Essential Tools

My Favorite Kitchen Shears Came From the Trauma Bay

They're super-sharp and autoclavable.

May 13, 2022
Photo by Ty Mecham

There aren’t many ways in which my kitchen tools overlap with surgical instruments. I don’t use tiny scalpels or tweezers—I’m just never cooking or preparing anything that requires that level of precision—but there is one accessory that’s found in both an operating room and my utensil drawer: my favorite kitchen shears, which aren’t from the restaurant supply store, but rather from the trauma bay.

How did I get my hands on these implements? Through a friend who is doing her plastic surgery residency at UPenn. While I was cooking dinner, she was examining my perfectly good, run-of-the-mill kitchen scissors. “You know,” she said. “You should really get some trauma shears.” Though I hope to mostly avoid trauma in my kitchen, she explained why I might be interested: They’re shears meant to cut the clothing off patients who arrive in the trauma bay, which means they’re both strong and super sharp. They’re designed to be ergonomic, and have a tab on the end of the blade that prevents you from cutting yourself when you use them. They’re meant to be easily sterilized in the autoclave, so the dishwasher is no problem. Many of them have a carabiner in the handle to clip to your scrubs (or in my case, apron). They come in a bunch of colors and, crucially, are very, very inexpensive.

I ordered some on the spot. (A two-pack on Amazon will run you about $6. They also go by the name “bandage scissors” or “EMT scissors,” and the advertising copy loudly proclaims that they are “Strong enough to cut a penny in half.” Obviously once mine arrived I tried just that—I have a penny with a weird slit in it to prove it.

But since cutting up pennies isn’t really part of my kitchen routine, the real question is how they do with more of the regular day-to-day culinary tasks I use my shears for: trimming meat, slicing herbs, and breaking down food packaging. The answer is: Great. Trauma shears tackled every single one of my kitchen tasks with ease, and looked good doing it. The blades are nonstick, which even made snipping sticky dates (for use in Sticky Toffee Blondies, natch) a breeze.

The only drawback to using trauma shears for cooking is that, unlike kitchen shears, you can’t take them apart easily to clean—throwing them in the dishwasher works, for sure, but doing so will eventually dull the blade. Luckily my shears have lasted more than a dozen rounds of dishwashing without any loss of efficacy, and, at $3 a pair, when they lose effectiveness, I’ll simply recycle them for crafts and paper use and pick up another pair. Plus, it is pretty metal to have a tool in your kitchen arsenal that you could lend to an EMT in an action-movie situation, right?

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Associate, Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.

What do you use your kitchen shears for? Let us know in the comments!
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Margaret Eby

Written by: Margaret Eby

Editorial Lead of Food, Food52


ann August 30, 2022
I used to work for a vet and have several pair of these. Best scissors ever, I never thought of them for the kitchen. I have a pair of Henkel shears that came with a knife block that are pretty awesome too.
bellw67 May 31, 2022
I wish I'd seen this before spending $30 on a pair of kitchen shears that don't work any better than the cheap ones I was using until the handle broke. And that was after about 20 years.