How To Use A Cleaver

Our guide to the workings of the cleaver.
Move the cleaver in a seesaw motion
until the food is chopped.

  • The three basic types of cleavers are a heavyweight chopper for chopping meats and cutting poultry bones, a lightweight chopper for slicing and cutting soft foods, and a medium-weight chopper that serves both purposes.
  • To use a cleaver, grasp the handle with one hand. With your other hand, hold the food with your fingertips curled under and your knuckles against the blade, as shown. Then cut carefully, holding the blade against your knuckles as a guide.
  • For safety, lift the cleaver just slightly as you cut. With practice, cutting with a cleaver becomes a very smooth and efficient cutting technique.
  • To chop food, first slice it, then move the cleaver in a seesaw motion, as shown, until the food is chopped.
  • Care for your cleaver by washing it with hot soapy water after each use. Dry it thoroughly, then apply a thin coat of vegetable oil on both sides of the blade.
  • For easier slicing, make it a habit to sharpen your cleaver before each use. Use a hand-held sharpening steel or stone for best results. With the steel or stone in one hand, hold the cleaver in the other hand at a 20-degree angle to the sharpener. Draw the blade edge over the sharpener, using a motion that goes across and down at the same time. Turn the blade over, reverse directions, and sharpen the other side the same number of times.