Which Knife To Use To Cut Through Bone

Although there are several knives you can use for any one task, using the right kitchen knife for cutting through bone makes the process easier, less strenuous, and more satisfying. Whether you’re breaking down larger cuts of meat, butterflying a chicken, or handling a lot of bone-in meats. We’re going through what knives to use to cut through bone, and the best ways to use them.

Which Knife To Use To Cut Through Bone

Meat Cleaver

The meat cleaver is the most popular and usually most effective knife for cutting through bone. Hands down. It’s designed to be heavy, sharp, and with a thick spine, to chop effectively.

Because it’s so heavily weighted, you’re able to create quite a bit of force when chopping. This is especially useful for dealing with larger meats, and separating joining ligaments and bones, perfect for when breaking down a whole chicken for example.

The thick spine is designed to add more weight, and so that you can place your other palm over it and press down to create more force when you want to slice through, separate any bones, or break through smaller bones.

Best Meat Cleaver To Cut Through Bone

One of the top picks in the market for the best cleaver for cutting through bone is the Cutluxe Cleaver Knife 7 Inch German Steel. It’s hand sharpened to a 14°-16° edge for sharpness, 56 Rockwell hardness, and it rivals knives twice as expensive as it in quality.

For a more detailed breakdown, check out the full guide to the best meat cleavers.

Butchers Knife

A butcher’s knife will be one of the the most versatile blades you can keep around the kitchen for dealing with meat. Its excellent at cutting through small and medium bones, cartilage, skin, and cutting through large pieces of meat, like when breaking down the primal cuts of beef. 

It’s performance is due to it’s much thicker, sturdier blade, it’s long sharp edge, and it’s point made for puncturing. The weight makes it reasonably hefty, but a good butcher’s knife should always feel comfortable and should reduce stress when using it for more strenuous tasks. 

Best Butchers Knife To Cut Through Bone

DALSTRONG Butcher’s Breaking Cimitar is a professional-quality butchers knife but made for home cooks and chefs. It’s full-tang and reasonably weighted which gives the strength you need to slice through most meats with ease. You can use it to cut through thick pieces of meat easily, around bones, through cartilage and small bones, and even for trimming brisket.

Chef Knife

If you don’t have a butcher’s knife or a good meat cleaver, then you can always use your trusty chefs knife. For 90% of the tasks in the kitchen, including cutting through bones, the chef knife will be perfectly fine, like when breaking down a whole chicken, beef, or pork.

If you are dealing with larger cuts of meat though, never try to force the knife through, and make sure it’s sharp enough and large enough to safely complete the cut.

How To Use A Knife To Cut Through Bone

There are three main ways to use a meat cleaver. Depending on the size of the bones and the prep you’ve got to do you might choose to use the pinch grip method, batoning, or the hammer swing.

Pinch Grip

It’s referred to as the pinch grip method due to the way you hold the knife, pinching on the heel of the knife blade. This allows you full control of the mobility and pressure of the knife. Using the pinch grip for cutting through bone is only suitable for either separating bones or cutting through smaller bones.

Simply line up the blade of the knife with where you want to separate bones, or cut through smaller bones, and apply pressure, keeping your wrist firm as you cut through.


Batoning is a satisfying and precise way to completely smack through meat, bones, and cartilage. This can be used on small to medium bones, and tougher parts of the meat and connective tissue. Simply place the edge of the knife on the meat or bone, and either use a mallet, or if the spine of the knife is nice and thick, you can carefully slam your palm against the spine to push the blade through the meat.

Hammer Swing

The hammer swing is the most powerful, but least precise way to chop through small and medium sized bones, or large meats. Using the weight of the knife rather than too much physical force, raise the cleaver to chest height and with a straight forearm bring the cleaver down. You don’t need to squeeze the knife, just hold it firmly as you bring the knife down. The hammer swing will be the most reliable way of chopping medium to larger bones.

Final Words

The meat cleaver is the best knife to use for cutting through bone. As a general rule of thumb, if the bone looks too big to chop, it probably is! If you are dealing with larger bones then you can always use a bone saw. But, for everyday use it’s the meat cleaver or butchers knife that will really make the difference. 

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