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A Cleaver Should Be Your New Go-To Knife—Here’s How to Use It

Don’t be intimidated by this big knife. It’s Pepper’s favorite!

At first glance, with its long, rectangular blade resembling a mini axe, cleavers can be daunting. They scream, “I don’t mess around!” but what they should really say is, “I will make all chopping way easier!” So don’t look at it like it’s part of your favorite murder podcast, and instead see it as the understated, multifunctional knife that should become a part of your everyday cooking routine. It's Pepper’s favorite type of knife for a reason!

Chrissy took everything Yai loves about her cleaver and incorporated it into the design of the Cravings cleaver, part of the Essential 8-Piece Slim Knife Block. (The block also includes Chrissy's go-to 7" santoku knife, 8" chef's knife, 8" bread knife, 8" carving knife, 5" utility knife, and 3.5" paring knife. Aka everything you need to slice, dice, and prep anything!) Get to know the newest member of the Cravings collection and why it should be your new favorite knife below.

So, what’s a cleaver, anyway?

Let’s start with the functionality: Cleavers can be designed with a flat blade (usually used for heavy-duty butchering) or with a curved blade that can slice and chop through food with a rocking motion easily. The Cravings cleaver is slightly curved with a broad stainless steel blade and tough, sharp edge ready to slice through meat (raw or cooked) or small bones for butchering; smash, chop, and scoop garlic or ginger; slice, dice, and even julienne vegetables; and cut through even the most difficult-to-cut fruits and veggies with ease (such as melons and squash). The handle itself can also be used (carefully!) as a pestle to pound and grind spices. 

Maybe you’re more of a visual learner. To get you inspired, check it out in action to see how to use a cleaver in your everyday cooking:

Smash, Mince, and Scoop Garlic

Holding the cleaver with a firm grip in your dominant hand, angle the blade 90 degrees and use the side of the blade to smash the garlic cloves. Peel the skin off, then move the cleaver back and forth in a rocking motion (with your knife tip resting on the board) until garlic is minced. Then use the side of the blade to scoop up the garlic and transfer to a pan to cook. Now you're free to make ALL the garlic knots!

Slice Butternut Squash

Want an easy way to prep squash for roasting? Instead of cutting it the whole thing in half lengthwise, slice it into thick pieces that you can scoop out and then cut into manageable cubes. No need to peel this way—the skin will come off easily after roasting or boiling for sweet & spicy butter-roasted butternut squash or your favorite soup.

Chop Cauliflower into Steaks

Making cauliflower steaks for dinner? The cleaver can go through a whole head in seconds. Remove the leaves from the cauli head and trim the stem just enough so that the head will sit flat on a cutting board. Cut ½-inch steaks off the head of cauliflower with a gentle sawing motion with the cleaver. They will be nice clean cuts with not many errant florets flying around! Roast, sauce, and enjoy.

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