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How to Use Chopsticks Correctly

Here’s our easy illustrated guide on how to use chopsticks properly in just 3 easy steps. Do you fumble with chopsticks? Feel like an awkward dummy at a Chinese restaurant? Well, have no fear. Using chop sticks is easy. Follow our simple and easy steps to eating with chopsticks, try our practice tips, check out our etiquette pointers, and in no time you’ll be using them like a pro.

To use chopsticks, the lower chopstick is stationary and rests at the base of the thumb, and between the ring finger and middle finger. The second chopstick is held like a pencil, using the tips of the thumb, index finger, and middle finger, and it is moved while eating, to pull food into the grasp of the chopsticks. Chopsticks, when not in use, are placed either to the right or below one’s plate in a Chinese table setting. Some Chinese feel that using the serving chopsticks is more sanitary.

How to Use Chopsticks Illustrated


Step 1. Place the bottom chopstick in the valley between your thumb and index finger, and across the side of the tip of your ring finger, and press with your thumb across the open middle.

Step 2. Hold the top chopstick sort of like you would a pencil. Lightly grip the stick between the pad of your thumb and between the tips of your index and middle fingers.

Step 3. The first chopstick is stationary. Move the top chop stick, using them like tongs to grip pieces of food.

And If You Are Left-Handed…

Here are the illustrations reflected to show how to hold chopsticks if you are left-handed. Just follow the same instructions as above.


How to Hold Chopsticks Quick Summary

First, hold the bottom chopstick between your thumb and ring finger.

Then hold the top chopstick between your thumb, index and middle fingers.

Move the top chopstick only.


Let’s practice using chopsticks when you are picking up food. Start with simple foods such as cubed chicken. Put the chop stick tips on each side of the food piece, move your hand so the stationary (bottom) stick is slightly touching it, and gently close the top stick until you have a sufficient grip to raise the food. Initially, it is easy for the chop sticks to twist and cross, dropping the morsel. Practice picking up (and eating!) the easy food pieces.

To help with twist and cross, practice on difficult round pieces of food like cherry tomatoes or grapes. In a short time, your hand will gain dexterity. Continue on your practice adventures with ramen noodles.

By the way, you eat rice by using the chopsticks more as a scoop than a grip. And, in almost all East Asian restaurants and cultures, it is normal and acceptable to raise your bowl of rice close to your mouth. Just don’t do that in Korea.

For cooking

Saibashi (菜箸; さいばし) are Japanese kitchen chopsticks used in Japanese cuisine. They are used in the preparation of Japanese food and are not designed for eating. These chopsticks allow the handling of hot food with one hand and are used like regular chopsticks.These chopsticks have a length of 30 cm (12 inch) or more and maybe looped together with a string at the top. They are made from bamboo, but for deep frying, metal chopsticks with bamboo handles are preferred, as the tips of regular bamboo chopsticks discolor and get greasy after repeated use in hot oil. The bamboo handles protect against heat.

Similarly, Vietnamese cooks use the oversized đũa cả or “grand chopsticks” in cooking, serving rice from the pot.

A Guide On Etiquette While Using Chopsticks

Here are a few quick pointers on how to use chopsticks with good etiquette.

Don’t pierce or stab food with your chopsticks.

Don’t point your sticks at other people.

Don’t play around with your chopsticks or use them as drumsticks.

When you are done eating, place your pair of chopsticks across your plate or dish.

Don’t rub disposable chopsticks together as that implies they’re cheap.

Sushi is usually eaten with just your fingers.

Tip: Use the chopstick wrapper from your bamboo chopsticks as a rest by folding it up into a small tent.

That’s it! Now you’ve learned how to use these wonderful eating utensils, and with a little practice, you’ll be able to use them as an expert. Have fun at your next dinner and show off your new skills!

Check out our other informational articles:

The History of Chopsticks
Rules of Chopsticks
Custom Chopsticks – Customize Your Personalized Chopsticks