Knife skills are one of those aspirational kitchen aptitudes. Who hasn’t enviously watched a cooking show where the chef slices through herbs, garlic, and celery at alarming speeds? The workaround, though, is a reliable, sharp set of kitchen shears.
"Kitchen shears are so handy, especially for summers when you are camping and cooking away from your kitchen," says Christine Pittman, cookbook author and founder of COOKtheSTORY.com. "My favorite thing is when kitchen shears come with a plastic cover which makes them very efficient (and safe) for travel. I’ve used them for chopping onions, tomatoes, herbs, green onion, bacon, pretty much anything you can imagine."
It is not as easy as just going and buying a pair of kitchen shears though; you need to consider design, purpose, and maintenance. Are you looking for a pair to spatchcock chicken, or do you have a kitchen herb garden that needs harvesting, or are you upping your fish game and need to scale a whole snapper? Task-specific shears are the answer. Or maybe you want that pair that offers the versatility of a Swiss army knife with a bone notch, bottle opener, and herb strippers built-in? Multipurpose is the way to go. Whatever you decide, be sure they fit comfortably in your hand and will perform the tasks you need done. Our top choice, the OXO Good Grips Multi-Purpose Kitchen Scissors, has two great herb strippers and a very comfortable handle any ambitious cook can appreciate.
From spring-loaded poultry shears to Macgyver-like multipurpose models, these are the best kitchen shears.
OXO Good Grips Multi-Purpose Kitchen Scissors
What We Love: Come apart for easy cleaning, herb stripper, comfortable grip, versatile
What We Don't Love: May rust
Reliable is the word most commonly associated with OXO, and its Good Grips Multi-Purpose Kitchen Scissors are no exception. The stainless steel blades, which separate for easy cleaning, are the workhorse of my kitchen. If I don’t want to break out knives, sharpening steel, and cutting boards, I grab these shears.
Beyond their versatility as meat, vegetable, and flower cutters, they are an apt choice for fresh herbs. The two herb strippers nestled between the blades and handle peel the leaves off the stems without bruising the herbs.
In addition to their functionality, these shears are affordable and comfortable to grip. The cushioned pads on the curved handles keep hand fatigue at bay. And, the blades are micro-serrated to grip food and prevent slippage. A quick hand wash after each use has kept my pair going strong for over two decades of heavy recipe testing and nightly dinners.
Price at time of publish: $20
Length: 8.75 inches | Dishwasher Safe: No
KitchenAid All Purpose Shears
What We Love: Affordable, comfortable grip, variety of colors, large opening on handles
What We Don't Love: Blades do not separate
If you are thinking of adding a pair of kitchen shears to your cooking tools, but don’t want to make a big financial commitment, the Kitchenaid All Purpose Shears are an affordable option. Kitchenaid is a trusted brand in tools and appliances, and that same level of quality can be found in their kitchen shears—the blades are extra thick to tackle most tasks, and the soft-grip handles are roomy, helping stave off hand cramping.
The stainless steel blades are micro-serrated for sharp cuts, and a blade guard is included for added safety while storing. They come in six fun colors, including my favorite, pistachio. The blades do not separate on these shears, but they are dishwasher safe making cleanup easy.
Price at time of publish: $12
Length: 8.75 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes, but hand washing is recommended
Best for Herbs
Jenaluca Herb Scissors
What We Love: Multiple blades, sharp, no cutting board needed, comfortable grip
What We Don't Love: Task-specific
If you have labored over stripping and chopping herbs, the Jenaluca Herb Scissors are a game-changer. The five equally spaced blades complete the work of ten knife chops in one cut. And, these scissors do not bruise or crush fragile herbs like knives sometimes can.
Task-specific, these shears are only meant to cut herbs, not larger, more dense vegetables. The included safety comb aids in removing bits of leftover herbs while protecting fingers, and the cover keeps blades secure while in storage. The TPR handles are comfortable to grip and anti-abrasive. If you cook with a lot of herbs like me, the Jenaluca Herb Scissors make that mound of flat-leaf parsley go quickly, and no cutting board to wash as you can snip right over your bowl.
Price at time of publish: $22
Length: 7.75 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best for Poultry
OXO Grips Spring Loaded Poultry Shears
What We Love: Comes apart for easy cleaning, tapered blade for precision, locking handle
What We Don't Love: Task-specific
Like our top choice, the OXO Kitchen and Herb Shears, its Poultry Shears are reliable and feature sharp, stainless steel blades. If you cook breaking down poultry regularly, these are better suited to the task than a pair of multipurpose. This pair is tapered to get into hard-to-reach spots, spring-loaded for extra power and less hand strain. They offer precise, task-specific performance.
The OXO Poultry Shears are made with safety in mind. The handle locks keep them secure while stored, and the comfortable grip is non-slip to keep everything in place while in use. These shears are not dishwasher safe, but the handles come apart easily for cleaning, and like other OXO products will last a long time with proper care.
"I have a pair of OXO spring-loaded shears, and they work like a charm. They make it easy to do everything from spatchcock a chicken to snip pizza into slices. They are solid when in use, but disassemble easily for cleaning." — Emma Christensen, Editor in Chief
Price at time of publish: $28
Length: 9.5 inches | Dishwasher Safe: No
Related: The Best Cutting Boards
Shun Multi-Purpose Kitchen Shears
What We Love: Durable, comes apart for easy cleaning, versatile, lots of gadgets
What We Don't Love: Pricey
Shun Classic Multi-Purpose Kitchen Shears are handmade in Seki, Japan, with high-carbon, molybdenum-vanadium stainless steel that is proprietary to the company. The blades include more carbon for strength and stainless steel for corrosion resistance. These shears are durable, razor-sharp, and multifunctional. And, they have a smooth top blade with a micro-serrated bottom blade for clean, secure cuts.
