What Is a Boning Knife Used For?

Published on June 13, 2023 | 0 Comments
What is a boning knife used for
Our editorial team recommends the best products through independent research, selection and careful review. Prices are subject to change.

Though the name is pretty direct, you may have wondered exactly what a boning knife is used for. Chefs who are unfamiliar with this multifunctional tool may take its potential at face value, only hauling it out of the drawer when roasts or chops are on the menu. In reality, a boning knife serves more functions than its label suggests, because as any creative chef knows, the best kitchen knives always have more than one use!

So what is a boning knife used for, aside from the obvious? While the possibilities for these types of kitchen knives may be practically endless, there are specific tasks where a boning knife comes to the rescue better than any other knife in your kit. We've put together an informative knife guide that answers the question "What is a boning knife used for?" with a variety of ideas for putting this flexible implement to work in your kitchen.


 Jump to Section

Shop Top Cutlery Loved by Chefs
Update your cutlery collection with knives a cut above the rest. Shop chef's knives, steak knives, paring knives and more.
Shop Now

What Is a Boning Knife?

At its core, a boning knife is a specialized blade intended to remove bones from cuts of meat. The blade is generally five to six inches long, with a narrow profile that's a little more than half the width of a chef's knife or a santoku. The gentle curve and pointed tip of a boning knife gives the impression of a sword, with some blades bending upward. The purpose of this shape is to make it easier for chefs to sweep under skin and slide as close to bone as possible. 

The best constructed boning knives provide a full tang, meaning one piece of metal from tip to base, which offers strength and durability. A boning knife's fine tip and keen edge allow surgical control, a must when separating the best bits of beef, chicken and fish from the less desirable parts.

What is a boning knife used for
via Canva


You may have questioned what a boning knife is used for after finding one in your knife block. If your collection doesn't include one, picking up a piece to add to your arsenal is a great way to familiarize yourself with what a boning knife is used for and how multifunctional it can be. 

A great candidate for getting a better handle on the uses of a boning knife is the Zwilling Pro 5.5" Flexible Boning Knife. This sturdy piece measures in at 12.6 inches, with a 5.5-inch full tang blade of ice-hardened high carbon stainless steel and a triple riveted polymer handle. The price fits squarely within the market range of between $5.00 and $300.00 for boning knives of varying quality. Superior Zwilling design and manufacturing means you have a prime tool to help with boning, skinning and other kitchen jobs that call for sharp and steady cutting. 

Zwilling Pro 5.5-inch Flexible Boning Knife
via Zwilling

Uses for a Boning Knife 

More than any other knife in your collection, understanding what a boning knife is used for can add precision and finesse to your cooking. Of course, the most conventional purpose is slicing meat away from bones in a variety of dishes. Trimming ribs, deboning sirloin and carving ham are where the possibilities of a boning knife shine through best. Having a slim blade with a prominent taper lets you insert the knife as close to the bone as possible and draw a precise line along the bone's contours. This level of control means cleaner knife cuts that separate as much meat from the bone as possible.

Shop Like a Chef in the Cozymeal Shop
Shop premium knives from the brands you love, used and approved by world-class chefs.
Shop Now

When it comes to using a boning knife for poultry, you'll find this same technical finesse comes to the rescue in recipes that call for deboned chicken and turkey. And a boning knife is also a champ at removing skin, connective tissue and gristle, giving you a cleaner finished dish. These elements can be tougher to slice through cleanly with a larger blade. But what is a boning knife used for if not disconnecting the substances that connect the bone to the meat?

man deboning boiled ham
via Canva

Once you get used to the feel of a boning knife, your imagination will open up to other possibilities. Think of your boning knife as a multi-use implement that comes in handy when a small blade with substantial length is the only tool that will work. Some clever uses you may find surprising include:  

  • Slicing fruit: A boning knife is ideal for slicing fruit that needs a little more delicacy, such as mangoes, where the blade glides easily along either side of the pit and effortlessly removes soft flesh from the tough rind. With its precision tip custom-made for digging into tight spots, you can add coring apples and pears to the catalog of what a boning knife is used for as well. And for the artful chef, hollowing out watermelon halves is an equally simple task for a boning knife, allowing steady interior trimming for decorative fruit bowls.

  • Scoring bread: Adding elegant line work to your luscious loaves may seem surprising when considering what a boning knife is used for. But the slim edge and fine point work like a scalpel, slicing through dough in a controlled manner that lets you express your culinary artistry. Using a boning knife for slicing delicate pastry patterns and rolled fondant designs eliminates the need for including additional blades in your cutlery collection.

  • Carving cakes: Creating shaped cakes poses unique challenges that only a boning knife can address. Where a chef's knife can be too broad for making refined cuts and a paring knife may be too small, a boning knife provides the perfect shaped blade for making measured cuts without slicing off too much. This nimble knife works best when your cake is well-chilled or even frozen, allowing removal of unwanted sponge to create any sculptural creation your imagination can cook up.  

Shop Top Cutlery Loved by Chefs
Update your cutlery collection with knives a cut above the rest. Shop chef's knives, steak knives, paring knives and more.
Shop Now
  • Filleting fish: If your blade is flexible enough, you can tack on "fillet fish" to your ever-growing uses for a boning knife in your own kitchen. Filleting knife blades are usually thinner than the blades on boning knives. But if all you have on hand is your boning knife, then a little ingenuity can fill the gap. The trick is to work your way around the bones, which you can also remove with your boning knife. While a filleting knife is the best tool for the job, careful cutting with a boning knife will let you improvise in a pinch.

The list of possibilities for what a boning knife is used for goes well beyond the expected functions implied by the name. Any cutting task that requires accuracy and control can be trusted to this practical piece, including the new purposes you come up with to expand the list of what a boning knife is used for. 

While chopping may call for a sturdy chef's knife and slicing might raise the need for a bread knife or a santoku, the field is wide open for adding novel uses of your own. All it takes is calling up this purposeful player into your cutlery A-team, and you can discover what a boning is used for for yourself!

For even more ways to elevate your kitchen, check out chef-recommended cutlery in the Cozymeal Shop.

About Cozymeal

Discover the best in culinary experiences and products on Cozymeal: From in-person cooking classes to virtual cooking & mixology classes to private chef meals and top-rated cookware — from world-class chefs, mixologists & more.

View All Experiences & Cookware on Cozymeal
Chef comments icon


Join the conversation.

Please Log In to leave a comment