15 Ways To Use Chopsticks In The Kitchen

Chopsticks are a takeout necessity. While not all people may understand how to hold and utilize chopsticks to pick up food like sushi, rice, and teriyaki meats, many chopstick adopters believe in the supremacy of this humble utensil above the fork. We'll let you be the judge on that one.

It is believed that the first use of chopsticks dates back 5,000 years ago in China. Primitive forms of the utensil would have likely been twigs and sticks used to remove food from cooking pots. Eventually, cooks learned to cut food into smaller pieces so it would cook faster, which eliminated the need for knives at the table. Although chopsticks are most often associated with Asian food, and many Asian and Asian-American households use chopsticks in their everyday cooking and life, you may not realize this handy utensil has many other kitchen uses besides picking up California rolls. Here are some of the most creative ways to put your drawer full of takeout chopsticks to good use.

Test cakes

One of the most complex parts of baking a cake or cupcakes is telling when the baking stage is complete. Inconsistent oven heat, dark ingredients, and other nuances can cause your cake to look finished when it actually isn't. This means that you have to turn to a cake tester to ensure the inside of your cake is finished baking. Commercial cake testers aren't helpful to use on a cake because they have a slick surface that prevents crumbs from sticking. When you're testing a cake, you need to use a wooded stick for an accurate look into the wetness of the cake's interior. Enter the chopstick.

Chopsticks are better to use for testing cakes than tiny toothpicks because your hand won't have to get as far into the oven. If you insert your chopstick into the center of the cake and the stick comes out covered in crumbs or is a darker color, you should put it back into the oven to let it finish baking. A dry, clean stick indicates the cake is finished baking.

Substitute for kebab skewers on the grill

Kebabs and grilling skewers are a summer necessity. You can grill any type of meat, vegetables, or even fruit if you have a sturdy stick to poke through them. You should always cook kebabs on the grill with a thick skewer to prevent the stick from breaking mid-grill and potentially leaving splinters in your chicken thighs (yikes).

If you use a wooden chopstick to grill your vegetables, you should allocate at least 30 minutes to soak them in water before assembling and grilling. This soaking time is crucial because it will prevent your chopsticks from being set aflame when you place them on the hot grill. You should also give yourself a couple of inches of space on each end of the kebab for rotating and easy eating. Finally, for even cooking and food safety, we recommend using separate sticks for different types of food, like chicken, steak, and vegetables.

Safely test oil

It's impossible to know how hot oil is by sight alone. But, when you have a pair of chopsticks handy, you won't have to play a guessing game to determine how hot your oil is. This trick is convenient if you don't have a kitchen thermometer around. Oil temperature is especially important for cooking because it can mean the difference between a dense and dry piece of fried chicken and one that is soft, moist, and plush inside. The frying oil temperature will also change if you add more things to it, so using a kitchen thermometer is the most precise way to read the temperature while cooking.

You'll need to dip a chopstick into the hot oil to use this tip. If the chopstick slowly bubbles at the end, the oil temperature is about 320 degrees Fahrenheit. If the bubbles come out quickly from the chopstick but gradually slow down, the temperature is closer to 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Lastly, if the entire chopstick produces rapid bubbles with a sustained speed, the oil is likely around 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make scrambled eggs or an omelet

You can use chopsticks to replace a fork in most applications, including mixing up yolks and whites for a plate of scrambled eggs. Chopsticks are the only tool you need to prepare an omelet, too, because you can use them to scramble the eggs, keep the curds moving, and flip your omelet when the time comes. In addition, chopsticks can more deftly move the curds in the pan than a spatula or a scraper, and they're easy to hold once you get the hang of it.

We recommend using a pair of cooking chopsticks, rather than regular takeout ones, to cook your omelet or scrambled eggs with. These cooking chopsticks are slightly longer (between 13 and 17 inches) and more sturdy than the ones you get from your neighborhood Chinese takeout joint. The wooden or bamboo cooking chopsticks can be found at your local Asian grocery store or through an online retailer.

