Skip to main content

How to Fillet Fish

After a little practice you'll find it's a snap to fillet a fish. Here's how to carve a neat fillet from a rounded fish such as salmon or trout.


  • Step 1: Use the right knife Use a knife designed specifically for cutting fish. A thin, flexible, very sharp knife is best to cut through and along bones without tearing the meat.
  • TIP: Don't use a serrated or electric knife to fillet a fish. It will shred the delicate flesh.
  • Step 2: Arrange the fish Place the fish with its belly facing away from you and its head to your left if you are right-handed, or to the right if you are left-handed.
  • Step 3: Make the first cut Cut into the fish just behind the gills, with the tip of the knife angled away from the fish's head. Slice from the belly to the top, and down to the spine but not through it.
  • Step 4: Cut along the spine Slide the knife blade along the spine toward the tail. Use a sawing motion, severing the rib bones as you go. The knife should scrape the backbone as you cut.
  • TIP: Most of the meat is on the top half of the fish.
  • Step 5: Flip the fish Stop before you get to the tail, leaving the fillet attached. Flip the fish over, leaving the just-cut fillet on the bottom to support the backbone as you cut the second fillet.
  • Step 6: Cut the second fillet Repeat the process on the second side. This time cut through without stopping at the tail. Then flip it back and cut the first fillet free.
  • TIP: The skin can be removed or left on while cooking the fillet.
  • Step 7: Remove the rib and pin bones Slide the knife under the rib bones on top of each fillet to shave them off. Then run your fingertip or knife over each fillet to raise the pin bones. Remove these with the needle-nose pliers or tweezers.
  • FACT: Hawaii is the top state in weekly McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sales. Ohio is second.

You Will Need

  • A sharp knife with a long thin blade
  • A fish
  • Needle-nose pliers or tweezers

Popular Categories