What’s the Difference Between Parchment Paper and Wax Paper?

These kitchen papers are both awesome for making cleanup faster and easier. They're also good for wrapping meat and fish and separating layers of baked goods for storage. But the No. 1 reason parchment paper is far superior to wax paper is because it won't melt or ignite in the oven. That's a biggie. Do not, we repeat, do not put wax paper in the oven. We try to avoid excess flames in the kitchen. The brown paper also has that cool artisanal thing going on when you wrap baked goods in it for gifts, especially with butcher's twine as ribbon — so Brooklyn.

While parchment paper can do anything wax paper can, it's more expensive. The main difference between papers is their respective coatings. Parchment paper is coated with silicone to give it a nonstick, heat-resistant surface, and waxed paper is coated with a soybean or paraffin wax.

Waxed paper is not meant for use in the oven — the wax coating on it will melt if the paper is exposed to direct heat — so use it for wrapping up sandwiches or food for cold storage. Parchment paper is the best choice for cooking, as most brands can withstand temperatures up to about 420 degrees Fahrenheit. Parchment paper is good for lining cookie sheets to eliminate the need to grease them (great for those who want to reduce fat or calories), and is also used to cook “en papillote,” a technique of wrapping food in a packet and baking it. Parchment paper keeps you from having to scrub crusted-on baking pans.

The other way the papers differ is in how they’re processed before being coated. Pat Schweitzer, a spokesperson for Reynolds Consumer Products, says that the company’s parchment paper is pressed into a sheet, then dipped into an acid bath, washed, and “passed over a series of hot rotating drums that realign the fibers and give the paper its strength,” before the silicone coating is applied. Reynolds’ waxed paper, on the other hand, undergoes a process called supercalendering, which compresses the paper to give it its transparency, before it is coated in wax.

You can also buy a Silpat silicone baking mat to line your pans if you want grease-free baking with minimal cleanup. The initial cost is more, but a Silpat lasts for years.

Many recipes call for using parchment or wax paper. Try a few of these:

1. Rice Krispies Treats Birthday Cake

Now here's a great reason to buy wax paper: Rice Krispies Treats. This recipe using buttered wax paper is really a guide for making a treat tower. Dot the treats afterward with your kid's favorite small candy, and you've got a pretty creative, easy "cake." Get our Rice Krispies Treats Birthday Cake recipe.

2. Roasted Fish with Thai Pesto

 

Yes, you can use aluminum foil also, but parchment paper works well with this fragrant fish. Marinate the fish in the Thai pesto longer for even more flavor. Get our Roasted Fish with Thai Pesto recipe.

3. Gingerbread Waffles with Vanilla Bean-Orange Butter

Make extra waffles and freeze them between layers of parchment paper for quick weekday breakfasts. Get our Gingerbread Waffles with Vanilla Bean-Orange Butter recipe.

4. Linzer Sablés

Who better to take cookie advice from other than master baker Dorie Greenspan? We recommend using hazelnuts, but you can bake with almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts. Get our Linzer Sablés recipe.

5. Charred Eggplant Salad

If you don't have a grill (or it's winter), you can make this recipe in the oven, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Get our Charred Eggplant Salad recipe.

6. Brown Butterscotch Pie

This warming winter pie required parchment paper and pie weights to make the crust. Get our Brown Butterscotch Pie recipe.

7. Italian Rainbow Cookies

Wax paper and almond paste help make this Italian grandma classic cookie. Get our Italian Rainbow Cookie recipe.

Original post by Roxanne Webber, updated by Amy Sowder

Head photo by Simply Living

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