The Most Comprehensive Guide on Boning Knife and Fillet Knife
For some certain dishes, cooks may prefer to keep the bones but for fillets or stews, bones must be removed for both the taste and the safety. Bones are often bothersome for the latter as they present in all meat, poultry and fish, but there are always tidy tools like the boning knife and fillet knife to help us sort this out.
Therefore, it is useful to know which boning and fillet knives you would need to do the job as efficiently as possible. Non-professional cooks must be quite confused by now about the variation between boning and fillet knives. But fret not as what we are doing first is exactly to explore their differences.
What do you do with a boning knife?
Boning Knives can offer a couple of attributes or functions that you cannot find in other types of common knives like the chef’s knife, carving knife, fillet knife or slicing knife. This drives people to use them less due to a lack of understanding about a boning knife’s usefulness. As another meat knife, it allows you to expertly detach the skin from meat or pull out the bones without leaving lots of meats left over on those bones.
There are two types of boning knife which is a stiff and a flexible one. Like their names, a stiff knife is suitable for tough pieces of meat as you can freely bone pork or chicken without the fears that it will bend. A flexible knife, in contrast, is one that would only cut through thin meat but better at maneuvering around the tricky joints or intricate bone structures.
Likewise, a boning knife can also replace a peeler for veggies and fruits. By the way, if you are just a normal home cook that are not keen on spending excessively on cooking utensils, then a boning knife might be a great alternative for slicing up anything as long as it is a stiff one. What else, people usually use these to shape the dough or framing the ingredients for baking.
What is the difference between a fillet knife and a boning knife?
As said above, a boning knife is for cleanly removing difficult bones from the meat. A fillet knife, in a sense is closely similar as it is also for detaching bones, but mostly for fish which usually requires more skills for boning. Remember all those fish fillet that has been cut off their backbones served in restaurants especially the Japanese ones, yes this is the type of knife they need for that particular job.
In the next section, I am going to list out my most recommended boning knives and then fillet knives with different components or characteristics for you to decide. After all, knowing what they are is not enough when you are not sure which knife would suit your needs the most.
1. Dexter-Russell (S131F-6PCP) – 6″ Boning knife – Sani-Safe Series
The Dexter-Russell Sani-Safe Series boning knife S131F-6PCP is a welcome expansion to any butcher’s knife set.
The blade is 6 inches, and is the flexible type, great for boning small chunks of meat. The handle of this boning blade is fixed around the joints between handle and the blade, guaranteeing that it would not be slippery even if you use a lot of force. This boning knife takes a step further for user safety with the pointed tip and Grip-Tex handle design, making it a desirable choice.
Another job for the pointed tip is to pierce through the skin and letting the curved blade glide through meat and joints. You will find boning small chicken parts increasingly simpler with this design as the sharpness is adequate enough for skinning and reaching the tight corners. P
Particularly with its adaptable and bendable edge which is made from lightweight high-carbon steel and honed to flawlessness, the blade is durable enough for long-time usage. It does not come with anti-rust or stain steel but I have not had a problem yet. Maybe I have not used it frequently enough to experience but this boning knife is a steal. You cannot go wrong with this at such a good price.
2. Fibrox Flexible 6″ Boning knife
I was glad to add this Victorinox Fibrox Flexible Boning knife into my collection as this proves to be very capable at doing its job smoothly.
This Victorinox boning knife is another flexible 6-inch knife, but calling it ‘flexible’ alone would be a bit of an understatement when it goes beyond that without making the blade feels weak or breakable. I suppose this super flexibility easily makes it the best boning knife for people who usually work with very soft meat.
The high-carbon steel blade is the winning factor here that I have nothing but praises for it. This material helps it to bend effortlessly when I try to separate the chicken meat from its ribs, but does not seem like it would snap at all. The blade seems to sway very little too so I am less concerned about it cutting into my hands like with some other flexible knives.
The synthetic Fibrox handle with beautiful black finish is a nice addition to the package and it also seems to be sweat resistant. However, this handle is a bit too slim for my hand to hold so there are some efforts to try keep it firm inside my grip. It comes with a lifetime guarantee as well so no fear of getting a defected product but unable to return or exchange for a new one.
3. Wusthof Classic 6-Inch Flexible Boning knife
For flexible boning knives, the Wusthof Classic Boning knife is definitely the more high-end item I bought due to the added sharpness and features came with it compared to the mentioned flexible knives.
One thing I can vow for this fellow is its durability. It certainly lasts and stays sharp for quite a long time even without sharpening or tedious maintenance. When you want to do a bit touch ups on it, it is not picky when it comes to the types of sharpeners as well whether it is an electric or a good old conventional sharpener.
