way rather than chopping them meticulously.

When you crush any ingredient, it’s important that you place it on the cutting board.

Then, lay the cleaver’s wide side flat against it with its blade facing away.

Hit the top side of the cleaver with your free hand to crush the ingredient.

Ensure that you’re hitting avoid closer to the cleaver’s blunt edge to any injury.


Since the cleaver has such a wide blade, it makes it easy to scoop up ingredients to transfer to a bowl.

What’s more, doing this with the cleaver is fairly simple.

After chopping all the ingredients, simply slide the blade quickly under the vegetables while keeping the cleaver at a slight angle.

Then, with your free hand, push the ingredients to the wide part of the blade.

You can then carefully carry these ingredients and drop them into the bowl.

Why Does the Meat Cleaver Have a Hole?

You will find that almost every meat cleaver comes with a perfectly shaped hole in the blade.

It isn’t exactly a feature to aid in your cooking but is mainly for practical purposes.

Since meat cleavers tend to be a favorite of many cooks, it stands to reason that they would want this within arm’s reach.

This is what the hole is for.

You can make use of this hole to hang the meat cleaver onto a hook.

Professional chefs take advantage of this feature by hooking it onto their belt loop once they are done using it.

What a Meat Cleaver Does

Now that you know what do you use a meat cleaver for, do you think it’s worth buying?

Contrary to popular belief, meat cleavers aren’t just useful for cutting meat.

That is their main purpose, but you can also use them for chopping up vegetables and fish.

And while its size may be overwhelming for first-time users, once you get the hang of it, we are certain you will enjoy using it regularly.

When you do, make sure you practice safety measures, as these knives may require some getting used to.