Kitchen Hacks

One of the Handiest Tools in Your Kitchen Might Also Be the Cheapest

July 14, 2016

There’s probably a pack of toothpicks or bamboo skewers (or both!) lingering in one of your drawers right now, purchased who knows how long ago for spearing little cubes of cheese or making kebabs, and neglected until the same need arises again.

This is likely because they’re easy to forget about: They seem like single-use tools and they're utilitarian. Toothpicks and their larger skewer cousins aren’t winning any awards for cutest kitchen tools (unless you’re storing them in a sea urchin holder). But since they're both, in actuality, so dang useful, you just might find yourself making googly eyes at them all the same.

Photo by James Ransom

Senior Staff Writer Sarah Jampel has already shared that she’s a fan of them for cleaning out the crevices of stand mixers. (Don’t forget to unscrew the little knob where you can affix attachments—she says there’s sure to be gunk hiding under there, too!)

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When we learned BerryBaby uses them for cleaning as well—around the edge of the faucet and the rubber on fridge doors, cleaning mesh strainers, and unclogging anything else with small holes, to name just a few uses—we turned to the Hotline to see how else you're using toothpicks and skewers:

Photo by Sarah Jampel
  • Smaug finds bamboo skewers useful for rescuing things that have dropped under a burner grate, and, outside of the kitchen, for applying glue in small places and cleaning mud off of shoe soles.
  • Creamtea uses them not just to test the doneness of cakes, but also to protect the tops of frosted cakes: “I usually bake cakes a day before serving. After frosting them, I poke them in around the perimeter at even intervals, and in the center before covering the whole with plastic wrap to keep the wrap from clinging to the frosting and marring the surface.”
  • A number of Food52ers use toothpicks to secure fillings in dishes like stuffed chicken breasts and roulades. AntoniaJames uses toothpicks with meat too, but rather than holding anything together, she uses toothpicks to secure sage leaves on top of her Turkey Saltimbocca while it’s cooking​.​

How do you use toothpicks and skewers in the kitchen? Tell us in the comments below or join the conversation over on the Hotline.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Adrienne
  • Christina Chieffo
    Christina Chieffo
  • AntoniaJames
  • Smaug
  • Fredrik Backman
    Fredrik Backman
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


Adrienne February 8, 2017
Cleaning the gunk out from under the rim of the cooktop, the sink, etc. Been doing that since I was a little girl.
Christina C. July 23, 2016
Skewers can work as a makeshift cherry pitter! Poke a hole in the bottom of a cherry with the pointy end and push with the blunt end.
AntoniaJames July 14, 2016
Let's start calling them "cocktail sticks" as the British do. Much nicer term, don't you think? ;o)
Smaug July 14, 2016
Maybe if you don't think about it too much- almost tempted to look up the etymology of "cocktail", but it's more fun to speculate.
Fredrik B. July 14, 2016
England liked to use french words that they couldn't pronounce, and eventually it just became a new word.
Smaug July 14, 2016
So what was the old word?