8 Main Differences Between Fillet and Boning Knives

Fillet vs. boning knife

Knife sets usually include a few special knives like a fillet knife or a boning knife.

These knives have distinct shapes and are specially designed for cutting fish and meat.

Although fillet knives and boning knives look similar, they aren’t the same.

Each one serves a different purpose, and they have minute differences. Let’s look at them in closer detail.

How to Distinguish Between a Fillet Knife and A Boning Knife?

Choosing the right type of knife makes a task much easier.

At a glance, boning knives and fillet knives look quite similar.

However, they are distinct because they are built for different tasks.

You can use them interchangeably for certain needs.

However, we recommend using the right knife based on whether you wish to bone or fillet meat or fish for a better result.

Here are some of the important differences between a boning knife and a fillet knife.

1. They are built for different purposes.

Both boning knives and fillet knives can cut meat or fish.

However, they are named according to the primary purpose they are built for.

Boning knives can easily separate the bones of meat and fish from the flesh.

Meanwhile, fillet knives are typically used to prepare fillets of meat or fish.

Since both knives have different purposes, their blades are designed differently.

Although you can use them interchangeably, the outcome would be better if you used the knife for the intended task.

2. Their blades differ in length.

In a boning knife, the blade is usually 5 to 7 inches long. Fillet knives also have long and sharp blades.

However, there may be differences depending on the brand.

In some cases, the fillet knife is longer than a boning knife. It’s not unusual for the blade to be 5 to 9 inches long.

3. The thickness of their blades differs.

The boning knife is thicker and stiffer than a fillet knife.

It’s built to separate the bones of meat or fish from the flesh.

It has a sharp, slightly curved, and pointed tip for this purpose. This design detail allows for precise cutting.

Hence, you can make clean and sharp cuts without damaging the meat.

The sharp and pointed blade easily cuts through ligaments and connective tissue and separates it from the flesh.

It’s very useful to remove heavy bones from meat.

Since the blade surface is sturdy and somewhat rigid, it exerts enough pressure to cut through hard and tough cuts of meat.

In fillet knives, the blade is usually thinner. It’s also more flexible than a boning knife.

Additionally, the surface of the blade curves upwards and ends with a pointed tip.

This shape makes it quite easy to remove scales from the fish.

The structure and shape of the knife also make it easy to flex around the contours of the fish and obtain a clean fillet without damaging the delicate meat.

Since fillet knives are thin, they cannot handle as much force as a boning knife.

However, a fillet knife’s cutting belly is larger than that of a boning knife.

4. Type of meat that they can be used with differs.


One of the main factors to consider when choosing a boning knife or fillet knife is the type of meat to cut.

You can use a boning knife for fish and meat.

It works with both. However, a fillet knife is meant to be used only with fish.

It has a thinner but more flexible blade. Although sharp, it can’t endure much pressure.

So fillet knives aren’t great for cutting into the tough and strong flesh of the meat.

Applying too much force can damage or break the blade.

Since fish is delicate and soft, it’s not a problem. Fillet knives can easily cut through them.

Fillet knives are usually more flexible than boning knives because they allow superior precision while handling.

This makes it easier to work with small cuts of meat like chicken and fish with thin and small bones.

5. Boning Knives Are Made of Harder Material

Boning knives must cut through tough cartilage, ligament, and bones of heavy cuts of meat.

It’s typically used to cut mutton and beef, which are tougher than fish and poultry.

So the knife should be sturdy and withstand pressure.

It should also be rigid and not too flexible to ensure a neat and precise cut where required.

To meet these requirements, hard metal alloys like iron and carbon steel are usually used for the construction of boning knives.

Sometimes, they are also made of heavy stainless steel.

Boning knives made of thin and flimsy metals rarely serve the purpose.

They can also be dangerous and cause injuries.

Meanwhile, fillet knives can’t deal with tough cuts of meat.

They are typically used to fillet fish, which is delicate meat.

You can easily cut through fish when the knife is sharp.

It doesn’t have to be hard. So, fillet knives can be made of thinner metal.

6. Fillet knives are always corrosion-resistant.

Fillet knives are widely used to prep fish. This means that they are around moisture and used in wet environments.

For this reason, fillet knives are always built of corrosion-resistant metal alloys like stainless steel.

Since iron rusts easily, fillet knives are usually not made with it.

Corrosion-resistant steel is easier to clean, and it has a smooth surface. So it needs less polishing and sharpening.

Well-crafted fillet knives are usually made of high-performance metal alloys like stainless steel.

However, they aren’t always intended for use in wet environments.

So these can be made using other metals like iron also.

7. Different boning knives have differing levels of flexibility.

The blade of boning knives can differ according to their intended use.

They are built with differing levels of flexibility for different needs.

Since the knife’s main job is to cut meat away from the bone, always choose the knife that is best for a certain type of meat.

For instance, when cutting hard cuts like beef or mutton, the knife should be sturdy and firm.

Meanwhile, it can have a lighter and more flexible blade if you use it to cut fish and chicken.

Thinner knives are also handy for removing the silver sheen on the meat.

Fillet knives usually have the same shape and structure since they are mainly used only for cutting fish.

Further Reading:

8. Fillet knife blades must always be thin and flexible.

Cutting a fillet needs precision. So fillet knives are high-precision tools.

They must be of the right shape and very flexible to cut through fish bones and skin.

The angle of the blade should be precise to create neat cuts on the fish.

The blade is delicate and not meant for tougher cuts of meat.

Applying too much pressure while using a fillet knife can damage the blade.

Boning knives are generally sturdier than fillet knives. They come with varying levels of flexibility and sharpness.

So you can use a thin and flexible boning knife to cut fish if you don’t have a fillet knife.

However, the reverse shouldn’t be attempted since it can damage the fillet knife.

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