Boning Knife vs Fillet Knife: Similarities and Differences

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​Have you ever wondered about the difference between a boning knife vs fillet knife? Professional chefs and those who know their way around the kitchen know the distinct characteristics of each but ordinary people like us ​may not.

As long as it gets the job done, then we are good with it. However, if we want precise cuts of fish and meats, we ​should try to use the correct kitchen knife.

These two kitchen knives look similar to each other so it’s tough to distinguish one from the other. They have different functions specific to their kind, though, so let’s compare these two products for us to know which one to use for a particular purpose.

What Is a Boning Knife?

A boning knife, as the name suggests, is mainly used to disconnect the meat from the bones. This knife is thicker and inflexible compared to a fillet knife. The blade of a boning knife is also straighter up to the sharp tip.

Here are some common and not-so-common uses of a boning knife:

  • Remove meat from bones
  • Remove skin from the meat
  • Cut cookie dough
  • Cut mangoes
  • Cut the core of an apple
  • Carve cakes
  • Core cupcakes

Boning knives are sometimes used to fillet a fish but since they are not as flexible as a fillet knife, you may have a hard time achieving a cleaner cut you desire. Since boning knives are thicker than fillet knives, you can use them on solid chunks of meat without damaging the blade. The sharp tip of a boning knife can easily slice through the meat.

What Is a Fillet Knife?

A fillet knife’s primary purpose is to separate the skin from the meat. You can only use a fillet knife to debone a fish if it’s a small one. The best Fillet knives are flexible which makes them perfect for delicate and elaborate cuts. ​Try to avoid using excessive force on a ​fillet knife, they are flexible and may break​ completely.

The blade of a fillet knife has an upward curve and a curved tip which allows you to use long and steady slices. However, this same curved blade makes it inappropriate to use the fillet knife for other ordinary cuts. 

When you hear fillet knives, you immediately think of filleting fish such as crappies, but they have other uses such as:

  • Removing fish scales
  • Trimming fat
  • Segment​ing citrus fruits
  • Removing the rind of fruits
  • Preparing fruits and vegetables
  • Carving or sculpting fruits and vegetables for decoration

Since fillet knives are flexible, ​they are easy to manipulate when separating the skin of the fish from its flesh or disconnecting it from its bone. A fillet knife should be sharp, have a stable and firm grip to avoid accidents from happening while doing the task.

There are a lot of great Japanese fillet knives but our personal favorite which we  recently reviewed is the Merce​r Culinary Fillet Knife. ​

boning knife vs fillet knife

Boning Knife vs Fillet Knife

These two versatile kitchen knives are a necessity to make your kitchen life more comfortable, mainly when you use each blade according to its functionality. These knives have a close similarity when it comes to looks and functions, but they have a lot of differences as well.

1. Design

A boning knife is mainly used for chunky meats while a fillet knife is for thinner slices and delicate meats. They both have razor-sharp blades to perform their functions well.

Boning knives have straight, thicker, and harder edges while fillet knives have curved blades which are thinner and more flexible.

2. Resistance to Pressure

The boning knife blade’s thickness and hardness are suitable for the force you need to exert to work with chunky meats. The edge of the fillet knife is a lot thinner and more flexible than the boning knife.

Thus, the fillet knife can handle tender and delicate bones and flesh. You don’t need to exert a lot of effort in using a fillet knife as it may easily break when forced.

3. Maneuverability

Both knives can do the function of the other one but with a noticeable difference in the final product and the user’s experience.

A boning knife may be used to fillet a fish, but more often than not, your fillet will not look as clean and perfect if you used a fillet knife. On the other hand, you can use a fillet knife to separate the bone from its meat but with a little difficulty because of the fillet knife’s flexibility.

4. Blade Length

The blade of fillet knives measure from four to nine inches, but the most popular is the medium length, which is at 7.5 inches. This size is perfect for medium-sized fish that are generally bought by consumers.

The blade of boning knives may range from five to seven inches, but special boning knives can measure up to nine inches.

5. The Curves

The boning knives are also quite similar to a regular kitchen knife when it comes to how it looks and its lack of flexibility. It may be a bit thinner and longer than an ordinary kitchen knife, so it can easily slice tough meats and bones. The blade of a fillet knife is curved upwards as well as its tip so you can efficiently slice long cuts of meat.

6. Functions

Thin fillet knives are used to separate soft meat from the skin and tender bones, whereas thick boning knives are used to separate the bone from several layers of meat. Interchanging the functions of the two blades is quite reasonable.

7. Materials

Both knives are created using carbon or stainless steel. Blades made from carbon steel tend to be sharper but require regular maintenance to prevent rust from forming and spreading. The blade made from stainless steel is easier to maintain and is less likely to corrode but not as sharp as carbon steel made knives.

8. Handles

The knife handle is also important with the overall look of both knives. Having the correct handle ensures that you can use the knives safely without getting hurt.

  • Wood: These handles are comfortable to use and provide natural texture when held. The only problem is that it may crack when water creeps into the wood.
  • Plastic: These handles are perfect for knives designed for delicate and smooth tasks.
  • Steel: These handles provide a firm grip during usage.
  • Polypropylene: This handle is hard, firm, and water-resistant, making it durable and long-lasting.

Final Thoughts

We have made comparisons between boning knife vs fillet knife. We have learned that through their similarities and differences, their weaknesses and strengths, each blade has its functionality but can still perform its counterpart’s tasks.