Toothpicks—one of those simple household items that have a myriad of uses! Good for keeping our teeth clean, toothpicks can also be used to hold food together, garnish drinks, and test ingredients to see if they are cooked.
But can you put toothpicks in the oven, or will they burn? Plain wooden and metal toothpicks can go in the oven, without the risk of burning. When using wooden toothpicks, soaking them in water first will prevent the ends from charring. Toothpicks are great for holding fiddly food items together, such as mini burritos.
Let’s find out everything you need to know about using toothpicks in the kitchen, including the best way to use them in the oven!
Why Would You Want To Put Toothpicks In The Oven?
When cooking fiddly foods that don’t stay together easily, toothpicks can be used like tiny skewers to hold food together. This allows you to vastly increase your repertoire of favorite recipes, as well as develop new skills in the kitchen.
Toothpicks hold the food securely together, ensuring it does not fall apart whilst cooking in the oven.
These little pointed sticks can be used to hold together fiddly items of food such as mini burritos, steak pinwheels, intricate cake concoctions, and many other delicious treats.
The other way in which home chefs commonly use toothpicks is to perform the “toothpick test”.
This is where baked goods are gently skewered with a toothpick to check that they are cooked. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is cooked right through.
You might consider putting a toothpick into your cake while it cooks, but this is not a good idea.
Firstly, your pointed wooden stick might disappear into the cake batter. Nobody wants to find a lump of wood in their slice of cake! Secondly, you won’t get an accurate toothpick test, as the cake will adhere to the toothpick as it cooks.
Can Toothpicks Go In The Oven?
Many people might feel a bit reluctant about putting toothpicks in the oven. After all, toothpicks are made from wood, and we all know how easily wood burns!
But it turns out that it is perfectly safe for toothpicks to go in the oven, and it is highly unlikely that they will catch on fire.
This is because wooden toothpicks absorb moisture from the food as it cooks, preventing them from setting on fire. The ends of the toothpick may become slightly charred, but the middle section will remain perfectly intact.
This means that toothpicks are a very versatile and useful kitchen item, that can be used to aid in numerous cooking techniques.
So, whether you’re attempting an intricate steak pinwheel for a romantic dinner, or some fancy hors d’oeuvres for your dinner party, reach for the toothpicks to give a helping hand!
Can All Types Of Toothpicks Go In The Oven?
When it comes to using toothpicks in the oven, keep it plain and simple.
Decorative toothpicks, that are brightly colored or embellished with frills, are not safe for use in the oven. Use plain wooden toothpicks, preferably made from hardwood.
When choosing toothpicks, it pays to buy the best quality you can afford. More expensive toothpicks tend to be slightly longer, and are less likely to break or splinter.
Cheap or inferior toothpicks may leave tiny shards of wood inside your food when they are removed.
If it looks like you’ll be cooking fiddly foods regularly, consider investing in a set of metal chefs’ toothpicks. These are reusable and give a much cleaner finish to the food.
Never use plastic toothpicks in the oven, as they will melt and contaminate your food. You should also avoid any toothpicks that are brightly colored. The paints may leach into your food during the cooking process.
Toothpicks with frills and embellishments are not safe to go in the oven, as they may burn easily. Keep it plain and simple, with a simple hardwood or metal toothpick.
What Is The Best Way To Use Toothpicks In The Oven?
When using wooden toothpicks in the oven, there are a few tips you can follow to get the best possible results.
Firstly, check the toothpicks carefully to make sure they are in the best possible condition. Remove any that are splintered or look like they might break.
The next thing you need to decide is whether you should soak them or not. Soaking toothpicks before using them in the oven is not essential, but does have some advantages.
As we already mentioned, toothpicks will absorb moisture from the food while it cooks, preventing them from burning.
However, any part of the toothpick that is not inside the food or submerged in a sauce is likely to become charred. This is not a problem, but may look a bit unsightly on your beautiful food!
So, if you are using toothpicks to secure food together and a large section will be left sticking out of the food, soak them in water first. If the toothpick is hidden within the food or covered by sauce, it does not need to be soaked.
The length of time your food needs to be cooked for will also dictate whether you need to presoak the toothpicks or not.
You should use soaked toothpicks in any recipe that is baked for more than 10 minutes. For recipes under 10 minutes, dry toothpicks will be fine.
When soaking toothpicks, aim to have them in water for at least 15 minutes. This will allow them to soak up enough water to keep charring to a minimum in the oven.
Of course, you could eliminate all this presoaking by using metal toothpicks instead!
One other great tip for using toothpicks in the oven is to swap them for a new one when you remove the food from the oven.
This will vastly improve the presentation of your delicate finger foods or hors d’oeuvres, perfect for impressing your dinner party guests!
What Can You Use Instead Of Toothpicks In The Oven?
If you don’t have toothpicks to hand, what else can you use to keep your food secure in the oven?
Well, we don’t want to state the obvious, but if you have cocktail sticks in your baking cupboard then they will work equally as well! Many of us overlook cocktail sticks, but they can be used in exactly the same way as toothpicks.
Alternatively, you can use kitchen skewers to hold food together in the oven. These tend to be slightly wider than toothpicks, so will leave a bigger hole in the food.
They are also longer than toothpicks, so can be used to secure several food items on one skewer.
Another option for keeping food rolled tightly together is to use kitchen string. This is ideal for rolled meat, such as steak pinwheels or stuffed chicken breast.
Now we’ve figured out how to use toothpicks in the oven, let’s take a look at some other key toothpick-related questions!
Will toothpicks catch fire in the microwave?
As toothpicks are safe to put in the oven, many people assume that they can also be used in the microwave. However, is this truly the case or will they catch fire?
Well, while we all know that metal should not be put in the microwave, we should also avoid putting anything with a point in the microwave, and that includes toothpicks!
This is because pointed objects are more likely to spark and catch fire in the microwave. Any sharp object can cause a phenomenon known as arcing, where sparks fly inside the microwave.
This means that if you are cooking or reheating food in your microwave, you should remove any toothpicks or wooden skewers first. Check sandwiches and buffet leftovers for hidden toothpicks, and examine takeout food carefully.
Sadly, this means that your carefully prepared burrito or steak pinwheel may start to fall apart, but quite honestly it is not worth the risk of causing a fire!
Can you deep fry something with a toothpick in it?
Wooden toothpicks are absolutely fine to deep fry and pose no risk of fire when used to cook food in the deep fat fryer.
The wooden sticks will absorb oil in the fryer, but will not burn or char. You might find them slightly greasy to hold when the food is removed from the fryer. If this is the case, swap them for clean toothpicks before serving.
While it is advisable to soak toothpicks in water when cooking them in the oven, this is not necessary when deep frying.
In fact, if you were to soak them in water, this may react with the hot oil and cause it to spit. So just go straight in there with a dry toothpick, and watch your food sizzle away happily!
Never put plastic toothpicks in food destined for the deep fryer, as they will melt when they come into contact with hot oil. Not only will this contaminate your food and oil, but it may also damage your cooking pots and utensils.