As the saying goes, use the right tools to do the right job. A chef’s knife may be an excellent all-purpose workhorse in the kitchen, but they aren’t the right tool for breaking down poultry and slicing cuts of meat away from the bone when it comes to prep work. For this, you need a boning knife.
Boning knives are slim blades specifically designed for the precision work of cutting around bones. They make it less likely you’ll leave some tasty morsels of flesh behind, so not only will your food taste better, but you’ll also get the most out of every cut.
There are many things to consider when choosing a boning knife, including the length, type of handle and overall construction. You’ll also need to decide if you prefer a stiff blade, like can be found on the Shun DM-0743 Classic, or if you prefer a more flexible one.
Asian and western knives aren’t just different in style, but in composition too. The metal alloys used in Asian knives are usually harder, which means they can get sharper and hold their edge better. However, this also means they are more difficult to sharpen. Conversely, western knives use softer alloys, making them less likely to chip and easier to resharpen at home. We should also note that while nearly all western knives use stainless steel, some Asian blades are carbon steel, which is prone to rust if not cared for properly.
The majority of boning knives have blades between 5 and 6 inches long. However, if you search hard enough, you can also find some 7-inch models available. While not necessary and overkill for most people, those who often work with substantial cuts of meat may find a 7-inch boning knife a better choice.
In many categories, it isn’t necessary to take the brand into account, but it should be a consideration when choosing a knife. This is because there is a proliferation of obscure companies offering eye-catching blades at amazing prices but of extremely low quality. For this reason, it is best to stick with brands that have a reputation for making reliable blades.
The construction of a knife plays a significant role in how durable it is. If you want the strongest knife possible, look for a forged model that has a full tang. Lesser quality models will have stamped blades and a partial tang glued in using an adhesive, rather than a mechanical connection with rivets or a butt plate as with most full-tang knives.
The handle shapes of knives vary greatly from thick and blocky to rounded or elliptical. You can also find contoured and non-contoured options. This is because not everyone finds the same type of handle comfortable. You may already know your handle preference from using other knives you own, but if not, test out some of your friends' kitchen knives or head into a store and hold a couple to see what you like.
Boning knife blades can be mostly straight with a slight taper as they get to the tip, or they may curve backward deeply from the bolster to the tip. Some find the former allows for more precision work, while others like the arched design because it feels more adept at skinning and trimming the fat.
The most important thing when choosing a boning knife, the most important thing is functionality, but every home cook and professional chef takes appearance into account when picking their knives. Consider how much you like the appearance of both the blade and the handle. You can find relatively plain options with a basic satin finish and black resin handle or eye-catching models with Damascus, dimpled or mirrored blades and wood or even bone handles.
You can find boning knives for as little as $10. However, these are of low quality and don’t tend to last long. If you want a knife that can stand up to a couple of years of use, expect to spend at least $20. Those looking for a boning knife that can last a lifetime will need to spend $75-$200.
A. Generally speaking, boning knives are slightly thicker and less flexible than filet knives, even those specifically marketed as flexible. That said, some people do use them interchangeably and if you aren’t regularly deboning cuts of meat and filleting fish, it may not be necessary to have both in your kitchen arsenal.
A. It is best to hand wash any sharp knife used for prep work for two reasons. First, they often get knocked against other silverware in the dishwasher, resulting in premature dulling of the blade. Second, it can potentially cause the blade to corrode or the handle to deteriorate.
What you need to know: Few boning knives so perfectly balance form and function as this striking option from Shun, which has an eye-catching Damascus blade and pakkawood handle.
What you’ll love: It utilizes hard Japanese steel that retains its edge well through plenty of use. Plus, it comes with free factory sharpening for life.
What you should consider: Some may prefer a slightly more flexible blade.
What you need to know: Surprisingly affordable for a model from a company well-known for making top-quality knives, the Henckels Classic should be the go-to choice for home chefs on a budget.
What you’ll love: The triple-riveted handle is solid and comfortable to grasp, and the fully forged blade is durable and has a stain-resistant satin finish.
What you should consider: The blade is skinny, making it best for those who prefer a lot of flexibility in their boning knife.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: Though many people may be unfamiliar with the makers of this boning knife, the company is lauded by chefs for their ultra-durable blades that come razor-sharp and this particular knife is no different.
What you’ll love: It is available in stiff and flexible options to suit your preference, both of which have a seamless transition from the handle to the blade.
What you should consider: It’s not as stylish as some may want for the price.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.