Just about everyone keeps a pair of scissors in the kitchen, but when it comes to using them for food prep, your average craft or office versions simply won’t cut it. What you really need are kitchen scissors or kitchen shears, which are heavy duty and super sharp.
The main advantage to using kitchen shears is that they make quick work of slow or tedious tasks — think cleaning shrimp and removing the stems from kale. They also eliminate the need for a cutting board and are often safer than using a knife because your hands are away from the blade — they’re even great for kids learning to cook. And did we mention that most shears can go in the dishwasher? When shopping, look for blades that come apart for easy cleaning and pick a pair that feels good in your hand — after all, this is supposed to make life easier. Once you invest in a dedicated pair of kitchen scissors, you’ll discover almost endless ways to use them. Here are 14 surprising ways to use kitchen scissors.
1. Slicing pizza and quesadillas
The layers of ingredients, and especially the gooey cheese, are what make pizza and quesadillas so enticing, but they’re also why these beloved comfort foods are so annoying to slice. Kitchen scissors cut right through those layers without disrupting them or making a mess.
2. Breaking up bunches of grapes
Have you ever noticed it’s not that easy to break apart a large bunch of grapes? When you want individual servings, grab your kitchen shears and snip.
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3. Cutting up bacon
Raw bacon is slippery and kind of hard to cut into — at least when you use a knife. Kitchen shears, however, cut easily through slices, so it’s a breeze to create uniform pieces for cooking. Shears can also be used to cut cooked bacon into chunks or crumbles for garnishing.
4. Breaking down poultry
When breaking down raw chicken or turkey, scissors make it easy to get into small, tight spaces like joints and there’s no risk of the blade slipping on the, well, slippery bird.
To spatchcock, which just means splitting and flattening a bird for more even cooking, cut along either side of the backbone to remove it then use your hands to open up the chicken like a book and press down firmly on the breastbone to flatten it.
To further break down a bird, cut through the breastbone, so the chicken is in two halves. Working with one half chicken at a time, cut the breast and wing away from the leg and thigh then find the place where the leg meets the thigh and cut right on that joint. The final step is to separate the breast from the wing. Repeat these steps on the other half chicken and you’ll have eight pieces total.
Also: While it won’t quite have that traditional Norman Rockwell feel, if you’re struggling to carve a cooked chicken or turkey with a knife, try using kitchen shears.
5. Slicing basil and other herbs
Basil is delicate and easily bruised by a dull knife, which is where super sharp kitchen shears come in handy. Layer several leaves, then roll them into a cigar shape and snip into thin ribbons, which are known in fancy French circles as “chiffonade” and are perfect for garnishing. Scissors are also great for quickly chopping chives and scallions, as well as cutting herbs like parsley, cilantro, and rosemary off the stem.
6. Cleaning shrimp
Kitchen scissors cut right through the shell for easy peeling and cleaning of shrimp prior to cooking. Insert the tip of the shears in between the shell and the shrimp, then just follow the curve of the shell until you reach the tail. Use your hands to peel off the shell, leaving the tail on or pinching it off. Bonus: The scissors split open the shrimp a bit, so the vein slides right out.
7. Prepping kale and other greens
You can use a knife to cut the leaves off hardy greens like kale, spinach and chard, but it’s just so much easier and faster to use scissors. And, once the stems are removed, you can use the shears to cut the leaves into strips or bite-size pieces.
8. Chopping canned tomatoes
Dicing canned tomatoes on a cutting board isn’t hard, but it sure is messy and you risk losing some of the juice. Save yourself the trouble — and washing up — by placing scissors directly in the can for easy cutting then pour everything, including all those yummy juices, into your pot for cooking.
9. Chopping dried fruit
Using a knife to cut up dried fruit, such as figs or apricots, and even sundried tomatoes, can be slow, fussy and a bit risky since it’s all too easy for the knife to slip on a small, chewy piece of food. Using kitchen shears is a faster and safer approach. If what you’re chopping is particularly sticky, spray the blades with cooking spray to keep the stickiness to a minimum.
10. Shredding cabbage
Whether for salad, slaw, or any time you need thin strips of cabbage, using shears is a no brainer. Stack the cabbage, then use scissors to shred it into slaw-ready ribbons.
11. Making the world's easiest salad
If you’re in a rush to throw together a salad, rather than cutting up each individual ingredient, place everything, including the dressing, in a bowl and use your scissors to quickly chop, dress, and toss the salad in one easy, mess-free step. It won’t be the prettiest salad you’re ever made, but it will be quick and you won’t need to wash a cutting board.
12. Cutting up meat for quick cooking
Use your trusty shears to cut raw chicken, beef and pork into bite-size pieces for stir-fries and sautés to create super simple weeknight suppers. Kitchen scissors are also great for trimming away excess fat.
13. Cutting and trimming dough
Once you’ve rolled pie dough to the desired thickness, place your pie plate on top and use your scissors to cut the dough to just the right dimensions. Next, arrange the dough in the pie plate and grab those scissors again to trim off any scraps. Shears are also great for cutting strips of dough to make a lattice or cutting a vent for steam if your pie has a top crust. Other dough, such as puff pastry and phyllo, can be cut with scissors into whatever size and shape you need.
14. Removing crust from bread
Whether you’re making fancy tea sandwiches, prepping bread for homemade breadcrumbs, or just have a picky kid, shears make it easy to cut the crusts from bread. They can also be used to cube bread for stuffing, bread pudding, or croutons.