Are kitchen shears an essential cooking tool? I would certainly make an argument that they are. While your kitchen knives can do everything a set of shears can do, those kitchen scissors are the quickest way to perform tasks like snipping delicate herbs or cutting up a whole chicken. What really makes them essential is their ability to do everything else, which (if I’m being honest) is what my shears get used for more often than anything. Receive a package? Want to break down cardboard for the recycling bin? Need to cut open a plastic container or get into a bag of pasta? Using a pair of kitchen scissors—like our top pick, the OXO Good Grips Kitchen And Herb Scissors(available at Amazon for $17.25)—is a no brainer. Some of them even have extra features, like doubling as a bottle opener, nut cracker, or can opener, making them an all-in-one gadget.
I’m often in the market for a new set of shears—let’s be real, you can only abuse your scissors so many times by cutting up cardboard before it’s time to trade them in. Each time, I find myself overwhelmed by the choices. There are hundreds of kitchen shears, many of them with decent reviews. How do you really know which one to choose? The most important factors are comfort and blades that are sharp enough to cut through everything you can throw at it, so we put eight highly-related shears to the test. As luck would have it, we found a set that met those criteria while also happening to be quite the bargain.
Here are the best kitchen shears and scissors we tested ranked, in order.
OXO Good Grips Kitchen And Herb Scissors
Shun Classic Kitchen Shears
Wüsthof 5558 Kitchen Shears
Gerior Come Apart Kitchen Scissors
J.A. Henckels International 10.5-Inch Kitchen Shears
KitchenAid KC351OHOBA Shears
Kai DH-3005 Select 100 Kitchen Shears
Tansung Kitchen Shears
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As soon as we held the OXO Good Grips Kitchen And Herb Scissors, we knew they would be a contender for the top of our list. They were so comfortable, we felt like we could use them all day long without fatiguing our hands. The finger bows on the handles were both wide and long enough for small and larger hands, and there wasn’t any uncomfortable pressure from the handles as we worked with them. The thick, squishy pads on the inside of the handles cushioned our hands and kept them from slipping as we worked (even when oiled up with cooking oil). It wasn’t just the handles that vaulted the OXO to the top of our list; these shears were well designed all the way around. They never accidentally came apart as we used them, but it was simple to detach one blade from the other for easy cleaning. And other than the satisfying “click” when closing the blades, they operated smoothly and quietly.
When it came to performance, we had no complaints. The ultra-sharp shears have one micro-serrated blade that grips onto slippery food like raw chicken while the other blade slices through the product with ease. They struggled ever so slightly to get through the breastbone of the chicken, but that wasn’t unusual; every other set we tested (other than the Shun) struggled more. As far as other materials go, the OXO had no problems chomping through cardboard, hard plastic clamshells, and twist ties, and it cut through delicate items like herbs and kitchen twine cleanly without creating torn edges.
It’s worth noting that these shears don’t have many additional features—they do have an herb stripper for taking herbs like rosemary and thyme off the stem, but we didn’t really miss any of the extra bells and whistles from the other models. The OXO is a solid pair of shears that gets the job done—no matter the material—and they’re available for a value price. What more can you ask for?
If money isn’t an object and you want to upgrade to the best possible set, we recommend the Japanese-made Shun Classic Kitchen Shears. They were the sharpest set of shears we tested, tackling bulky cardboard and hard plastic containers with ease, and it cut out a chicken backbone as well as spring-loaded poultry shears. When it came to delicate items, the Shun shears glided effortlessly along parchment paper and made swift, clean cuts on herbs and kitchen twine. The stainless steel blades are slightly longer than our top pick OXO, which gave the Shun an edge when it came to making continuous cuts on things like cardboard. And despite their length, the shears are incredibly maneuverable, cutting corners and moving around chicken bones and joints without issue.
The soft plastic handles are extremely comfortable and didn’t apply any pressure points to our fingers as we worked. As an added bonus, these shears are exceptionally quiet—they make the slightest swooshing noise as you use them, and their closing click is barely audible. Like most of our favorite kitchen shears, the blades come apart—quickly and easily—for cleaning and sharpening.
