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poultry shears Credit: Reviewed/Lindsay D. Mattison

The Best Poultry Shears of 2022

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poultry shears Credit: Reviewed/Lindsay D. Mattison

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Editor's Choice Product image of OXO Good Grips Poultry Shears
Best Overall

OXO Good Grips Poultry Shears

These poultry shears have sharp, grippy blades, and a comfortable handle. The two blades also came apart, making them much easier to clean. Read More

Pros

  • Sharp blades
  • Comfortable handle
  • Spring-loaded blades create ideal tension

Cons

  • Pricier than other shears
Product image of J.A. Henckels International Poultry Shears

J.A. Henckels International Poultry Shears

J.A. Henckels International Poultry Shears performs well cutting up chicken and turkey, and its padded handle is very comfortable. Read More

Pros

  • Micro-serrated blades provides good grip on bones
  • Cuts poultry bones with ease
  • Comfortable handle

Cons

  • Struggles to cut raw chicken skin
  • Blades open too wide
  • Lock loosens over time
Product image of Mercer M14803 Poultry Shears

Mercer M14803 Poultry Shears

These Mercer poultry shears are sharp and effective, but the handle design and weight can tire your hands after extended use. Read More

Pros

  • Sharp blades
  • Grips bones to help slice

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Spring-loaded handle opens too wide
  • Slippery handle
Product image of Tansung Come-apart Kitchen Scissors T2

Tansung Come-apart Kitchen Scissors T2

These shears will get the job done, but they weren’t the most comfortable set we tested. Read More

Pros

  • Handle wasn't slippery
  • Came apart for easy cleaning

Cons

  • Uncomfortable handle
  • Requires two hands for thicker bones
Product image of Wüsthof 5509 Poultry Shears

Wüsthof 5509 Poultry Shears

These poultry shears weren’t as sharp or grippy as other shears, and we didn’t find them comfortable to use, either. Read More

Pros

  • Spring-loaded mechanism provides good tension

Cons

  • Not sharp enough
  • Doesn't grip bones well
  • Uncomfortable, slippery handle

A decade ago, my mother probably would have chastised me for cursing if I told her I was serving a spatchcocked turkey for Thanksgiving. Today, more and more home cooks are taking advantage of this incredible cooking method. Removing the backbone of a turkey or chicken allows you to lay the bird flat, cooking it faster and more evenly. It might look weird, but this method all but guarantees juicy meat and ultra-crispy skin. It’s easy enough to do if you have the right tool: a good set of poultry shears, like our top pick, OXO Good Grips Spring-Loaded Poultry Shears (available at Amazon for $27.95) .

Using a regular pair of kitchen shears will work in a pinch, but they’re not designed to cut through poultry bones. Turkey bones are incredibly thick, so using the wrong tool can ruin your knives and tire out your hands. Instead, use a spring-loaded pair of clippers that are specifically designed to cut through these bones without too much of a workout. They’re helpful outside of the holiday season, too. We use our pair year round for spatchcocking chickens, slicing lobster tails, and carving whole-roasted birds.

Editor's Note

The recommendations in this guide are based on thorough product and market research by our team of expert product reviewers. The picks are based on examining user reviews, product specifications, and, in some limited cases, our experience with the specific products named.

OXO Good Grips poultry shears
Credit: Reviewed/Lindsay D. Mattison

OXO Good Grips makes our favorite pair of poultry shears.

Best Overall
OXO Good Grips Poultry Shears

Most of the poultry shears we found do well on some tasks but struggle on others. The OXO Good Grips Spring-Loaded Poultry Shears are the only set that hit all the marks. The blades come apart for easy cleaning, and they’re spring-loaded but don’t open too far for comfort. The locking mechanism that keeps them closed for storage is located on the bottom of the handle, so it won't get in the way during use. We also love the nonstick coating on the lightly padded handles, which are both comfortable to use and keep hands from slipping when they become coated in raw chicken.

The blades themselves are equally impressive. The micro-serrated blades grip bones as during use, and keep them from sliding backwards between slices. These shears are sharp enough to tackle chicken backbones one-handed, and they're one of the only pairs that don't struggle to slice through slippery chicken skin.

These shears can also be used to remove a turkey backbone and cut the breastbone in half. You may have to use two hands to get enough momentum to get through the breastbone’s thickest part, but hands won't be fatigued after taking it down.

The tension in these spring-loaded scissors is perfect, and they bounce open happily after every cut. They're light and maneuverable, and they are an overall joy to use. They are more expensive than others, but not by much. We’d definitely recommend them to anyone looking to break down chickens or spatchcock a Thanksgiving turkey, making this set our choice for Best Overall.

Pros

  • Sharp blades

  • Comfortable handle

  • Spring-loaded blades create ideal tension

Cons

  • Pricier than other shears

Product image of J.A. Henckels International Poultry Shears
J.A. Henckels International Poultry Shears

If our top pick is out of stock, you won’t be disappointed with J.A. Henckels International Poultry Shears. The micro-serrated steel blade grips and slices through both chicken and turkey bones without issue. What's even better is that they're able to be used one-handed most of the time, and two-handed use is only necessary to get through the thickest part of the turkey breastbone. The handle is padded for comfort, and hands won't slip even when they got coated with raw chicken.