Though not as flexible as the Fibrox blade, the Wusthof boning knife poses impressive sharpness as its blade is forged with Precision Edge Technology which promises to prove an extra 20% sharpness and edge retention. The high-carbon stainless steel material makes up the 6-inch blade is highly resistant to rusting.
That it is crafted in Germany might be a plus for those who love the German quality standard. I find the handle a perfect snug for my grip and the finger guard definitely fives a great feeling using the knife. I can tell this is of top-notch production quality but this also has a bit of a downside because this costs a lot, especially for boning knives.
4. DALSTRONG Boning knife – Shogun Series – VG10-6″ (152mm)
If you are looking for an award-winning stiff boning knife then the Dalstrong boning knife is what you should consider looking at.
If anything, this made my list thanks to the superb craftsmanship visible along the 6-inch blade. You can in any case observe the forge marks that will help you to remember how tough this blade is. I was informed that this was made with 66 layers of high carbon steel making it insanely durable.
This solid knife is so well balanced that it is easily one of the sturdiest blades available in the market. Even more impressive, the material for the handle is G-10, which is insanely tough as it is both made of tough resin and fiber glass. For your information, G-10 is also used for forging weapons or tactical gears. This explains the high price as it is not made of wood like most others.
The stiff blade is excellent for cutting out tough meat that you cannot rely on flexible knife. The blade shape and handle size are pretty ergonomic that my hand does not suffer from fatigue even if I have to spend almost an hour separating bones for the last family meet up. Nonetheless, you probably find some cheaper alternatives more suitable if you are a home cook and don’t use boning knives all that much.
5. Mercer Culinary Millennia Curved Boning knife, 6 Inch, Brown
Those who are knowledgeable about boning knives have probably heard about the Mercer Culinary Millenia Boning knife, which is pretty popular with professional cooks but not so much with the casual customers.
Even though it is favored by the pros, its price is actually in the low to medium range and offers a pretty good value for money for a desirable quality. A prominent selling point of this boning knife is its well-tuned flexibility despite being the stiff kind. This means I can use this to cut some tough meat but can also work around a few smaller bone structures. Still not as effective as a real flexible boning knife of course.
The material is stainless high-carbon Japanese steel offering adequate durability, but not as good as the Dalstrong knife. The blade size is 6 inches and the handle is not too small or too big, fitting for extended usage, but does not feel as comfy as the Dalstrong one. So, I say you get what you pay for.
While this is a popular and recommendable knife for any kitchens, professional or not, this needs some improvements with sharpness and anti-rusting. The again you probably home chefs perhaps just need boning knives occasionally, but should still remember to do some basic maintenance every now and then.
6. Elk Ridge ER-028 Fillet knife 12.25 Overall
Saying good bye to boning knives, let us move on to the best fillet knives that I have had my hands on. The first candidate is the Elk Ridge ER-028 fillet knife, which is truly a bang for your buck if you ever find yourself in need of one.
With an ideal blade length of 12.25 inch, this is the longest fillet knife on the list. You can use this to fillet bigger fish species like huge salmons without having to make several strokes. The wooden handle is at an appropriate fit to the hand and attached firmly to the blade.
I tried to use this with some saltwater fish and it worked well to my delight, but I had to wash it after each use as it seems like the type to rust without proper care. In addition, Elf also throws in a black nylon sheath along with the product for better mobility.
The metal is stainless steel and everything is made in the U.S with a few exceptions from China. Not sure about the U.S ones but mine is from China and it actually does a good job in contrary to popular belief. What’s better is I got this for around 10 bucks and have found great uses out of it.
7. Gerber Gator Fillet knife, 6-Inch 
At a similar cost, the Gerber Gator fillet knife is a good substitution for the Elk Ridge with a 6-inch and a 7.5-inch version, enabling easier filleting for medium to large fish.
This is the first fillet knife when I started cooking so I kind of holds a special place in my heart, but I will make this review as objective as possible. In all means, this is a basic fillet knife very similar to the Elk Ridge but with a slightly tougher sheath and a bit thinner blade made of full tang stainless steel. Not the sharpness or the most durable but definitely a great budget choice.
I have used this for making some fish stew back in the days and it worked well even for such an amateur like I was. But what makes me love it so much is the built-in sharpener in the sheath. How cool is that when you can just put the sheath on and bring the knife on a trip without ever worrying about having a dull blade. That’s why I also used this for travelling a lot as it of course can do some other basic slicing too.
Please be mindful that this is not one you should only use for freshwater fish. Somehow the blade is really bad at withstanding saltwater as it catches stains and rust quite easily after only a few times touching saltwater, given that I did clean it well afterwards. But I have not had nearly the same problems with fresh water, so only buy if this fits your demands.
