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Updated May 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for best chopsticks

Imagine it’s been a long day, and the last thing you want to do is cook dinner. It’s takeout time! You order a beautiful spread of Chinese food with fried rice, noodles, and spring rolls, but wait… they forgot the chopsticks. Not to worry, because you have your own set of chopsticks for this very occasion.

Chopsticks are a simple, affordable, and enjoyable eating utensil. Whether it’s a set of painted acrylic chopsticks or a stack of takeout chopsticks overflowing in your kitchen drawer, chopsticks are a staple utensil in many homes.

As you consider buying your own set of chopsticks, it helps to know about the various uses, materials, and tips to help you master the art of using chopsticks with food. Understanding these factors will lead you to the ideal set of chopsticks for your home, and you’ll be showing off your skills at the dinner table in no time.

chopsticks
If food or sauce dries on your chopsticks and proves difficult to remove, try soaking them in hot water with a small quantity of natural soap. The heat from the water will soften the food, and it should wipe away easily with a cloth or sponge.

Purposes for chopsticks

Chopsticks are commonly used in Asian cultures, and they are also used in other cultures when Asian dishes are served: sushi, stir-fry, noodles, curry with rice, and such. Many people use chopsticks as their preferred food utensils for non-Asian dishes as well. In fact, chopsticks can be used to eat almost any food item you can think of, from salad to pasta.

Chopsticks can be used during cooking as stirring devices or to toss noodles and vegetables when sauteing. They also make excellent decorative pieces and are versatile for arts and crafts. Some people even use chopsticks as hair accessories.

Indeed, there are a number of creative ways to utilize chopsticks that exceed the culinary world, though using chopsticks with food is certainly the most popular choice.

Choosing a chopstick material

Wood chopsticks

Single-use disposable chopsticks are often included with takeout food. These are made from wood from birch, spruce, or cottonwood trees. Some disposable chopsticks are also made of bamboo.

There are more durable wooden chopsticks that are designed to be reused. These are made from cherrywood, beechwood, bamboo, and other types of wood. The wood is lacquered or varnished to preserve it, and the coating makes the chopsticks easier to clean. Many reusable wooden chopsticks are painted with colors or floral designs before they are coated with the lacquer finish.

Acrylic and fiberglass chopsticks

Modern chopsticks are often made from fiberglass or acrylic materials. These are incredibly durable and inexpensive to manufacture. Acrylic and fiberglass chopsticks come in a range of colors and designs and don’t cost a lot. Fiberglass chopsticks are more common and slightly more durable. They are highly heat-resistant and thus can be used for cooking.

Metal chopsticks

Metal chopsticks are most commonly made of food-grade stainless steel. They cost more than other choices but are highly durable and less likely to rust or scratch when properly cared for. Some top-grade chopsticks are made with titanium or brass.

Ceramic and porcelain chopsticks

Ceramic and porcelain chopsticks are made of clay. The difference between these two materials lies in the fineness of the clay and the temperature at which the clay is fired. Ceramic and porcelain chopsticks are less common than other types, as they cost more than wood and plastic and are also more breakable. Perhaps the best feature of ceramic and porcelain chopsticks is their heat resistance, which makes them suitable for cooking.

Traditional ivory chopsticks

The traditional authentic chopsticks of yore were sometimes carved out of ivory. This is no longer practiced, as elephants are a protected species, and ivory is banned in most places. The ivory chopsticks that still exist are rare and are often passed down through families or featured on display in museums.

Chopstick materials of various cultures

Chinese, Japanese, and Korean chopsticks differ from each other in design and are often made of different materials.

  • Chinese chopsticks are made from plastic or wood and are long with squared ends and blunt edges.
  • Japanese chopsticks are mostly made from wood or bamboo and boast rounded edges with sharp tips.
  • Korean chopsticks were traditionally made from iron, but today, they are made with stainless steel and are thin, flat, and of medium length.

You can snap off the small square portion at the end of your single-use wooden chopsticks and use it as a place to rest them between eating. This nifty trick prevents your chopsticks from directly contacting the table and picking up germs.

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How to use chopsticks

Start by grasping one of your chopsticks between your thumb and index finger. This will be your main guiding chopstick and the one with the most control. Thread your second chopstick through the space between your thumb and index finger, and use your middle or ring finger to balance the chopstick against your thumb.

Hold your chopsticks about halfway up, at least a few inches from the tapered eating tips. Holding them too close to the tips will limit your grip, range of motion, and the space you have to grab your food.

