Don’t ignore your kitchen shears. They’re the best all-around tool on the counter, useful for butterflying or quartering chicken, trimming pie dough, shaping parchment to line cake pans, snipping herbs, or cutting lengths of kitchen twine. We set out to find a pair that aced all of these tasks, with powerful, sharp, easy-to-maneuver blades; slip-resistant, comfortable handles; and no-hassle cleanup. We also wanted shears that would work for most cooks whatever their hand size or strength—and preferred a design that would also work for lefties.
We gathered seven promising pairs priced from $9.95 to $75—including the favorite from our 2006 testing as well as an ambidextrous model—and started snipping. Our testers cut whole raw chickens, twine, parchment, woody fresh rosemary stems, and tender pie dough. They scissored away with hands both large and small, and included a left-handed tester.
Some shears sacrifice comfort for style, with snazzy-looking handles that made our hands ache or slipped once they got wet or greasy. Two models had cramped handles made of uncomfortably hard material. Also, we didn’t feel safe with pull-apart blades unless we knew they wouldn’t separate spontaneously, as happened with the ambidextrous model and another pair, which both fell apart when spread just 90 degrees. Nor should it take Herculean strength to open and close the shears. Testers with weaker or smaller hands were fatigued by a model with spring-loaded handles, which kept threatening to pop out of our grasp, making precision work difficult.
Also critical to comfort and precision was the tension of the shears. If the tension was too tight, cutting became halting and laborious; if too loose, the shears felt flimsy. We preferred models that allowed us to adjust the tension at the stud fastening the blades. One pair of shears, which began with ideal calibration, felt looser by the end of testing, but since the model wasn’t adjustable we could do nothing about it. Blade length and overall balance proved important as well. Longer shears meant fewer strokes; our top-ranked pair was a full inch longer than most in the lineup, yet it felt balanced in the hand.
The shears we considered all stayed perfectly sharp throughout testing. This was not entirely surprising, since many are made of the same high-carbon stainless steel used in chef’s knives. But what made the most difference to cutting performance was the presence of micro-serrations. They anchor the blades to what you are cutting, helping the scissor action glide effortlessly without slipping and sliding off target. Most pairs had them on one or both blades, but only two models offered dual serrations, with fine teeth along one blade and deeper grooves along the other. These really prevented slippage—it felt like they had a death grip on slippery raw poultry bones and stems of rosemary.
We have a new favorite pair of shears. Testers praised them for their precision and economy of motion. While they separate for cleaning, the blades stayed together until opened to 120 degrees. They work for both right- and left-handed users and feel sturdy and well engineered. Although these shears aren’t cheap, their lifetime guarantee salves some of the sting.
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasn’t sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|Recommended with Reservations|
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.
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