Hand holding kitchen tongs

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Oh, the humble kitchen tongs. How we appreciate the many different functions they can be used for in and around the kitchen. From picking up and turning food over, to grabbing an important ingredient that is just out of reach, tongs are one of the most useful tools to have on hand when you’re preparing a meal — and not just for cooking indoors either (they happen to be one of the most essential tools for outdoor grilling as well).

While some grip and lift uses for tongs might be obvious, we bet there are many you haven’t yet considered. Tongs are versatile after all, and they have the potential to bring a lot to the table (no pun intended) from serving food to opening beverages. If you’re looking for innovative ways to get the most out of this popular kitchen tool, we have you covered. Here are the absolute best uses for your tongs.

Toss a salad with ease

Tossing salad with tongs

The best salad recipes tend to be made with the freshest ingredients, of course, but also ones that are coated with just the right amount of dressing, too. It can be hard to get your veggies properly dressed when you’re trying to mix them in a bowl using only a spoon or fork. But when you use tongs, tossing a salad is all the more easier, and can ensure that all of your ingredients get sufficiently smothered in the dressing.

Tongs work well with salads because you can pick up more and place each bunch where it needs to be without losing any lettuce leaves in the process. This makes coating the salad ingredients in dressing a breeze. You can also use the tongs to easily flip the salad when needed and then later, use them to serve it on a plate. And don’t just take our word for it, even the professionals use tongs with their salads. According to Gracias Madre executive chef Chandra Gilbert, tongs are a must for tossing the California restaurant chain’s salads, making them one of the kitchen tools she can’t live without.

Serve food without making a mess

Serving dumplings with tongs

Serving food is not always the easiest, especially if what you’re plating happens to be messy. (Hey there, spaghetti we’re looking at you.) Using a serving spoon can get the job done, sure, but the transfer likely won’t be without some spillage on the plate, the counter, or even the stovetop (depending on where you are serving your food). That’s where your handy tongs come in to play.

Tongs are the perfect kitchen utensil to have nearby when you’re about to serve food since they can help make it easier to lift the food from the pan to the plate, especially when compared to using a spoon or fork. Sushi and dim sum fit perfectly in the tong’s careful grasp and won’t fall apart when moving. But that messy pasta dish will also stay intact when moving it from the pot to the plate without splattering all over your counter.

Scoop up cooked spaghetti

Tongs picking up cooked spaghetti

Oh, we love some homemade pasta, including a good carbonara recipe made with thin spaghetti. But scooping up those cooked noodles can be troublesome when you use a fork or spoon to get the job done. Cooked noodles are much too slippery and can even be dangerous when trying to move them from the boiling water. Sure, a colander can work when you need to drain your spaghetti, but so can tongs.

They are a great alternative to a colander because you can grab a bunch of noodles all at once when you need to remove them from the water on the stove. Using tongs to move cooked spaghetti from the pot to the sauce will also help you save that precious leftover pasta water which can be used to thicken your sauce thanks to all the starch that was transferred from the noodles into their bath.

Clean your grill like an expert

Outdoor grill with food

Keeping your grill clean is essential. You want to make sure it lasts a long time and that you are not cooking on a dirty surface so there is no risk of bacteria to those consuming the grub. But getting rid of those clingy charred remains is a tedious task. There’s a lot of brushing and scraping that can be involved, and who has the time for that?

Well, it turns out you’ve been cleaning your grill all wrong. Tongs can not help ease the pain of cleaning your grill, but also save you money when it comes to buying fancy scraping tools. Simply ball up some aluminum foil and hold it with a pair of tongs to help scrap the grill’s grates. Tongs can also be used to get the harder-to-reach areas of the grill and can help cut down the risk of you getting burned if the grill is still warm.

Grab toast from the toaster

Tongs grabbing toast from toaster

If you’re like us, you might be impatient when it comes to waiting for your toast in the toaster. The smell of that warm bread has us itching to reach for it. But this can be a problem when the toast doesn’t pop up high enough for easy plucking. We know how those small English muffins like to hide in there. Thankfully, with a tong, you don’t have to risk burning your fingers to retrieve your toast that may be hidden in the toaster.

