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Poultry Shears

I've been on a slight cutlery and gadget shopping spree lately...and came across poultry shears ?

Curious who uses it and in what fashion ? I never could see who could/would use them - and would require handstrength of steel to cut through bone and or even tough areas

Most if not all my chicken, aside from buying thighs in bulk, is generally whole chicken. Depending on how I'm breaking it down, there's always meat and also the remainder for making stock.

Just can't even imagine using a shear to cut bone - as I'm accustomed to a hard chop with the cleaver.

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  1. Poultry shears are good for when you have to butterfly a chicken and need to cut down both sides of the backbone...or so I hear. I've seen them used by tv chefs, but I personally only use my chef's knife for this job.

    1 Reply
    1. re: eefoodgeek

      I liked using them to cut smaller game birds in half, but I'm sure it could be done with a chef's knife as well.

    2. They are not used to cut bone such as a leg bone,.

      I think they are easier and safer than a chef knife to split/quarter whole fowl.

      They work well to split lobster tails/claws too.

      2 Replies
      1. re: FrankJBN

        I never even thought about shellfish applications.

        As much as I love lobster, it's a bloddy mess cutting lobster up. It just seems to get everywhere.

        1. re: FrankJBN

          "They work well to split lobster tails/claws too."

          That's what I use 'em for more than anything else. In fact, I own four shears and put 'em out for lobster dinners.

        2. I have my grandmothers shears and use it quite often. I find it much easier to remove the backbone of a chicken using the shears than using a butcher's knife or cleaver. And depending on the dish, I'll often cut off the knob on the bottom of the leg for a more attractive presentation. My hands aren't the strongest, but I have no difficulty cutting through bone. What my shears do not do well is cut through skin. So even though I use the shears to cut through the ribs on either side of the backbone, I still need to use my knife to cut through the skin.

          I use a knife to cut apart chicken wings, though. I can find the joint more easily with a knife than with the shears.

          I have a separate pair of shears for shellfish. They're much lighter in weight with shorter, more pointed blades. Great for cutting shells and for cutting open the underside of the lobster tail.

          2 Replies
          1. re: JoanN

            You did not say what brand or what type your Grandmothers shears are. I am searching for something to use for cutting up chickens naturally. I see the stainless steel stag horn cutters, the regular type, the all metal type, the run of the mill type that lasts only a little while. I want mid range cost ones that stay sharpened and do not fall apart just because they come apart to clean. Also, I keep searching and reviews always come up with the bad things like springs fall out, the blade does not allow for cutting until almost completely closed etc. Those are bad points I want to avoid when buying them.

            1. re: Tinkerbell

              Since writing that report, I now use Joyce Chen's kitchen shears for cutting up chickens (and myriad other kitchen tasks as well). I find they go through both skin and bone, remain sharp seemingly forever (I've had mine for at least five years now), and I just toss them in the dishwasher to no ill effect. And the price is right, too.


          2. I've got a really good set of Wusthof poultry shears. In retrospect, the chef's knife or better yet, a good chinese cleaver do just as good a job, and are a heck of a lot easier to clean.

            I think I've used them less than once a year. Nice toys, but too much of a single purpose item.

            However, I can always use another knife.......

            1. I use my Wusthof poultry shears ALL the time. I make a lot of stir fries and I use them to cut up boneless skinless chicken breast. Same goes for various cuts of beef that I use for stews or stir fries.

              I also use them for cutting up cooked roast chicken. I often buy rotisserie chickens and using poultry shears makes it so easy to cut a chicken into 8 pieces.

              I have 2 pairs and I honestly think that I use a pair every day for one thing or another.

              1. I hate to stereotype but as "chefwong" you sound Asian. Asian chefs are much more likely to chop up chicken, bone and all, before stir frying, etc, not snapping through a drumstick. These shears are for cutting out backbones, cutting off wings, etc. There are plenty of uses for poultry shears and while they are geared towards chicken dismemberment, as others have mentioned they are great for lobster too.

                1. I agree with the poster who mentioned butterflying a chicken. I have a excellet set of sheers, and use them believe it or not, also to trim artichokes. You can use the shears, if they are good ones, to trim the tips of wings and other odd ends on a chicken. You should not be contemplating actually cutting a chicken into pieces with one of these -- that requires a good chef's knife or even a cleaver.

