Can You Put Toothpicks In The Oven?

When baking finger foods, a stuffed dinner, or a fiddly cake, it is often essential to hold the food together while it is in the oven. Toothpicks are the obvious choice, but as standard toothpicks are made of wood or bamboo, it is natural to wonder whether they will catch fire. So, can you put toothpicks in the oven, or will they get burned? 

Wooden toothpicks can be put in the oven without fear of catching fire. Standard toothpicks have a high burning temperature. This, combined with the moisture they absorb from food, prevents them from catching fire, making them ideally suited for securing food like hour devours when baking. 

Toothpicks have been used as mini-skewers for cocktails for a long time. If you need to heat any tasty bites or pin food together while cooking in the oven, the toothpick may come to mind for this purpose too. What are your options for using toothpicks in this way? Some care must be taken when exposing toothpicks to high temperatures in the oven, and we have all you need to know to do this safely! 

Can You Put Toothpicks In The Oven?

While one can safely use regular toothpicks in the oven without the danger of them bursting into flames, there are a few factors to be aware of to prevent the ends from becoming unappealingly darkened or scorched. Characteristics like toothpick type, the length of time they will be in the oven, and the preparation you’ve done beforehand are all essential to consider when contemplating using toothpicks in the oven. 

What Can Toothpicks Be Used For In Cooking and Baking?

Toothpicks are widely used in baking, and there’s a reason for it! These little skewers are the easiest and most mess-free way of keeping fiddly food together in the oven or ensuring that it holds its shape while it crisps up. Common uses for toothpicks in cooking and baking are: 

  • Holding food like burritos or cabbage rolls together while it bakes
  • Roasting meats like chicken breasts
  • Ensuring that entrees like pinwheels keep their shape in the oven
  • Holding multi-piece cakes together

Toothpicks can also be used to protect the shape of delicate foods like desserts or appetizers by keeping the cover from touching the top of the food while it bakes. 

How Is It Possible To Use Toothpicks In The Oven?

Toothpicks are made of wood, and so you might reasonably think that they would go up in flames if you put them somewhere as hot as an oven, and you wouldn’t be alone. For several reasons, however, they are incredibly inflammable. So how do toothpicks survive the oven?

Toothpicks are made from hardwood, which means that they have a high burning temperature, and will not spontaneously ignite at oven temperature. Furthermore, when toothpicks are skewered through food, the wood absorbs moisture, preventing it from catching alight in the oven. This means that (while the toothpicks are damp) it is impossible for them to combust. 

How To Ensure Toothpicks Don’t Get Singed In The Oven

While toothpicks won’t burst into flames in the oven, they may become darkened or blacken on the ends under certain conditions. While this is perfectly safe, the toothpick is still unlikely to ignite, and will not spoil the flavor of your dish, it may look unattractive. If you are serving finger foods containing toothpicks at a dinner party, this is something you may wish to avoid, as there is nothing is less chic than a blackened toothpick! 

However, there are some handy tips to bear in mind that can prevent any unappetizing discoloration from occurring. These are mainly recommended if you put food in the oven at notably high temperatures or for a prolonged time (for example, for more than twenty minutes). The most crucial factors to be aware of when using toothpicks in the oven are:

  • Soak your toothpicks before you use them. Soaking wooden toothpicks in a bowl of cold water for about twenty minutes using them will ensure that they are wet the whole way through and, therefore unable to get scorched at the ends.
  • Bake toothpicks at moderate temperatures. Wooden toothpicks are more likely to smolder or blacken if they are in the oven at exceptionally high temperatures.
  • Be aware of oven time. While unsoaked toothpicks will not usually burn in the oven, be wary of leaving them in for hours at a time at very high temperatures. This may cause the toothpick to dry out and slowly start to smolder eventually.
  • Only use plain wooden toothpicks in the oven. Plastic toothpicks will melt, and frills on decorated toothpicks may catch fire, and are therefore not safe for oven use. Colored toothpicks may stain food and so should also be avoided during baking. 

Safe Alternatives To Wooden Toothpicks In Baking

While ordinary wooden toothpicks are safe and suitable for oven use, other alternatives are just as convenient for holding food in place. These too have their own benefits, meaning that there is no ‘correct’ type of toothpick for baking. Choice of the skewer is generally merely a matter of personal preference or what you have on hand. 

The Use Of Steel Toothpicks In Baking 

Most professional chefs use stainless steel toothpicks in the oven, especially when cooking meat. These have the benefits of being easy to clean and reusable – making them more environmentally sustainable and a worthwhile investment if you cook full-time. So, if you’re feeling professional, these may be the toothpicks for you! They bring their own challenges, though: steel gets very hot in the oven, so be sure to watch your fingers.

Using Spaghetti Instead Of Toothpicks In Baking 

If you find yourself all out of toothpicks and in a hurry to pop something fiddly in the oven, dried noodles such as spaghetti can save the day! While not as sturdy as wooden toothpicks, noodles’ lengths are adequate substitutes that can hold most food together well while it cooks. These also make for another, cheaper, environmentally friendly option and pose no risk of staining your food. 

To use spaghetti in this way, break it into the lengths you require. Another benefit is that you can customize your toothpick lengths. Noodles are more fragile than wooden toothpicks, so take care not to snap them when feeding them through the food, and then pop them in the oven, and you’ll be surprised by how successful they are. 

Conclusion

Toothpicks are handy for various purposes in baking appetizers, meals, and desserts. Regular, undecorated wooden toothpicks are generally oven-safe as the moisture they draw from the food prevents them from igniting. Steel toothpicks are also great options, and you can also use lengths of spaghetti in a pinch! 

There are a few simple tricks to be mindful of when using toothpicks in the oven, which will prevent any risk of unattractive blackening. Soaking wooden or bamboo toothpicks in cold water before using them in the oven is recommended, as is putting toothpicks in the oven at moderate temperatures for moderate lengths of time. Keep these in mind and watch your culinary skills go to the next level!