How to fillet a fish

In modern times, people have become increasingly busy with their daily life. This is why people always look for simpler solutions to everyday tasks. When purchasing a fish, you’ll find fishes that are always filleted to make cooking simpler. But, what is the fun in that? Filleting at home has some benefits that you might not want to miss. Filleting a fish for the first time requires quite a lot of effort; however, the effort in the cleaning stage is worth expanding because it will provide no bones in the eating phase. If you get habituated and got sufficient experience, you will be able to fillet a pile of fish very quickly like those professionals in the market. However, you need more experience and practice to go there.

Don’t worry if you cannot manage to get all the meat when you are filleting for the first time. The idea here is to get some experience for the first time. If you are going to skin the fish, you do not need to scale the fish first. Of course, if you need the skin, but make sure you properly scale it.

Benefits of Filleting Fish

Benefits of Filleting FishFilleting fish is a tiresome process and takes a lot of time, especially if you are filleting several fishes. So, is it worth it to fillet a fish at home? Of course! There are several benefits of filleting a fish before cooking. Filleted fish takes less time to cook and it’s easier to eat. There are several benefits of filleting fish at home. Let’s find out:

You Can Preserve The Freshness

Whole fish stays fresh for an extended amount of time than filleted fish in the fishmonger’s iced counter. Filleted fishes are easily exposed to nature and get contaminated with harmful bacteria. This reduces their freshness and you might get contaminated when you buy filleted fish from the store. On the contrary, buying whole fish ensures freshness and you have better chances of getting rid of the bacteria.

Filleting at Home Will Save Your Cash

When we buy filleted fish from the store, we pay an extra amount of money compared to buying a whole fish. Sometimes the cost is way higher. It is because fishmongers often buy whole fish from fishing boats and then they stiff skins, fillets and packs to make it ready for sale. This labor cost and profit are also included in the price tag. So, if you buy a whole fish and fillet it at home, you save a lot of money.

You Can Keep The Head, Wings And Frame

If you fillet your fish, you can keep the fish head, wings and frame which are tossed in the bin. You can use this fish parts to make some wonderful recipe such as fish wings can be used in making stock and also they are very delicious on the BBQ. For stock, you can also use the fish head and frame.

Delicious Taste

For the best taste, it is important to fillet the fish just before cooking. The fillet of fish ensures the best taste and you will have a delicious recipe. Filleting your fish at home makes it possible to have the delicious taste of freshly cut fish.

These are the overall benefits of filleting fish at home. After a few times of filleting, you might get interested in filleting fish on your own.

Tools for Filleting Fish

Tools for Filleting FishBefore learning about how to fillet a fish, let’s find out what tools are required. Filleting fish does not require a lot of tools. What it requires are some skill, patience and practice. However, there are several tools that you’d need to do the filleting easily and with perfection.

Filleting Knife

A filleting knife is a little longer than ordinary knives. A filleting knife with a flexible blade will allow you to move the knife easily between the fish’s flesh and bone. Make sure your filleting knife is sharp, or you will find it challenging to fillet a fish with your knife.


You might think what scissors will do in filleting fish. Well, scissors can help you to avoid a great deal of time and effort while filleting your fish. It is always easy to snip off the fins if you use sharp scissors.

Filleting Gloves

Filleting gloves are highly essential to prevent cuts and nicks to the hand. It also proves an excellent grip for slippery fish and fish fillets.

Tweezers or Fish Pliers

Tweezers are essential to remove pin bones from the fillets of the fish. If you don’t find tweezers, you can use fish pliers.

Scale Remover

A lot of people do not like to eat the skin of the fish. Some people do not remove it as it creates a different taste and flavor. If you want to keep the skin, you need to scale the fish. Scaling using a knife is a tiresome process and it requires a longer time if you’re going to scale the fish thoroughly. A good quality scale remover can relive you from this suffering. Removing scales using a scale remover is easy and it takes a little amount of time to scale a fish with it completely.

Cutting Board

Before started filleting the fish make sure you are going to put the fish on a hard non-sleepy surface. An average or large size of cutting board can help you here. It will also save your workplace from getting dirty.

These are the main equipment you need to fillet your fish. However, you can still use a different set of equipment or more equipment to fillet your fish. The tools are mentioned here are most common and mostly used.

How to Fillet a Fish: Step By Step Guide

How to Fillet a Fish Step By Step GuideFilleting fish is fun when you know how to fillet a fish and you have the right tools. Filleting at home ensures the freshness and high quality which is essential to increase the taste and food value. In this section, I will discuss the procedures of filleting fish step by step so that you can understand properly how to fillet a fish.

These procedures are best suited for round fish which include mackerel, sea bream, mullet, haddock, sea bass, snapper,john dory and pollack. While filleting around fish make sure you have a slightly flexible and really sharp knife.

