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If you’re a cook who oftentimes finds themself tasked with breaking down poultry, pork, beef, or fish, it can be helpful to have a knife other than a classic chef’s knife to help you navigate these tasks. Enter, the boning knife. Chef’s knives are a great all-around knife, but when it comes to cutting around bones, they tend to leave a lot of flesh behind. Not only is breaking down your own meats and fish a great way to save money, but it’s also a great way to familiarize yourself with different parts of what you’re eating.
Known for their thin, sharp, and sometimes flexible blades, boning knives are extremely proficient in helping you safely cut around bones and flesh. The flexibility offers a little forgiveness, but they’re still sturdy enough to go up against tough bones, joints, and ligaments. Most knife sets don’t include a boning knife because it’s not the most popular style of knife for the average home cook, but if you want to improve your butchery skills or you’re looking for a way to cut costs when buying proteins, a boning knife is a great place to start.
Here, the best boning knives for your kitchen.
Best Overall: Wusthof Classic 5-Inch Boning Knife
Easy to handle
Finger guard for protection
This is a knife that’s loved by professionals and home cooks alike. Its blade is comfortable for a wide range of cooks and the arched blade makes for seamless trimming and slicing. The protective finger guard is a great assurance and the synthetic handle is easy to hold and super comfortable. The blade offers a little bit of flex, but not so much that it can’t withstand the toughness of gamier cuts. While this knife does fall on the higher end of the price spectrum, if you’re looking for a durable knife that will last you for years, this is a great investment tool. Reviewers rave about the sharpness of the blade and how easy it is to nimbly move around any cut of protein with this knife.
Material: Stainless steel | Length: 5 inches | Weight: 3.9 ounces
Best Budget: Mercer Culinary Genesis 6-Inch Flexible Boning Knife
Available in multiples lengths
Not made of stainless steel
It’s hard to match the reasonable price on this highly praised boning knife. The handle provides a natural and comfy fit while high carbon forged steel ensures that the knife won’t rust or break over time, though this material is not as durable as stainless steel. The arched blade makes for a seamless maneuver around tough bones and joints. The handle is made with Santoprene, which is known for great comfort and a non-slip grip, even with oiled hands.
Material: High carbon steel | Length: 6 inches | Weight: 6.3 ounces
Best Japanese: Shun Cutlery Classic 6-Inch Boning and Fillet Knife
It’s no surprise that one of the leaders in Japanese knives makes a reliable, well-made boning/filet knife. This knife is quite flexible, making it a great option for fish and poultry, though its flexible nature may not be so ideal for tougher cuts like beef or lamb. The curved blade offers a slightly different feel than the arch, but it mostly comes down to personal preference. The D-Shaped handle (made of ebony pakka wood) has a sleek look and allows for a secure grip with excellent control. Reviewers love the convenient upward curve of the blade, the superfine tip, and the ultra-sharp edges.
Material: Pakka wood handle, stainless steel blade | Length: 6 inches | Weight: 7 ounces
Best for Camping: Kitory Forged Meat Cleaver Boning Knife
Curved blade and handle
Sleek pakkawood handle
Blade is carbon steel instead of stainless
If you’re looking for a blade to bring into the great outdoors, this boning knife is durable for even the most rugged adventures. The blade is curved and so is the handle, making it super easy to run the knife around hard-to-reach angles. The sleek handle is made of pakka wood for a comfortable and practical feel. The small hanging hole also allows for convenient storage between uses. The blade is made of carbon steel which means that you’ll need to keep it super clean and dry to avoid any rusting. Reviewers love how comfortable and natural it feels in their grip and the versatility of what it can do.
Material: Pakka wood handle, stainless steel blade | Length: 5.1 inches | Weight: 7.9 ounces
Best Multipurpose: Zwilling 5.5-Inch Flexible Boning Knife
Durable and super sharp blade
If you’re in the market for an all-around boning knife that can do it all, Zwilling’s 5-inch model is a great option. Equipped with a curved bolster, this knife has added finger protection, precision, and comfort. This knife has some flex to it, but not so much that it can’t slice away at the bones of beef, pork, lamb, or game. That said, it has enough flex that it can still gently maneuver around fish and skin trimmings. The handle is designed to be extremely natural and comfortable for any cook to grip. While this knife does fall on the pricier end of the spectrum, many reviewers agree that it was worth the extra money because of all the things that they’re able to use it for as well as the fact that the knife has lasted them a long time.