Not only will they easily cut through dense steak with precision and make quick work of dried fruit for your next compote, this includes a bottle opener, a nutcracker, a jar opener, a flathead screwdriver bit, and a bone-notcher. Basically, whatever the kitchen task, this is the gadget. The handles are cushioned and have slightly larger than average openings, making long tasks less tiring for hands. Even with all these extras, the Shun Classic Kitchen Shears remain lightweight in your hand and come apart easily for hand washing.
Price at time of publish: $55
Length: 9 inches | Dishwasher Safe: No
Related: The Best Knife Sharpeners
If you are looking for an affordable, reliable pair of kitchen shears, we recommend the OXO Good Grips Multi-Purpose Kitchen Scissors (view at Amazon) because of their versatility, comfortable grip, and ease of cleaning. If you want an upgrade that includes lots of tools like a jar opener and bone notch, try the Shun Classic Multi-Purpose Kitchen Shears (view at Amazon) for maximum hand comfort, and razor-sharp blades.
What to Look for When Buying Kitchen Shears
Carbon Steel vs. Stainless Steel
Like knives, kitchen shears are made of a couple of different types of material. Carbon steel is more durable and able to maintain sharp edges longer but is susceptible to rust. Stainless steel is known for its rust and stain resistance but does not hold edges as long and requires more frequent sharpening. The best of all worlds is a pair made of carbon steel and coated with stainless steel, but that combination also comes with a hefty price.
Multipurpose vs. Task-Specific
Multipurpose shears are especially useful if they are your only pair of kitchen snips—they often have other tools like herb strippers and are crafted to be strong enough to handle many types of food. They are the jack-of-all-trades in a kitchen collection. Sometimes though, you have specific purposes in mind for your shears, and a multipurpose pair is not the best choice.
If you are frequently chopping up a variety of herbs, herb scissors are far superior. But, they cannot handle other tasks. Then there is that whole chicken that needs to be separated prior to roasting when poultry shears are the best choice. They are spring-loaded for extra power, usually curved to access hard-to-reach places, and often super sharp. Task-specific shears are the best tool for that one task, but you often need more than one pair of kitchen shears if you go down that path.
Some shears are dishwasher safe, so blades that come apart are not as important, but this also makes sharpening more challenging. But, there's a very good reason to buy blades that separate.
"When purchasing kitchen shears, make sure they are sturdy and can be taken apart for easy cleaning," explains Domenica Lazo, assistant application chef at Barry Callebaut. Blades that separate ensure you can get a thorough cleaning since food particles can sometimes get trapped in the pivot screw, and grow bacteria. Blades that come apart ensure a high level of sanitation. And, I’m not going to say you cannot sharpen shears that do not separate, but having the blades apart makes it a lot easier.
If you are a leftie, kitchen tool shopping can be frustrating. Look for symmetrical, well-balanced handles to ensure they are good for ambidextrous use. There are also kitchen shears specifically designed for lefties.
Another consideration when looking at handles is comfort of grip. Make sure the opening size is appropriate for your hand, and look for rubberized or silicone-type grips as they are more comfortable than plastic and won’t slip when cutting wet ingredients. Serrated blade edges also aid in keeping materials from slipping.
“I store my kitchen shears in a drawer along with wax paper, plastic wrap and potholders. This is right beside my kitchen work area and having it in this location makes it really simple to grab them and put them to use while cooking,” says Pittman. “As far as cleaning, I recommend hand washing them,” she adds.
Many kitchen shears on the market are dishwasher safe, but hand washing will always keep them in top shape longer. Hand washing protects blades against damage caused by detergents and steam. Whether you wash in the machine or by hand, the most important step is to thoroughly dry blades after cleaning.
What is the difference between kitchen shears and scissors?
There are two major differences between scissors and shears: length of blade and handles. Scissors usually feature equally-sized handle openings, and blades six inches or less in length. They are multipurpose, usually lightweight, and often designed as right or left-handed to accommodate for the angled blades.
Shears, on the other hand, have longer blades, usually eight to nine inches, and come in task-specific models, as well as multipurpose. The handles are often cushioned or crafted with silicone-like material to ease hand discomfort during heavy tasks. The blades are heavier in weight than scissors to account for cutting tougher materials like bone. Some shears can be taken apart to clean food debris, whereas scissors do not require this level of sanitation. Handle openings on shears are often wider than scissors and sometimes come offset to help with leverage on tough tasks.
How do you sharpen kitchen shears?
Like kitchen knives, shears with serrated edges are more difficult to sharpen at home. It can be done with specialized tools, but each serration must be individually honed and sharpened. If at least one of the blades is straight-edged, you can easily hone and sharpen at home with a whetstone or knife sharpener.
Even the most durable steel will lose its edge after repeated use. When this happens, separable blades make honing and sharpening infinitely easier. Just pull the shears apart and hone and sharpen just like a kitchen knife. You can also drop them by a local kitchen hardware store or send them off to be done professionally.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Carrie Honaker is a food writer who is always on the hunt for a multifunctional tool. As a restaurateur and avid home cook, she knows the importance of a sharp pair of kitchen shears that do more than cut twine. She loves her OXO Multipurpose Kitchen Shears for their functionality and ease of cleaning. Her work has appeared in many publications including Bon Appetit, Allrecipes, and Wine Enthusiast.
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