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Boning Knife vs. Fillet Knife: How to Tell the Difference

13 Sep 2021 0 Comments

Whether you take charge in the kitchen regularly or once in a while, you'll understand that the different types of knives have their strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what each of them is good for will come in handy in many cooking situations. While most people won't usually mistake a bread knife for a chef's knife, they may have trouble identifying other knives they are less familiar with.

A good example of this is boning and fillet knives. When you buy a typical knife set with five or six items, both or at least one of these two will be included. Many home cooks aren't sure if they have one or the other. They don't even know what the difference is. This is mostly because both knives share a similar thin and curved design.



Many folks get confused and use these knives wrong. Some even completely disregard them. That's a pity, considering they're two of the most specialized kitchen knives available. Learning to spot the distinction of boning knife vs fillet knife will help you effectively prepare delightful fish and meat-based meals.


The Difference Between Boning Knives and Fillet Knives

As mentioned, both knives have a good amount of similarities when it comes to their physical appearance. However, there are also a fair amount of differences that set them apart from each other. This article will be compared based on three factors: their uses, design, and key features.


Boning Knife


You'll need a boning knife if you want to make splendid butchery cuts for bone in-pieces. That's because this knife is specifically designed to separate the flesh from the bone, as the name already suggests.

Boning knives can cut ligament, muscle, fat, and connective tissue with relative ease. The characteristics of a straight-edged boning knife simplify the entire cutting process.

Boning knives are often thinner than conventional kitchen blades. They also have various levels of flexibility. Because the knife's primary function is to remove meat from the bone, the different levels of flexibility will give different outcomes when working with different types of meat.

For example, when cutting up beef and game meat away from the bone, a robust and firm boning knife will perform better. With chicken and poultry, a thinner and more flexible boning knife is preferable.




Though it's thinner than most kitchen knives, the design of a boning knife is slightly thicker and stiffer when compared to fillet knives. They are therefore preferable for larger, tougher meats like chicken, pork, or beef.

The rigid design makes it easier to cut with precision, whether slashing through ligaments and connective tissues or taking meat out from large bones.

A well-made boning knife can be used for fish, but only if its hardness is sacrificed for flexibility. That's right, when you make a boning knife thin and flexible, it can also function as a fillet knife. But this doesn't work the other way around.

The blade length of most boning knives is five to six inches, although some manufacturers have gone as far as to make knives that are over nine inches long.





Key Features

  • Right thickness for cutting tough meat
  • Varying levels of flexibility
  • Pointed tip for piercing the meat

    Fillet Knife


    fillet knife is used to strip the meat from the bone and skin, particularly when working with fish. With seasoned veterans of the kitchen, fillet knives are often synonymous with preparing fish-based meals.

    While a regular knife will suffice, it will not be as effective, let alone safe. Fillet knives are designed to work in wet conditions because they are used to prepare fish. This requires the use of corrosion-resistant, smooth, and easy-to-clean steel.

    With this in the hands of an experienced cook, it's simple to turn a whole fish into a set of precisely cut fillets in a matter of minutes. Even if you're not that skilled, practising with a fillet knife for your fish delicacies will make wondrous results.

    A long, shallow-angled angle is also found on fillet knives, making the somewhat soft blade much sharper than it looks. However, this convenient trait has its toll on the knife's durability.




    Even though they are almost identical in size, fillet knives are lighter than boning knives. Combine that with the fact that they are thinner than boning knives. Then you get the perfect blade manoeuvrability for filleting delicate meat.

    The flexibility of a fillet knife amounts greatly to its manoeuvrability. While certain boning knives are flexible, a fillet knife is more optimal for slicing fish because of its overall structure.

    A fillet knife has a steeper upward curve that leads to its tip. This is built for long, steady cuts. However, this component of the knife that makes it very specialized is also why it's not so practical for other kitchen tasks. This is built for long, steady cuts. However, this component of the knife that makes it very specialized is also why it's not so practical for other kitchen tasks.

    Blade lengths range from four to nine inches, with 4", 6", 7.5", and 9" the most common ones used. Some experts believe that the ideal length is 7.5" because it provides the best control for a wide range of fish sizes.



    Key Features

    • Best flexibility for filleting fish
    • Top blade manoeuvrability
    • Bevel with a long, shallow angle


      It's typical for home cooks to use these knives interchangeably. When they do that, most of the time, the results aren't ideal. Yes, you can use a boning knife to fillet a fish. Likewise, you can use a fillet knife to separate tough meat from bones. However, the factors that make the two unique from each other, the rigidness of the boning knife and the flexibility of the fillet knife, will get in the way.

      Always use the knives for their intended purposes to get the best outcome. Still, you might ask, boning knife vs fillet knife, which one's best to have? Well, if you are serious about cooking, you should have at least one of each on hand. This will save you a lot of time and energy for your next fish or meat-based meal.

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