by timrel

November 15, 2021

Toothpicks are used for much more than cleaning teeth. In cooking and baking, toothpicks are often used to hold food together in the oven, fridge, or freezer.

Toothpicks can prevent circular or tubular food items from rolling around and can hold food in place to get thoroughly cooked all the way through. So, toothpicks are a handy utensil in cooking, especially for special events and fancy foods.

However, this can create new problems. Let’s be clear – plastic toothpicks shouldn’t be used in the oven. They’ll melt, just like any plastic utensil in a hot oven.

So, if you need to use toothpicks in your cooking, what kind of toothpicks can you use, and where? Let’s find out.

Can I Use Plastic Toothpicks in the Oven?

No, you can’t use plastic toothpicks in the oven. Plastic will melt in a hot oven, and you’ll end up ruining your food and destroying your toothpick in the process.

However, you can use plastic toothpicks if you plan to put a food item in the fridge or freezer.

Will Wooden Toothpicks Burn in the Oven?

Plain wooden toothpicks won’t burn in the oven, since they absorb moisture from the food they are stuck into. If you’re not sure, soak your wooden toothpicks in water before putting the toothpicks and your food into the oven.

However, decorative toothpicks can be a little trickier, even the wooden ones. This is because the decorative parts on a toothpick may well catch fire. Essentially, you should frequently check on your food if you’re cooking something with wooden toothpicks.

While properly prepared wooden toothpicks are food-safe, you can only use wooden toothpicks once.

Are Metal Toothpicks Safe?

Metal toothpicks are the most popular type of toothpick. They’re metal, so they won’t burn or catch fire, and can be thoroughly washed and used again and again.

An obvious hazard is that metal toothpicks will be extremely hot when they come out of the oven, so be careful not to burn yourself.

Whether you’re using metal or wooden toothpicks, make sure you’re not using long or decorative toothpicks. Fancy toothpicks can carry a higher risk of burning, catching fire, or getting damaged somehow inside the oven.

What Type of Toothpick Is the Best?

The most popular type of toothpick are metal toothpicks. They’re reusable, won’t catch fire, and can often do a better job of holding food together in an oven. Aside from coming out of the oven hot to the touch, there really aren’t any downsides to metal toothpicks.

If you’re looking for a certain kind of decorative finish to your food, you can always swap out plain metal toothpicks for wooden or plastic ones after the food is finished cooking. However, if you intend to use plastic toothpicks, make sure the food has cooled a little before swapping out the toothpicks, as plastic toothpicks may still melt.

Can Toothpicks go in the Microwave?

You won’t be able to use any of your toothpicks in the microwave. Metal toothpicks will cause sparks and eventually damage your microwave, plastic toothpicks will melt, and wooden toothpicks will dry out, crack, and warp.

So, if you’re planning to cook food that requires toothpicks to hold it together, you may want to prepare your food in the oven instead of the microwave.

What Can I Use Instead of Toothpicks in the Oven?

If you don’t have any toothpicks to hand – or you simply don’t want to risk it – here are a few common kitchen items that can hold your food together like a toothpick.

Dry noodles or spaghetti    

Dry noodles or spaghetti aren’t quite as strong as toothpicks, but they can make a suitable alternative. Don’t use thin types of spaghetti, like angel hair, as this won’t be strong enough.

Aluminium foil, rolled into tight ropes    

Ropes of tightly rolled aluminium can work to hold food items together from the outside, gathering them together.

Dental floss

Dental floss can work instead of twine or cooking bands, holding meat or other sturdy items together.

Whether you want to use toothpicks as kitchen utensils or as an added extra, be sure to be safe when working in your kitchen. Wooden toothpicks can’t be reused, plastic toothpicks will melt in the oven, and metal toothpicks will get very, very hot.

About the author

timrel

I am passionate about health and wellbeing and have writing for over 10 years on the subject. I have a BSc Hons Degree and undertake vigorous research to help people improve their lives and live more a healthy and happy life.

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