Scale the Fish

Scale the FishIt is essential to scale the fish first unless you want to remove the skin. If you want to remove the skin of the fish, you do not need to scale it. However, whether you want to skin it or not, make sure you have rinsed the fish with a lot of water and then pat dry.

Use Scissors to Remove Fins

Use Scissors to Remove FinsAfter cleaning and scaling, put the fish on the cutting board. Using a good scissor cut the fins of either side of the head. Then trim off any fins from the top the underneath of the fish.

Remove the Stomach

Remove the StomachPierce the fish’s stomach with the tip of your knife; cutting from tail to head. Cut open the stomach and clean the contents of it. Rinse the fish with cold water and return to the cutting board.

Remove Head

Remove HeadPlace the fish on the cutting board and with your knife make an extended cut on both sides of the head. Try to cut around the head little below the gills. Apply some pressure and then remove the fish head.

Make the Fillet

Make the FilletNow slice down to the tail from the top, working the knife between the flesh and the spine. Continue running the blade until you get the complete filleting of the fish. While making the slice, you can lift the fillet anytime to see doing it perfectly or not. You need to continue cutting until the fillet is completely cut off from the tail.

Make the Second Fillet

Now that you have removed the first fillet successfully turn over the fish remove the second fillet by repeating the knife work. For more flexibility, try to cut the fillet starting from the tail towards the head. Make a slice of meat separating the spine. Be careful this time. Cutting the second fillet is trickier than the first one.

Remove the Rib Bones

Remove the Rib BonesTo remove the rib bones, place the knife horizontally on the fish and slice through the meat to remove the bones. Once the rib bones are removed, set it aside.

Removing the Pin Bones

Removing the Pin Bones

Now the fillets are cut off; it’s time to check and remove the pin bones. Some fishes have tiny bones which stay in the middle of the fillet. You need to be very careful about these bones as these are nearly impossible to see.

To remove those pin bones, locate them on the fillet and pluck them with a fish pliers or needle nose. Pull out the bones in the direction in which they are pointing at.

Skin the Fillet

Skin the FilletThis is an optional part as many people just love to eat the skin. However, if you are not one of them you need to skin the fish before cooking. To skin the fillet, hold the knife at the bottom side of the fillet, placing it between the flesh and the skin. Now slice through the length of the fillet holding the skin tightly with the other hand.  Repeat the procedure for the other fillet.

These are procedures to fillet most kinds of fishes. Follow these procedures at home to make your fish fillets and enjoy the freshness and great taste.

How to Fillet a Fish without Gutting?

How to Fillet a Fish without GuttingYou have now learned how to fillet a fish after removing the stomach. Now let’s learn how to fillet a fish without gutting. It is easier and comparatively faster to fillet a fish without gutting. However, a lot of people do not like the idea as it is not the best way to remove stomach and guts. You can still do it if you need it fast.

  • Clean Your Fish and Place It on the Cutting Board
  • Using a Sharp Knife Make Slice around the Head, Little below the Gills
  • Cut Through the Flesh Until Your Knife Reaches the Bones
  • Tip The Knife Against The Rib Bones And Slice Through The Head To The End Of The Tail With One Single Movement
  • Using Gentle Sweeping Slowly Cut the Fillet Out Of the Body, Started From Backbone Up To the Belly
  • Turn Over the Fish and Repeat the Procedure to Get the Second Fillet
  • Trimming These Fillets; Remove Fins and Bottom
  • Remove Pin Bones Using Tweezers
  • Now, You Can Skin Your Fish If You Want Following the Above Mentioned Procedure

After you have finished filleting the fish you can now throw away the gut, stomach and other leftovers. Congratulations! You have completed filleting your fish without gutting.

How to Fillet a Fish Using An Electric Knife?

How to Fillet a Fish with Electric KnifeElectric knives have gained more popularity recently as it is easier to cut and clean fish meat with electric knives. Electric knives are also sharper than traditional knives. However, the main benefits of electric knives are that it saves a lot of our time.

Filleting a fish with an electric knife is much easier. When compared to a traditional knife, electric knives can complete filleting the fish in half the time. However, the problem here is that electric knives are modern electric gadgets and a lot of people do not know how to use properly. Do not worry if you are one of them. We will show you, how to fillet the fish using an electric knife.

Remove the Head

The first step of filleting a fish is to remove the head. Place the electric knife below the gills and cut through it. One thing is to remember here that, you do not have to press hard to cut using an electric knife. Put a gentle pressure and your job will be done.

Remove Fins and the Skin

While using an electric knife, it is better to skin the fish.  You can use some pliers to get this job done. Pliers will help you to keep the fish steady. However, before removing the skin, remove the fins and the tail. You can use scissors for this job.

