How to Debone a Mackerel

Updated July 20, 2017

Mackerels are a truly wonderful fish and the centrepiece of many great European recipes. Unfortunately, because of their size, they are most typically sold with bones. If you know the fairly simple process of boning a fish at home, this is a very small problem that can save you money -- fish with bones are cheaper -- and expand the fish you will be able to enjoy, as well as increasing you all-around food prep knowledge.

Cut along the belly of the fish, lengthwise. If the head is still on your fish, cut that off too.

Open the fish up, and lay it on a counter or cutting board flesh-side down.

Tap the fish firmly with the rolling pin, to loosen the spine. Using the handle of the pin, tap up and down the spine pointedly for good measure.

Flip the fish over.

Separate the bones from the fish, by pulling upwards and using your sharp knife to cut, when needed. Go slowly and carefully and almost all the bones should come up.

Use tweezers, if necessary, to remove any small bones remaining.


The directions for boning a mackerel can be applied to other fish.


Always follow food safety rules when working with fish. Always use caution when working with sharp knives.

Things You'll Need

  • Scissors
  • Sharp knife
  • Rolling pin
  • Tweezers
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About the Author

Based in Austin, Texas, Lily Potter has been freelancing since 2003. Recently, she has been reporting on local government for "The Statesman." While she holds a Master of Science in information science from the University of Texas, her true passions are research, writing and reporting.