The Best Boning Knives – For Poultry, Meat and Fish

    Last Updated on August 29, 2020



    Key Features

     Materials: VG-Max steel (blade), ebony pakkawood (handle)

     Blade length: 6”

     Blade angle: 16 degrees (double bevel)

     Rockwell hardness: 60 to 61

     Dimensions: 11” x .88” x 1.75”

     Total weight: 7 ounces

    Sharp Object

    Bones are a source of excellent flavor for soups and broths…but they’re not exactly edible otherwise. If you cook enough, you’ll eventually come across a problem: how do I get the bones out of my food? In some cases this is simple. If you boil or roast a chicken long enough, you can pull them out easily by hand, for example.

    But for any more specific purpose where you want the food intact (and especially when it comes to fish), you’ll want to cut the bones out before starting the cooking process. For that, you need a boning knife.

    So what makes a boning knife different from other knives? And how do you pick the right one for you? Well, let’s go over it.

    Here are the best boning knives you can buy:

    For the complete product list, please continue reading…

    Top 7 Best Boning Knives (2020 Reviews)

    1. Shun Cutlery Classic 6 inch Boning and Fillet Knife


     Easy to handle 6 inch blade length.
     Nonstandard shape makes it excellent for both boning and filleting
     Comfortable handle
     Looks nice
     Decent pricing for the quality
     Exceptional VG-Max steel cutting core


      Like most ultra hard carbon steels, this blade can be brittle, and lacks a bit of flex compared to softer steels


      • Materials: VG-Max steel (blade), ebony pakkawood (handle)
      • Blade length: 6”
      • Blade angle: 16 degrees (double bevel)
      • Rockwell hardness: 60 to 61
      • Dimensions: 11” x .88” x 1.75”
      • Total weight: 7 ounces

    This is an extremely interesting Japanese boning knife. It’s a distinctly different shape than a European boning knife, but also doesn’t nearly match the profile of most Japanese boning knives I’ve seen.

    It has an excellent curve, and the short length gives you a great deal of control. While it has some flex (as boning knives should) it’s made from an incredibly hard and sturdy VG-Max steel, one of the best steels in the world.

    Everything else is equally nice. The pakkawood handle is understated and comfortable, giving you a lot of easy gripping power. The Damascus style etching on the blade is likewise tasteful, without the gaudy overtones a lot of knives go in for when using that kind of cladding.

    The price is high, but no more than you’d expect from a VG-Max steel blade. That is a top quality steel, and it should be noted that it does require exceptional care be taken with it. Exceptional hardness comes with equally exceptional brittleness, and it can be easy to chip or even snap this blade if you treat it poorly.

    2. Dalstrong Gladiator Series 6 inch Fillet and Boning Knife


     Great steel
     Classic European design, great for chopping thicker and harder vegetables
     Comfortable ergonomic grip
     Quality handle material
     Thickly made and sturdy


      Middling slicing ability


      • Materials: VG-Max steel (blade), ebony pakkawood (handle)
      • Blade length: 6”
      • Blade angle: 16 degrees (double bevel)
      • Rockwell hardness: 60 to 61
      • Dimensions: 11” x .88” x 1.75”
      • Total weight: 7 ounce

    This is another knife in a similar style to the Shun one above. I waffled a bit over which one was better. I like Dalstrong knives, and particularly the Gladiator series for being simple, affordable, and high quality knives.

    In many ways this is no exception. You get a great high carbon German steel blade, and an equally high quality pakkawood handle that conforms itself well to the average hand. It’s comfortable to wield and overall easy to sharpen and keep sharp.

    The divots help it glide through shin and bone without getting stuck, and make for a satisfying appearance.

    But, it loses out for a couple of minor reasons. While more flexible than our winner, it’s still a high carbon steel. I feel high carbon stainless steels are in general better for this job, so if you’re going to deviate from that, the best steel wins out. If you want an inflexible boning knife, go for the one with the least flex possible.

    But, the general size and shape of it also leaves a bit desired. It’s difficult to describe, but the profile makes it hard to handle. It’s a bit thicker and a bit more curved, and that translates into a lot of minor problems that add up.

    It’s still an excellent knife, but not quite the best on the market.