Since tongs have a long reach, they will help to prevent you from burning yourself when going to grab your toast from the toaster. You can even buy a pair of specialty bamboo toaster tongs. These are preferred since they won’t carry any heat from the toaster, which means your skin will stay safe. All you need to think about is what jam you’ll be putting on your toast.

Turn meat over on the grill

Turning meat with tongs on the grill

There is nothing like grilling when the weather is warm. And just about anything cooked on a grill tastes good whether it’s burgers and dogs or a finger-licking-good barbecued baby back ribs recipe. But the quality of your meal all comes down to how your protein is cooked, and for even heat distribution, you have to make sure you are turning it properly on the grill.

A set of tongs can help turn the meat just right. This is why we think this is one of the absolute best uses for your tongs. Unlike a fork, tongs won’t pierce the meat and cause it to lose any of its juice. But using tongs is key for safety, too. Tongs have a long reach, so your fingers, hand, and arm are kept far enough away from the open flame — the only meat that should be cooking is what’s on the grill.

Juice citrus without breaking a sweat

Juicing lemons with tongs

Juicing citrus by hand may not seem like the most difficult task. All you have to do is cut the citrus in half and squeeze like crazy, right? Well, sure. But when you do it this way you may not always be able to get all the juice from the citrus depending on how hard you are squeezing. And while you can get a cool gadget to do it for you, the road to freshly squeezed citrus may already be in your kitchen waiting to be used.

Transforming your kitchen tongs into a juicer is quick and easy. Simply place the tongs around the citrus that has been cut in half and squeeze. You’ll be able to get more juice out of your citrus than if you were only using your hand because of the tight grip from the tong. With juicing like this, you’ll have freshly squeezed lemonade in no time.

Grab hard-to-reach items on shelves

Spice rack in pantry

We all have those hard-to-reach areas in our kitchen. Maybe it’s a high shelf in the pantry or a cabinet that is above your refrigerator and impossible to reach up and over. Sure, the step stool you keep hidden in the closet will help, but that means you have to go find it in the closet. Instead of digging around, you can grab those hard-to-reach items on that inconvenient shelf with the help of your kitchen tongs.

A pair of kitchen tongs can grab certain items that seem just barely out of reach with ease. A tip is to try and keep the lighter items on those high shelves so you aren’t struggling to lockdown something heavy or made of glass that could slip and break. Tea bags, spices, and small box items will come down easily when you reach for them with your set of tongs.

Pop open a bottle of beer

Beer bottle with cap off

There is nothing like opening a cold one after a long day. We also love drinking our beer outside when the weather heats up over the summer months — which is why there is nothing worse than when you’re craving that frosty brew but don’t have a bottle opener handy. Some caps can be easy to pop off by hand but others might not. If you don’t have a bottle opener on you, there is still an option: using your kitchen tongs. They’re particularly handy when you’re already outside grilling and don’t want to head indoors to look for that opener.

Thankfully, the two-step process to pop that cap off couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is place the tongs around the cap and pull up. Soon you will hear that wonderful pop of the cap releasing from the bottle … which will soon be followed by the sound of you gulping down that brewski.

Grab ice for your drink

Holding ice with tongs above cocktail

Ice can really make the drink. However, not everyone likes when you pick a cube out of the tray or bucket with your bare hand and place it in their cocktail. No matter how many times you claim you washed your hands, people can still frown upon you touching their ice cubes. Well, we have a cleaner solution for your ice handling needs: You guessed it — a pair of tongs!

Tongs can help you remove an ice cube from the bucket and place it directly in the drink without your hands ever touching anything. Not only is this more sanitary but using tongs to place ice into a drink can also help keep it from spilling, the reason being is you can drop the ice cube much closer into the drink than if you were using only your hand. That’s a win, win situation in our books.