Do Anchovies Have Bones

Do Anchovies Have Bones? All You Need To Know

Last Updated on May 17, 2024 by Shari Mason

Anchovies, small marine fish, are widely used in multiple worldwide cuisines. They’re recognized for their distinctive savory and salty taste, frequently utilized to enhance the flavor of sauces, spices, and garnishments.

However, one question that may arise is whether anchovies have bones. Understanding whether anchovies have bones is essential for those who want to consume or use this fish as an ingredient in their cooking. 

Do Anchovies Really Have Bones?

anchovies on stainless pan

Yes, anchovies [1] have bones. They are small fish with numerous small bones that run along their sides. These bones are not easily removed, so they are usually consumed along with the fish. 

However, the bones are safe to eat, and some believe they add flavor and texture to the fish.

If you prefer boneless anchovies, they are also available in stores and are often sold in jars or cans. 

These anchovies have been filleted, so they are free of bones and ready to use in your favorite dishes.

Read: Can You Eat The Bones In Canned Salmon?

Are The Bones In Anchovies Edible?

Yes, the bones in anchovies are edible and safe to consume. While they may seem difficult to eat due to their small size, the bones in anchovies are soft and easily broken down during digestion. 

Many people believe that the bones add to the flavor and texture of the fish. If you prefer not to eat the bones, you can remove them with a small knife or fishbone tweezer or choose to purchase boneless anchovies. 

However, if you eat the bones, you can rest assured that they are not harmful and can be a beneficial source of calcium.

Can Anchovies Be Eaten Whole?

anchovies on a Plate

Yes, anchovies can be eaten whole, including the bones. While some people may find eating small, bony fish unappetizing, others appreciate anchovies’ unique flavor and texture. 

Eating anchovies whole is common in many Mediterranean and Latin American cuisines, often used as a topping for pizza or mixed into various dishes. 

“Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish? I know it’s tuna, but it says ‘Chicken of the Sea.'” –

Jessica Simpson, American Singer

If you are hesitant to eat the bones, you can fillet the anchovies to remove the bones and create a boneless filet.

However, if you enjoy the added crunch and flavor that the bones provide, there’s no need to remove them before consuming the fish.

How To Remove The Bones From Anchovies

  1. Use your fingers: Gently hold the anchovy by the tail with one hand and use your other hand to firmly press along the backbone [2], starting at the head and working your way down to the tail. This will help to loosen the bones, and you can use your fingers to pull them out carefully.
  2. Use a knife: Lay the anchovy flat on a cutting board and use a small, sharp knife to carefully run along the backbone carefully, cutting away the flesh from the bones. Once the bones are exposed, use the tip of the knife to lift them out.
  3. Use a fishbone tweezer: A fishbone tweezer is a handy tool that can help remove the bones from anchovies quickly and easily. Gently grip the bone with the tweezer and pull it out smoothly.
  4. Fillet the anchovies: If you prefer boneless anchovies, you can fillet them to remove the bones. To do this, use a sharp knife to cut along the side of the fish, starting at the head and working your way down to the tail. Once the fillet is removed, carefully cut away the bones and discard them.


Are anchovies and sardines the same?

No, anchovies and sardines are not the same. While both are small, saltwater fish commonly used in cooking, they are different species with distinct characteristics. Anchovies are smaller than sardines and have a more robust, saltier taste. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eThey also have a higher oil content and are often used as a flavoring ingredient in sauces, dressings, and toppings. On the other hand, Sardines are slightly larger than anchovies and have a milder taste. 

u003cstrongu003eAre you supposed to rinse anchovies?u003c/strongu003e

Whether or not to rinse anchovies is a matter of personal preference. Anchovies are usually preserved in salt or oil, giving them a strong, salty flavor. Rinsing the anchovies can reduce some of the saltiness and remove any excess oil. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eHowever, rinsing the anchovies can also remove some of the flavors you may want in your dish. If you prefer a milder flavor, rinse the anchovies under cold water and pat them dry before using them.

Key Takeaways

Anchovies have bones, but they are safe to eat and can even add flavor and texture to the fish.

Whether you prefer to eat the anchovies whole or remove the bones, there are several methods, including using your fingers, a knife, or a fishbone tweezer. 

Additionally, if you prefer boneless anchovies, they are readily available in stores and are often sold in jars or cans. 

Whether you are using anchovies as a flavoring ingredient in sauces, dressings, or toppings, or enjoying them as a snack, understanding the anatomy of anchovies can help you make the most out of this flavorful and versatile fish.


Shari Mason

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