Trout is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and contains low amounts of harmful mercury. The only obstacles when preparing a trout dinner is removing the bones in the fish. You can debone a trout easily and without creating a mess if you use the right technique. You can enjoy fresh-caught more often after learning how to debone a trout. Here is a complete deboning guide and a few recipes of how to prepare a trout.

How to Debone a Trout


Removing the Bone When It's Raw

You will need a sharp knife, tweezers, and a cutting board.

Step 1: Cut the head off just below the gills and then slice the fish down to the belly. Place your fingers inside the cut under the place where you cut the head off. Use your thumb and forefinger to remove the fish guts. Open both sides of the fish and use your hand again to remove all remaining innards from top to tail.

Step 2: Turn the fish over so that its back faces upward. Separate both sides to form a butterfly-shape. Check the bone structure that runs down its center.

Step 3: Cut along both sides of the spinal bone structure with a sharp knife to loosen it. You can make fillets by slicing along the bone structure on both sides. For a butterflied fish, separate the spine by running the knife from the bottom of the bone structure and the top of its flesh.

Step 4: Pull and discard the spine. The main bone structure has been removed but some bones remain in the soft flesh on both sides. Locate these bones with your fingers.

Step 5: Place the tip of your knife on any side of the bones and then run the knife horizontally to the full length of the fish. Run your knife on the other side of the bone. Use tweezers to pull out one bone at a time in one continuous piece. Repeat the process on the other fillet.

Step 6: Use tweezers to pick any remaining bones before preparing the fish.


Removing the Bone After Cooking

You can also debone a trout after cooking it. Follow these steps:-

Step 1: Smaller trouts that can easily be cooked whole. You can cook them first and then do the deboning later. Therefore, cooking the fish whole is the first step. 

Step 2: Once the fish is fully cooked, you can lay it on its side. The fish tail should be facing you.

Step 3: Then lift the fish tail, slowly at an acute angle while taking care not to break its spindle. At the same time, you can simultaneously pull down on the flesh at the bottom of the tail's base. 

Step 4: If you follow step 3 carefully, the spine should easily pull away from the flesh with the ribs remaining intact. Even the smallest bones, the size of hair, can perfectly be removed in this manner. 

Step 5: Repeat the same process by turning the fish over to work on the second side of your fish. 

2 Must-Try Trout Recipes for You

Once you know how to debone a trout, you can prepare it following these two methods:

Baked Rainbow Trout


¼ teaspoon of dried thyme
½ sliced large onion
2 tablespoons of hot water
2 teaspoons of olive oil
2 thin lemons, sliced (optional)
¼ tablespoon of dried dill weed
Black pepper, freshly ground and salt to taste
2 gutted and cleaned rainbow trout with head and tails on


The recipe contains 373 calories, makes 6 servings and takes a total of 30 minutes to prepare and cook.

  • Preheat your oven to 200°C or 400°F. Use one teaspoon of olive oil to grease a baking dish of 9 by 13 inches.

  • Place the trout in the dish and use the remaining olive oil to coat the trout. Season the fish on all sides with salt, thyme and dill. Stuff the onion slices on both sides and then grind pepper on top. Place one slice of lemon on each trout.

  • Place the fish in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Add some water to the dish and continue to bake for another 10 minutes of more until the fish is flaky.


  • Mixed peppercorns add more flavor to the fish.

  • You can remove fish heads before cooking if you do not like them.

  • You can serve the leftovers on the following day as a salad with mustard and mayonnaise.


Smoked Steelhead Trout

Here is an alternative recipe you can use after learning how to debone a trout:


4 chopped garlic cloves
A cup of sugar-based curing mixture
A quart of water
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 pounds steelhead trout fillets
One pound of alder wood chips, soaked in wine or water
One and a half tablespoons of dried and crushed rosemary


The meal takes 13 hours and 40 minutes in total to cook and makes 6 servings. It contains 203 calories. Here is how to make this dish:

  • Rinse and place the fillets in a shallow glass baking bowl. Season them with rosemary and garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Rub the seasoning on the fillets, cover, and leave them in the fridge overnight.

  • Add water to curing salt to dissolve and pour the solution on the fish. Allow the fish to marinate for 15 minutes for every half inch of thickness.

  • Prepare your smoker to burn slowly for 4 hours using charcoal. Heat the smoker to 150°F.

  • Remove the marinate fish and discard the leftover fluid. Place the fillets on the small pieces of aluminium foils and then season them with pepper. Place the seasoned fillets on the smoker’s rack. Sprinkle the coals with soaked wood chips or place the chips in a heat box. Cover the fish and smoke for 2 hours as you add wood where necessary.

  • Add charcoal to increase the smoker’s temperature to 200°F and allow the fish to smoke to an internal temperature of 165°F. Remove it from the smoker, allow it to rest for 20 minutes and serve.


The full amount of brine ingredients is considered when calculating the nutrition data for this recipe. The amount of brine consumed may be different.


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