If you are a vegetarian you might want to stop reading now, not that I have anything against vegetarians simply because in this article I’m going to be talking about some of the best boning knives that are typically used on raw meat to remove bones. If you’re not a vegetarian then great, get yourself a big pot of coffee, sit in your favorite chair and let’s begin.
The boning knife is just as the name implies, a knife primarily for removing bones from meat. To be honest, they can actually be used for much more than deboning but more on that later. The best boning knife offers just the right amount of flex in the blade to help get into hard to reach crevices to remove bone and meat. Boning knives come with both flexible and stiff blades so it’s important to make sure you get the right knife for the job. For example, a more flexible boning knife is going to be better suited for poultry, game and even fish (yes I know you can also use a fillet knife for fish). Whereas a boning knife with a stiffer blade is the best knife for deboning large cuts of beef.
Personally I prefer to use a larger butcher knife on large cuts of beef and keep a boning knife for more intricate tasks, but hey each to their own.
Time to Debone: 4 of the Best Boning Knives
In this article I have handpicked some of the best boning knives I own or have used at some point in the past. I don’t like to recommend anything that I haven’t actually held and used. If and when I discover new boning knives I will update this list so make sure you keep checking back to see if I have added anything new.
Victorinox 6-inch Boning Knife
At the top of my list is the Victorinox boning knife, it’s cheap (under$30 at the time of writing), light, and has a great flexible blade, let’s take a closer look.
The Victorinox 6-inch boning knife is the first boning knife I actually owned and 12 years later it’s still going strong (albeit a little duller and worn). As a culinary student (back in the day) Victorinox were the knife of choice and you would be hard pushed to not find this brand of knife in any of the student’s knife bags.
The 6-inch flexible blade is perfect for separating meat, poultry and even fish from the bone with surgeon like precision. Unlike the more expensive boning knives that are typically forged (a more laborious manufacturing process) the Victorinox boning knife has been stamped mechanically from a cold-rolled steel sheet, this process helps to keep the costs down. The blade on the Victorinox 6-inch has been conically ground which gives the blade a razor sharp edge that won’t need sharpening for a long time.
Like 90% of Victorinox knives I have used, the handle has been made from a synthetic material that has been molded to the tang. The handle is slightly textured allowing for a better grip even with greasy or wet hands.
Global 6 ¼-inch Boning Knife (G-21)
The Global boning knife is one of my favorite boning knives at the moment and has replaced my aging Victorinox. It’s slightly longer than the Victorinox by a quarter of an inch, this extra length might not sound like a lot but I have found that it makes a big difference when trying to get into the crevice of a chicken carcass, for example. The blade on the Global “is all about the flex” it can bend nearly in two and seems to defy all laws of physics, joking aside it is frighteningly flexible making it a great knife for using with fish as well.
Unlike the cheap boning knife (Victorinox) above, the Global G-21 boning knife is almost double the price (at the time of writing) but what you are getting for that price is a far better knife, in my opinion. Firstly, the Global is forged rather than stamped and the quality of the steel used is some of the best you’ll find (high-tech Cromova stainless steel).
I’m left handed (yes I’m a lefty) but thanks to the double-beveled edge on this Global boning knife it fits my hand perfectly, this edge actually makes it the perfect boning knife for right and left handed users. Because the Global boning knife is basically one piece of forged steel there is no need to worry about the knife breaking where the handle meets the blade, as you often find with other cheap kitchen knives. Another added advantage of this design is hygiene, as there are no crevices or gaps where food and bacteria and get stuck. Talking about the handle, you have probably noticed the dimple textured design. This seems to be the trait of all Global knives and surprisingly I’m able to get a good grip on the knife, even more so when compared to the Victorinox.
Wüsthof Classic 6-inch Flexible Boning Knife
If you aren’t a fan of the modern look of the above Global the next best boning knife on-par with it is the Wüsthof, in my opinion. The Wüsthof boning knife has the look of a classic western style knife, with its triple-riveted handle for strength along with a hefty bolster giving the knife just the right amount of balance.
This knife isn’t cheap and at the time of writing the cost was just over $100 but for that price you are getting a great boning knife. The blade for one is totally hand forged and then it has been hand-honed (yes, someone has actually handled this knife during the manufacturing process) for a razor-like sharp edge, the edge of this knife straight out-of-the-box is ready to go, it’s dangerously sharp (you have been warned).
I have found that the blade on the Wüsthof boning knife seems to resist stains as well as corrosion and I have had mine now for a few years and it still looks to same as when I first removed it from it shop packaging. However, I’ll admit I don’t use it as much as the Global so it does get less use.
Shun Classic 6-inch Gokujo Fillet and Boning knife
The Shun 6-inch boning knife is on my wish list (hopefully the wife will get the hint) I already own the Shun chef knife (you can read more about it here) and slowly but surely I want to add to my collection.
The Shun boning knife isn’t cheap by any means but as that old saying goes you do “get what you pay for” and the Shun is a quality knife. Actually, the Gokujo is a dual purpose knife and the design makes it perfect for both deboning meat and filleting fish; it has been purposely made with both tasks in mind.
You probably won’t find a blade as nice as this anywhere else commercially unless you have a custom knife made; it has been laboriously hand forged and crafted from 33-layers of high-carbon stainless steel which gives it a lovely Damascus look. The 33-layers also make the blade strong, durable, rust free and the double-beveled edge also makes it perfect for both left and right handed users.
The handle on the Shun 6-inch boning knife is what stands out to me the most. It’s a d-shaped handle that is made out of wood/plastic composite material called Pakkawood. This man-made composite wood-like material is durable and is often used on objects that see a lot of wear and use. Shun have made the handle to closely resemble conventional wood and they have done a great job, at first glance you would think that it was real wood.
Does Size Matter?
When it comes to knives and especially boning knives size does matter. The size of the blade can mean the difference between effortlessly and elegantly removing a bone in a matter of seconds or spending over 10 minutes laboriously hacking away.
The best boning knives typically have a blade between 5 to 6.5 inches (but you’ll find some exceptions to this rule). Smaller boning knife blades are my preferred knife for deboning small poultry such as quail and chicken. If you don’t own a fish fillet knife a boning knife with a 6-inch blade or larger is also great alternative.
Like I said there are some exceptions to the size rule when it comes to boning knives. You can find blades as long 9-inches which are perfect for large pieces of meat. But for home use I don’t recommend these and they should be left in the hands of a professional butcher. The chances of you having to cut up a huge carcass of beef at home on your kitchen counter is very slim, you are better off asking your local butcher to do the hard work for you.
It’s All About the Flex!
The boning knife is very similar to a fish filleting knife, to be honest you’ll be hard pushed to see any real difference between the two knives. I don’t know how much truth there is in this but I find that fish fillet knives have much more flex in the blade when compared to the boning knife. I think this is so that the blade can get in between the flesh of the fish and the skin to add in removal (but don’t quote me on that).
Anyway back to boning knives, for the average person reading this you don’t really need to worry about how flexible the blade is on your boning knife. Honestly, if its labeled a boning knife 9 out of the 10 knives you pick up at your local store will be just right with when it come to the flex of the blade, I would be more concerned about the length of the blade as they can vary.