Straight to the Level
There are few kitchen duties that carry me higher pleasure than breaking down a chicken. Not solely is it cheaper than shopping for poultry by the piece, nevertheless it additionally encourages me to make use of each bit. Once I’m completed with the meat, I nonetheless have the resource-rich trimmings with which I could make stock and render the fat. (Have you ever ever drizzled hen schmaltz over popcorn? Since you ought to.)
Certain, you possibly can conquer a hen with a chef’s knife—however a boning knife is particularly designed for the job. The lengthy blade can cleanly slice the breast off of the ribs in a couple of strokes, and the sharp tip will be inserted into the joints to separate the legs and wings. In fact, a boning knife shouldn’t be just for hen. It will also be used to take away the pores and skin from fish fillets, debone and trim silverskin off of pork roasts, and cut your own steaks. Robust-skinned produce like melons and squash? A boning knife can slice the thick rinds off with no drawback.
As a result of they can be utilized for a lot of duties, boning knife blades come on a scale from inflexible to downright flexible. Stiffer blades can stand as much as bigger cuts of meat and reduce by thick joints, whereas versatile knives are higher suited to element work. For many cooks (who aren’t coping with entire beef or pork primals at house), boning knives are extra versatile for chopping round smaller bones and sliding between joints, just like the aforementioned hen legs, or chopping a rack of lamb into chops.
For this evaluation, I targeted on boning knives with versatile blades that have been between 5 and 6.5 inches lengthy. Their prices ranged from $14 to $170. I most well-liked blades that have been extra pliant and judged them on their capability to contour round bones to entry the utmost quantity of meat. Whereas the form and stability of a knife’s deal with generally is a matter of private choice, I prioritized grip when my palms grew to become moist or greasy from what I used to be chopping. The competitors was tight, and nearly each mannequin had one thing that set it other than the remainder. The successful knives finally stood out as a result of they balanced all three of my prime elements: a razor-sharp edge, an agile blade, and a cushty grip.
The Winners, at a Look
The Victorinox knife was an all-around pleasure to make use of. Its blade was versatile sufficient to beat every activity with ease, plus it was tremendous sharp. The deal with was textured, which allowed for superior grip, even when my palms had water or grease on them.
This mannequin saved a eager edge all through testing and was essentially the most versatile of the lineup. It made bigger duties—like carving entire chickens or deboning a pork shoulder—easy and quick.
- Blade Sharpness Exams: I used knowledgeable blade edge tester to measure the sharpness of every knife proper out of the field. I examined the entire edges once more on the finish to see if any dulled after use. I measured the pressure (in grams) needed for the knife to sever a calibrated plastic wire. The decrease the rating, the sharper the knife.
- Debone Rooster Thigh Check: I deboned a chicken thigh with every knife to find out its maneuverability and nimbleness. After this evaluation, solely the highest-performing knives moved onto the next checks.
- Trim Pork Tenderloin Check (Winners-Solely): To measure management, I trimmed a pork tenderloin with every knife and judged how properly it might cleanly take away skinny layers of fats and silverskin.
- Bone-In Pork Shoulder Check (Winners-Solely): I deboned and butterflied a pork shoulder with every knife to check its capability to dexterously navigate and flex round a big, multi-sided bone. I additionally trimmed off extra fats and silverskin across the remaining meat.
- Rotisserie Rooster Check (Winners-Solely): I carved store-bought rotisserie chickens with the highest performers. With every mannequin, I noticed how deft it was at slipping by cartilage to separate joints. I additionally assessed if the blade’s flexibility allowed it to curve across the breast bones to yield as a lot usable meat as potential. Lastly, I famous if the knife’s deal with grew to become slippery after it was coated in grease from the hen.
- Cleansing and Usability Exams: I hand-washed and dried the knives after every take a look at to judge how simple they have been to scrub and if any displayed rusting or staining. Whereas a couple of of the fashions examined have been technically dishwasher secure, hand-washing was strongly really helpful for all of them—and it’s what we advocate right here at Critical Eats. I additionally judged every knife on how comfy and pure it felt in my hand throughout use.
What We Discovered
Better Flexibility Was Higher for Getting Round Bones
Throughout testing, I most well-liked blades that have been supple and that simply flexed whereas slicing. The ZWILLING Pro 5.5-inch Flexible Boning Knife and Victorinox Fibrox Pro 6-Inch Boning Knife have been each nice examples of this—they completely conformed to the breast and rib bones within the rotisserie hen take a look at to slice off each little bit of chicken.
The Global 6.25” Boning Knife was essentially the most versatile of the bunch. Its lengthy blade was capable of contour across the massive, twisted bone of the pork shoulder with out problem. Then again, the Wüsthof Classic 5” Boning Knife made the duty troublesome. Its quick size and lightweight flexibility have been nice for deboning hen thighs and trimming pork loin, nevertheless it didn’t have the attain or the litheness to slice across the pork scapula with out carving out additional meat.
