What Are Boning Knives Used For?

Boning knives are kitchen knives with sharp tips and thin blades. Typically, the average size of boning knives is between 5 to 8 inches in length. The boning knife blades are usually flexible and narrow. They have a flat cutting edge that curves up to connect with the point. Nonetheless, some variations have stiffer and broader designs.

The rigidity of the boning knife indicates its uses. Stiff boning knives are ideal for thick cuts of pork and beef. On the other hand, flexible knives are better for delicate work on poultry and fish. Since the blades are thin, they can separate bone, meat, fat, and connective tissue with ease.

Top Uses of Boning Knives

The purpose of a boning knife is to separate meat from bones. Boning knife requires specific features depending on the task. Dealing with delicate meat requires short blades so that you have more control. Alternatively, thicker meats require stiffer and broader blades to put up with the pressure. These are the primary uses for a boning knife, and which variation is the better option for each purpose.

Deboning Meat Before Cooking

The main use of a boning knife is to separate meat from bones before cooking. This type of knife has a curved blade that cut at angles between joints and other tight sections. Plus, the blades are thin and sharp to slice through cartilage with ease. Flexible boning knives also improve maneuvering around corners and intricate shapes.

As a result, a quality boning knife with a flexible blade is an ideal utensil for deboning meat or breaking down chickens.

Broad, stiff, and straight boning knives are suitable for tougher and thicker meat cuts, like pork or beef. Knives with these qualities have the rigidity necessary to remove fat, connective tissue, and wide meat portions. Stiff blades make it easy to cut out large meat pieces without losing control. You can also use straight knives for making fine slices and sculpting. Professional chefs regularly prefer plain knives for high-speed work.

Removing Skin and Fat

A boning knife helps clean cuts of meat, removing skin and fat. The thin blades perfectly slice through fat layers without carving into the flesh. They slice through the grainy silver skin attached to the meat. This is useful when you’re prepping lamb, beef, and pork. These meat types usually have fat layers that you must remove before cooking. 

The knife’s straight edge allows slicing skin using the blade’s full length. As a result, you need to apply less effort and pressure. After removal, you can dispose of the skin ribbons to leave skinless cuts of meat.

Filleting Fish

A flexible boning knife is not as good as fillet knives for prepping fish, but it can still do the job decently. The boning knife has a curved design that removes fish skin in a single swipe. Use it to separate the skin while cutting in long and clean strokes between the fish meat.

Plus, the flexibility of the boning knife further improves maneuverability. It allows the blade to adapt to the contours around the rib cage and backbone of the fish. Thus, you can produce clean cuts without wasting meat.

Boning knives also reduce the risk of messing up fish meat. The blades are thin to reduce resistance and drag. Therefore, you can make clean cuts without excessive effort.

Prepping Baked Goods

The boning knife’s narrow and pointy tip makes for an excellent carving utensil. Therefore, you can use it to create straight or rounded shapes while decorating cakes. Additionally, the blade can polish cake edges and produce smooth exterior layers. If you’re into baking, you can go as far as creating themed shapes.

Other uses for boning knives include using them to cut dough. Cut it into smaller portions, or create shapes out of it. This benefit comes in handy when you’re baking cookies.

Stuffing baked goods is another possibility with this knife. The thin blade and pointy tip can create small circles in cakes or cupcakes. Then, you can fill them with stuffing to make more elaborate recipes.

Peeling Fruits

A boning knife can create delicious dishes and decorative pieces with fruits. This is possible due to the knife’s thin blade and sharp tip, which peel the skin and rinds of fruits with ease.

For example, you can use the thin blade for peeling papayas, apples, and mangoes. Flexible blades also help carve rinds from melons with minimal wastage. Similarly, stiffer boning knives remove pineapple bark without carving into the fruit.

Shorter boning knives offer precision to remove the core of an apple. You can insert the knife and turn it around the core to get it out with ease. The same use applies to other fruits for decorative purposes.

For instance, insert the tip into watermelons and use the narrow blade to remove portions of the fruit. This technique will allow you to create shapes or even cut out smaller bits for salads.

