Chopping knives are probably the most important kitchen tool one should own, regardless of their chopping skills. Don’t let the name fool you – Chopping knives can also be used to slice tomatoes, green onions, ginger, and other soft and hard foods.
They’re also great for making soba noodles or ramen from scratch, as they give you precise cuts of the same length when trimming. Let’s talk about all things chopping.
1. What Is A Chopping Knife?
A chopping knife helps chop and cut fruits, vegetables, and meat that are oddly shaped, or large in size. Not only can these knives be used for chopping, but slicing, cutting, and mincing, too.
Chopping knives are usually 8 to 15 inches long and have rectangular-shaped blades. The blade on these knives can be used to crush garlic or onion, before peeling away its layers, which helps decrease prep time.
There’s no one definition of what a chopping knife is, it boils down to what works for you. A professional meat cleaver with a long and wide blade can intimidate you, but these blades can break down a carcass in the span of a few minutes.
Finding a chopping knife that works for you is important because it can also work as an all-purpose knife. So, it could be anything from forged chef knives, Japanese knives, cleaver knife/meat cleavers, or even a butcher knife.
Most people today are honing their chopping skills by using a Japanese knife. This could be a Kiritsuke knife, Deba, Yanagiba, Santoku, or Nakiri knife. Japanese knives were designed to help users achieve the thinnest, most uniform slices of fruits, vegetables, and meat. Some of these Japanese style knives are hand-sharpened painstakingly for sharpness and robust edge retention.
Japanese chopping knives are also easier to sharpen than most people think. These knives offer a comfortable pinch grip, sometimes, with a curved handle. The knife cuts foods with little to no resistance as they are engineered to repel stuck-on foods.
Before we dive into any more details, keep in mind that a chopping knife can be used at its complete potential when used on sturdy cutting boards or chopping boards. You would also need knife sharpeners and honing rods because these knives will require occasional sharpening to retain their durability.
2. What To Look For In A Chopping Knife?
The materials that are used to produce meat cleavers are usually highly durable, heavy, and sharp. Here are some materials that make excellent blades.
Carbon steel knives are made with a mix of iron and carbon. While these knives can rust quickly, a rust eraser and proper maintenance with the help of knife sharpeners can help tackle the issue.
Stainless steel knives are known for their durable and stain and rust-resistant nature, and they make excellent meat cleavers and chopping knives in general.
Damascus steel is a mix of multiple alloys. When pressed together, they create the infamous wavy lines. Another great advantage of Damascus steel is that the pattern is welded, which is why it’s ten folds stronger than other blades.
German Thyssen Krupp Steel is the most popular choice of blade material for a classic chefs knife and an intricate chopping knife, too. German knives often have a tremendous pinch grip that is comfortable, ergonomic, and slip-proof.
Blade Tang & Hardness
A chopping knife with a full tang blade is crucial. Meat cleavers are often going against tough cuts of meat with marbled fat, and the tang helps you make clean slices as you chop in a back-and-forth motion. The knife cuts through the tendons and tissues with ease, and most importantly, without tearing or puncturing the meat.
A chopping knife is considered heavy-duty, and pro chefs and home cooks can make the most of their knives with a full tang and an ergonomic handle to go with it.
Moreover, the hardness of the steel blade on chopping knives is what makes it or breaks it. At a minimum, cleaver knives need to be hardened at 54+ Rockwell to take on large roasts, briskets, ribs, and other poultry.
Pakkawood handles are without a doubt, some of the most ergonomic handles for most kitchen knives, not just chopping knives. Pakkawood handles are resistant to blows and can function very well in busy kitchens. Similarly, a chopping knife with a smaller blade length and a wood handle can be used by home cooks.
A chopping knife with a curved handle is worth it. It offers an ergonomic feel and a non-slip grip that fits right into the palm of your hand. Premium quality wood handles, especially pakkawood handles, are durable in wet environments too. Knife handles have visible and concealed rivets. But, a knife handle that is triple riveted is the sturdiest.
Knife handles made entirely with stainless steel are just as great as wooden handles. They are easy to clean and can elevate an overall chefs knife which can work phenomenally as a chopping knife.
3.Types Of Knives Ideal For Chopping
A boning knife is an excellent alternative to cleaver knives and meat cleavers. They can easily separate bones from the flesh of fish and meat. They are often used with carving knives for cooking brisket. This knife is ideal for trimming perfectly thin slices of meat and is easier to sharpen than most knives. This knife cuts and chops vegetables and fruits just as well, too. So, you have yourself a versatile kitchen tool.