In addition to super-sharp blades and comfortable handles, the Shun shears have a ton of add-ons. Between the handles is a nutcracker that doubles as a jar opener and crab crusher, and a bottle opener is located just underneath the handle. Want more features? The top contains a lid lifter and screwdriver, and one of the blades contains a large divot for notching poultry bones. Even if you never use any of these extra features, they’re nice to have just in case.
Hi, I’m Lindsay Mattison, a trained professional chef who’s always looking for a quicker, easier, more efficient way to tackle kitchen prep. After a trip to Seoul, South Korea, a few years ago, I was amazed at the variety of ways they use kitchen shears. It’s not just about snipping herbs; they used shears to cut things like cooked noodles and meat for barbecue. I took my newfound knowledge home, ditching the knife and cutting board in lieu of a pair of scissors for everyday tasks. It saves a ton of time on cleanup, but it does require one thing: A sharp set of shears.
We knew that a set of kitchen shears has to work on food, but it should also be able to tackle packaging material. So we threw as many different items at the shears as we could. We cut through cardboard, vacuum-sealed plastic bags, hard plastic clamshells, twist ties, kitchen twine, parchment paper, and the bags that hold whole chickens. The shears that cut through without snagging or stalling were awarded bonus points, and we purposely cut in circles to see if the shears could maneuver around strangely-shaped packaging.
Once they passed the everyday-use tests, we moved on to the food-specific tasks. We snipped delicate chives, cilantro, and green onions, testing to see if the shears created jagged tears or torn edges. As a final test, we cut up a whole chicken, which let us see how the shears could handle hard-to-grip skin, bulky meat, and poultry bones like the back and breastbone that often require spring-loaded poultry shears to get through. During the first half of the chicken, we kept our hands dry, but we greased them up with cooking oil to see how the shears could handle being used with slippery hands.
Throughout all the tests, we assessed the comfort level and ease of use of the scissors. Did they dig uncomfortably into our fingers as we used them? Could we easily maneuver around the bones and tendons in a chicken? Was it possible to slice through several herbs at once without sacrificing quality? In the end, we found that the shape of the handle and overall design of the shears played a big part in filtering out our top picks from our least favorites.
What You Should Know About Kitchen Shears
These scissors are one of the most versatile kitchen tool in your kitchen.They're often more useful than a knife because you don’t have to dirty up a cutting board! A high-quality pair of shears can chop lettuce directly into a bowl for salad, snip the florets off a head of broccoli or cauliflower, and trim the excess pieces off of pie dough. Almost any shears can cut through the more delicate items, but it takes the right pair to cut through bone when spatchcocking a chicken or snipping through rosemary’s woody stems.
What to Look For in a Set of Shears
Unlike other types of scissors, these kitchen gadgets are designed to be ambidextrous, so you don't have to worry about finding the right- or left-handed shears. But, you do want to find a set that's comfortable. That’s a hard thing to assess when you’re buying a pair online! There are a few things to look out for that indicate whether or not the shears will be comfortable in your hands. Look for finger bows that are wide and oval-shaped—overall, these were the shears that felt most comfortable in both my small hands and another tester with larger, meatier fingers. As the finger bows became more narrow and rounded, the more cramped our fingers felt. The last thing you want is for the shears to put pressure on your knuckles as you use them, so roomy handles are a must.
The second most important factor is blade design and sharpness. Unlike your knife, which is sharp on both sides of the blade, shears are only sharpened on the inside of the blade. One of the blades is smooth while the other one is usually serrated or micro-serrated. That allows the shears to simultaneously grip and cut the food, preventing the item from sliding backwards as you make the cutting stroke. The sharper the blade, the more effortless the slice.