                  1. Chicken bones aren't that hard, and poultry shears are designed to get the most leverage from your grip. That said, I don't deal with whole poultry much, and use my shears for other things, from snipping chives to cutting open bags of frozen food.

                    1. For butterflying a chicken I keep a dedicated pruner in the kitchen....as I don't have a set of shears. I don't know how to cut out the backbone with just a knife

                      *** nevermind old post ***

                      1. I don't think you need fancy shears to do things like butterfly a chicken. I've done it successfully (and easily) using a cheapo pair of Kitchen Aid kitchen shears: http://www.amazon.com/KitchenAid-Cook...

                        As for cutting through larger bones, I would guess you would want a cleaver, because, as you stated, most shears wouldn't be able to do it.

                        1. I use mine for lobster, as well as cutting green onions. I've also used them to snip shiratake noodles into smaller lengths. I have to admit, I don't ever use them on poultry, since normally I cook birds either whole or already-cut-up.

                          1. I use mine as more of a kitchen scissors that I can put in the dishwasher vs. strictly for poultry. They are handy for making snips in certain types of shaped dough products and for snipping chives or other herbs without any bruising and when one doesn't want to dirty a cutting board and knife.
                            They are good for removing the backbone and/or ribs for spatchcocked chickens as has been mentioned. I use my cleaver more for this, but for smaller birds, the shears are easier to maneuver.

                            1. Shears are definitely the best solution for crunching through chicken carcasses. As long as the shears are well-made you shouldn't have a problem. Shears offer so much more exactness and control than hacking with a cleaver (unless you're seriously trained). And they're safer, too.

                              I've heard Messermiester makes a terrific pair of shears. They're a top-knotch German knife manufacturer, not as big and as well-known as Wustohof, but just as high quality.

                              Good luck!

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: kitchenknifeguru

                                That's what I have, specifically the 8 1/2" Take-Apart Utility Shear, thanks to the recommendation in Cooks Illustrated, and I'd recommend it too. Does what it does well, comes apart for dishwashing but not when being used. Utility: has a couple of bottle openers and a screwdriver. (!) Blades are a bit short for some scissors-like cutting which it isn't designed for; the thumb hole is slightly angled for a right-hander, though I believe a lefty shouldn't be too uncomfortable with it. Not terribly expensive either.

                                Messermeister's 8" Take-Apart Kitchen Shears are $5 less and though they aren't what Cook's Illustrated recommends (as of 2007), I expect they're good too, and they're even-handed (OK for lefties). The other shears they tested cost more and aren't as good, they say.

                                1. re: John Francis

                                  Which do you have? The Messermeister 8 inch shears or the Wustohof?

                                  1. re: John Francis

                                    How long have you had the Messermiester? Just curious to know how well they hold up. It's my biz to help recommend kitchen knives and other kitchen tools to others :)

                                    1. re: kitchenknifeguru

                                      Only a couple of weeks, and they haven't been in the dishwasher yet.

                                      1. re: John Francis

                                        Sorry to be a nudge, but I wouldn't dishwasher them if I were you. It'll only give the edges of the blades unnecessary wear. . .

                                        1. re: kitchenknifeguru

                                          I will if they need it, such as to get rid of any salmonella bugs after cutting up a chicken. The maker and Cook's Illustrated say they're dishwasher-safe. Otherwise, a wipe with a damp cloth is all they've needed.

                                          1. re: John Francis

                                            Kuel. But please tell me you don't do that with your knives :)

                                            1. re: kitchenknifeguru

                                              What do you take me for? :-) But shears and knives aren't at all the same. Shears work by shearing stuff between two tight-fitting blades, hence the name, and it's not the sharpness of the blades but how tightly they fit together that matters most.

                                              1. re: John Francis

                                                They still need an edge to cut things otherwise, you end up tearing or smashing things apart. Try using dull shears, even when they are tight and you will see what I mean.

                                                1. re: John Francis

                                                  Glad to hear you don't put your knives in the dishwasher. I can now sleep soundly. . .

