Kitchen shears are the underrated tool you forgot you own. Here’s why


Kitchen shears are a true culinary workhorse and one of the most underrated tools in your arsenal.

David Watsky/CNET

When I saw an Instagram post from the Momofuku empire’s David Chang declaring kitchen shears the most underrated kitchen tool, I began to nod my head slowly in total agreement. Most folks may have a random pair of shears that came with a knife block set they got for sitting through a timeshare presentation, but I’d be willing to bet most don’t know how much mileage they can get out of this unassuming piece of kitchen hardware. If you’re working with a rinky-dinky pair of kitchen shears or (*gasp*) regular old flimsy household scissors, it’s time to upgrade to a good pair. They are a Swiss army knife-like workhorse and deserve far more credit and glory than they get in most homes.

Below are some common and lesser-known uses for the mighty kitchen shears, and why they just might be the most underrated kitchen tool of all time.

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 or cutting up old cloth to make dish rags.


Breaking down poultry is a job tailor-made for kitchen shears. But the uses go far beyond that.

David Watsky/CNET

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 break 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 lob some vegetables or pieces of meat into the hot frying pan or Dutch oven that aren’t as small as I want them or are inconsistent with the rest. You could take the hot food out again and chop it up or call on the kitchen shears to snip it down to size and keep moving. 


Downsize food that missed your knife but made it into the pan. 

David Watsky/CNET

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.


Kitchen shears are a secret weapon against stubborn jars.

David Watsky/CNET

3. Cracking nuts and shells

Those same metal teeth are excellent shell 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.


When no other bottle openers can be found, kitchen shears will bail you out. 

David Watsky/CNET

5. It’s the ultimate camping tool

Multi-tools 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 $20. Like 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. 

J.A. Henckels

This pair for German knife maker Henckels is dishwasher safe. They make a slimmer set specifically for poultry 


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 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. 


This German brand is known for shears and makes them in several sizes and builds from take-apart to more the more basic variety.

More ways to level up your culinary skills

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