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Leave it to (the) cleaver

Designed to take abuse, a meat cleaver is ideal for tough jobs that might wear down the blade of your chef’s knife, such as cutting through bone-in poultry and meat, whole lobsters, or butternut squash. But that’s not all: The flat side of the cleaver’s blade can be used to smash aromatics, including garlic, ginger, and lemon grass. You can even use a cleaver to transfer chopped food from the cutting board to the cooking vessel. Our tastings and testings team found one cleaver that merited this accolade: “a nearly flawless synthesis of strength, sharpness, durability, and maneuverability.”


Shun Classic Meat Cleaver

Winner - Highly Recommended
BLADE ★★★
DURABILITY ★★★
PERFORMANCE ★★★
HANDLE ★★½
EASE OF USE ★★★
Reviewed in Cook’s Illustrated November 2017

This meat cleaver put grace and beauty into the most barbarous tasks. Its perfectly distributed weight and long, tall, gently curved, razor-sharp blade made for truly effortless chopping. And its long, straight pakkawood handle gave us plenty of grip options, although at times its smooth surface got a little slick. Yes, this cleaver is expensive—but you’ll never need another. Strong and durable, it breezed through testing with minimal wear.


Material: High-carbon stainless steel     Weight: 15oz     Blade Angle: 16˚    Handle: Ebony PakkaWood D-shape   


Cleaver In Use
Cleaver In Use
Cleaver In Use

How we tested meat cleavers

We purchased 13 cleavers and put them to the test, chopping 4 pounds of chicken wings and 5 pounds of chicken leg quarters, cutting butternut squashes into quarters, and breaking down whole roast ducks, cutting them into serving-size pieces. We asked five test cooks with different hand sizes, dominant hands, and levels of butchering experience to chop 1 pound of chicken parts with each knife. We also asked two professional butchers to evaluate and test each knife.


Winning Traits of the Shun Classic Meat Cleaver

 Fairly long, tall blade

 Medium weight, evenly balanced between handle and blade

 Relatively thick spine

 Thin, slightly curved edge

 Comfortable, durable handle





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