How to Use Chop Sticks




Introduction: How to Use Chop Sticks

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Eating Chinese food with a fork is great if you got take out and are planning to indulge yourself in front of the tv in your living room. But if you've ever gone to a swanky restaurant where chopsticks are the norm and forks aren't even offered as cutlery you'll be happy you read and re read this instructable!

Learn the proper hold of chop sticks and how to orient your fingers to actually allow for flawless plate to mouth food transport!

Let's get started!

Step 1: Snapping Apart

If you have disposable chopsticks, the ones that are readily available at nearly all Chinese restaurants, you must first snap them apart, wishbone style. Remove any stay splinters if the snap wasn't a clean one

Step 2: Grasping Stick 1

Taking only one stick and using your dominant hand (although in the Chinese tradition, even if you are not right handed, you would still use this hand to eat with) place the narrower end as you would a pencil tip. Adjust the stick so only about an inch of the thicker end is sticking out of the area between your forefinger and thumb. The lower joint of the thumb will help to stabilize this stick. Now place the narrower end (but not the tip, per se) so it rests just slightly on the inside part of your ring finger, freeing your middle and forefinger from holding onto the stick, entirely.

This stick will be your base stick and will/ should not move while you pick up food

Step 3: Grasping Stick 2

This stick will have a lot of work to do, as it should be the one solely responsible for initiating and completely a successful food transport.

Having the thicker end line up with the thicker end of stick 1, peeping out to about an inch between forefinger and thumb, follow the narrower end so it passes just below your thumbs tip and between your middle and index finger. Get yourself comfortable with this stance because this is the basic way to hold chopsticks

In order to move stick 2 (as stick 1 never moves) use the top part of your thumb, but keep the bottom part stationary as this part is holding onto stick 1. Also use your index and middle finger as leverage to push against your thumb to either tighten or loosen the sticks' grasp on food

You will need to synchronize the way your thumb tip, middle and forefinger all operate in unison for a controlled movement of Stick 2, as it comes down to meet Stick 1.

Step 4: Grabbing a Bite

Practice squeezing and releasing the sticks so that when actual food is introduced you won't get frustrated at not being able to hold onto anything.

Position the area between your sticks opening so that its wider than the piece of food you want to grab onto. Then slowly lower and close Stick 2 so you can squeeze and subsequently grab your food.

Once you're ready, I recommend starting off by grabbing larger food items like prawns or sushi, and move up to foods like noodles and rice, as the smaller food requires more coordination to hold onto it.

Good luck!



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25 Discussions

Another thing I would recommend is everyone getting yourselves a GOOD pair of chopsticks for at home, instead of using the disposable ones. It's like the difference between eating with stainless steel vs. plastic forks, they just don't compare with how much nicer they are!

1 reply

What would be a Good pair of chopsticks that you would recommend to use?

Directions are good for individual food pieces but a different technique is involved for noodles.

To curl noodles into a ball around the chopsticks, ensure chopsticks are virtually parallel, select noodles and twirl chopsticks until a ball is formed with no dangly noodles. Persevere, this takes a bit of practise.

Have fun :)

2 replies

That's not the way I do it; I pinch bundles of noodles from the side the same way as everything else. Just suck the noodle in (slowly, to avoid splatters) once you have one part in your mouth.

I recommend practicing by transferring marbles from one bowl to another.

This is an excellent 'ible; step-by-step instructions, each step fully and carefully explained with plenty of clear pictures.

bennelson is exactly right, and Amazon has all kinds of chopsticks just waiting to show up at your door.

I practice by using chopsticks to eat finger food and, hey, it keeps that cheesy orange powder off my fingers, too.


4 years ago


Another neat trick we learned for kids while we were in Thailand. The servers prepared the chopsticks for our girls by rolling the chopstick wrapper into a tight little log and putting it between the chopsticks an inch or so from the big end, then tightly wrapping a rubber band around the end. This made chopstick tweezers that the girls could use easily.

Good 'ible. Thanks for posting.

I admit when I learned how to use them i just did it b.c I wanted to know why in the world people would torture themselves while eating instead of using a fork and spoon. But I figured it was my own ignorance making his opinion since over a billion people cannot be wrong.

Now I find I like them better for some things b/c of the precision. I guess its an issue akin to some people liking driving a stick stick shift VS an automatic. Stick just gives some people a feeling like they have more control of the situation.

The image isn't Chinese food, it is sushi (Japanese food) , which is eaten with bare hands :-)

Good instructable other wise .

A good cheater/beginner method is to "choke up" on the chopsticks. Instead of 1 inch sticking out the back of where the chopsticks rest at the base of the thumb, try 2 or 3 inches. It makes the control of the moving chopstick much easier to handle. As you gain skill, moving back to the 1-inch location isn't nearly as difficult as it is on your first few tries.

1 reply

Indeed, that is what did it for me; position them so you are essentially pinching the food with your fingers, with the chopstick there just to keep your fingers from coming in direct contact.

I learned how to use chopsticks a few years ago, and have been using them regularily for eating things like ramen noodles. Recently I tried eating noodles with a fork (since there were no chopsticks available), and found it rather difficult.

Thank you thank you! I have tried and tried.... Now maybe I will be successful!?

Greetings, Martin Yan (Yan can Cook) suggested using them as a Lobster uses Its claw.

Rub the chopsticks against each other, up and down, to help with removing the splinters. Imagine you are trying to sharpen a knife with a rod. It's not easy to spot them and it hurts when a piece gets in your mouth. For beginners, I would not recommend using the smooth wood chopsticks. Once you can pick up wet mushrooms and single grains of rice, you're on track. If you want to really test your skills, try holding the chopsticks as close to the edge as possible and picking up food.

That is so easy (at least until I try it with food). Thanks for helping to get rid of those cramped fingers and empty mouth. Great post.

Nicely done, i've tried to explain this to many people myself. one thing i like to point out is that when your hand is relaxed with chopsticks the default position of the sticks should be with the tips almost touching each other. the closer you are to this the less muscle tension in your hand when actually trying to hold a piece of food because the natural muscle position will help squeeze the sticks together. your photos illustrate it quite well.