A boning knife is not just for butchers! A boning knife will allow you to buy larger good quality cuts of meat and prepare them yourself using some basic butchery - a great way to save money as you do not have to pay extra for meat that has already been cut into smaller pieces.A boning knife can also double as a fillet knife and is often useful for other kitchen jobs such as paring soft skinned fruits. In this review we take a look at some of the best boning knives available to see what they can offer to your kitchen economy and if you read on, you can also find out more about the boning knife and why it is so suited to this task and why it is safer to use than other kitchen knives for meat preparation.
Our Best Pick is the NSF certified Mercer Culinary Genesis 6" flexible boning knife with its 58 Rockwell hardness and lifetime limited warranty.
Our Budget Pick is the Victorinox Fibrox Pro 6" flexible boning knife with its lightweight high carbon stainless steel blade and non-slip Fibrox Pro handle.
Table of Contents
- Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Boning Knives
- 1. Mercer Culinary Genesis Forged Flexible Boning Knife
- 2. Victorinox Swiss Army Cutlery Fibrox Pro Boning Knife
- 3. DALSTRONG Phantom 6½" Boning & Fillet Knife
- 4. Dexter-Russell S131F-6PCP Boning Knife
- 5. SKY LIGHT Boning Knife
- 6. Shun Cutlery Classic Boning and Fillet Knife
- 7. UltraSource 6" Boning Knife
- 8. Global Cromova 6¼" Boning Knife
- 9. Wusthof 4603 Boning Knife
- 10. Shun TDM0774 Premier Gokujo Boning Fillet Knife
- Things to Consider Before Buying A Boning Knife
Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Boning Knives
1. Mercer Culinary Genesis Forged Flexible Boning Knife
The Mercer Culinary Genesis 6" flexible boning knife is high carbon and no stain German steel, resistant to corrosion, rust and staining. This is a precision forged, full tang knife with a taper ground edge for easy honing and Rockwell hardness of 58.
Its black ergonomic santoprene handle can withstand extreme temperatures and kitchen oils and this NSF certified knife also comes with a lifetime limited warranty. This boning knife should be washed by hand rather than in the dishwasher, and the odd buyer has commented that the handle/weight is a little on the heavy side for a boning knife. This knife does not come with a blade guard or sheath.
2. Victorinox Swiss Army Cutlery Fibrox Pro Boning Knife
With a lightweight European high carbon stainless steel blade, the Victorinox Fibrox Pro 6" flexible boning knife is Swiss-manufactured and has an ‘s’ shaped flexible blade for removing meat and fish from the bone. The Fibrox Pro handle is non-slip and ergonomic for a secure and comfortable grip and designed to reduce hand and wrist fatigue.
This knife comes with a lifetime limited warranty, is NSF approved and can be cleaned in the dishwasher, although the manufacturer recommends that this knife is washed by hand. A number of owners have found that this knife will not keep its sharp edge for as long as expected when using it and it does not come with a blade guard.
3. DALSTRONG Phantom 6½" Boning & Fillet Knife
Produced from Japanese high carbon AUS-8 steel and with a 58+ Rockwell hardness, the DALSTRONG Phantom 6½" boning & fillet knife is designed for sharpness, edge retention and durability. This knife is hollow ground for minimal resistance and the blade edge has been honed to 13° to 15° and nitrogen cooled.
This has a black pakkawood D shaped handle and comes with a satisfaction guarantee as well as lifetime limited warranty against defects. This knife also has a DragonLock sheath for safety, although some buyers are concerned that the mechanism on the sheath is less than secure.An odd number of buyers have been disappointed that this does not hold an edge for as long as it should do, and it may also need sharpening before it is used for the first time. You may also find the blade less flexible than other boning knives which means it may not be as suitable for filleting fish with.
4. Dexter-Russell S131F-6PCP Boning Knife
The Dexter Russell 6" boning knife (S131F-6PCP) has a high carbon steel blade which is curved and flexible and has been hand sharpened and honed. This boning knife has a white Grip-Tex handle which is sealed around the blade to prevent bacteria from accumulating. It does not come with a sheath.This knife can dull quickly and will need frequent honing during use to keep it sharp. Although this can be washed in the dishwasher, as a high carbon blade, it will be more at risk of discoloring or rusting.
5. SKY LIGHT Boning Knife
The SKY LIGHT Classic 6" boning knife is made from German high carbon stainless steel and its narrow and curved blade is designed as a multipurpose boning knife. This blade is hand polished and the blade edge is honed to a 17° angle and nitrogen cooled to enhance the hardness. This knife is 58+ Rockwell hardness and its ergonomic handle is made from military grade high polymer for temperature resistance.
It comes with a satisfaction or money back guarantee and a lifetime limited warranty. This may not be quite as flexible as other boning knives so may not suit all boning tasks, and although this knife is dishwasher safe, hand washing is recommended. It does not come with a blade guard.
