Before you season it, glaze it, bake, broil, fry, or grill it, there's one simple thing you should do to your salmon fillet to make it more eater-friendly.

By Vanessa Greaves
Updated April 30, 2021
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What's one of the most annoying things that can get between you and your enjoyment of a fresh salmon dinner? Pulling pesky pin bones out of your mouth after you take a bite. There's just no graceful way to to it, and you certainly don't want to swallow them! So, what's the solution? Pull out the pin bones before you cook your salmon. Here's how to do it quickly and easily.

What are pin bones?

raw salmon fillet showing pin bones
Credit: Vanessa Greaves

Pin bones are long, thin, needle-like bones that run along the length of a salmon fillet. In fact, they're not bones at all — they're calcified nerve endings that salmon use to sense other salmon swimming in close proximity. If you don't see the tiny white pin bones right away, all you have to do is run your bare fingers down the length of the fillet and you should easily feel them just under the surface. They'll be all lined up, so once you feel one, the others are close behind. Lucky for all of us, salmon pin bones are not attached to a larger bone structure in the fish, so removing them is quick and easy.

close up of Lime-Marinated Baked Salmon and lime wedges on a cutting board
Credit: Carson Downing

How to remove pin bones from salmon

You'll Need

  • Raw salmon fillet(s).
  • Needle-nose pliers, jewelry pliers, surgical clamp, or special fish tweezers. Regular eyebrow tweezers are usually not strong enough to maintain a grip on those slippery little pin bones.
  • Your sensitive fingertips.

Directions

  1. Lay the fillet skin-side down on a plate, cutting board, or pan.
  2. Run your fingers lightly along the length of the fillet, feeling for the tips of the bones.
  3. When you find one, notice how it's just one in a line of tiny tips protruding from the flesh.
  4. Use your pliers to grasp the tip of the first bone and pull it out at an angle. Continue up the line to feel for the bones and pull them out until they're all gone.

Bone-Free and Ready to Cook

Practice your new pin-bone pulling skills on these top-rated salmon recipes, then pat yourself on the back for helping yourself and those you love avoid fish-bone embarrassment.