Easily stack things in your refrigerator with a pair of chopsticks

Besides edible applications, chopsticks can help keep your fridge super organized. While most things in your refrigerator can be stored with a lid on and stacked on top of each other, some peculiarly shaped containers or open-faced bowls may prohibit you from keeping your fridge space neat and tidy. To use this hack, rest two chopsticks horizontally over the top of a bowl or container. You should be sure to place the chopsticks close together, as spacing them too far apart may mean your container will fall through the crack. After you've set the sticks, you can rest the next bowl or container on top of the chopsticks. This chopstick trick is also suitable for large pans and casserole dishes. For large dishes, tilt the chopsticks at an angle and place them on the edges of the container to maximize their utility.

You can also use chopsticks as a trivet in your kitchen. For example, place the chopsticks horizontally on your counter to elevate trays of brownies or pans that have just come off the stove.

Upgrade your snack game

Let's face it, snacking can get boring after a while. Eating snacks the same way every time may make you decide you aren't really hungry in the first place.

Chopsticks are an easy way to switch up your snacking routine. Eating popcorn with chopsticks may even make it taste better from a psychological perspective because of something called hedonic adaptation. It's the idea that when we do something so many times, we stop getting any joy from it. The task itself becomes monotonous and boring. One of the easiest ways to fight this feeling is to do something different when you do a task. One study found that the studied participants that ate popcorn with chopsticks rather than their hands reported greater enjoyment than those who did not. The same might also be said for other eating habits, like eating pizza upside down or having dessert before dinner.

Prevent your hands from getting covered in cheese dust

Snacking with chopsticks also has a utilitarian benefit and not just a psychological one. Anyone who has ever gotten cheese dust stuck in every crevasse of their finger knows that snacking with chopsticks can be a game-changer. If you want to prevent cheese dust from getting all over your fingers, you should also roll down the bag to prevent your knuckles from getting covered in the dust (it's the little things).

Eating calorific snack foods with chopsticks may also encourage people to eat more mindfully. You have to eat more slowly when you use chopsticks, so your brain has more time to send your hunger signals to indicate fullness. One study suggests that eating with chopsticks can help lower the body's glycemic rate and results in taking smaller bites, higher chewing rate, and overall more mindful food consumption than eaters who did not eat with chopsticks.

Avoid soggy grilled cheese

If you've ever made a grilled cheese sandwich and had to walk away from it even for a few minutes, you've probably noticed how wet and soggy the bread can get. This phenomenon happens because there is no way for condensation to circulate from under the sandwich, in turn leaving the bread a squishy mess. While you can tilt the bread on its side to combat the soggy grilled cheese, it's not the most foolproof method. Not only will you risk your sandwich falling, but this will also cause the cheese to flow down the side of the sandwich. And if you think you can just eat the grilled cheese straight from the pan, your burnt tastebuds may tell you something else.

But with chopsticks, you'll never have to eat soggy grilled cheese again. Put the chopsticks horizontally on the plate and put your sandwich on top. This hack also works for burritos, pizza, empanadas, and every hot food in between.

Remove the air bubbles when canning

If you've grown a garden in the past, you know prolific the summertime growing season can be. Strawberries, green beans, and cucumbers are some of our favorites — but what do you do when you run out of space in your refrigerator or neighbors to gift your produce to? You turn to canning, of course! One of the most essential parts of canning is leaving enough headspace between the top of the jar and whatever you're canning, which is important because the liquid will expand when the food is boiled and properly sealed. The one tricky thing you need to look out for when ensuring adequate headspace is that there are no air bubbles on the top of the food.

You should keep a chopstick on hand while canning to help press out these air bubbles. The stick won't crack or scratch the jar like a knife would, and the slender chopstick is easy to maneuver in the jar itself. Insert the chopstick into the jar and run it gently along the rim's circumference to pop all the air bubbles. Be sure not to move the contents around too much, as this may require you to start over again. It may take a few circles to remove all of the air bubbles from the jar.

Fold dumplings fast

Making homemade dumplings can either be an enlightening experience or a total disaster. One of the most tedious parts of making this food is folding the dumplings; this process can be incredibly time-consuming if you make upwards of 20 dumplings in a sitting. But with a takeout utensil, you can make your dumpling-making experience go by much quicker, leaving you to focus on whatever fillings you plan to add.

