The 5 Best Butcher Knives of 2023, According to the Pros

These razor-sharp knives can handle everything from steaks to turkeys.

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Butcher Knives

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Butcher knives allow smooth slicing, no matter how tough the meat is. The blade should be ultra-strong, built to break down and strip the meat off large pieces of bone, from slicing a lamb roast to quartering a chicken. The goal is to cut meat and fish efficiently, leaving you with the highest yield and the cleanest cuts.

After extensive research and consulting with more than a dozen chefs, we’ve highlighted the best butcher knives with razor-sharp blades, slip-resistant handles, and balanced designs. Though butcher knives range in length between 6 to 14 inches, home chefs are best suited for those between 5 to 10 inches, which are portable for hunters, small enough to get around bone, and big enough to handle tough cuts of meat. Keep scrolling to find the right butcher knife for your needs.  

Best Overall

Victorinox Fibrox Curved Cimeter Knife

Victorinox Fibrox Pro 10-Inch Curved Cimeter Knife


Pros: This is one of the most versatile knives on the market, offering durability, ease of use, and flexibility.

Cons: This knife is more expensive compared to other picks.

This butcher knife is as versatile as the protein you'll be slicing. It features a sturdy handle that allows zero loss of control, with a blade that's rigid enough to draw a straight cut but flexible enough to remove any waste with precision. With a razor-sharp edge, this knife can handle everything from steaks to turkeys to roasts, making it an easy choice for home chefs.

“Plus, for those who want to butcher a lot of meat at home, a cimeter knife is great because it has a curved blade and almost looks like a little machete,” explains chef Judy Joo. A knife made with high carbon stainless steel or galvanized steel is great for cutting meat as well.

"When I use a butcher's knife, the one I use is this basic Victorinox knife," she says. "These knives are good for if you're really cutting into a ton of meat because they help break through all that tough skin."

Chef Cesar Zapata of Phuc Yea in Miami, Florida, agrees. "I love it because it maintains its sharpness, has a comfortable handle and grip, and the blade is flexible to give you better control when cutting and slicing. The price is also great!"

Price at time of publish: $60

  • Knife Type: Curved cimeter
  • Blade Material: Stainless steel
  • Blade Length: 10 inches

Best Value

Victorinox Fibrox Curved Boning Knife



Pros: Beyond its versatility, this knife is among the most affordable.

Cons: Because this knife is on the smaller side, you may need to pair it with a larger butcher knife to round out your kitchen.

Arguably the most important knife in a butcher's knife roll is the boning knife. The Victorinox Swiss Army Boning Knife features a semi-flexible blade ideal for removing meat from the bone, leaving no wasted product behind. This tool is also a butcher's go-to for removing inedible silver skin, sinew, and hard fat.

"This is an excellent, mass-produced, economical knife," says chef Rusty Bowers, a whole-animal butcher and owner of Atlanta butcher shops Pine Street Market and Chop Shop. "Made by the company that makes Swiss Army Knives, this has a high quality, machine-stamped, stainless steel blade that maintains a good edge and has an easy-to-grip handle."

Seasoned butcher Heather Marold Thomason of Primal Supply Meats, who started her career in butchery nearly a decade ago, swears by this knife, too.

"If I had just one, this would be it," she says. "It's always in my scabbard, and it's the knife I give to any starting butchers. The handle is ergonomic and comfortable and allows you to choke up with a firm grip when needed. I recommend the Fibrox handle specifically for this reason, but the rosewood handle is a nice upgrade."

The blade is easy to sharpen and maintain an edge. It's also affordable, making it easy to replace when the time comes. "When your knife dulls from cutting through pork skin or scraping on bones, and you have to sharpen it so many times that you grind the blade down to a shiv, this knife is inexpensive enough to replace!"

Price at time of publish: $30

  • Knife Type: Curved boning
  • Blade Material: Stainless steel
  • Blade Length: 6 inches

Best Splurge

Dalstrong Butcher's Breaking Cimitar Knife - Gladiator Series 10-Inch Slicer

Dalstrong Butcher Knife


Pros: This knife gives home chefs the ability to take their butchering to the next level, with high-quality steel and durability.

