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 or (*gasp*) regular old flimsy household scissors, it’s time to upgrade to a good pair of kitchen shears. They are like a Swiss army knife for the kitchen and deserve far more credit and reps than they get in most homes. Below are some common and lesser-known uses for 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.