To grasp a food item, you mainly move your guiding chopstick. Using your thumb and index finger, sweep the piece of food closer to the other chopstick. Once you have a secure grip, lift the food to your lips.

Chopstick etiquette

Some cultures have superstitions and rules for proper etiquette in various areas of life. For example, here are some chopstick practices to avoid (although they aren’t strict rules):

  • Don’t point with your chopsticks.
  • Don’t pierce or stab your food with your chopsticks.
  • Don’t stand your chopsticks upright in rice. Japanese culture associates this with the incense used at a funeral, and it’s seen as a bad omen for death.
  • Don’t rest your chopsticks in a crossed “X” formation on your bowl. This also symbolizes death in Japanese culture. If you rest your chopsticks on your bowl, keep them parallel. Be careful, though, as this could signal to your host that you are finished with your meal.
  • Don’t pass food from one pair of chopsticks to another. This is not only considered rude, but it’s highly impractical and often leads to dropped food and a soiled dining table.
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DID YOU KNOW?
If you’re having trouble using your chopsticks, try this trick: Take a rubber band and wrap it at the top around both sticks until they are tightly bound. Then, wedge a small piece of folded paper between the chopsticks, just below the rubber band. This makes them much easier to use until you master your chopstick technique.
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Chopstick accessories

Sushi-making kit

Chopsticks are a fantastic tool for eating sushi. The bite-sized pieces are easy to pick up with chopsticks, and making sushi is fun and rewarding. With a sushi-making kit, you can customize your own rolls from the comfort of your kitchen.

Rice cooker

If you enjoy preparing Asian dishes served with chopsticks, you probably cook a fair amount of rice. And although rice can be cooked on a stovetop, the convenience and ease of a rice cooker have won over many home cooks. These machines are not costly, and the fact that they turn out perfect rice every time is a definite draw.

Chopstick prices

Inexpensive

The most affordable chopsticks cost between $5 and $15. Large quantities (packs of 40 or 50) of disposable chopsticks can be found in this price range. Smaller sets of wooden or fiberglass chopsticks, with up to 10 pairs included, can also be found here.

Mid-range

A pair of high-quality stainless steel or titanium chopsticks may cost $25 to $50. Some traditionally painted bamboo chopstick sets fall in this price range as well. If you’re buying in bulk, you can purchase larger packs of disposable wooden chopsticks in quantities of 100 to 600 for this price.

Expensive

The most expensive chopsticks are found for $50 to $90. These are special sets of one or two pairs, often painted with authentic designs or Chinese or Japanese characters. They may be made of bamboo, stainless steel, brass, or ceramic. Often, these chopsticks are sought by collectors.

When using disposable wood chopsticks, some people elect to vigorously rub them together before eating. This removes any small splinters or wood fragments that could otherwise get stuck in your food or poke your lips. This isn’t necessary, but it sure is fun!

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Tips

  • Avoid washing chopsticks in the dishwasher. This is particularly true if they are made from wood. Instead, wash your chopsticks by hand with warm water, and dry them with a soft, dry cloth.
  • Remove food and sauce from chopsticks as soon as possible after eating. This prevents it from drying and sticking and makes the chopsticks easier to clean.
  • Store chopsticks in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Sunlight can fade or warp wooden chopsticks, and hot, humid areas can prompt metal chopsticks to develop rust.
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When finishing food from a bowl, it is sometimes helpful to lift the bowl close to your mouth. Squeeze your chopsticks together, and use a scooping motion to sweep the remaining portion to your mouth.

FAQ

Q. Why do some chopsticks have ridges?

A. Some chopsticks have small, thin ridges engraved along the tapered eating tips. The grooves provide grip and friction, making it easier to grab and hold various food items like meat, noodles, and veggies.

Q. Are there some foods you can’t eat with chopsticks?

A. It’s possible to eat almost any type of food with chopsticks. However, some foods prove more difficult to grasp than others. For example, anything that is exceedingly oily is challenging, like fatty pieces of meat. And it goes without saying that soup cannot be eaten with chopsticks, although ingredients in the soup like dumplings or vegetables could be fished out.

Q. How do you pick up a boiled egg with chopsticks?

A. Picking up a full-boiled egg with chopsticks is quite a feat — it’s something only experienced chopstick users can accomplish. For others, it’s recommended to grab a spoon and knife to slice the egg into smaller, more manageable pieces.

 

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