Last Updated Jan 2024 – Poultry scissors are an invaluable tool for properly preparing chicken. While you can certainly carve a whole chicken with a knife, some patience, and no small amount of skill, having a good pair of dedicated poultry scissors or even sturdy kitchen shears makes the task much, much easier.
It’s still a messy task, sure, but as long as you know what cuts you want to make, your scissors will do all the work for you. It’s not uncommon for first-timers to be able to cut apart a chicken in less than four minutes.
The best part?
Poultry scissors are pretty darn cheap. While you can certainly spend more than $40 on a pair of super nice poultry shears, you don’t need to! Any of our budget-friendly picks can be used to spatchcock a fairly large bird and can last for several years.
Poultry Shears Reviews
The OXO Good Grips Poultry Shears do a perfect job balancing price and features. These sturdy scissors are sharp, safe to use, and quite easy to clean, thanks to the separating blades. A simple spring helps you open these heavy shears up after each cut, reducing the amount of work you have to do with your hands.
Of course, the most important feature of any pair of kitchen scissors is a set of strong, sturdy blades. These OXO scissors have some pretty kick-butt cutting edges that make short work of small chicken bones. The inclusion of a spring seems very warranted once you realize how massive these things really are.
The “spring’ isn’t a long coil of metal wound in a tight circle. Instead, it’s a small curved bit of metal that provides a little bit of extra force to open your shears. It works brilliantly in practice, most of the time. Unfortunately, it has a habit of getting dislodged when you’re particularly vigorous when you clean your shears (or when you throw them in the dishwasher). Luckily, this is an easy problem to fix — just pop it back into place!
Speaking of cleaning, I mentioned earlier that these kitchen scissors come apart easily for cleaning and sharpening. You pretty much just open the scissors all the way (far more than you would open them during normal use) and pop them apart. When you want to put them back together, you align them to the proper position, press them together, and close them. It’s an incredibly simple process. Despite how easy it is to take these scissors apart, the feeling you’ll get from them is one of hefty sturdiness. There’s no risk that these blades will come apart during normal use.
OXO has provided a few additional safety features to help you feel safe. A standard full loop encircles the lower handle, while the upper handle has a plastic bolster to keep your fingers from slipping off. There’s a clip that you can use to keep the scissors closed while you store them, too. Just like with a knife, however, the biggest danger you face is from using dull scissors. If you have to use lots of force to cut through something, you’re more likely to make the blades slip and cut something they’re not supposed to.
While these are on the heavier end of poultry shears, they’re not going to cut straight through large bones. Instead, you should use these scissors (and all kitchen scissors) on the joints and small bones of your bird. These are perfect for cutting out the backbone and sternum, separating breasts or wings, and even trimming off excess fat or unwanted flesh. They’re not the best at literally chopping a drumstick in half. Again, though, most shears aren’t designed for this task — it’s simply not something you have to do very often.
Despite the low price of these shears, OXO has historically been enthusiastic about addressing customer concerns. There’s a very good chance that any issues you encounter in the first year or two can be resolved by contacting OXO customer service. The sturdy design and solid construction of these shears make it unlikely that you’ll have any issues, but it’s nice to know that a lifeline exists if you need it.
I’m a firm believer that these are the best poultry shears for the price. Given that that price is cheaper than a moderately nice paring knife, you really can’t go wrong with these OXO poultry shears. If you’re in the habit of buying boneless chicken, you can even save money by using these scissors to debone your chicken yourself.
These Wusthof poultry shears are quite a bit nicer than the OXO shears in a number of ways. For one, their all-metal design is a bit more durable. They’re covered by a fairly comprehensive lifetime warranty with the backing of a legendary German brand, they’re quite sturdy, and the blade is designed specifically to cut through tough chicken bones. If you don’t want to have to replace your chicken scissors ever, these are the shears you’ll want to choose.