Straight Blades Had been Simpler to Use
Two of the fashions I examined had curved spines that arched upwards towards the tip: the Shun Cutlery Premier 6” Boning & Fillet Knife and the Messermeister Pro Series 6-inch Flexible Curved Boning Knife. This can be a frequent silhouette for each boning and filleting knives because it creates an extended backside edge with out making the knife really feel prolonged and unbalanced. It may well make some particular duties simpler—for instance, eradicating the pores and skin from a protracted piece of fish—because it permits the knife to chop additional alongside the meat in a single, clean stroke. I most well-liked the flexibility of straighter knives, although, which had degree spines from tip to bolster. The straight blades have been extra predictable and simpler to maneuver round small hen bones. Their ideas have been additionally higher at eradicating pockets of fats and made it simple to insert the blades into hard-to-reach joints.
Deal with Design Was Necessary for Consolation and Security
As with all knives, what makes a deal with really feel comfy varies relying on who’s holding it. In distinction with a chef’s knife the place you principally preserve a single grip from begin to end, I appeared for boning knife handles that made it simple to alternate my maintain relying on which route I used to be chopping. This helped after I was urgent the blade towards a bone, trimming off a horizontal layer of silverskin, or directing the tip down right into a joint.
I liked the rounded deal with of the Kasumi Flexible Boning Knife and will simply shift my maintain on it when it was dry. As soon as my hand acquired moist, although, it grew to become troublesome to get a secure grasp on the graceful, cylindrical deal with. Comparatively, the Dexter Russell Sani-Safe 6” Flexible Boning Knife had a tough textured deal with that made it really feel safe, however its outsized bolster and indented deal with made it awkward to maneuver round.
The Victorinox supplied the perfect center floor. Its thermoplastic rubber deal with was grippy sufficient to really feel safe (even when it was coated in hen fats) whereas its rounded form was comfy to reposition in my hand. The chrome steel deal with of the World did get a little bit slippery in the course of the rotisserie hen take a look at, however the dimples within the deal with helped present sufficient grip so it didn’t grow to be dangerously slick.
Sharper Was Higher
Unsurprisingly, boning knives that have been sharper carried out higher. The 2 sharpest knives have been the Wüsthof and the Victorinox, which each scored round 100 on the out-of-the-box sharpness take a look at (keep in mind, decrease scores are higher right here). Each of the knives simply slipped by cartilage and beneath skinny silverskin, and so they weren’t the one ones. Greater than half of the fashions maintained a sharpness rating beneath 150, even after chopping towards bones in later checks. Duller knives just like the Dexter Russell and the BergHOFF Soft Grip 6” Narrow Flexible Boning Knife had a tough time slicing by slippery hen pores and skin and beneath skinny layers of fats, so that they have been shortly knocked out within the early rounds of testing.
The Standards: What to Search for in a Boning Knife
boning knife ought to have a blade that’s supple sufficient to curve round bones and cleanly slice off meat. Its backbone needs to be straight slightly than curved for higher accuracy and ease of use. The sharper the knife’s edge, the higher it’s at separating joints and trimming off fats or silverskin. Rounded handles make the knife extra comfy to carry and shift positions, whereas a grippy texture gives additional security from slips.
What we preferred: Like lots of its rivals, this knife was tremendous sharp. It effortlessly sliced by joints and shaved off silverskin and fats with out chopping away extra meat. It had sufficient flexibility to contour round bones, each massive and small. However what actually set it above the remainder was its deal with, which was textured and offered grip even when it was moist or coated with hen fats.
What we didn’t like: Though the rubberized deal with texture offered a safe grip, I discovered the broad deal with to be a tad cumbersome.
Value at time of publish: $22.
- Weight: 2.85 ounces (81 grams)
- Deal with materials: Thermoplastic rubber
- Blade materials: Excessive carbon chrome steel
- Blade size: 6 inches
- Blade peak at broadest half: 0.75 inches
- Backbone thickness at widest level: 1.25 millimeters
- Deal with size: 5 inches
- Deal with width at widest level: 1.25 inches
- Out-of-the-box sharpness common: 102 (utility razor blade-sharp)
- After-testing sharpness common: 125
What we preferred: This knife’s sharp edge took no coaxing to slice into thick pork shoulder and trim off skinny items of silverskin. The World additionally had essentially the most versatile blade of the lineup, which hugged hen and pork bones because it glided round them.
What we didn’t like: This knife is made out of a single piece of chrome steel. Whereas the unbolstered deal with is dimpled to offer some grip, the steel nonetheless acquired a little bit slippery when my hand was moist. The flexible blade was additionally fairly lengthy. This makes it preferrred for turkey, pork, or filleting entire fish, however much less suited to small duties like deboning single hen thighs. In comparison with the Victorinox, it’s additionally fairly expensive.
