Every well-stocked kitchen needs a boning knife. This type of knife is just right for cutting through fat and cartilage to remove meat from bones. It works on both cooked and raw meat. To find the best boning knives for your kitchen, check out the top-rated cutlery below.
Selecting the Best Boning Knife
Whether you are looking for the best boning knife for deer, beef, fish or poultry, you want your knife to be sharp, strong and durable. However, not every type of meat requires the exact same knife. Rather, it’s a good idea to become familiar with knives and their various characteristics so you can pick the one that is best for each of your meat-cutting needs.
1. Blade Material
Most of the best boning knives are made of some type of steel. Not all steel is the same, however. You’re most likely to come across a knife that’s made of one of these three varieties:
- Carbon steel: When carbon is added to iron, the result is carbon steel. These blades are renowned for their cutting edges that stay sharp for a long time. However, they require special care or they will rust or stain. Seasoning a carbon steel blade can improve its durability.
- Stainless steel: Chromium pairs with carbon steel to form stainless steel. It’s tricky to get as sharp of an edge on stainless steel as you can get with carbon steel, and this material is harder to sharpen. However, stainless steel is prized for its durability; it doesn’t quickly rust or degrade. This is one of the most common knife materials, especially for home use.
- High-carbon stainless steel: Some stainless steel has a greater portion of carbon than standard stainless steel. The result is what’s known as high-carbon stainless steel. Some chefs believe that this material is best for both maintaining a sharp edge and holding up against rust.
One of the knife characteristics to which you must pay the most attention is how flexible the blade is. A rigid blade could be too rough on delicate pieces of meat. On the other hand, an extremely flexible blade won’t be up to the challenge of slicing through tough roasts. A knife that’s too flexible for the job might even snap in half.
Blade flexibility is one of the primary reasons that you can’t use the same boning knife for every job. You need a flexible knife for some cuts of meat, such as fish and poultry, and you need a sturdy boning knife for other cuts, such as beef and venison.
Boning knives are typically fairly slim, and they have S-shaped blades. The length of these blades can vary, but this shouldn’t be the longest knife in your cutlery collection. Some are as short as 5 inches, and others extend to a little over 6 inches.
In some ways, blade length is a matter of personal preference. However, a shorter blade will probably afford you greater control. Therefore, if you’re doing work in which precision is paramount, such as deboning fish, it’s a good idea to stick with a blade that’s pretty close to 5 inches in length.
The tang of a knife describes the relationship between the blade and the handle. In a full-tang knife, the metal of the blade extends through the entire length of the handle. It may also extend through the full width of the handle. Some full-tang knives are constructed of a single piece of metal. If the blade and the handle are made of two different materials, the handle may be riveted to the blade.
In a partial-tang knife, the metal blade material goes only partway through the handle. It may be riveted in place or held with some type of epoxy. There are various styles of partial-tangs, including rat-tail, hidden and tapered tangs.
As a general rule, full-tang knives are the sturdiest style, and those made of a single piece of metal won’t trap bacteria in the cracks where two materials meet. Even still, many partial-tang blades will hold up through year after year of use.
It’s important for a blade to feel comfortable in your hand. Cutting a piece of meat, especially if it’s a large portion of beef or deer meat, can take a while. A blade that is too heavy can quickly wear out the muscles of your hand. Even a lightweight one can cause undue strain on your hand if its handle isn’t ergonomically designed.
This is not just a matter of comfort; it can directly relate to how safe a knife is. A knife that’s hard to hold properly can easily slip out of your hand, even if you are using proper boning knife technique.
Therefore, it’s usually a good idea to purchase kitchen knives with a mid-range weight. For proper balance, the handle should be just a bit heavier than the blade. Furthermore, the handle should be made of a material that is comfortably smooth without being slick, and it should be rounded and not too slim.
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Best Boning Knives Picked by Expert Cooks
Now that you know what to look for in a boning knife, it’s time to start shopping for the ones that are right for your kitchen needs. The following best boning knife review list can help guide your selection process.
1. Zelite Infinity 6-inch Boning Knife
The Zelite Infinity knife features a full-tang blade that’s made of high-carbon stainless steel from Japan. Its razor-sharp blade resists dulling, rusting and staining. It’s riveted to the handle in three places. The handle is curved for a comfortable grip.
This stiff boning knife is ideal for use on tough cuts of meat, making it the best boning knife for deer or beef. It is 6 inches long, which is good for large roasts, and it weighs a comfortable 5 ounces.
The boning knife features Damascus-style steel. This means that it made of multiple layers of metal that come together in an eye-catching pattern.
Zelite Infinity is a relatively new company that has been expanding in popularity. In response growing to consumer demand, the company announced plans in 2016 open to a new manufacturing plant with increased capacity.
