Do Rainbow Trout Have Bones? Deboning Filets & Whole Trout

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Do Rainbow Trout Have Bones

If you’re looking for an easy fish to eat, trout shouldn’t be your first pick. Rainbow trout are bony, with some people estimating that they have around 262 bones. 

Unfortunately, these bones are delicate and sometimes challenging to detect. If you’re not careful, each bite might have a crunch. 

Is Rainbow Trout Bony?

People hesitate to eat trout because of their bony profile. Even with a keen eye, some bones slip inspection and end up on your plate. Here are some quick tips for keeping trout’s dainty skeleton off your fork. 

Whole Trout

Cooking the trout whole is my preferred method for preparing these fish. Whether you keep the head on or off, the deboning method is the same. 

Getting fish ready for holidays: grilled trout

First, cook the trout and remove its fins. Then, when holding the caudal fin, use a fork to scrape the flesh from its backbone. Continue raising the tail fin as you pry meat off the spine. If you cook the trout long enough, its flesh will fall off the bone. 

Repeat this process for the other side of the spine. Soon, you should have your spine and ribs free from the flesh. 

Trout Filet 

Because rainbow trout come in small portions, they are less common to filet. However, steelhead or sizable ‘bows can be fileted before cooking. 

To make a filet:

  1. Cut behind the gill plate and run your knife along the spine to the caudal fin.
  2. Be sure your knife is sharp, as a dull edge is a recipe for mangled meat or injury.
  3. Repeat this step on the other side of the spine. 
Fillet of cooked trout with aromatic herb and lemon.

With your two filets, it’s time to cut out the ribs. Hold the flesh with a second utensil. Then, cut the ribs out by starting near the spine and running the knife toward the belly. 

In my experience, fileting trout is a nit-picky process, and I would rather stuff the fish and cook it whole on the grill. 

Can You Eat Trout Bones? 

Eating the occasional trout bone won’t kill you, but it isn’t comfortable. In the worst-case scenario, these delicate bones scratch your throat or become lodged. That said, a good trout meal will be ruined if you are negligent with the bones. 

My advice? Don’t panic if you swallow a bone – it will eventually dislodge. Do what you can to avoid them, though.

Related Questions

Can You Eat Trout Skin? 

You sure can, and many people do. Some people enjoy grilling trout well done to make the skin crispy. I’ve never tried this, but crispy trout skin sounds like crisps from the river – yum! 

Which Fish Has No Bones To Eat? 

Sharks and rays are made of cartilage rather than bones. Popular fish to eat that come without bones include tuna, halibut, mahi mahi, and grouper. Though these fish have bones, their meat is often served as large filets or steaks. 

Is Rainbow Trout Good To Eat? 

I like to think of rainbow trout as a poor man’s salmon. As a salmon relative, rainbow trout has a similar profile and flavor. Many people find rainbow trout to have a mildly nutty flavor and minimal fishy taste.

Final Thoughts 

Rainbow trout is a bony fish. However, your trout meal can be bone-free and delicious with the right preparation. As long as you take your time while deboning, fileting, and eating the fish, rainbow trout is a perfect way to end your fishing day.

David Linsmeyer Avatar


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