The downside, however, is that they’re pretty pricey. While these are definitely the shears I’d prefer to have in my kitchen, I can understand the cost of these meat shears being harder to justify than the cheap OXO shears above. That’s totally fine! They’re a bit nicer, but they won’t make your chicken taste any better.
Best Kitchen Scissors
These all-purpose kitchen scissors aren’t quite as good at cutting up a chicken as the OXO shears above, but they’re easier to use for other tasks. They’ve got solid stainless blades that are longer than some paring knives and a plethora of utility tools built into the handles. These include a nutcracker, jar and bottle openers, and even tips that double as flat-head screwdrivers.
Like other quality kitchen shears, these Kershaw scissors separate for cleaning and sharpening. This is especially important if you want to sanitize them after cutting meat or refresh a pair of scissors that you’ve had for a couple years. A few minutes on a whetstone can work wonders when it comes to restoring scissors that you’ve had for a few years. It’s definitely worth spending a few extra dollars to give yourself easy access to this option via separating blades.
The high-carbon stainless steel used in these scissors is the same sort of steel that you’ll find in some fairly high-end knives. It’s dishwasher safe, too, meaning that you can clean these scissors with practically no effort at all. While this steel is stain resistant and won’t rust easily, you shouldn’t leave these scissors wet for long periods of time. They will rust and discolor eventually.
While I stand by my claim that the OXO shears are the superior choice for cutting a chicken, I think that these Kershaw scissors might be a better choice overall. Their standard shape makes them much easier to use for normal household tasks like opening packages or even trimming herbs. I’ve gotten quite a lot of mileage out of having utility features like a bottle opener on my scissors, too.
You can even use these scissors to cut a chicken. It’s harder than with a spring-loaded pair like the OXO shears above, sure, but you’ll manage. The standard blade shape might not be totally optimal, but these scissors are more than sharp and strong enough to trim through small bones. They’ve even got a hollow built into one blade to allow you to cut slightly larger bones at a smaller pace.
Overall, these are definitely the kitchen scissors I would choose to have in my kitchen. They’re affordable, extremely durable (many customers talk about owning their scissors for multiple decades), and loaded with useful features. Most importantly, however, they’re quite sharp and very easy to maintain. You’ll love having these scissors on hand when it comes to prepping poultry or even just opening packages.
How To Use Poultry Scissors
You can use poultry scissors to make a huge variety of cuts on a chicken or turkey. In general, you can use your shears to make the same sort of cuts you would with a knife. Try to cut joints, not bones. You can, however, cut right through smaller bones, especially ribs.
For those of you who want step by step instructions, here’s how to quickly prepare a whole chicken with a pair of kitchen shears:
1. Remove the backbone
Hold your chicken firmly. With the backbone up (sternum side down), use your bone scissors to cut all the way down the chicken on both sides of the backbone. When you’re done, you should be able to simply lift the backbone right out.
2. Butterfly The Chicken
With the backbone gone, you can flatten the chicken out quite a bit. If you’re spatchcocking a chicken, you’re nearly done — simply remove the sternum and you’re good to go. Otherwise, proceed to the next step.
3. Cut The Sternum In Half
Next, cut your chicken in half by going straight through the sternum. You’re almost done!
4. Separate Dark From White Meat
Each half of chicken will have a natural seam where the two types of meat intersect. Simply follow this seam with your knife and cut across. An additional natural seam in each section separates breast from wing and thigh from the leg. Again, simply find the natural joint and cut across with your knife. When separating the thigh and the leg, look for the curve in the joint. Don’t worry if you mess up the first time — the meat will still be perfectly good to eat!
The Best Poultry Shears For Your Kitchen
Our kitchen scissors review found that OXO’s poultry shears were a clear winner when it comes to balancing price and performance. On an unlimited budget, Wusthof’s shears pulled ahead by a bit, while Kershaw’s multi-purpose kitchen scissors might beat both for general household use. No matter which of these three options you choose, you’ll be able to trim poultry in no time and save lots of money by buying bone-in meat instead of boneless.