Cons: Other knives can get the job done for a more affordable price, and it's not dishwasher-safe.

This cimitar-style breaking knife is ideal for home chefs looking to take their butchering and cooking to the next level. This knife is an absolute workhorse, featuring a full tang where the blade's steel runs through the handle's edge. You can use it for anything from breaking sides of beef from the hook to cutting steaks from the sub-primal with precision.

It's also made from high-carbon German steel with a hand-polished edge and a military-grade handle that is triple riveted, prioritizing comfort and control.

"This samurai sword-like butcher's knife is forged from German steel with layers of folded steel, making it very durable and stain resistant," Cesar Zapata says. "I love it because it maintains its sharpness, slices through meat effortlessly, and removes fat in one long slice without tearing. It has a comfortable grip, and the blade is wide and curved enough to cut closely against bone."

Price at time of publish: $90

  • Knife Type: Breaking
  • Blade Material: German steel
  • Blade Length: 10 inches

Best Lightweight

Victorinox 8-Inch Curved Breaking Knife with Rosewood Handle

Victorinox 8-Inch Curved Breaking Knife with Rosewood Handle


Pros: This knife is one of the most stylish, featuring a durable, ergonomic rosewood handle.

Cons: This knife should be hand-washed and might be too lightweight for some cooks' preferences.

Look at this butcher knife, and you'll immediately notice its curved edge. Beyond the surface, this knife is one of the best lightweight, ergonomic, and balanced options available.

Here's why: When butchering, you need to be able to "work" a piece of meat, which is why the balance between the knife, blade, and handle is critical, as is the knife's ergonomic dynamic. When a knife is properly balanced with a comfortable grip fitting your hand, you can easily work through any type of meat.

In New Orleans, Isaac Toups of Toups' Meatery, is yet another chef who prefers a Victorinox-made butcher knife. "This knife is lightweight with a wooden handle and very affordable. I use it for almost all my butchery. A hidden gem of a knife."

The Victorinox 8-inch Classic Fillet is a great lightweight option, too. "They're cheap enough that I can get a few, keep them all sharp, and do just about anything with them," says chef Victor King of The Essential in Birmingham, Alabama.

Price at time of publish: $64

  • Knife Type: Curved breaking
  • Blade Material: Stainless steel
  • Blade Length: 8 inches

Best Cleaver Knife

Messermeister Four Seasons Pro Series 6-Inch Heavy Meat Cleaver

Messermeister Four Seasons Pro Series 6-Inch Heavy Meat Cleaver


Pros: Compared to other butcher knives, cleavers are the best for cutting through bone.

Cons: This knife is large, which may make storing difficult.

The cleaver is a modern version of the traditional "beef splitter," a giant two-handed version of the clever designed to split whole cow carcasses down the middle by hand. With the advent of modern techniques, this tool was eventually scaled down to become the cleaver we know today, typically used for butterflying whole hogs, breaking through bones, or, more safely, cutting proteins.

With the Messermeister Four Seasons Pro Series 6-Inch Heavy Meat Cleaver, you can easily chop your way through large pieces of meat, poultry, tough vegetables, and even bone. Cleavers are great for heavy-duty work because of their balance and weight, though the blade edge is also delicate enough to mince herbs.

Price at time of publish: $75

  • Knife Type: Cleaver
  • Blade Material: German steel
  • Blade Length: 6 inches

Our Favorite

Finding the right butcher knife is one of the most personal choices you can make for your kitchen. No matter which knife you choose, they can all get the job done of cutting, slicing, and chopping through various meats and fish. That’s why it all comes down to the feel — because every knife feels a bit different once it’s in hand. The versatile and durable Victorinox Curved Cimeter 10-Inch Blade is our best overall butcher knife.

Factors to Consider


Five types of butcher knives should be on your radar, each used for varying tasks. First is the boning knife (5-7 inches), arguably the most popular knife type among butchers and chefs. A small, pointed, and stiff blade is used for deboning and trimming the silver skin, fat, and sinew from the meat. This knife can slice small steaks, dice meat, and cut delicate portions. If you only purchase one butcher's knife, most chefs agree this should be the one. Look out for a 6-inch semi-stiff boning knife for butchering meat or a 6-inch flexible boning knife for fish.