These shears struggle more than our winning pair on slippery chicken skin, and there were a few issues with the spring-loaded blades. They open too wide for smaller hands, and the lock that keeps the blade closed during storage might get in the way from time to time. It’s secured with a flat-head screw, which needs to be tightened to keep it from sliding around.

Pros

  • Micro-serrated blades provides good grip on bones

  • Cuts poultry bones with ease

  • Comfortable handle

Cons

  • Struggles to cut raw chicken skin

  • Blades open too wide

  • Lock loosens over time

Product image of Mercer M14803 Poultry Shears
Mercer Culinary Hot Forged Poultry Shears

The Mercer Culinary Hot Forged Poultry Shears are one of three sets that pass all kitchten tasks. The long, curved blade looks intimidating, but it does a fantastic job gripping chicken bones and has no issues getting through slippery chicken skin. The locking mechanism is conveniently located at the bottom, so it won't get in the way as you slice.

We do find the stainless-steel handle and lack of handle loop to be a little slippery, and the spring-loaded tension on this set opens the blades way too wide to be comfortable. They’re also 1.5-ounces heavier than our winning pair. That doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up to tire your hands after extended use.

Pros

  • Sharp blades

  • Grips bones to help slice

Cons

  • Heavy

  • Spring-loaded handle opens too wide

  • Slippery handle

Product image of Tansung Come-apart Kitchen Scissors T2
Tansung Come-Apart Kitchen Scissors

While these inexpensive Tansung poultry shears were sharper than other shears, they still didn’t have the whole package. They require two hands for many sections of the chicken backbone and breastbone—an indication that they won't fare well on tough turkey bones—and frequently get hung up on slippery chicken skin.

That would be acceptable, but the handle is incredibly uncomfortable. The plastic handle is coated with a nonstick material that will keep hands from slipping, but it contains raised ridges on the inside of the handle loop. They painfully dig into hands, especially when exerting strong effort.

Pros

  • Handle wasn't slippery

  • Came apart for easy cleaning

Cons

  • Uncomfortable handle

  • Requires two hands for thicker bones

Product image of Wüsthof 5509 Poultry Shears
Wüsthof Black Stainless Steel 10-Inch Poultry Shears

We’ve tested several Wüsthof knives over the years, and they usually end up towards the top of our rankings. In this case, we're pretty disappointed with the performance of the Wüsthof Black Stainless Steel 10-Inch Poultry Shears. The spring-loaded mechanism provides the right amount of tension, but the blades aren't as sharp as other models.

They struggle to get through slippery chicken skin and don't grip as well on bones during slicing. The spring mechanism locks with the same screw design as the J.A. Henckels, which loosens and way get in the way after a few uses. It can be tightened, but the design is still a pain.

Finally, the handle had a very narrow loop that would be a tight fit for larger hands, and doesn't contain any padding. That makes these shears slippery and uncomfortable after extended use.

Pros

  • Spring-loaded mechanism provides good tension

Cons

  • Not sharp enough

  • Doesn't grip bones well

  • Uncomfortable, slippery handle

What to Know About Buying Poultry Shears

Best poultry shears
Credit: Reviewed/Lindsay D. Mattison

Most poultry shears are spring-loaded with microserrated blades to grip onto bones, but some are definitely more comfortable to use than others.

Poultry shears are specialized kitchen scissors that you may or may not need. If you don’t process whole chickens, you probably don’t need a set. But if you want to speed up the cooking process by spatchcocking a roasted chicken or turkey, you’ll definitely want a pair.

Poultry shears are different from kitchen shears or scissors in their design. Some kitchen shears—like the Shun Kitchen Shears we've previously tested—have extra features which aid in cutting poultry bones.

But kitchen scissors are mostly for general kitchen use, and include features like a notch for opening bottles or cracking crabs. Poultry shears have fewer bells and whistles, but excel at cutting through tough poultry bones. They also usually feature one handle loop, and some are flat on both handles. That makes them easy to use with either the right or left hand.

Poultry shear blades are often curved and micro-serrated to make it easier to grip onto bone, preventing the shears from slipping backward with every slice. They’re also spring-loaded so you don’t have to use as much strength with each slice, and they’ll bounce open after every cut to keep your hands from tiring. That requires the use of a lock to keep them from being a storage hazard, and a good set has a well-designed lock that doesn’t get in the way or accidentally engage while you’re slicing.

It’s also important to grab a pair with a comfortable, padded handle and an ergonomic design. Even the sharpest pair requires two hands from time to time. Putting that much pressure on the handle can cause quite a bit of pain—especially if the handle isn’t coated or has raised edges. Finally, like kitchen scissors, it’s ideal if the blades come apart. While you may only use them for raw poultry, you could also use them to carve roasted chicken, cut lobster tails, or gut fish. It’s important to clean them completely after every use to prevent cross-contamination and foodborne illness.

Take-apart shears make it easier to do that, getting into all the crevices without accidentally slicing into your hands.

Meet the tester

Lindsay D. Mattison

Lindsay D. Mattison

Professional Chef

@zestandtang

Lindsay D. Mattison is a professional chef, food writer, and amateur gardener. She is currently writing a cookbook that aims to teach home cooks how to write without a recipe.

See all of Lindsay D. Mattison's reviews

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