Kitchen Shears Are the Kitchen Tool You're Definitely Not Using Enough
Put some respect on this bona fide kitchen workhorse.
David WatskySenior Editor / Home and Kitchen
David lives in Brooklyn where he's logged more than a decade writing about all things edible, including meal kits and meal delivery subscriptions, cooking, kitchen gear and commerce. Since earning a BA in English from Northeastern in Boston, he's toiled in nearly every aspect of the eats business from slicing and dicing as a sous-chef in Rhode Island to leading complex marketing campaigns for major food brands in Manhattan. These days, he's likely somewhere trying the latest this or tasting the latest that - and reporting back, of course. Anything with sesame is his all-time favorite food this week.
ExpertiseKitchen tech, cookware, small appliances, food innovation, meal delivery and meal kits.
It's safe to say I use my kitchen shears more than the average home cook, but I'm on a mission to change that. Kitchen shears are often overlooked and criminally underused, but this unsuspecting household tool is extremely versatile if you know how best to apply a pair. Sure, you'll grab them to bust open a box of meal kits or trim an overgrown fern, but there's so much more they can do.
Kitchen sheers, or scissors if you're a total brute, are the Swiss Army knife of the kitchen and deserve far more respect and action than they typically get. Shears can do the obvious cutting and trimming, but the right set can accomplish a laundry list of other tasks around the kitchen, home and even the outdoors, many of which you may not have considered. Investing in a decent pair of kitchen shears is worth it, people, and if you're working with a dinky pair or (*gasp*) plain old household scissors, it's time to upgrade to the real thing.
Below are some common and lesser-known uses for the mighty kitchen shears, and why this just might be the most underrated kitchen tool in history. Plus, we dropped in a few of the best kitchen sheers to buy for 2023.
Some obvious uses for kitchen shears
Having a pair of scissors handy is helpful for many reasons, and some are obvious. Breaking into a stubbornly packaged box of this or that, cutting twine for trussing a roast, trimming herbs and scallions or cutting up old cloth to make dish rags.
The most common culinary application is breaking down meat, specifically poultry. Kitchens shears usually have one serrated blade and one sharp. The serrated blade is key for grabbing slippery skin and meat so you can safely cut through a bird. Chef's knives and paring knives can do some of this work too, but not nearly as well as shears.
1. Breaking down food that's already in a pan
When I'm cooking for speed, it's a near guarantee I'll find I've lobbed some vegetables or pieces of meat into a hot frying pan or Dutch oven that aren't as small as I want them. In this case you could take the piece of hot food out again and chop it up, or call on your kitchen shears to snip it down to size and keep moving.
2. Opening stubborn jars
Good kitchen shears generally have two metal-teeth grippers inside the handles. These are excellent for opening stubborn jars or twist-off bottles. Just latch the teeth firmly onto two sides of the cap (it doesn't have to even reach to the other side) and you'll have far more torque than with your hands alone. This works particularly well on jars with smaller lids but can be effective on full-sized jars too.
3. Cracking nuts and shells
Those same metal teeth are excellent shell-crackers and nutcrackers. I don't own lobster crackers so on the occasion I make shellfish or have some big walnuts to shell, it's kitchen shears to the rescue.
4. Opening beer and soda bottles
There's no such thing as too many bottle openers, and kitchen shears often have one built into the handle or blades. Since my shears are generally in the same place as my knives, I always know where a bottle opener is.
5. Building a fire and other camping tasks
Multitools like good kitchen shears are a camper's dream, from opening bottles to breaking down kindling for a fire and the hundred other little jobs a good pair of scissors will do. This is one piece of equipment that's useful far beyond the walls of your kitchen.
How much should you spend on kitchen shears?
You can score a good pair of shears for under $10. As with anything else, you can also pay much more if you want but know that shears can't really be sharpened on account of the serrated blade. It's best to spend a bit less and replace them every few years when they begin to dull or lose their grip.
If you're looking to save a buck, this $7 pair of Kitory shears will get the job done much better than regular scissors. They're not detachable but have a good gripping blade and a sharp cutting blade.
If you want to splurge on shears, these All-Clad choppers in gauge-brushed stainless steel certainly have a good look to them. They come apart for easy cleaning and have a slender, more dexterous build.