Parchment Paper Substitute

Parchment Paper Substitute: What Can I Use Instead of Parchment Paper?

So you’re in a rush and you’ve got a million things to do, not to mention the two dozen New York style cookies you have to make this afternoon for the school bake sale. You hurriedly wrench open your kitchen drawer to begin but, alas! You’re out of parchment paper. 

Have no fear, there is definitely a parchment paper substitute readily available in your kitchen. Whether you’re wondering if you can swap in wax paper or aluminum foil, there’s no need to guess. Here you’ll find which alternatives are optimal to substitute for each and every situation.

What is Parchment Paper?

First, let’s take a look at what parchment paper is made of. Fundamentally, parchment paper, or baking paper, is simply paper that has been given a silicone layer to prevent sticking. This silicone coating makes the paper both heat-resistant and water-resistant, making it optimal for both baking and additional uses such as wrapping foods for cooking or steaming

Parchment paper can also be used to create a cornet or DIY piping bag in a pinch for cake decorating. Some bakers will use it in still more ways to keep sticky desserts like brownies and bars from sticking to one another.

But this handy paper isn’t without its flaws. Parchment paper is not indestructible – it isn’t recommended to be used at temperatures above 450ºF. For these temperatures, you best check out some comparable substitutes instead. 

Additionally, parchment paper can be considered terribly wasteful, as these sheets are most often used once and thrown away. Let’s explore the alternatives.

Parchment Paper Replacement

What can you use instead of parchment paper? There are a variety of options that are likely already sitting in your kitchen! However, the best alternative will depend on the task you’re using it for. We’ll overview some common parchment paper substitutes and review the ideal situations for each one.

Wax Paper

Can I use wax paper instead of parchment paper? The answer hangs on the task you were originally intending to use parchment paper for – as wax paper is not meant to be used with heat. That’s right! Placing wax paper in the oven is actually a fire hazard, as the paper can ignite once the wax coating has melted off. 

Unlike parchment paper that has been coated in silicone, wax paper has been coated in a layer of wax, often made from soybean or paraffin wax, which makes it non-stick and moisture-resistant (although not waterproof). However, wax paper is not heat-resistant like parchment paper, so be sure to keep it far away from those hot surfaces. 

But, if you’re looking for a substitute to funnel ingredients or to line your countertops for easy cleanup you can opt for wax paper. Additionally, it can be used to separate desserts, like sticky lemon bars, and post-baking. Generally, you’ll find wax paper to be less expensive than parchment paper due to its lower versatility.

Although they may look very similar, parchment paper and wax paper are quite different. Essentially, parchment paper is best used for heat, and wax paper is best used for cooler uses, like rolling out cookie dough or food prep. So if you are wanting to use wax paper, it’s not a great alternative to a baking sheet.

Cooking Spray, Oil and Butter

Simply need parchment paper to keep items from sticking to your baking sheet? Use non-stick cooking spray instead! Just give your bakeware a hearty spray, getting in all those nooks and crannies, and bake as usual.

Out of cooking spray too? Use vegetable oil, olive oil, or coconut oil. Even good old-fashioned butter can be spread into all those crooks and corners with the help of a paper towel. Just be aware, nonstick cooking spray can create a crust on the bottom of certain baked goods – to keep edges pillowy soft, use butter or shortening and add flour for extra protection from sticking.

Using these classic methods may require more cleaning post-baking, but they’ll certainly get the job done!

Aluminum Foil

Can you use aluminum foil instead of parchment paper? Sure thing! You can line a pan or baking sheet with aluminum foil, just be sure to give it a quick spray or greasing, as the foil itself is not nonstick. 

Foil is a useful parchment paper replacement when you’re in need of steaming or baking as it is oven-safe and insulates well. Additionally, it can be used to funnel ingredients due to its flexibility.

Foil is great to line pans due to its ease of shaping and forming to the pan. Baking cookies on aluminum foil, however, is not recommended. Due to the high conductivity of aluminum foil, the part of your cookies that come in direct contact with the foil (the bottoms) will be exposed to more heat, causing uneven baking. This can result in an overly browned or sometimes even burned bottom when baking on aluminum foil.

When baking cookies, you best opt for a nonstick baking sheet or silicone baking mat.

Silicone Baking Mat

Perhaps you’re abstaining from parchment paper for environmental reasons. I mean, it is a bit wasteful to use a sheet once, only to throw it away, right? In this case, try swapping parchment paper for a silicone baking mat. These reusable non-stick mats can last for years and are great for even heat distribution. Furthermore, if using older baking sheets, lining them with a silicone baking mat can help to prevent hotspots and over-browning on the bottom.

One popular version is a Silpat baking mat. These French-manufactured mats are made with silicone and fiberglass mesh and are one of the most popular choices for silicone baking mats. Renowned bakers have called these mats essential for baking delicate cookies such as fortune cookies and tuiles.

Silpat mats can be used at temperatures up to 500°F. It should be noted that this particular version of the silicone baking mat should be hand washed as this is listed as the preferred method by the manufacturer. However, many other silicone mats are dishwasher compatible, saving you and your sponges the extra work.

There are a few downsides to these silicone substitutes for baking sheets. They cannot be cut to fit, so you may have to purchase multiple sizes to match all your baking sheets. Other drawbacks include heat limits – silicone bakeware is not recommended for use at very baking high temperatures and never under the broiler. Individual manufacturers will specify specific heat limits for each of their products, often ranging from 420ºF to 480ºF, which should always be adhered to.

Additionally, you should never cut your culinary creations on top of a silicone baking mat, doing so can puncture the mat and affect its durability.

Nonstick Bakeware

Nonstick baking sheets and pans are yet another substitute for a baking sheet. Nonstick baking pans and sheets need little to no greasing and are easy to clean as well. 

The downsides? The nonstick coating can wear down over time, and when exposed to hot water and dishwasher detergent, this coating will wear away even faster. To prolong the use of these baking items, opt for handwashing.

In Summary

What can I use instead of parchment paper? Many things! So, go ahead and breathe easy – you already possess a handful of substitutes in your kitchen for those times when you find your pantry devoid of parchment paper. 

You can use wax paper for cooler uses, such as kitchen prep and keeping items from sticking together in the refrigerator or freezer. Nonstick cooking spray or good old-fashioned greasing and flouring are other options for cake pans. Aluminum foil can be used for lining pans for easy cleanup as well as cooking and steaming. Baking cookies? Reach for a silicone baking mat or nonstick baking sheet for the optimum result.

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