If you’ve been cooking for as long as we have, you’ve probably also had this experience: you’re getting your ingredients out of the pantry to make a recipe you’re excited about, and you suddenly realize that the recipe calls for cooking twine.
The only problem is, you don’t have any!
For those of you who are in this position (which we assume you are if you’ve clicked on this article), don’t panic.
Whether you need cooking twine to bundle herbs or truss poultry, there are some simple solutions to this problem.
Although many of the articles you’ll find online will recommend cooking twine substitutes that are even more difficult to find than cooking twine itself, we’ve come up with a list of easy substitutes for cooking twine that you most likely already have at home.
Read on to find out which substitutes for cooking twine in a pinch as well as the answers to some of your most common cooking twine-related questions.
The Easiest Cooking Twine Substitutes
1. Dental Floss
Need something to tie your ingredients together quickly and easily before you get cooking? Dental floss will do just fine.
The great thing about using dental floss instead of cooking twine is that there’s basically no difference in how you use it.
You literally tie it in the exact same way and it works just as well, so if you’re used to cooking with cooking twine, grabbing some dental floss from your bathroom is going to be the most intuitive substitute for you to work with.
With that being said, please remember not to use flavored dental floss when cooking.
It’s pretty common for dental floss to come with some kind of added mint flavoring, and the last thing you want is for your soup or roast dinner to leave a spearmint taste in everyone’s mouth.
You’ll also want to make sure that your dental floss isn’t waxed before you put it in the oven. Waxed dental floss is flammable, so baking it in the oven can be pretty disastrous.
Even if you’re fairly sure your dental floss isn’t waxed, it’s always worth looking at the label on the packaging to make doubly sure.
If the only dental floss you have at home is flavored or waxed, you’ll be better off trying one of the other substitutes on this list for safety reasons, even if they’re not as intuitive to use.
How To Substitute
Cooking twine is a staple in most kitchens. It is used for tying up ingredients and as a handle for pots and pans. If you are looking for an alternative to cooking twine, consider using dental floss. Dental floss is made from nylon and has a soft texture that is gentle on your hands. It is also a great alternative to the stiffer cooking twine.
2. Aluminum Foil
This one might not automatically spring to mind when you’re thinking about substitutes for cooking twine, but it’s actually one of the best and most accessible alternatives.
While aluminum foil isn’t a great substitute for cooking twine if you need to tie something up very tightly (for example, trussing a turkey), it can be used to roll up slices of ham, for example.
Basically, if you need to keep any lightweight ingredients rolled up in the oven throughout the cooking process, you’ll be safe using aluminum foil.
How To Substitute
The cooking twine substitute aluminum foil is an easy and quick way to cook without the need for pots and pans. It is made of aluminum, so it heats up quickly and is safe to use on all types of cookware.
When you think about substitutes for cooking twine, you’re probably wracking your brains trying to come up with items you could use to tie your ingredients together.
However, you don’t actually need to do any tying at all to achieve the same result as cooking twine would.
One of our favorite substitutes for cooking twine is the humble toothpick.
This method works for just about anything you’d normally get the cooking twine to accomplish, from roasting meat to boiling herbs, and since toothpicks are a staple household item, you should be able to find a few to get the job done.
All you need to do is simply stick the toothpick(s) through whatever it is you need to keep in place during the cooking process. Obviously, this will be easier to do with some food items than others.
It’s easy enough to stick a turkey leg in place with a toothpick, but getting a wooden skewer through a bundle of herbs in a way that keeps the individual sprigs in place is much easier said than done.
Still, if you don’t have another option, it’s doable with enough precision.
Make sure to soak the toothpicks in water prior to putting them in the oven if you’re going to be baking.
This is really important because toothpicks are, of course, made of wood, so if you don’t soak them before you put them in the oven, they might catch fire.
This would obviously be less than optimal for your cooking but more importantly, it would be a serious safety hazard.
Another thing to bear in mind if you’re going to use toothpicks instead of cooking twine is that you’ll need to remove the toothpicks from the food before you serve it.
This might seem obvious, but it’s surprisingly easy to forget.
If you don’t have any toothpicks but have some metal skewers in your kitchen (the kind you’d use for kebabs, for example), these will work just as well.
How To Substitute
Cooking twine substitutes toothpicks are an essential cooking tool that can be used to hold food together while cooking. Toothpicks are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be easily cut with scissors or a knife.
Okay, we know this might not be the substitute suggestion you were looking for, but in many cases, it’s actually totally fine to follow a recipe without using anything in place of cooking twine.
The thing is, cooking twine is not a necessary part of cooking.
Sure, it can be helpful to truss up a turkey or a chicken while it’s in the oven to ensure all parts of the bird are evenly cooked, but there are alternatives to this such as tucking the tips of the wings under the body.
Similarly, you can add herbs to dishes without bundling them together – you’ll just need to be prepared to either leave the herbs in the dish or fish them out after cooking depending on what you’re cooking with.
If you’re used to cooking with cooking twine, going without can feel daunting and strange, but at the end of the day, it shouldn’t actually affect the quality of the finished product.
So, if you don’t have any cooking twine or any of the other substitutes on this list, consider going without just this once.
How To Substitute
In the event that none of the replacements in this guide are available to you, you’ll have to think outside the box. To prevent them from coming undone, place your food with the two ends underneath its weight.
If you don’t have any cooking twine, you can try using dental floss (as long as it’s unwaxed or unflavored), aluminum foil (for less heavy-duty tasks) or toothpicks that have been soaked to reduce flammability.
In case you don’t have any of these at home, you can always proceed with your recipe without tying or skewering anything together.
It’s totally possible and you may find it actually saves you time overall, so don’t panic if you can’t find an easy substitute for cooking twine.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Regular Twine OK For Cooking?
It’s best to stick to cooking twine instead of regular twine when it comes to cooking.
That’s because cooking twine is made from natural cotton and doesn’t contain any added chemicals that might make it unsafe for cooking.
Can I Cook With Jute String?
Jute twine is made out of vegetable fibers, so you might think it would be fine for cooking, but because it sheds fibers so easily, it can catch fire, which makes it an unsafe choice for cooking.
Can I Use Sewing Thread For Cooking?
Sewing thread may seem like a natural substitute for cooking twine but please don’t use sewing thread for cooking.
Sewing thread is typically dyed, which means it might leak chemicals into your food, and it’s also flammable, so it’s not safe to put in the oven.
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