Finally, another thing you to look for is take-apart blades. Most kitchen shears—but not all—have the ability to come apart into two pieces. This is helpful when it comes to cleaning the shears, and it’s absolutely crucial for good sanitation. While many sheers are dishwasher safe, hand washing is often recommended. If you’re using the shears to cut ready-to-eat herbs after breaking down a whole raw chicken, you really want to make sure there aren’t any lingering bits on the blade. Take-apart stainless steel blades are easier to sharpen, too, if you want to extend the life of the set once the blades begin to dull over time.
Other Kitchen Shears We Tested
Wüsthof 5558 Kitchen Shears
The Wüsthof 5558 Kitchen Shears had some of the shortest blades in the test group, but what they lacked in length they made up for in sharpness and maneuverability. The handles on the Wüsthof are small, which we originally thought might work against them. Although you could only fit a few fingers inside the finger bows, the grip on the small, oval openings was very comfortable. The shears were effortless to use, cutting through everything from cardboard to plastic and chicken without issue. If the handles were larger, they would have knocked out our top pick, but their small size means they might not be for everyone.
If you’re looking for a set of shears that doubles as an all-in-one tool, the Gerior Come Apart Kitchen Scissors are it. They weren’t our absolute favorite set of shears, but they were comfortable to hold, had no issues cutting up a whole chicken, and they tied with the Tansung shears for the longest blades of the test group. The shears have multiple additional functions, including a center-toothed grip for cracking nuts or crab shells, a bottle opener, a vegetable peeler, and a long, serrated edge on the outside for—well, we’re not quite sure what that one is for, but it’s there! While we didn’t test the additional functions, we were pleased enough with the shears for cutting cardboard and food that it made its way towards the top of our list.
J.A. Henckels International 10.5-Inch Kitchen Shears
We wanted to like the J.A. Henckels International 10.5-Inch Kitchen Shears more than we did. They look more like sewing scissors than kitchen shears, with small, round handles and a shorter blade than most of the shears we tested. The handles were the problem, though: They hurt our hands badly when using them. After cutting up the chicken, even my small hands cramped up, and the shears jutted up very uncomfortably against my right knuckle, leaving a red mark. They were sharp—no doubt about that—but the small handles were a deal breaker; honestly, we’re not sure whose hands these were made for!
It wasn’t all bad when it came to the KitchenAid KC351OHOBA Shears. This is one of those no bells and whistles sets: It doesn’t have a bottle opener or a nutcracker, but the shears are nice and long and decently sharp, too. While they struggled on the hard plastic and clamshell containers, they did a fine job on the chicken. The handles didn’t become slippery when our hands were covered in oil, but they were a touch small. My pinky finger couldn’t quite fit in the handle, and the shears weren’t comfortable with the finger hanging out, either. The fact that they were the only set that didn’t come apart made them really difficult to clean, dropping them to a lower ranking on our list.
The Kai DH-3005 Select 100 Kitchen Shears had a few unique features: The finger bows on the handles were rectangular-shaped instead of rounded, and the cutting blade is wider than the micro-serrated blade. We were interested to see if this odd shape would pan out in the tests, and unfortunately it did not. The blades weren’t as sharp as we’d like, struggling on chicken skin and the tough breastbone. They were also shorter than most of the shears we tested, so we couldn’t cover as much ground in one swipe. The wide cutting blade made it hard to maneuver around the chicken as we cut, and the rectangular handles put a lot of uncomfortable pressure on our index finger knuckle. Seeing as it’s no less expensive than most of the shears we tested, we recommend looking to another pair.
Although the Tansung Kitchen Shears looked almost identical to the Gerior shears, they didn’t perform up to par. We knew the shears were trouble when it was hard to pull them apart—most of the blades detached quite easily, but you have to perfectly line up the Tansung and violently pull one blade (towards your body, we may add), which didn’t feel as safe as we’d like. The handles were comfortable enough, but the blades struggled on almost every test—plastic, chicken skin and flesh— and it had an especially hard time getting through cardboard. The shear’s many serrated edges made hand washing difficult, too, so this one fell to the bottom of this list.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.