Breaking knives are often made with stainless and are known for their sharp edges. They can break down a carcass within minutes, thanks to the curved blade that is angled and long. They can separate the tiniest of bones, cartilage, stubborn tendons, tissues, and skin without cutting through the flesh.
Meat cleaver or cleaver knives are broad and long in shape which is why they’re the go-to chopping knife for most pro chefs and home cooks. These knives have an intimidating appearance but are lighter and thinner to hold than you would expect.
Chef’s knives with a long blade or broad shape make excellent chopping knives – Barong chef’s knives are a great example. Chef’s knives are packed with versatility. They have a comfortable pinch grip which helps in easy and complicated tasks. Need to slice tomatoes? Need to cut past a stubborn piece of turkey? A chefs knife might just become the bane of your existence.
A Japanese knife is the epitome of function meeting form. These knives are made with the toughest blade materials and can get the job done in little to no time. I switched to Japanese knives once I realized how much lesser time is required to debone and chop meat.
Some famous Japanese knives are the Santoku knives, Nagiri knives, Deba knives, Kiritsuki knives, and Yanagiba knives. They can not only chop meat and fish but also slice tomatoes and other fruits and veggies for everyday cooking – Truly, the mark of a great purchase.
4. How To Store And Maintain Chopping Knives
Chef's Knife 9.5" Firestorm Alpha Series
Now that we know meat cleavers, boning/breaking knives, butcher knives, and chef’s knives make excellent chopping knives, it’s just important to know how to store and maintain them.
Most meat cleavers and cleaver knives have a hole at the tip of the blade, also known as the nose. This is because these heavy-duty and razor-sharp knives need to be hung from the hole and kept away from kitchen drawers.
If however, you don’t have the arrangement to hang it from the hole, you can protect them in a sheath. Dalstrong’s knives come equipped with a PerfectFit sheath to keep them free of rust and corrosion.
Another great way of storing them is while keeping them in knife bags. You could also place them on magnetic knife block sets or magnetic walls. Dalstrong has incredible magnetic knife sets that are phenomenal and can be found here.
I’ll be going into more detail about these magnetic knife sets later in this blog, but before that, let’s have a look at the list of chopping knives I’ve created for you.
5. Dalstrong’s Best Chopping Knives
The razor-sharp blade on this knife is designed to sail through the toughest culinary tasks like breaking and chopping meat. Made with an AUS-10V Japanese super steel core, the 67 layers of Damascus only add to its durability. The blade is corrosion and rust-resistant which increases its durability significantly.
- Full tang with exceptional sturdiness and robustness on the blade.
- Triple riveted knife handle for a tremendous grip that feels ergonomic for decreased wrist fatigue as you take on large cuts of meat.
- Cryogenically tempered for added resilience.
- The blade length on this knife can be intimidating for home cooks just beginning to step foot in their kitchens.
- This knife may not work for those on a tight budget. But, it’s a great investment, nonetheless.
The blade on this cleaver and chef knife is made with Japanese AUS-8 that is hardened at 58 Rockwell. The blade is stain-resistant and has a full tang for all the balance you need when you tackle tough meat cuts and stubborn tissues. It has a comfortable pinch grip, thanks to the tapered blade.
- Hand-polished for a satin finish.
- The pakkawood handle on the knife is imported from Spain which enhances the knife’s beauty and performance.
- The curved handle has a D-shape design to tuck into the palm for a sturdy grip.
- You could be looking for a non-hybrid knife.
- The blade length could be short for professional chefs and seasoned cooks.
This 9” Banshee meat cleaver knife from the Phantom series is made with premium quality Japanese AUS-8 that is hardened at 58 HRC. The full tang and ice-tempered blade offer superior edge retention and chopping ability. The blade is hand-finished with a mirror polish to 13-15 degrees. It is easy to clean and low in maintenance, which is fantastic for home cooks looking to hone their culinary craft.
- The wood handle is made with Pakkawood which is imported directly from Spain to offer the highest quality.
- This knife has a sanitary build which works great for professional chefs that work in busy kitchens.
- The tapered design offers flexibility and agility without palm or wrist fatigue.
- The shape of this knife may not work for folks that prefer a traditional approach to their kitchenware.
- You may prefer an overall chefs knife to help you with all the chopping.