2. Fibrox Flexible 6-inch Boning Knife
This Victorinox boning knife is angled to a point on both sides so that the edge forms a razor-sharp “V.” This precision knife is crafted from durable carbon steel, so you can trust it to stay sharp for a long time.
The handle is made of Victorinox’s Fibrox material. It’s textured to help you grip the handle securely while you slice. To further enhance your hands’ comfort, this 6-inch knife weighs just 3.2 ounces.
This blade is made to be flexible, so it’s a top boning knife for fish since its narrow tip maneuvers easily around fine bones. It is also handy for removing the scales from seafood.
This particular kitchen utensil has long been one of Cook’s Illustrated’s most recommended choices in its best boning knife buying guide.
3. Mercer Culinary Genesis Forged Boning Knife
Your hands will thank you for the safety features that are built into this boning knife from Mercer Culinary’s Genesis line. This is a forged blade, so it features a bolster, which is a thicker portion of the metal that’s designed to keep your fingers away from the cutting edge. In addition, this knife has a Santoprene handle that provides a non-slip grip.
The Mercer knife is made of high-carbon stainless steel from Germany. It features a taper-ground edge, which is considered strong and easy to keep sharp. As a full-tang knife, it has metal that extends through the full length of the ergonomic handle.
This knife is 6 inches long and weighs 6.4 ounces. It has a stiff blade that’s best for cutting sturdy meat, such as beef. The Genesis line includes a separate flexible boning knife for delicate jobs.
4. Dalstrong Gladiator Series Boning Knife
High-carbon German steel and elegant polished-wood handles make the Dalstrong Gladiator knife a thing of beauty. Even better, it’s strong, thanks to full-tang construction and triple-riveting.
These knives are made in China, and like many Asian knives, they feature a cutting angle of about 15 degrees. Cook’s Illustrated claims that this angle creates a cleaner, neater cut than the 20-degree angle used for most Western knives.
This Dalstrong tool is designed to be flexible. According to Fine Cooking, boning knives with flexible blades are one of chef Charlie Foster’s most-used kitchen tools.
Despite its flexibility, the Dalstrong Gladiator boning knife doesn’t give too much wiggle. Its combination of strength and flexibility makes it a great choice for trimming fat and bones from pork.
This 6-inch knife is the heaviest entry in this lineup but still comes in at a manageable 6.6 ounces.
5. Mercer Culinary Millennia Curved Boning Knife
If you’re looking for an introductory boning knife, turn to this one from the Mercer Culinary Millenia line. Mercer is known for providing knives to cooking schools throughout North America.
Despite its low price point, this knife is made of high-carbon stainless steel from Japan, so it resists rust and damage. Its textured handle is made of a mix of Santoprene and polypropylene, which makes it both comfortable and long-lasting. The ergonomic plastic handle is available in a range of colors and has a sloped finger guard.
This is a rigid knife, so it’s best for jobs that require a tough blade. You can use it on beef and pork, and it’s also a good choice for large pieces of poultry, such as chicken thighs.
The Millenia boning knife has a 6-inch blade and weighs a moderate 5.4 ounces.
How to Care for a Boning Knife
If you buy one of the best boning knives, it’s important to keep it in great shape so it will continue to deliver excellent performance. With proper care, your cutlery should last for many years to come.
- Wash right away: Food residue left on a knife can break down its surface. Salty and acidic foods are especially damaging.
- Hand-wash knives: Although some brands claim to be dishwasher-safe, all knives will fare better with hand washing.
- Dry immediately: Even stainless knives can rust if exposed to moisture for too long.
- Store properly: A knife block or a sheath will protect both the sharp cutting edge and your fingers.
- Use the right cutting board: Stick to hardwood or plastic boards. Bamboo isn’t good on your knives.
- Season steel: Use mineral oil or a similar product to give your blades a protective coating.
- Avoid bone: Cutting through bones will dull your blades. Work around bones instead.
Boning Knife Vs. Fillet Knife
Many people mix up the terms “boning knife” and “fillet knife.” Although these two types of knives are similar, they aren’t interchangeable terms.
A boning knife’s primary job is to separate meat and bones. A fillet knife’s main task is cutting meat into sliced portions called filets. Both knives can be used to cut the skin off of meat.
A boning knife has a wider blade than a fillet knife. Fillet knives are extremely narrow and pointy so they can fit in small spaces. While boning knives may be rigid or flexible, fillet knives are always quite flexible. Therefore, they’re often used for cutting fish.
Both knives play important roles in your kitchen. However, if you can afford only one, consider a middle-of-the-road flexible boning knife.
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Which of the products in this best boning knife review belongs in your kitchen? If you often cut beef or pork, select a rigid knife like the Zelite Infinity. If you prefer fish and chicken consider a flexible blade like the Dalstrong Gladiator. Whichever you choose, take good care of your knife, and it will be your cooking partner for years to come.