6. Shun Cutlery Classic Boning and Fillet Knife
The Shun Classic 6" boning knife has a narrow and curved blade to reduce drag when boning and filleting. The double bevel blade is sharpened to a 17° angle and has a VG-MAX steel core clad with layers of stainless steel to give a Damascus finish.
The handle is D-shaped and made from pakkawood for a secure and comfortable grip. When this knife is bought from an authorized retailer, it has a lifetime limited warranty and you can also use the Free Sharpening for Life program. As this is more of a curved blade it can take some getting used to when first using and as this blade is not as flexible as other boning knives it may not be suitable for all of your boning or filleting tasks. It does not come with a sheath or blade guard.
7. UltraSource 6" Boning Knife
The semi-flexible UltraSource 6" boning knife has a high carbon molybdenum steel blade which has been cryogenically/nitrogen treated to retain its edge for longer and resist rust. The yellow handle is textured and antibacterial fused and has been liquid welded where it meets the blade to prevent bacteria from accumulating. The handle also has a front and rear safety bolster.
The manufacturer recommends that this knife is hand washed to retain its sharp edge. Some owners have found this knife does not keep its edge and as a semi-flexible blade it will better suit larger boning tasks where blade flexibility is not as much of an issue.
8. Global Cromova 6¼" Boning Knife
The Global Cromova 6¼" boning knife has a lightweight and flexible blade made from hard molybdenum/vanadium stainless steel to retain its sharp edge for longer. This knife does not have a bolster and its stainless steel handle contains sand to balance it against the blade.
It has a finger notch between the blade and the handle for safety and the handle is ergonomic; molded to fit the hand and dimpled to prevent slipping. This knife also comes with a lifetime limited warranty against defects and breakages.The handle of this knife is on the smaller side so may not suit larger hands and as a lightweight knife, you may not be as keen on it if you are used to using heavier Western-style knives.
9. Wusthof 4603 Boning Knife
Forged from specially tempered high carbon steel with a stain resistant alloy, this is a full tang blade which has a triple riveted handle which is contoured with a comfortable grip. This also has a finger guard and a signature bolster end cap. It should be hand washed only and comes with a lifetime limited warranty.The odd owner has commented that this knife is not always flexible enough for filleting fish and the logos can begin to wear off over time with washing.
10. Shun TDM0774 Premier Gokujo Boning Fillet Knife
The Shun premier gokujo 6" boning and fillet knife has a narrow and curved blade to easily separate meat from bone. This has a VG-MAX steel core and is layered with stainless steel to give a Damascus finish. This also has a hand-hammered or tsuchime finish which helps to reduce drag and prevent food from sticking to the blade.
The blade is honed to a 16° angle and the handle is a walnut finish ergonomic pakkawood handle. The end cap is logo embossed and the knife has a lifetime limited warranty. It does not come with a sheath or blade guard. This knife should only be hand washed and the odd buyer has experienced this knife arriving without a sharp edge. The blade may also be less flexible for filleting fish.
Things to Consider Before Buying A Boning Knife
Having a decent boning knife is just not for those who debone and skin their own meat, game or poultry; a boning knife is ideal for kitchen economy. If you have the option to buy a full side of beef, or whole poultry, then with a little light butchering and a decent boning knife, you can get your chest freezer filled and save some money. It also means you can use by-products such as bones and fat for making your own stock with.
For an idea of potential savings, next time you are in the grocery store, compare the price of a whole chicken against chicken pieces. The extra costs on the chicken pieces are because more butchering/processing is needed before they are sold.
Depending on the type of boning knife, it can also be useful for fish filleting and other kitchen tasks such as cutting skins from mangoes and other soft skinned fruits and can even be used for sculpting cake decorations!
A boning knife has a long, thin and flexible blade with a sharp and pointed tip. The sharp tip allows you to pierce the meat with the knife and then lead the cut when you hold it in an overhead dagger-type grip and slice along larger bones.
A boning knife if extremely sharp so it can slice meat rather than ripping it. Although boning can be done with other types of kitchen knives, not only is this more dangerous, but it will not remove as much meat, or remove it as cleanly as a boning knife will. The thin blade of the boning knife also makes de-boning easier as well as faster.
A boning knife should be able to trim off fat and easily cut through ligament and connective tissue – moving around joints and bones to trim away meat. It should also be able to remove silverskin without taking too much meat off. In fact, when a boning knife is used as it should be, there will be very little waste left as the knife removes the meat cleanly from bone and connective tissue without damaging the muscle tissue.
Boning knives also have thin blades, although the thinness of the blade does not always mean it is more flexible than a thicker blade. The thin blade makes it easier to cut smaller angles and when slicing more delicate cuts – a thinner blade will not cause as much damage to the flesh.
