Boning Knife vs Fillet Knife


Professional chefs who cook meatsregularly are probably familiar with boning knives and fillet knives. However, people who don’t spend their days preparing fine cuts of meat may have zero idea about the differences. These knives may be used interchangeably, but there are several important differences as well. Find out the differences between a boning knife vs fillet knife below!

Continue reading below to answer your questions about:

  • The different designs and shapes of a boning knife vs fillet knife,
  • The ease of use and durability of these knives, and
  • The suitable purposes that these knives serve.


A boning knife, just like what the name suggests, is primarily used for ‘boning’ or separating meat from bones. More often than not, a boning knife is thin enough to penetrate through thick meat, yet stiff enough to be swift and strong. Such qualities are very much needed when handling thick meat, but they may be less preferred for other purposes. For the best way to cook meat, see Slow Cooker High vs Low.

On the other hand, Wikipedia describes a fillet as a cut of boneless meat. But a fillet knife is designed for separating meat from skin. In order to serve this purpose, a fillet knife is often thin and fine. It needs a high level of accuracy in order to make such intricate cuts. It is also more flexible. The flexibility enables you to puncture skin and maneuver through the inside layer with ease.

Of course, they can be interchangeable at times, but their performance won’t be guaranteed if used outside their intended purposes. You can use a boning knife to fillet, but the rigidity usually makes the quality of the cut below par. Meanwhile, a fillet knife may be used to separate small bones, like fish bones, but it is not strong enough to handle thick meat and larger bones.

Note that there are all-purpose knives that are designed for both boning and filleting tasks. However, their performance isn’t as great as the dedicated knives. Still, they may be handy if you prefer to have the one-knife-for-all simplicity.

Design and Shape

You can tell a boning knife vs fillet knife apart by their designs and shapes. They are quite different from each other. So, once you know how they look, you probably won’t mistake one for the other.

A boning knife is designed to handle tough meat and bones. Included in the group are beef and pork and the likes. Such types of meat are quite tough. Naturally, such task requires a blade that is strong and sturdy and durable.

Thus, a boning knife is designed to be thin yet sharp and stiff. It is usually straight from the base all the way to the front end. It does not have any fancy curve. It is similar to a regular knife, except that it is thinner and longer in order to maneuver through thick layers of meat. Still, a boning knife is slightly more flexible than a regular knife. A boning knife is slightly more versatile than a fillet knife.

On the other hand, a fillet knife is meant to handle tender meat. Included in this group are salmon, tuna, chicken, and the likes. To handle these tender meat types, you don’t need much toughness. Instead, a fillet knife is focused to flexibility and accuracy. A fillet knife has a thin blade to give high levels of precision.

A fillet knife is discernible by its curve, which moves upwards. The curved tip allows you to make long, steady cuts easily. However, the curvaceous design makes it less effective for other common cutting tasks. So, you can say that a fillet knife is not very versatile.

Blade Length

Boning knives often have blade lengths between 5 inches to 6 inches. However, it is not uncommon to come across longer varieties which go over 9 inches. These variants only vary by length; they still have similar stiffness and strength. Choose carefully by considering the types of meat that you usually handle. A smaller knife is less practical for boning large meat, whereas a larger knife is difficult to navigate when cutting small meat.

On the other hand, fillet knives’ blades are usually available in 4-inch, 6-inch, 7.5-inch, and 9-inch lengths. The most common one is the 7.5-inch length, as it is suitable for handling medium-sized fish. The smaller variants are nice for handling smaller fish, whereas the larger variants are practical for handling larger fish. Interestingly, shorter blades are often more flexible than longer blades.

Modern boning and cutting knives nowadays are made of high-carbon steel. Traditional knives use stainless steel; they are easy to clean, but they aren’t very durable. High-carbon steel has better durability and edge retention, so the blades can stay sharp for longer.


The rigid boning knife is more suitable to stay in your kitchen. It is tough and durable, and it is more suitable for separating meat from bones. For this task, it is effective and efficient. However, it is not as flexible as a fillet knife, so it has more limited maneuverability when cutting fish.

On the other hand, the thinness and curved shape of a fillet knife makes it suitable for making delicate cuts. It is flexible and highly maneuverable. If you are going out for a fishing trip, you may want to bring a fillet knife along.

Force Tolerance

A boning knife is quite thicker and much stiffer than a fillet knife. Because of this, a boning knife can easily withstand higher levels of force when working, without the risk of snapping. You can push them to tackle down thick chunks of meat.

On the other hand, a fillet knife is the exact opposite. It is much more delicate. While it has great flexibility, it has a much lower force tolerance. You should not apply too much force onto the knife, otherwise it will snap.

Boning Knife vs Fillet Knife

Boning KnifeFillet Knife
- Designed for separating meat from bones- Designed for separating meat from skin
- Slightly thicker with a straight blade- Thinner, has a curved tip
- Stiff and rigid- More flexible
- More durable, but not very maneuverable- Lower force tolerance, but easier to maneuver
- Blade lengths between 5 – 6inches, some variants over 9 inches- Blades available in 4-inch, 6-inch, 7.5-inch, and 9-inch lengths


Boning knife vs fillet knife are sometimes interchangeable, but their distinctive features make them more effective for their specific purposes. A boning knife is thicker and stiffer with a straight blade. It has the strength and toughness needed to separate thick meat from bones. On the other hand, a fillet knife is thinner and more flexible, featuring a curved tip. A fillet knife offers great maneuverability for separating meat from skin.

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