How To Eat Rice With Chopsticks & Helpful Tips You Should Know

You cannot separate Asian food culture from chopsticks. No matter where you are eating Asian food, the art and skill of using chopsticks will always be handy.

Unlike noodles, sushi, and some other foods that are easy to lift with chopsticks, eating rice with chopsticks could be tricky.

If you were not exposed to Asian culture from a young age, eating with chopsticks will generally look daunting. But, with the step-by-step guide in this article and a few practices, you will be dining well at any Asian table with sophistication and grace.

Also, in this article, you will discover other amazing benefits of eating rice with chopsticks.

How to eat rice with chopsticks

  • Use your dominant hand to hold the chopsticks
  • The first step is to grab your chopsticks
  • Place the first on your ring finger and support its end with the crease between your thumb and first finger
  • Keep your small finger curled against your thumb for a firm grasp
  • Then, place the second chopstick on the first knuckle of your middle finger, and its end should be between your thumb and index finger
  • Hold the two chopsticks parallel to each other
  • Try moving the top chopstick up and down. Use your thumb, index, and middle fingers to move the top chopstick. Keep your thumb straight while you do this. Otherwise, you will lose control of the sticks
  • Now, pick up your rice bowl in your less dominant hand. Keep the bowl very close to your chest to prevent it from spilling
  • Spread the chopsticks and place them at the bottom of a rice ball
  • Squeeze in gently and lift the rice ball
  • Bring the bowl a few inches closer to your mouth and put the rice in your mouth
  • If you feel any grains are dropping off, catch them with the bowl. You are not going against any etiquette with this
  • Go over the steps again if you missed something or didn’t get it right
  • Also, practice with small balls of rice, preferably sticky rice

Are chopsticks a traditional cutlery for rice?

Chopsticks are traditional cutlery for eating rice in some regions and cultures. They are a huge part of Asian food culture. If you visit a Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, or Vietnamese restaurant, expect to see chopsticks accompany your meal.

However, some of these cuisines offer spoons when the meal is served on a plate. In the Asian culture, children are exposed to using chopsticks at a very young age. So, do not be surprised to see kids between 5 to 10 years use chopsticks efficiently.

Why else do people eat rice with chopsticks?

As mentioned earlier, eating rice with chopsticks is a traditional practice in Asian culture, especially in parts where rice is a staple food. But, beyond this reason, chopsticks are suitable for eating rice for several other reasons.

Rice is sticky and eating it with a fork could leave grains stuck on the tines of the fork. The chances of this happening with chopsticks are slimmer.

Moreover, it leaves your plate looking tidy even after eating sticky rice. Also, it is easier to scoop sticky rice with chopsticks.

rice balls in chopsticks - millenora

Can you pick individual grains of rice with chopsticks?

Yes, you can. For a beginner, picking individual grains of rice is more daunting than picking up balls of rice. Like with balls of rice, all you need is practice and patience.

Other things you need in place are a pair of high-quality chopsticks with smooth, tapered tips to make picking grains of rice easy.

Also, hold the chopsticks with a firm grip but you should be able to control their movement. Most importantly, pick the grains with gentle pressure so you don’t crush them.

You can the pinching method, holding your chopsticks with your thumb and index finger, for a better grip. Most importantly, be patient with yourself. All you need is practice.

Advantages of chopsticks over spoons or forks

  • Eating with chopsticks allows for portion control, which promotes healthy eating habits
  • When eating with chopsticks, each mouthful is smaller, and you can chew slowly and more thoroughly
  • By eating small mouthfuls slowly and mindfully, you can savor the taste of your food better. Also, it makes you feel fuller with less food
  • Chopsticks are safer. They do not conduct heat so they will not get hot to the touch when picking hot food
  • Eating with chopsticks is an enjoyable experience. It allows you to put your mind, eyes, and hands to work in a coordinated manner while eating
  • Chopsticks are eco-friendly

Useful tips and chopsticks etiquette to follow when eating rice

  • Eat rice from a rice bowl. The wide, shallow surface makes it easier to pick rice
  • As a beginner, you should fluff up the rice with a fork first. The more loose the rice, the easier it is to pick rice balls
  • Put chopsticks down when you are not using them
  • While you experiment at home, use your index finger to steady your chopsticks while you pick up food
  • Do not pass food from one pair of chopsticks to another. It brings sad memories of funerals in Asian culture. If you need to pass food, drop the piece of food directly onto the other person’s plate
  • Do not rub chopsticks against each other or pull off splinters. Doing so tells your guest they gave you inferior cutlery
  • Do not click your chopsticks on a bowl or in the air
  • Do not leave chopsticks standing vertically in a bowl or crossed like an X over a bowl. This is a symbol of death in some Asian cultures
  • Avoid grabbing chopsticks like a weapon. Pick them with two fingers instead
  • Resist the urge to suck the sauce off your chopsticks
  • Do not point chopsticks across the table. Also, do not use them to point as dishes at the table
  • Do not pick through a shared dish looking for ingredients. If you have your bowl or plate, do not do it noticeably
  • If you are pausing in the middle of a meal, place your chopsticks to the right of your plate
  • Make sure they are not pointing at anyone. Placing chopsticks on top of your bowl or plate is a sign that you are done with your meal
  • If you are using disposable chopsticks, put them back into the paper wrapper and place them to the right of your plate


Can you eat all types of rice with chopsticks?

Yes, you can eat all varieties of rice using chopsticks. But medium-grain white rice is best eaten with chopsticks because it tends to come out very sticky, which is perfect for chopsticks.

Are there Asians who do not eat rice with chopsticks?

Using chopsticks to eat meals like rice has long been a part of Asian culture. However, while some Asians make it a culture to eat rice with chopsticks, others do not.

Koreans and some other parts of Southeast Asia use spoons to eat rice and use their chopsticks to pick vegetables, meat, and other dry foods. The common utensils used vary with regions, cultural practices, and recipes.

Does eating with chopsticks offer any health benefits?

Yes, it does. Chopsticks, by themselves, do not have any health benefits. When eating with chopsticks, you must eat slowly and mindfully, unlike using a spoon which can make you load your mouth with food.

Eating slowly and taking small portions at a time is good for digestion and portion control. When you have just small bits of food in your mouth, you can chew more thoroughly and enjoy good digestion.

Moreover, proper digestion means better absorption, which is good for weight management. Additionally, eating smaller bits of food with chopsticks reduces the risk of choking and helps you not to overeat.


Eating rice with chopsticks could be tricky, but with practice, you will move from a chopstick beginner to a professional. While you are getting it right with the steps to eating right with chopsticks, remember that your confidence is just as important.

Find the right pair of chopsticks. Use them often when you are alone until you have mastered a firm grip. Remember to follow the chopstick etiquette listed, especially when dining out in an Asian restaurant or with Asian friends.

If you also love Asian noodles, you should learn how to eat noodles with chopsticks.

Thanks for reading.