    3. Zwilling J.A. Henckels 5.5 inch Flexible Boning Knife


     Great shorter than average blade provides extra control
     Comfortable handle
     Great high carbon steel blade with good flexibility
     Comfortable durable handle


      Somewhat on the pricier end


      • Materials: high carbon stainless steel (blade), POM (handle).
      • Blade length: 5.5”.
      • Dimensions: 16.8” x 9.8” x 5.5”.
      • Total weight: 6.4 ounces

    This is a very well made knife in a standard style, with a very comfortable handle and flexible, easy to use blade. It’s shorter than average, giving you great control, potentially at the cost of usability on somewhat thicker animals (it will work fine on your average roasting chicken, but perhaps not as good on a large turkey).

    The materials though are excellent, with a POM (durable, non-slip, food safe plastic) handle and a durable high carbon stainless steel blade. Unlike the Shun cutlery knife above, this one is a lot easier to take care of and is arguably higher performance in terms of pure deboning power, even though it won’t hold nearly as keen of an edge.

    All in all, not a bad knife for the money. It’s a bit on the expensive side, but it will be a reliable kitchen companion for years, even decades if you treat it well.

    4. Wusthof Gourmet 6 inch Flexible Boning Knife


     Exceptionally thin blade is flexible and useful for delicate deboning tasks
     Good quality full tang high carbon stainless steel blade
     Comfortable handle
     Very fair entry level price


    A little small and delicate compared to other boning knives


      • Materials: high carbon stainless steel (blade), polypropylene (handle)
      • Blade length: 6”
      • Dimensions: 11” x 1” x 1”
      • Total weight: 4 ounces

    This is a great entry level knife. Wusthof has always been great at making knives that are a cut above the usual mass manufactured stock while still remaining more than affordable.

    These are laser cut “stamped knives” but are still made of a high quality steel; high carbon stainless steel, which retains good performance while being easy to take care of. While stamped knives are typically considered lower quality than individually forged knives, this manufacturing process is in many ways perfect for boning and fillet knives.

    Laser cutting these knives results in a thinner, more flexible knife that flexes between thin bones and under skin with ease.

    The handle is not made of the highest quality materials, but it’s comfortable and durable, which is really all that matters.

    This is an especially thin blade overall, even more so than most we’ve covered. It’s perfect for deboning small and light animals like chickens, but might struggle on things with thicker meats that could be harder to cut through.

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    5. Dalstrong Shadow Black Series 6 inch Straight Boning Knife


     High carbon steel blade is hard and holds a keen edge
     Razor sharp
     Thick construction
     Very comfortable non-slip handle
     Great price for the quality


      A bit stiff and inflexible


      • Materials: high carbon 7CR17MOV steel (blade), titanium nitride (coating), G10 fiber resin (handle)
      • Blade length: 6”
      • Blade angle: 16 to 18 degrees
      • Rockwell hardness: 58+
      • Dimensions: 13” x 3.5” x 1.5”
      • Total weight: 1 lbs

    Dalstrong’s attempt at a Shadow Black boning knife isn’t as good, in my opinion, as other types of knives in their catalogue (even in the same series; the carving knife is one of the best I’ve seen) but it’s still quite good, and comes in at a thankfully fairly low price.

    The blade is a very good high carbon steel, and the black sheen isn’t just for show. The titanium nitride coating not only improved durability by a bit (without reducing flexibility), it gives the high carbon steel a higher than average level of corrosion resistance that counterbalances some of the innate weaknesses.

    The G10 handle is nonslip and surprisingly comfortable despite its intimidatingly angular appearance, and complements the titular “Shadow Black” appearance well.

    Unfortunately the main issue is the flexibility. This is a high carbon steel blade, which means it’s hard and brittle. It’s not completely without flex but isn’t as good as others you might come across.

    Still, especially if you plan to get the full set this is a solid buy, and its ability to be honed to a razor sharpness and slightly thicker than average construction makes it a great heavy duty boning knife.

    6. Wusthof Ikon Blackwood 5” Boning Knife


     Excellent VG-10 steel is hard and holds a great edge but retains more flexibility than VG-max
     Titanium coating reduces oxidation potential
     Holds an exceptional edge
     Stubby but easy to control
     Comfortable handle


     Designed by a professional chef for his own uses; may not be perfect for everyone
     Almost mind bogglingly expensive for a single knife; more expensive than many mid range knife SETS


      • Materials: Japanese VG-10 steel (blade), titanium (coating), pakkawood (handle)
      • Blade length: 4.75”
      • Total length: 9.44”
      • Total weight: 6 ounces

    This is an excellent knife, and a lot better than another Wusthof knife we’ve covered already. The steel is an excellent high carbon stainless steel, and has good flex to it without being as overtly “floppy” as some boning knives are.