8. Kershaw Clearwater 7’’ Fillet knife (1257X), Fixed Japanese 420J2 High-Performance Stainless Steel Blade with Satin Finish and Textured Co-Polymer Black Handle, ABS Sheath Included, 4 oz
If you are looking for a fillet knife that can handle both freshwater and saltwater fish in a moderately efficient manner without rigorous maintenance jobs, then you may love the Kershaw Fillet knife.
The blade is made from good quality Japanese stainless steel which offers some flexibility without sacrificing too much toughness to make the filleting fish a fairly simple task. The blade is capable of bending on to some degrees without snapping for easy maneuvering around the fish bones.
There are two size options available which is 7 inches and 9 inches depending the size of fish you work with. It should be noted that using a blade too big can make the job feel bulky and tiresome but using a blade too short can make the cuts look unappetizing. Cooks who ae skilled with filleting fish should be able to overcome this problem but unexperienced chefs should consider carefully before buying.
The grip is satisfying and well-designed with hollowed places to rest or anchor your fingers, definitely a huge reason why I love this knife. It was also a surprise that I could get my hand on such a durable fillet knife for this price as this can withstand salt water for sure. I have been using this solely for saltwater fish for a while and have not seen the blade become dull or rusted at all so I purposely ignored maintaining it for a while and it still looks so good.
One thing I would be complaining about is the included sheath has a bit of a problem fitting in with the knife. I have not heard any one else having the same trouble though so this may be just a rare defect. No worries though because this has a lifetime warranty cover so I will sort this out some time later.
9. Morakniv Fishing Comfort Fillet knife with Sandvik Stainless Steel Blade by Morakniv
Want a shorter blade for even smaller fish? Why not check out this Morakniv Fishing Comfort fillet knife, which has been a sought-after item for a while now for its optimal quality.
This is a versatile fillet knife which comes in two forms, either in a size of 6-inch length for cleaning or filleting of fish, or on a size of 3.5 inches which is good for removing the bones of the small fish.
If what you mostly do is cleaning or filleting slices of fish, then the 6-inch version should be good enough. But for those who needs to remove those delicate backbones or pin bones, the 3.5-inch is more than ideal for the job. Not to mention there are not a lot of good competitors for a good 3.5-inch fillet knife.
Its sharpness and flexibility are on par with the Kershaw fillet knife but the fancy added features are what set it apart. The high-friction handle does it job as advertised. At first, I thought the handle would be a bit too small but how wrong I was. The grip was just perfect, probably the best fillet knife for the most satisfying feeling for the gripping ever.
What’s more, the handle material is anti-odor so just rest assured even if you have very sweaty hands. Also, I find the stainless steel truly resists to corrosion. This is a knife went from my sister to me so its life time is already quite long but there is no sight of rusting whatsoever. Yes, I used this on a lot of seawater fish and rarely sharpened it.
If I have to gripe, which is exactly what I am doing, is that the sheath included does not last very long in contrast to the knife itself. It should not be a concern for many but I kind of expected more for this price, still I do not regret buying this at all.
10. Rapala Heavy Duty Electric Fillet knife
Okay so I did save the most innovative fillet knife for the last. This Rapala heavy Duty Electronic fillet knife is perhaps the most powerful and sharpest fillet knife I know.
What’s is so impressive about this knife is that is also a mini machine that makes filleting even more efficient. The blade for this electric fillet knife is a bit special as it is ridged like a carving knife, meaning you can do both the filleting and the carving with one single knife. The motor can run at a speed three times faster than a standard electric knife.
Basically, the faster the motor runs, the sharper and smoother the cuts would be as the blade runs along horizontally. This is my secret tool for filleting a tough largemouth bass to perfection and received all the praises I could get on the dining table. The strikes were so fluid and effortless that I felt like a genius at fish filleting.
The handle is pretty good too, not on the level of comfort like the Morakniv but offers decent grip. The blade is 7.5-inch, not too small or too big, actually a good choice for most fish dishes. Have not used this long enough to test the rusting or staining endurance but no problems so far with some good cleaning. Also this seems to work well with both freshwater and saltwater fish.
Nonetheless, I hate the pains of having to find a power outlet to plug this in even with an 8-feet power cord. If you think this could be a problem, Rapala also has a cordless version on sale, which could be a god-gift for some. There is also a version that comes in a set with different blade types to switch for suitable usage.
Well but of course it does not mean you will be totally free from cords as you will have to charge it when the battery runs out. Then again this is a huge improvement if you want to bring the knife along on picnics and the battery can last for 80 minutes of continuous runtime at full speed.
It is true that skilled chefs often find boning or filleting much easier than the average home cooks do, but a nice and sharp boning knife or fillet knife would help immensely no matter what skill levels you are at. These little utilities not only last long but also enhance the taste and appearance of your dish noticeably. I hope you can find what you are looking for with the knowledge and experiences I have shared today.