Toothpicks are often used to help make a variety of different dishes while cooking or baking. You may use them to hold different foods together in the oven or air fryer.
Foods like cheese and bacon puffs, stuffed chicken breast, roll-ups, cake bites, or various appetizers need toothpicks to secure them not from falling apart.
Yes, plain wooden or bamboo toothpicks are oven safe, but are colored toothpicks safe to cook with also?
Can You Put Colored Toothpicks In The Oven?
The answer to that question is not a simple “yes” or “no,” as it depends on the material your colored toothpick is made of.
There are two primary materials you need to consider—wood or bamboo and plastic. Each can come in colorful versions with nuances, benefits, and limitations according to its design.
Colored wooden toothpicks are often marketed as an all-natural product, environmental-friendly and biodegradable. Usually, they achieve their bright colors through food coloring or food-grade dye to make them food-safe as well as oven-safe and also make them safe to use when removing food debris from between teeth.
On the other hand, colored plastic toothpicks are far more resilient and durable—and reusable if you’d like. Likewise, they come in brighter colors and fun shapes, making them a bit more appealing than conventional wooden options.
However, you should NOT put plastic toothpicks in the hot oven.
As you can see, not all colored toothpicks are the same; subsequently, each type reacts differently to heat.
Colored Wooden Toothpicks Are Safe, But May Damage Your Food
Cooking with colored wooden toothpicks is safe, and you won’t suffer any health consequences from using them. However, some of the colorings from the toothpicks may leach into your food and alter the appearance of your dish.
Wooden toothpicks are made from a specific type of wood that readily absorbs moisture, making them too damp to be flammable.
If stuck in your food, odds are the wooden toothpicks will absorb moisture from the dish and are unlikely to catch fire. Still, if you want to go the extra mile, you can always dampen them in the water beforehand.
But the downside of colored wooden toothpicks comes from their coloring. Although the dyes are non-toxic and thus do not pose a health risk, the heat and moisture can make them stain your food, causing unsightly spots.
Colored Plastic Toothpicks Are Unsafe To Cook With!
The use of colored plastic toothpicks for cooking in high heat is not advised due to the potential melting and leaching of chemicals into the food.
Although there is no definitive research on the matter, it is best to err on the side of caution, use common sense and avoid using these types of plastic toothpicks when cooking.
However, these are safe for use in cold food, putting stuff in the fridge, or holding food together for serving at parties, weddings, or family gatherings that will not be exposed to high heat.
What Is The Best Type of Toothpick To Cook With?
One of the best and most affordable cooking options is a regular wooden or bamboo toothpick—ideally without color or visible splinter or decoration. It is best if it is one solid shape, as any extra bits sticking out could get charred much faster than the rest.
To prevent catching fire, soaking the wooden toothpicks in water for ten minutes before putting them in the oven may be a wise choice.
What To Use Instead Of Toothpicks For Cooking?
When cooking, you can also use natural bamboo skewers instead of toothpicks. Or, if you don’t have skewers in your kitchen, you can use dry spaghetti to keep your food intact. Spaghetti is an excellent substitute for a toothpick because it is long and thin.
Plus, the dry spaghetti won’t cause any harm if someone happens to eat it by accident.
But at the end of the day, you’d be wise to avoid plastic or colored toothpicks for cooking and keep them just for cold appetizer picks, fruit salad, chocolate fountain, cupcake toppers, snacks, cake decoration, fondue, etc.