                                        2. re: kitchenknifeguru

                                          I've had mine since about five minutes after Cooks recommended them and I'm really, really happy with them. As good as new after all this time. And I'm such a moron I didn't "get" the openers and driver until I took a look at them just now. Thanks John Francis!

                                    2. The only time I need a tool like this is when I spatchcock a chicken and found that the typical poultry shears just didn't cut it (pardon the pun). I'm pretty sure a better pair than what I had at the time might have done a better job, but what I did have available was a pair of tin snips (see photo) and that's what I've been using ever since with good results. They still require a bit of hand strength, though.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: grampart

                                        I have also used tin snips to spatchcock a chicken and found they worked fairly well.

                                        Bought a pair of expensive Wustoff or Henckels shears and they did not work well at all and returned them. I think they were made more for cutting up cooked birds at the table but I could be wrong.

                                        I now have a pair of Kuhn Rikon shears and they work quite well. Just a little bit better than Joyce Chen scissors. Anybody that doesn't have a pair of the Joyce Chen scissors in their kitchen drawer is really missing out on one of the best tools ever.


                                        1. re: kengk

                                          The Tojiro Forged Kitchen Shears from Cutlery and More I recently purchased work fine. They are worlds better than the cheap stamped shears that come with block knife sets.


                                          1. re: Sid Post

                                            Good to know. Thanks for sharing. . .and, currently, what a DEAL!

                                            1. re: kitchenknifeguru

                                              Yea, cutleryandmore.com has me hooked with their random "deals of the week".

                                              1. re: Sid Post

                                                I just bought a pair of Finney Kretzer poultry shears and they really have close blades!!!. I was a little worried until I read John Francis comment. Tight together shears is what is important for good working ones???. These are close fitting and I mean close. I found them for $37 and they are usually $69 but had to pay shipping $10 besides from Danmark. They arrived in less than a week and I was really surprised but can not tell any of you how they work yet of course except that they are very sturdy, and I mean sharp BUT do not come apart for cleaning etc. All of you would have to look them up under Finney Kretzer poultry shears to read about them. I had read about the Tojiro Forged Kitchen shears but there are not a lot of them out there for sale which sort of worried me BUT they are on sale right now at a good price as comment above shows too which is what is important and from a good company that I have received great products from in the past years. But, I think I have bought all I need for the time being as I just bought a pair of used ones yesterday (taking a chance they are good), Dreizach Solinger German made that are usually $49 before shipping way back in the past for a total cost of $9.99 INCLUDING shipping to use for the items that may be hard on any shears. They have not been sharpened I believe so at least not damaged yet hopefully. We will see if they were worth it but for $9.99 did not think I could go wrong for them as the pictures looked great.

                                                1. re: Tinkerbell

                                                  It sounds like you found a good score with the Dreizach Solingen German shears. If I could find a clean pair for that price, I would have bought them myself. You may need to sharpen them so, if that's the case be sure you send them to someone who knows how to sharpen shears.

                                                  1. re: Sid Post

                                                    I had never heard of Dreizach Solingen German made shears before. I had read about Solingen German other type different named shears/ but not with the description using the word Dreizach in the title of the shears. I researched forever and finally found somewhere a brief description where cost previously was $49 it seemed new without a shipping charge mentioned which may have increased total cost in the end. Glad you are familiar with them. Thanks.

                                      2. Ok, I do not see in here where anyone used Pampered Chef shears. They are not as good as use to be I understand.

                                        1. I recently bought a pair of Chef's Choice shears and am very happy with them. I got them for one thing only -- to clean whole trout. They get a really good grip on what you're cutting, so the slippery fish don't pop out from between the blades. They are also plenty tough for cutting off the heads. Easy to take apart and put back together, so cleaning is a snap.

                                          When I ordered them, I was afraid that the plain stainless steel handles would be hard to hold onto, but they have a nice satin finish (like surgical instruments) so are quite non-slip even when covered with "trout slime".

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: tanuki soup

                                            Hey, honest question here-- I have a pair similar to these and donated them to the tool box (tin snips? wire cutters? I don't know...) because they offered me less than no mechanical advantage. Every time I used them on a chicken, I ended up red-faced and swearing. Pilot error? If I could return them to the kitchen, I'd be pleased.