Fold dumplings faster than ever with a bit of help from a chopstick. First, use the chopstick to create a thin line of filling on one side of the square wrapper. Then, roll the wrapper over with the chopstick toward you. Once the wrapper is rolled into a tiny log, remove the chopstick, wet each of the open edges of the log, and fold it into your desired shape. You can have an entire plate of dumplings ready in no time.

Pit cherries and olives with ease

While there are cherry and olive pitting tools you can purchase, using a chopstick is both easier and takes up less space in your utensil drawer. You can use either takeout chopsticks or pointy chopsticks, depending on what you have available in your kitchen. It is also important to avoid wearing white if you're pitting cherries, as the juice has been known to stain clothes and white surfaces permanently.

Start by washing your cherries and removing all the stems. Then, using the pointy end of the chopstick, push upwards into the cherry from the non-stemmed end to make a shallow hole. Remove the chopstick from this end and use the square end of the chopstick to push the opposite way to loosen the pit and push it out through the non-stemmed end. You can use the same trick for pushing out olive pits; just pick an end to start with since you won't have a stem.

Use chopsticks instead of popsicle sticks

Popsicles are the perfect refreshing treat in the summertime. But unless you go out to buy a box of popsicle sticks from the craft store, you won't always have the tools on hand that you need to make popsicles. However, if you have takeout chopsticks handy, you can make your DIY popsicles at home — without needing to purchase the sticks.

One of our favorite popsicle recipes is for easy frozen rosé lemonade popsicles. Add the components, the rosé, rosé simple syrup, water, grenadine, and lemon juice to the molds and stick your popsicle stick in. Allow these to freeze for about an hour before adding more of the liquid mixture and some cubed peaches. Return to the freezer and allow the pops to harden for a few more hours. You can also make popsicles with homemade smoothie ingredients, leftover greens, or nut butter.

Toast marshmallows

Let's get toasty. Marshmallows and s'mores are the perfect accompaniment to a slumber party or just when the sweet craving hits. Unfortunately, you likely will only have access to an outdoor fire pit sometimes, so a stove may have to do for the time being.

You can use a gas stove to craft the perfect s'more without stepping outside. Start by using a wooden or bamboo chopstick to skewer your marshmallow. If you're working with kids and an open flame, you may want to have the adults do the toasting or use a longer skewer to prevent burns. You should also always avoid reaching over the flame and stick with the burners closest to you when toasting your marshmallows.

Turn the burner to medium-high heat and slowly rotate the marshmallow over the flame for an even doneness on each side. Avoid tipping the marshmallow downward, as this may cause it to slide off and be set aflame. Slide your marshmallows off the chopstick and onto a prepared s'more, or eat them right from the stick.

Level off dry ingredients

We should first start by saying you should always use a digital scale for baking and measuring dry ingredients because it will give you the most precise measurements in the kitchen. This can mean the difference between a cake that flops and a cake that rises to the occasion.

If you don't have a baking scale handy, you can stick with the less accurate method of using a measuring cup or spoon. However, if you use these tools, you must have a utensil handy to level it out. Leveling out the measurement will increase its accuracy to getting as close as possible to a cup or a teaspoon of a certain ingredient. The chopstick is an excellent tool to help level your scoops because it will not compact the ingredient in the spoon like the flat part of a spatula would. Another tip for getting exact measurements when working with dry ingredients is to never scoop directly out of the container; it can compact soft ingredients like flour and dramatically increase how much you add to your recipe.

Pull food out of the toaster without burning yourself

Imagine you're getting your favorite breakfast together: scrambled eggs, bacon, and, of course, toast. When you drop your toast into the toaster, it might fall too low to be reached. What utensil do you grab to help rescue your toast from a fiery demise? If you think of a metal knife or fork, you should think again. Since metal is a good conductor of heat, shoving a metal object into a toaster can cause a fire or electrocution. Even if the toaster is unplugged, the metal can still conduct an electric current that risks your safety.

A wooden chopstick is an excellent alternative to getting toast out of the toaster. When working with a stuck piece of toast, always unplug the toaster and let it cool down for a few minutes to prevent burns. Then, shimmy the toast out of the machine and place it on your plate. It just might be a little more toasty than you expected.

Static Media owns and operates Tasting Table and Mashed.