With many types of cooking and baking materials, have you ever asked yourself if wax paper is the same as parchment paper? You’ll learn the similarities and key differences of these types of paper in this post. Read on to know which is the better choice in specific situations so that you make the most of these kitchen staples’ strengths.
Getting to the heart of this question is not about what one paper can do and what the other can’t do. It’s about learning which ways are best when cooking and baking!
Is parchment paper the same as wax paper?
No, parchment paper and wax paper are not the same. They are both coated papers for cooking and baking, but that’s about where their similarities end. Parchment paper has a thin silicone layer. On the other hand, wax paper has a thin coating of wax, also known as paraffin wax.
This key difference gives each paper distinctive uses, though there are a few cases where the two are interchangeable.
What is wax paper used for?
Wax paper is moisture resistant and allows for a smooth, non-stick surface. This paper is a fire hazard in any high temperature because it melts at such a low heat.
Wax paper is often recommended for cold food preparation like rolling out dough for pastry, pie crusts, and bread. It allows for an easy cleanup, so you don’t end up covering your countertop with flour and gummy dough. You can also use wax paper for storing no-bake treats like no-bake cookies or dessert bars.
The only time you’ll find yourself using wax paper in the oven is when you need to line the bottom of a cake pan. If the batter is completely covering it, then your wax paper lining is safe.
Additionally, you can sift dry ingredients onto wax paper and funnel them into your mixing bowl. If you need a stencil to create templates or words for decorative designs, wax paper is the better option because it will not stick to your frosting or fondant.
Wax paper can also be used in the freezer for cold storage. If you wrap your burger patties or meatballs in it, you will significantly reduce freezer burn. Your frozen food can last up to 6 months in the freezer with this technique.
What is parchment paper used for?
Parchment paper is non-stick, heat resistant, and food-safe. Unlike wax paper, parchment paper can withstand very high temperatures. You can put it in the oven, the air fryer, the microwave, and the toaster oven.
You can buy either bleached parchment paper (white) or unbleached parchment paper (brown). Either one is perfectly fine.
You can line things like cake pans, baking pans, and cookie and baking sheets with parchment paper. Your food will not stick to the pan because of its genius non-stick properties! It also provides an aesthetically pleasing way to wrap your food.
Substitutes for Parchment Paper and Wax Paper
If you don’t have parchment paper on hand, don’t go rummaging through your kitchen drawer searching for wax paper. Instead, turn to aluminum foil as a better substitution for oven uses, like lining baking sheets.
Alternately, you can ditch all types of papers completely and simply use cooking spray on your desired cooking or baking dish.
If you find yourself going through endless amounts of parchment paper, consider buying silicone mats that will give you the same non-stick results.
For wax paper substitutes for preparing and preserving food, you can use plastic wrap like Saran wrap. And if you’re sifting flour or preparing dough without wax paper, it’s not the end of the world. You just might have to resort to a damp rag for wiping up all that flour and stuck-on dough from your countertops.
The Bottom Line
Wax paper is a good work surface for cold, baking preparations. It also works great for freezer food storage. Parchment paper is best used in the oven for high heat cooking, cooking fish and vegetables using a method called en papillote (“in paper”), and baking sheet pan dinners and brownies.
Parchment paper can replace wax paper, but wax paper cannot replace parchment paper. Because of its heat resistance, parchment paper is arguably the more useful, versatile choice.
If you want to keep learning, read more about why you can’t use wax paper in the oven in this post.