Once you have removed the fin and tail, it is time to begin the incision. Using your electric knife cut the fish starting from the top to the bottom of the fish so that you can split the fish in half.

As you have split the fish into two, now it will be easier for you to skin the fish. Skin the first half then move to the second half. This procedure is similar to those mentioned in the sections above. However, if you use an electric knife, you will notice the differences between an electric knife and a traditional knife.

Fillet Your Fish

Now that, you have removed the skin, head, fins and tail you can start the filleting process. Using your electric knife cut through the spinal column down to the ribs. If you are using the electric knife for the first time, make sure you are doing it very carefully and steadily. Electric knives are very sharp and if you put little extra pressure, it can cut through the fish ribs ruining the fillets.

After reaching the ribs, cut through the top of the fish down to the tail. Make sure you are cutting beside the spine. Repeat the process on the other side. You are done making fillets. Now, remove pin bone using tweezers or fish pliers.

These are procedure when you use an electric knife instead of traditional knives. Make sure that, you are very careful about handling your electric knife. These knives are very sharp and cut anything almost instantly. So, stay safe while handling an electric knife.

How to Fillet a Fish after Cooking?

How to Fillet a Fish after CookingYou might think, what is the point of cooking a whole fish and then filleting it later? Cooking a whole fish with all of its bone ensures better flavor and taste. And filleting after cooking is more straightforward than filleting a raw fish. The complete procedures are as follows:

  • Place the Fish on the Platter on Its Side
  • Cut Through the Top of the Fish to the Ridge Side Where the Fin Is Located
  • Make the Second Cut on the Left Side of the Previous Cut Up To the Bottom of the Fish
  • From The First Cut, Slide Your Knife under the Flesh along the Bones
  • Gently Remove the Flesh from the Bones
  • You Should Be Able To Lift the Tail and the Skeleton Form the Fillet Now
  • For Larger Fish Make More Fillets before Removing the Skeleton and Tail
  • It Is Also Wise To Remove the Head First For a Larger Size of the Fish

After completing the filleting now, you can serve the cooked fishof making sure there are no pin bones left before serving the fish.

How to Fillet Salmon and Trout?

How to Fillet Salmon and TroutWho does not love those smoked trout or salmon or some hot recipe with fresh fillets? The health benefits of salmon and trout are also really high. Fish like salmon and trout requires a little different method to fillet. This procedure is also applicable for other large fishes like a stripper, walleye, etc. Let’s find out more about how to fillet salmon and trout.

Required Steps

  • Clean the fish with running cold water. Place it on a cutting board.
  • Hold the head of the fish against the cutting board. With a sharp knife, cut the gills down to the behind of the pectoral fin in a straight line.
  • Cut one side only. Do not cut the backbone, just cut down to it.
  • Place the full blade horizontally into this cut keeping the tip outside of the fish body. Now move the blade towards the end of the fish putting some gentle pressure on the knife. Continue cutting all the way down to the tail. The rib cage should come out with the fillet now.
  • Turn over the fish and repeat the procedure on the other side.
  • Now, lay one of the fillets with skin down on a cutting board and sliced away the rib cage. Repeat the procedure for the other fillet.
  • It’s time to skin the fillet. Lay down the fillet with skin down position. Hold the knife between the flesh and skin. Start slicing from the upper side down to the tail. With your other hand hold, the skin applies pressure on the knife to smooth skin the fillets. Do the same thing for the second fillet.
  • With tweezers or a fish, plier removes the pin bones from the fillets.

You fish fillets are ready. These are the most effective procedures to fillet a salmon or trout. You can either store them future use or started cooking right away. Enjoy your fish fillets.

Tips for Filleting Fish

Filleting fish at home is not that hard as it seems to be! With little more practice, you will be able to fillet a fish like a pro! To make the filleting more fun, enjoyable and safe follow these tips:

  • For The Best Results, Always Choose the Fresh Fish
  • Use Good Quality Gloves to Keep Your Hands Away From Fishy Smells and Keep It Safe from Cuts
  • It Is Better To Fillet Fish Right before Cooking If You Want To Preserve the Freshness
  • Fish Can Be Stored For Up To 2 Days in Refrigerator
  • If You Plan To Fillet More Than 2 Days Later, Store It in the Freezer
  • Finally, Always Be Careful While Handling the Knife

These are the tips you should keep in mind while considering filleting your fish. These tips will make sure that you’re filleting more safely for the best result.


Fishes are highly beneficial for our health. Filleting a fish eliminates the chances of bones and makes sure that we’re getting a solid piece of fish meat. It also guarantees that you get fresh fishes that go easy on your wallet as you want to process it. Maybe, filleting fish seem difficult. but, after all, it is not.

By reading this article, I believe you have got sufficient ideas about filleting different types of fish. If you have anything to ask, please write us back. Happy Filleting!


Please enter your name here
Please enter your comment!