A boning knife will not cut through large bones; for this you will need to use a meat cleaver. However, it will cut through small poultry bones, fish bones and cartilage and is also able to lightly scrape along larger bones.
Types of Boning Knife
The type of boning knife you choose is dependent on what you want to use it the most for; thicker or tender cuts. In some cases, you may need a couple of different types of boning knife to best deal with your cutting requirements.
A boning knife will be stiff (less-flexible) or flexible. Those which are more flexible allow easier cutting of difficult shapes although if the blade is too flexible you will struggle to cut thicker and tougher meat as it will force the blade to flex more and veer off course, or even break. A flexible knife is also better for fish filleting as it will allow you to remove the bones easily.
A stiff, or less-flexible boning knife, which may also have a broader blade, can be used to cut wide portions off thicker cuts which can then be cut properly with a more flexible blade.
Boning knives also have two main shapes of blade. Often the larger blade which is less flexible, a straight boning knife suits thicker and larger cuts such as beef, pork and saltwater fish. Useful for separating meat from bone and cutting away fat and connective tissue and remove fat and connective tissue. It can also help with sculpting and fine slicing.
In comparison, the curved boning knife is often smaller with a more flexible blade which is better for de-boning and cutting skin from poultry and fish. Curved knives are also useful for delicate cutting and more tender meats.
A boning knife with a narrow width blade is useful for removing meat around ribs and chops while a knife with a wider or broader blade is good for general butchery of chicken and pork.
Most boning knives are available with a blade length of between 5" and 6½", with 6" being a common size for multiple uses. Some manufacturers do produce longer blades, but these are more specialized and would usually be used by professionals on extremely large cuts.
Stainless steel blades offer more durability and rust and corrosion resistance and are usually quite easy to sharpen. Like stainless steel, cold steel blades are also durable, and some boning knives will are high carbon, which keeps a sharp edge for longer, but can be harder to sharpen and is more at risk of rusting. Any of these steels should provide the sharpness and durability you need for your boning tasks. When you are looking at knives you may see a Rockwell hardness or RHC number. This tells you how hard the steel is. Harder knives tend to be 56 or above, but the harder the steel is, the harder it will be to sharpen it properly.
If you are looking at Japanese boning knifes, then there are several different types of knife used for filleting, although the gokujo (‘all-in-one’) can be used for both filleting and boning. The only disadvantage with the gokujo is that it has quite a rigid blade which can make it more challenging with certain boning or filleting jobs.
The Boning Knife Versus the Fillet Knife
A boning knife is one that separates meat from bone while a fillet knife separates meat from skin. However, like the differences between fillet and fillet (fish and meat!) the differences between the two are never that clear cut and they can often be used for both tasks, although a lighter fillet knife will cut thicker meats as well as a boning knife will, and depending on the task, the knife used may have an impact upon the quality of the meat or fish once cut/filleted.
Although both boning and fillet knives come in a range of sizes and are often made from similar steel alloys, a typical boning knife is thicker and stiffer than a fillet knife and the tip of a fillet knife is much more curved to allow long and steady cuts when filleting fish.
Whatever type of boning knife you buy, the handle should be comfortable and allow you to hold it for precision cutting or be able to grip it harder when more force is required. Some boning knives have a finger guard built into the handle, or a drop-down bolster, either of which can stop your fingers from sliding onto the blade – especially when your fingers or the knife handle are greasy from meat fat.
Getting the Most from Your Boning Knife
Like most knives, a boning knife should be used on a softwood cutting board and when using a boning knife for the first time, take your time with it. Spend time and practice removing skin and bones slowly – always cutting away from the body. If you keep your fingers on your non-cutting hand tucked under this can help reduce the risk of cuts.
As with other kitchen knives, a boning knife is best cleaned with warm water and mild dish soap and dried by hand as soon as you have finished using it. Never leave it to soak in the sink, not only for safety reasons, but leaving it in water will also increase the odds of rusting or discoloration to the blade.
Knives which are National Sanitary Foundation or NSF certified have been designed and promoted in a way that promotes food safety. Most food service equipment in commercial kitchens is NSF certified.
Regular sharpening and honing is essential to keep the edge of your boning knife sharp. If it does not come with a sheath, then invest in one, especially if you want to take it on hunting or fishing trips. In the kitchen, store it in a suitable knife block or if you have to store it in a kitchen drawer then you should also place a suitable blade guard or sheath on it to protect the blade edge as well as fingertips!
In this review we have considered why the boning knife is such a useful knife to have in the kitchen, not least as a way to save some money feeding the family. We have looked at the different types of boning knife, why it often does double duty as a fish filleting knife and offered some tips to help keep your boning knife at its best.We hope you have enjoyed reading our review on some of the best boning knives available and if you have never used one before, you now feel confident in choosing the most suitable boning knife for preparing chicken, beef, pork and so much more.