    The handle is probably the best on this list in a lot of ways. It just appeals to me. It’s slender, but sinuous, and feels exceptionally comfortable in the hand. The material is also great, made of African Blackwood and very grippy. Maybe not as great as some of the more advanced handles above in terms of usability, but what little you lose there you make up for with a whole lot of style.

    Of course, when it comes to style and non-synthetic materials, you can be assured that the price is going to be driven up as well. There’s no exception here, and while the cost isn’t as exorbitant as the Michael Bras knife we’ll cover in a moment, but it’s still a bit high for a boning knife. It falls into a price range I’d be hesitant, but willing to pay for a chef’s knife or santoku knife. That is, general use knives I’m going to be using on a daily basis.

    If you use boning knives that consistently, this is well worth the price, but for most people it costs about twice as much as you’d want it to.

    7. Michel Bras #8 4.75 inch Boning Knife


     Excellent VG-10 steel is hard and holds a great edge but retains more flexibility than VG-max.
     Titanium coating reduces oxidation potential.
     Holds an exceptional edge.
     Stubby but easy to control.
     Comfortable handle


     Designed by a professional chef for his own uses; may not be perfect for everyone.
     Almost mind bogglingly expensive for a single knife; more expensive than many mid range knife SETS


      • Materials: Japanese VG-10 steel (blade), titanium (coating), pakkawood (handle)
      • Blade length: 4.75”
      • Total length: 9.44”
      • Total weight: 6 ounces

    This is kind of a fascinating one. It looks like no other boning knife I’ve ever seen. In fact, it looks a lot like a slightly thicker pruning knife, with its stubbier, over an inch shorter than the average boning knife stature.

    The blade is a quite good steel. High carbon VG-10 steel at the core, sandwiched between layers of more flexible steel, and coated in titanium. This gives it an excellent rigidity at the core that allows for it to hold and keep an insane edge, while allowing for the flexibility needed in a deboning knife.

    In some ways, this knife could be considered less than ideal. While clearly high quality it is also somewhat of a custom make, designed by French chef Michel Bras and manufactured by Shun cutlery (already featured on this list once before). This shape and usage may not be to everyone’s taste and it could be hard to use for the more general purpose kitchen needs most people might want.

    In addition to that, the price is ludicrously high for this blade. It is undoubtedly a high quality chef’s tool, but I’d stay away from it unless you’re also a professional chef.

    Final Verdict

    Shun Cutlery Classic 6 inch

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    There’s a lot of good knives on this list, and picking the right one is a little more complicated than other knives. Boning knives come in multiple different styles, both in terms of blade shape and steel type, with different factors being valued by different people more.

    For my money, I’ll take the Shun Classic over most on this list. It’s lightweight while still retaining a faint sense of heft, and glides easily through most meats and around bones easily enough. While it lacks the flex of some options (the Wusthof and Dalstrong options in particular) the sharpness more than makes up for it so long as you’re careful.

    If you prefer a more flexible knife, stick to those I just mentioned for the most part.

    How Do I Pick the Right One?

    The core of any knife is quality steel. Usually this means a high carbon steel of some kind for the best results. However, the higher the carbon content in a knife, the harder the steel.

    Usually this is desirable, but for a boning knife you often want a bit of flex to it. To that end, USUALLY a high carbon stainless steel is best. It’s hard, but retains flexibility, and is fairly resistant to corrosion; it’s also a bit cheaper on average.

    This isn’t always the case, mind you. A good high carbon steel knife can work as a boning knife very well, essentially making up for flexibility with raw sharpness. Typically this is better for heavier duty meats, which might flex a less stiff knife against your will and have thicker bones that could chip your knife more easily than softer chicken bones if your hand slips.

    Once you’ve settled whether you want a harder, sharper knife or a more flexible one the rest is pretty easy. As with any knife, you want a good handle. This is going to vary from manufacturer to manufacturer the same way preference is going to vary from person to person. 

    How you like to hold your knife is going to determine what kind of handle you want in terms of shape, but material is fairly easy to pin down. It should be grippy and slip resistant, as well as moisture wicking. Pakkawood is the material of choice for most handles, but knives may sometimes use real wood as a luxury component (driving the price up) or some kind of composite material like resins or carbon fiber handles.

    Whatever you choose, makes sure it stays within your price range. A boning knife is a niche knife; most people won’t be using it every day like they will their chef’s knife. Given that, you shouldn’t pay as much for it as you would a knife you expect to use every day unless you DO plan to use it every day, either for professional or personal reasons. The roughly $50 to $70 mark is my personal sweet spot here.