Value at time of publish: $110.
- Weight: 4.4 ounces (125 grams)
- Deal with & blade materials: CROMOVA 18 chrome steel (a mix of chromium, molybdenum, and vanadium that’s unique to GLOBAL)
- Blade size: 6.25 inches
- Blade peak at broadest half: 0.75 inches
- Backbone thickness at widest level: 2 millimeters
- Deal with size: 5 inches
- Deal with width at widest level: 1.13 inches
- Out-of-the-box sharpness common: 115 (utility razor blade-sharp)
- After-testing sharpness common: 115
- ZWILLING Pro 5.5-inch Flexible Boning Knife: This mannequin made it to the ultimate spherical and carried out almost in addition to the winners in each take a look at. Its shorter blade made it simple to maneuver and had related flexibility to the Victorinox. It was costlier than each winners, although, and never fairly as sharp. Its deal with additionally grew to become a little bit slippery in the course of the rotisserie hen take a look at.
- Kasumi Flexible Boning Knife: The Kasumi had a honed edge and effortlessly flexed its manner across the bone within the pork shoulder take a look at. Its main draw back was its clean, cylindrical deal with, which grew to become not possible to get a safe grasp on when it was moist.
- BergHOFF Soft Grip 6” Narrow Flexible Boning Knife: The BergHOFF had the dullest fringe of the lineup earlier than and after testing, which made it much less clean when chopping by pores and skin and cartilage.
- Wüsthof Classic 5” Boning Knife: Though its edge acquired the perfect rating within the sharpness checks (only a hair sharper than our total winner), the shorter blade was not dextrous sufficient to maneuver across the bone within the pork shoulder with out eradicating additional items of meat.
- Shun Cutlery Premier 6” Boning & Fillet Knife: The Shun knife was eager and gorgeous in look, however the curved blade was unyieldingly inflexible and troublesome to make use of for exact cuts.
- Messermeister Pro Series 6-inch Flexible Curved Boning Knife: Though it was much less stiff than the Shun mannequin, I nonetheless discovered the curved tip of the Messermeister awkward to purpose and maneuver in the course of the hen thigh take a look at.
- Mercer Culinary Renaissance Flexible Boning Knife: This mannequin’s efficiency didn’t stand out from its rivals. It was decently versatile however had some bother chopping by slippery hen thigh pores and skin.
- Dexter Russell Sani-Safe 6” Flexible Boning Knife: The deal with on this knife was constructed for security: it had a thick bolster guard separating one’s hand from the blade and was textured to offer grip. Sadly, it additionally felt clunky and hindered dexterity.
What’s a boning knife used for?
Boning knives are used for deboning, trimming, and slicing all types of animal (or fish) proteins. Their slender blades can vary from inflexible (for chopping by thick cartilage) to versatile (for bending between bones and the encompassing meat). The knives will be straight or curved upwards on the backbone. One of many defining options of a boning knife is its small, sharp tip, which is designed to be inserted down into joints to sever the connective tissues inside.
What’s the finest dimension for a boning knife?
Boning knives are usually between 5 to seven inches lengthy. The very best dimension relies on person choice and activity: longer knives can have a higher vary of flexibility and are finest for deboning beef, pork, recreation meats, and breaking down entire poultry or fish. Shorter knives are sometimes much less versatile and are adept at deboning hen legs, filleting small fish, and even peeling hardy fruits like pineapple.
What’s one of the best ways to scrub a boning knife?
Hand-washing is really helpful for all knives. Use gentle dish cleaning soap, a non-scratch sponge, and heat water. As soon as the knife is clear, dry it instantly to forestall rusting. Retailer all knives in a protected place, like on a magnetic knife strip or in a cork-lined dock, to forestall harm to your blades (and fingers).
How do you sharpen a boning knife?
Contact with arduous surfaces like bones can boring a knife’s edge shortly, so it’s necessary to maintain your boning knife sharp to maintain it working effectively. You should utilize a whetstone to sharpen your blade at house. Whetting any knife at house can take apply; the method varies relying on the form and materials of the person knife, in addition to private choice for bevel and edge end. When you don’t have the time or tools to sharpen at house, knowledgeable sharpener can expertly file the blade for you. Both manner, we advocate a honing rod for sustaining the sting between sharpenings.
What’s the distinction between a boning knife and a filleting knife?
Boning and filleting knives look very related and are sometimes used interchangeably. Each have lengthy, skinny blades—the sides of which will be both curved or straight. Boning knives are usually barely thicker and sturdier so that they stand as much as arduous bones and denser cuts of meat. They are often versatile, stiff, or someplace in between. Filleting knives are normally longer than boning knives (in addition to extra versatile) and are primarily used for eradicating the pores and skin and bones from delicate items of fish.