The breaker knife (8-12 inches) is similar to the boning knife but slightly larger. This knife is used professionally to trim larger cuts, subprimal cuts, excess fat, silver skin, and sinew. Get one of these if you are trimming large cuts into roasts and steaks regularly.

The chef's knife (8-12 inches) is every kitchen's multi-tool. Most butchers can get by with a boning knife and a chef's knife — this knife slices, dices, and portions meat. While the thin, pointy boning knife is good for smaller tasks and works tightly against the bone, the tapered triangular blade on a chef's knife takes care of the larger tasks. Get an 8-inch version if you want tighter control with larger cuts, like breaking down a chicken, or a 10- to 12-inch version for large roasts or splitting lobsters.

The cimeter (10-12 inches) is used like the breaker knife but also handles cutting and portioning larger steaks, like a ribeye or New York strip. This knife has a taller blade for precise, even cuts through the thicker muscles. Add this knife to your list if you routinely portion large subprimal cuts like strip loins or chuck rolls.

The meat cleaver is the large rectangle knife often seen in photoshoots, horror movies, or hanging in the background of a decorative kitchen. This knife is used for less accurate splitting of thick bones in place of a medium-size hatchet. Get this knife to use with a mallet to butcher beef bones or split hogs.


“Balance is definitely the key to a good knife,” adds Pawan Pinisetti, executive chef of Serevene in Miami, Florida, and winner of Food Network’s Chopped. “A well-balanced knife will be critical to how well you can perform with it.”

The knife's balance refers to placing the knife across the pointer finger of your dominant hand and letting the knife teeter-totter find the point where it levels flat. This spot should be around where the base of the blade meets the handle. The balancing point is where you should base your grip on the knife for accurate control of the blade and to avoid wrist fatigue.

A well-balanced blade can make all the difference in the ease of smooth, even cuts. In addition, it takes the work out of your hand and wrist and can greatly reduce fatigue. In other words, you want the knife to feel natural in your hand.


Like all our top picks, you’ll want your butcher’s knife to be made of durable stainless steel. From there, consider the type of meat you’ll be chopping to determine the right shape, length, and thickness of the blade. If you’re filleting fish or cutting through connective tissue, you’ll want a smaller blade with a curved tip and a little bend to maneuver in tight places. To break through bones, look no further than a thick, sturdy cleaver knife.


The handle of a good knife should be made of wood or textured rubber. A slick handle will allow the knife to slip from or roll within your hand, causing the blade to turn and possibly cut you. Lighter wooden handles shaped to grip the fingers are often preferred; however, some prefer rubber handles as they are easier to maintain and more economical.


The pricing of butcher knives varies. The good news is you can find a strong, powerful option for well under $50. Our chefs recommend asking yourself how often you envision yourself using the knife and what you plan on using it for (smaller, more straightforward tasks like slicing steak versus deboning and trimming large chunks of meat). Depending on your answers, you may want to invest in the knife instead of opting for the least expensive pick.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do you sharpen butcher knives?

    A whetstone is your best sharpening tool for a butcher knife and a steel to hone it. Sharpen and hone at a 15-20-degree angle and sharpen them once a week when used daily. An electric sharpener is also a quick and easy option, though it may erode the blade over time.

  • Why do butcher knives often have a hole in the blade?

    The hole on the blade of larger butcher knives is to hang them from a hook on the wall or shelf. Most of our chefs agree to avoid hanging knives as it may cause them to fall or spin like a wind chime. Instead, they recommend looking for a nice magnetic knife holder, either a countertop or wall-mounted version, to display butcher knives.

Our Expertise

Clarissa Buch Zilberman is an acclaimed food writer with nearly a decade of experience. She spoke with more than a dozen chefs and butchers, including Rusty Bowers, Heather Marold Thomason, Victor King, Cesar Zapata, Isaac Toups, John Villa, Brian Whalen, Ryan Pera, Michael Buhagiar, Bryce Shuman, Easton Sadler, Adam Glick, Ray Rastelli, Jr., Jacqueline Kleis, and Kelly Kozak. She then rounded out the list with market research.

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