How to Use a Boning Knife

Boning knives require proper technique. Otherwise, you may waste an unnecessary amount of meat. Follow these methods to use the boning knife efficiently depending on what you’re prepping.

Removing Bones and Slicing Meat

Start by trimming any excess fat covering the bone. Once the bone is visible, cut the meat along it. Repeat a couple of more times moving the knife back and forth for further separation.

You can use the tip of the blade at an angle to get the most meat out. Then, make quick flicking movements to scrape the meat from the exposed bone. Check the meat piece and use the cutting edge to remove cartilage or stray bone pieces.

Skinning Meat and Trimming Fat

Remove any excess fat over the skin using your fingers. Then, use the boning knife to make a small cut between the skin and the meat. Use your fingers again to separate some of the skin after the initial cut.

Hold the partially-separated skin using your non-dominant hand, and make quick and small cuts to detach it from the meat. Continue cutting in long and slow motions to separate the skin using your fingers until completion. 

Filleting and Skinning Fish

Additionally, you can use a boning knife as a temporary fillet knife substitute.

Make a small incision between the skin and the meat at the tail end. Angle the knife horizontally, and slice along the fish’s length to remove the fillet.

Use your non-dominant hand to pull the skin in the opposite direction while cutting. Continue slicing and bring the knife to the other end of the fillet to remove the skin.

Descaling Fish

The boning knife can also remove scales from fish if you don’t have filleting knives. Place the spine of the blade at an angle on the tail, and run the knife towards the head. Repeat several times until there are no scales.

Peeling Fruit

Grab the handle of the knife using the base of your fingers minus the thumb. The blade’s cutting edge must be facing you. Then, use the thumb to press against the fruit as you bring the knife down to peel it.


  • Look for a knife with a stainless steel blade. It will hold its sharpness and last long.
  • Keep your boning knife extremely sharp. Cutting through cartilage, skin, and connective tissue requires a razor-sharp blade. Otherwise, you may hurt yourself by applying excessive pressure on a dull blade.
  • Use the boning knife to separate a bone at a time. If you’re breaking down chicken or turkey, separate them by sections. Then, work on them individually.
  • Keep your fingers curled while cutting back and forth to avoid accidents.
  • Shiny skin on raw meat indicates that there’s some fat over it. You can pull it off with your fingers.
  • Make short and small cuts while removing the skin.
  • Use a flexible knife if you need more control to remove skin and bones in meat, poultry, and fish. Alternatively, a stiff boning knife is better for prepping denser meat like chucks and flanks.
  • Wash your boning knife with soap and warm water.
  • Practice makes an expert. Take your time removing bones and skin using this type of knife. Over time, you will work faster and more efficiently.


Can I use a boning knife on cooked meat?

You can use a straight boning knife with a semi stiff and narrow blade to cut cooked meat. This knife type can break slice poultry, roast, or ham into thinner slices after cooking them. However, the carving knife is the ideal kitchen knife for this task. Consider boning knives as temporary replacements.

When using a boning knife, do I cut away from or toward myself?

You must cut away from you while using a boning knife. Optionally, you can also use the knife to cut sideways. This type of knife is razor-sharp, meaning that you must be extra careful. Improper use of boning knives can lead to knife injuries.

Can a boning knife cut through bone?

Boning knife can’t cut through bones. The blade will go off course, and you will lose control of the knife. This situation can be dangerous if your other hand is close to the cut of meat. Additionally, hitting a bone will dull the blade and could break it near the tip where the steel is weaker. Get a meat cleaver to chop bones of most sizes.

Image of Tom Hammaker
About Tom Hammaker

Tom Hammaker is a freelance copywriter with a specialty in advertorial blog posts. He’s worked with small local business owners and taken on larger projects with clients like Proctor and Gamble. He wrote his first direct marketing piece when he was a jobless teenager back in high school. It was a flyer for a landscaping business he was trying to start. The result? The mailing absolutely BOMBED! When he is not working, he's either out on the water fishing or playing golf. You can find him here on LinkedIn or his personal website

Leave a Comment