4. Chef's Knife 9.5" Firestorm Alpha Series
This knife from the Firestorm Alpha series is designed for chef knife enthusiasts that like their knives to be versatile. This knife has a long blade for a smooth chopping and slicing experience. The forged blade on this knife is engineered with 10CR15MOV high-carbon steel for elegance and strength.
- The double bevel blade is hand-sharpened to 8-12 degrees for precise and uniform cuts of vegetables and meat.
- Dalstrong’s infamous lion head logo adds to the appearance of this knife.
- The blade is hardened at 61+ on the Rockwell hardness scale.
- The resin and wood handle is ergonomic to hold and striking to look at.
- If you’re looking to take your chopping skills up a notch, meat cleavers, butcher knives, and boning/breaking knives might be a better fit.
- The length is not everyone’s cup of tea. This knife would work tremendously in the hands of professional chefs.
This Nakiri knife from the Frost Fire series is as frosty as it performs. The blade is made with 7 layers of high-chromium, high-carbon 10CR15MOV steel with expert-level heat treatment and high amounts of added cobalt for non-stick properties. Sandblasted for its frosted appearance, this knife has tremendous edge retention that is hardened at 60-61 Rockwell.
- Tapered bolster that protects fingers and offers a comfortable pinch grip.
- Certified by the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation).
- The white resin knife handle was designed for life-long durability.
- Full tang knife with exceptional hand control.
- Are you a follower of traditions? Then, the frosted appearance may not express your culinary personality at its full potential.
- The blade length is short for a chopping knife, so if you’re a professional chef or a seasoned home cook, you may steer more towards longer blades.
6. Dalstrong’s Knife Maintenance Tools You Need
Earlier in the blog, I mentioned maintenance tools that can help your chopping knives in terms of durability and appearance. Here are my recommendations for maintenance tools that are engineered to keep your chopping knives free of damage.
This double-sided magnetic block set screams eloquence. This block can hold 12 kitchen knives, thanks to its hygienic build that has clean and chic wooden panels with an open-air design. This allows your knives to stay free of rust, corrosion, and other germs that could transfer from your cutting board or kitchen countertop. The slotted design of this knife block allows easy cleaning – With debris and dirt particles unaccounted for.
- The double-sided magnetic function allows you to store 12 knives regardless of their blade length.
- Display your favorite knives for your guests to see without compromising on hygiene.
- Exceptional wood block that can fit into the most flashy and vivacious kitchen backgrounds, adding a tinge of subtlety.
- If you prefer traditional knife block sets that don’t display knives and their blades, this magnetic set wouldn’t be the best fit.
- Some individuals prefer magnetic walls instead of block sets.
Made with 100% vegan leather, this knife 2 pocket knife bag accommodates chopping knives and other kitchen knives that have blade lengths up to 15 inches. Made with fast-drying and lightweight oils, this knife bag has a nylon exterior that provides tear resistance and durability for your knives – Perfect for storing your favorite chopping knives.
- 15 interior knife pockets are secured with Dalstrong’s extra-thick zipper.
- Velcro fasteners for 15 knives to keep them in place.
- Equipped with an exterior zip pocket to store your personal belongings when you’re on the go.
- Are you a knife enthusiast who needs more storage space? Then, this Premium 4 Pocket Knife Bag will be a better fit.
- This knife bag has a higher price tag to it, so if you’re not an avid knife collector yet, this bag may not be of much use to you.
Chopping knives, like some other kitchen knives, are prone to rust. So, I couldn’t suggest this rust eraser and stone kit enough. Not only does it help you get rid of rust particles from the blade, but the knife sharpening stone that comes with it will smoothen your chopping knives to a scalpel-like finish with excellent edge retention.
- The rust eraser and flattening stones are held in a handcrafted Acacia wood base for durability.
- The Nagura flattening stone acts as a conditioner for knives.
- The #600 grit stone gives knives a mirror polish, and the #1000 grit stone is an all-purpose stone.
- If you only use carbon steel and stainless steel knives, you may not require a rust eraser.
- If you’re not well-versed with all things kitchenware, this stone kit could be intimidating to use.
7. Frequently Asked Questions
What is chopping knife called?
A chopping knife helps chop and cut fruits, vegetables, and meat that are oddly shaped, or larger in size.
What are good chopping knives?
This depends on what works for you. A good chopping knife can chop up and cut foods that are tough, hard, or oddly shaped. Chopping knives have a sturdy and razor-sharp blade with a wood handle for grip.
What knife is used for chopping or cutting bones?
A boning knife, a breaking knife, or a butcher’s knife can be used for chopping or cutting bones.