It's truly a case of shear necessity.

By Jennifer Anderson
July 22, 2020
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kitchen shears and chives
Credit: Courtesy of Messermeister

Veteran chefs doling out advice to home cooks often proffer the wise counsel that you don't need an arsenal of expensive knives in order to prep like a pro. Most agree that a chef's knife, a paring knife, and a serrated bread knife are all you need in order to slice, dice, or chop any ingredient. And that's almost true. There's one more cutting tool that we consider a must-have: kitchen shears. Once you have them, you'll use them every day. 

A pair of kitchen shears will prove instrumental for dozens of routine chores. Use them to cut up a whole chicken—raw or roasted; or cut the backbone out of a chicken in order to spatchcock it. Reach for them when you need to snip fresh herbs, such as basil, chives, and mint. Cut up whole peeled tomatoes right in the can, trim pie crusts and other kinds of pastry with ease, and cut parchment paper to exactly the right size to fit pans. You'll find they're even the best option when cutting bread dough to make decorative shapes, cutting dough apart to make rolls, or to cut pizza into slices. And they're helpful for those moments when you need help opening food packages (including pesky clamshell containers) and for trimming flowers. In short, kitchen shears are the type of workhorse tool every home chef needs.

Not just any pair of scissors will do: Kitchen shears are specially made with food prep in mind. They're made of easy-to-clean, rust-proof materials (usually stainless steel and plastic) and their blades are designed to be tough and durable. Good kitchen shears usually have one blade that's straight-edge and one that's serrated. This design functions to simultaneously grip and cut the food. 

Look for shears like OXO Good Grips Kitchen and Herb Scissors ($17.99, oxo.com) that have sturdy handles with a comfy grip so you can apply the force you need when cutting through tough things like bones or thick stems. Many brands of kitchen shears, such as Messermeister 8-Inch Take-Apart Kitchen Scissors ($12.95, messermeister.com), are made to be taken apart for cleaning. Take-apart shears can be more expensive, but are worth the investment, since blades that can be thoroughly cleaned and dried will stay sharp and rust-free, lasting you for years and years. 

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