Material: Stainless steel | Length: 5.5 inches | Weight: 6.4 ounces
Best Professional: KYOKU 7-Inch Daimyo Series Boning Knife
Sharp and durable blade
Handle is treated to be heat and moisture resistant
Approachable price point
Heavier than average boning knife
At such an approachable price point, this Japanese steel blade is of the utmost quality. The flexible blade allows for it to tackle all sorts of prep work, from boning to filleting to skinning to trimming to butterflying. The handle is chemically treated to be heat and moisture resistant, plus it offers incredible sturdiness and comfort. The blade is crafted with professionals in mind—intense edge retention, sharp scalpel-like edges, and high-quality durability. Reviewers are impressed by how long the blade has stayed sharp, even after heavy usage. For such a great price, the reviews for this knife are completely outstanding and users love their product.
Material: Alloy steel | Length: 7 inches | Weight: 1 pound
Best Design: Berghoff Ron 6-Inch Boning Knife
Sleek, stylish look
No arched blade or curved handle
For a sleek, stunning addition to your knife collection, this modern matte knife is the only option. Unlike most boning knives, this blade does not have an arch or a curve, yet it does offer some flexibility for improved maneuvering. You can opt for a contrasting wood handle or an all-matte black look. While the most appealing part of this knife is probably its looks more than its handling or practicality, it could be a nice gift for someone wanting to bulk up their knife collection. At an affordable price, it’s a great piece for home cooks of all levels. The steel blade is covered with a nonstick coating and the heavy bolster makes for added control and comfort.
Material: Steel/titanium | Length: 6 inches
Best Flexible: Victorinox 6-Inch Fibrox Pro Flexible Boning Knife
Very small arch on the blade
If you want a boning knife that errs on the side of flexibility, this Victorinox model could be a great knife for you. The stainless steel blade is lightweight, easy to maintain, and super durable. The knife is equipped with a nonslip Fibrox handle that boasts a comfortable, firm grip and you don’t have to worry about any food getting stuck. The flexible blade allows you to easily maneuver around delicate foods and trim, snip, and butterfly even the most gentle items. The blade is just barely arched, so if you're wanting a knife with a strong arch or curve, this isn’t for you.
Material: Stainless steel blade, Fibrox handle | Length: 5.9 inches | Weight: 3.5 ounces
What to Look for in a Boning Knife
Boning knives range in length from 5 inches to 8 inches. For the most part, the ideal length of a knife comes down to personal preference. The shorter the blade, the more control you have, but the longer the blade, the easier it can be to make long, swift motions. Before buying a knife, you should try holding a few different size blades and determine what feels comfortable and natural in your hand.
Flexible vs. Stiff Blade
Boning knives are available in varying flexibilities, so you should consider what kinds of foods you’ll be de-boning. Semi-stiff blades are ideal for beef, lamb, goat, game, and pork or anything that requires extra power to get through thick/large bones and joints. Too much flex in your blade for a piece of meat like this could result in damage to the blade or an accident. For less tough projects, like poultry or especially fish, you may be better off with a more flexible blade because they offer more give. This way, it can gently move across the contour lines and easily trim fat and skin.
Another design aspect of most boning knives is the arch in the blade around the heel of the knife. This allows for more curvature and can help you more easily move around bones and joints. This shape is particularly proficient at skinning meats and trimming fat because just one pass-through of the blade can remove skin and slice through layers or fat without any excessive sawing motions. Some boning knives don’t have this blade design, so that’s something to consider when purchasing.
Almost all boning knife blades are made with stainless steel because it is incredibly durable and can stand up to the wear and tear of coming into contact with tough bones. Handles can be made with synthetics or wood, but keep in mind that wood handles can become damaged if subjected to an excessive amount of water. Even though some knives may be labeled as dishwasher safe, it’s always a better idea to hand wash knives in warm, soapy water.
What's the difference between a boning knife and a filet knife?
Fillet knives are known for their flexibility and thin blade. This makes them a better tool for meats that are more delicate to handle, such as fish. Boning knives are still comparatively thin to other kitchen knives, yet not as thin as a fillet knife. They also do not possess the flexibility of a filet knife. Boning knives are ideal for tougher cuts of meat such as poultry, pork, or beef.
Should a boning knife be flexible?
Compared to other kitchen knives, boning knives are more flexible than others, yet not as flexible as a filet knife. That said, there are both stiff and flexible boning knives available. You want a sturdier blade for tougher cuts of protein like poultry or beef because it allows the knife to get close to the bones of a meat product without succumbing to the tough texture. In this particular instance, a flexible knife could cause injury.
What's a boning knife used for?
Boning knives have long, semi-flexible blades that are useful for boning meats, pork, poultry, and fish. The thin blade allows them to easily pierce meats and their sharp blades are efficient in working around bones. The curved blade allows you to cut meat away from the bones.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Sara Tane has written nearly a dozen buying guides for The Spruce Eats, understanding what consumers and cooks need to consider before making a new purchase for their culinary adventures. She is a professionally trained chef and has tested and used many different knife varieties and blades. After researching different knife sets, blade materials, and boning specs, she can help you find the best boning knife for your kitchen.