How to Eat with Chopsticks—List of Foods That You Should Use Chopsticks For

How to Eat with Chopsticks

Eating with chopsticks can be tricky to figure out, but a bit of guidance and some practice is all you need! To figure out how to eat with chopsticks, you can go through the steps mentioned in this guide. You can also later go through a list of foods that you should ideally use chopsticks for.


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How to Eat with Chopsticks

How to eat with Chopsticks

Let’s take a look at how you can learn to eat with chopsticks. Make sure you have a good pair of chopsticks in your hands right now!


Learning how to position your chopsticks between your fingers can be pretty complicated. Hold one of the chopsticks in your dominant hand and then follow these steps:

  • Let the chopstick rest at the part where your thumb and index finger meet.
  • Let the upper or narrow part of the chopstick rest on either your middle or ring finger. Try out both to see which one works better for you.
  • Now take your second chopstick with your free hand and place it between the tips of the thumb and index finger in a pinching position.
  • The topmost parts of both the chopsticks should align well with each other.
  • Move the upper chopstick up and down while keeping the bottom one stable.


Picking up Food

When it comes to picking up the food, place both chopsticks on either side of the food. It can be better to start with a more solid shape and a singular piece of food, such as a dumpling or a portion of sushi.

You will need to bring both chopsticks closer so that you lightly pinch the food together. Make sure the grip is stable.

Pick up the food carefully and steadily and eat it.



Didn’t do too well on your first try? That’s okay! It will take you a bit of time and practice to get it right until you manage to use your chopsticks smoothly.

Keep practicing the movement of the chopsticks on your own, even if there is no food to pick up. This will allow you to get used to the positioning and movement.

Start with big and thick pieces of food so that you can quickly grasp them between your chopsticks. You can pick it up, place it back down and pick it up again until you feel confident enough.

You can then try out different kinds of food that are of various shapes and sizes.


Etiquette and Tips

When it comes to eating food using chopsticks, you should be aware of a few rules or etiquette to avoid potentially embarrassing situations if you are in the midst of some company. Let’s see what some of these are:

  • There will generally be a standard serving plate that you might have to share with other people. Given the setting and company, make sure you avoid using the chopsticks that you have already placed in your mouth to pick up the food.
  • In some situations, it might be okay to place your chopsticks in a parallel position at the end of your bowl or plate. In some cultures, however, particularly in Japanese ones, you should avoid doing this.
  • There might be a chopstick holder near your plate. Place your chopsticks together parallelly on this holder, with the upper part on the holder and the base on the table.
  • Never place your chopsticks lengthwise in the middle of your plate or bowl such that it covers the top of the food. You should also never cross them.
  • Do not let your mouth come into too much contact with your chopsticks. For instance, licking or biting is a big no. Instead, you should simply take the food into your mouth.
  • Do not take some food in one pair of chopsticks and transfer them to another pair.
  • Make sure you do not point your chopsticks at other people, as this can be considered bad manners and etiquette.
  • Keep your chopsticks clean to prevent fluids like syrup, sauce, or oil from dripping on the plates or the table.


List of Foods That You Should Use Chopsticks For

Chopsticks are mainly used in several East and Southeast Asian cuisines. You can go through the following list of foods with which you can use chopsticks next time confidently.



A bowl of freshly cooked vegan fried rice with topping options on the side.

Rice dishes in East and Southeast Asian cuisines require chopsticks, although you can also eat some Korean rice dishes with a spoon. It is a bit tough to eat with chopsticks, so give it some time!



Ramen is Japanese noodles that have a soupy base along with several toppings. Use chopsticks for the noodles and toppings but beware of the chopsticks slipping frequently.




dish of Wontons/Dumplings

These are pretty easy to eat with chopsticks since they come in single pieces and are solid.



Sushi Burritos

Chopsticks are a must for all kinds of sushi! It is slightly easier to eat than rice and ramen.



A block of tofu

Tofu will usually come with noodles and vegetables and can be pretty easy to pick up with chopsticks.


Stir Fry

A bowl of freshly-cooked chicken stir fry.

An Asian stir fry combines various vegetables and meat and might also include noodles or rice on the side.


Pre-Cut Meat and Vegetables

pan of steak

Pre-cut pieces of meat and vegetables either as sides (kimchi or radish) or as part of the main dish can be simple to pick up with chopsticks.


Fried Chicken

The pieces of breaded chicken breasts are fried on heated oil.

Korean, Thai, Chinese, or other fried chicken should be eaten with chopsticks. Make sure to dip it in some sauce (unless already glazed) before eating!


The Last Bite

That’s it! Now that you know how to eat with chopsticks and what you should use chopsticks for, you can start practicing and perfecting their use.


Frequently Asked Questions

Mastering chopsticks can enhance your dining experience with many types of Asian cuisine. Here are some FAQs that will help you navigate this skill with ease.

What are the basic steps to learning to use chopsticks for beginners?

To start using chopsticks, hold one chopstick like a pencil in your dominant hand, resting it on your ring finger. Place the second chopstick against your index finger, securing it with your thumb. Practice the motion of opening and closing the chopsticks without crossing them.

Are there any techniques for handling wooden chopsticks effectively?

For wooden chopsticks, it’s important to avoid slick surfaces. Sometimes lightly scoring the tips with a knife can create a better grip. Always make sure your hands are dry when using them to prevent slipping.

What is the proper way to eat noodles using chopsticks?

To eat noodles with chopsticks, use a scooping and lifting motion while slightly twisting your wrist to gather the noodles. It’s acceptable for you to bring the bowl closer to your mouth to avoid drips.

Can you give tips for picking up rice with chopsticks without making a mess?

When picking up rice, gently press the chopsticks together and use a shoveling motion rather than trying to pinch individual grains. Slightly sticky rice is easier to handle with chopsticks than completely dry, loose rice.

What are the cultural rules to observe when using chopsticks in a Korean setting?

In a Korean setting, it’s polite to wait for elders to pick up their chopsticks first. Never stick your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice, as this resembles a funeral rite. Also, do not point with or pass food directly from your chopsticks to someone else’s.

Is there a reason people rub chopsticks together before a meal?

Rubbing chopsticks together is often done to remove any potential splinters from wooden, disposable chopsticks. However, doing so can be seen as an insult to the host, suggesting that the chopsticks are cheap, so it’s best to avoid it unless necessary.


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Written by Laurie Graves

Laurie is a 50-something wife and boy mom, who loves to share easy recipes, DIY home ideas, and food hacks. She truly believes that with a little inspiration, anyone can make their home and meals feel special.