What are some viable parchment paper alternatives? With this complete list of parchment paper alternatives, you should never find yourself in a situation where you have to stop baking or cooking until you buy more parchment paper.
Parchment paper alternatives I recommend:
- Silpat sheets
- Wax paper
- Aluminum foil
- Greased baking sheet
- Banana leaves
In this guide, I’ll talk a lot more about why these parchment paper alternatives work and why they’re my favorites. You might even like them so much yourself that you decide to switch to some of them permanently!
5 Substitutes for Parchment Paper
You use parchment paper because your baked goods don’t stick and the paper is heat-resistant, right? You also love how grease won’t penetrate the waxy layer of the paper.
Silpat sheets share all those traits. Even better? They’re reusable!
A baker’s best friend, Silpat is a baking liner that goes on the inside of a cookie sheet or a baking tray to provide a non-stick surface.
You can skip the messy melted butter and the sticky cooking spray and put your baked products right on the Silpat.
The combination of food-grade silicone and fiberglass mesh provides an even baking surface for reliable heat distribution every time. If you have baked goods where the edges get dark but the middle isn’t done, that won’t happen with Silpat sheets.
The sheets come in all different sizes, and some even have circular guides on them so you know exactly how to space out your macarons or cookies.
Silpat sheets can withstand temperatures as low as -40 degrees and as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wait, aren’t wax paper and parchment paper the same thing? Actually, not at all!
Parchment paper uses cellulose, so it has properties such as water resistance, heat resistance, and durability. Wax paper is made from paraffin wax.
If you only use parchment paper for prepping meal ingredients but not for baking or cooking in the oven, then wax paper is a great alternative. It’s water-resistant like parchment paper and it doesn’t stick.
However, wax paper does not do well in the oven. The paper isn’t heat-resistant at all.
At the very least, the paper will melt onto your pan, ruining it. At worst, the burning wax paper can start a kitchen fire.
So maybe you can’t use wax paper in the same ways you do parchment paper, but it is plenty good to have.
Compared to parchment paper, you can usually buy wax paper at a lower price. If the cost of parchment paper makes you stingy about its usage, you won’t mind pulling out a sheet of wax paper when rolling out cookie dough, pizza dough, or pie crust dough.
You’ll also notice that if you try balling up wax paper to store food that it’s much more malleable than parchment paper. It also stays in the shape you put it in, the same of which you cannot say about parchment paper.
Ideally, it’s better if you have both parchment paper and wax paper, but for many other uses around the kitchen besides baking or cooking, wax paper on its own more than suffices!
If you’re looking for a true alternative to parchment paper, aluminum is about as good as it gets.
It acts the same way as parchment paper right down to being able to withstand high temperatures without melting.
You can expose aluminum foil to temps as low as -65 degrees and as high as 375 degrees without it sparking, burning, or igniting a fire.
However, the one thing I wouldn’t recommend you use aluminum foil for that parchment paper can handle just fine is microwaving.
In a microwave, aluminum foil can start a fire or explode!
Like parchment paper, aluminum foil makes a great storage method for food. It holds its shape exceptionally well, even more so than wax paper. Its complete barrier prevents bacteria, moisture, and oxygen from getting in.
Plus, aluminum foil is very cheap, and most rolls will last you a long time.
I’d also bet it’s something you have in your kitchen pantries already, so anytime you run out of parchment paper, you have another option in a pinch!
Greased Baking Sheet
Who says you need any kind of foil or paper on your cooking pans and trays? You want a nonstick surface, right? That’s achievable through other means.
For instance, you can combine some flour, butter, and oil to grease up a tray. This method has an old-fashioned feel to it that some bakers might find especially appealing. You do have to get your hands a bit dirty, but isn’t that part of the fun of baking anyway?
Start with clean hands that you freshly washed. Next, apply the butter or oil onto the pan, coating the entire thing. After that, add a fine dusting of flour. You don’t want to make it snow here; just use a little!
When you’re done coating the pan, flip it over and give it a gentle tap. I recommend laying a tea towel down so all the excess butter and flour don’t make a mess of your countertop.
I prefer using unsalted butter over the salted stuff. It will produce a beautiful golden-brown hue on whatever you bake or cook. Plus, whatever batter or dough you add to the baking sheet will have enhanced flavor due to the butter.
If you’d rather not impart flavor from greasing the baking sheet onto whatever you’re baking, then shortening is a good option.
I also suggest using the same brand and flavor of flour that your recipe calls for. This way, the flour you use on the pan doesn’t interrupt the flavor of your baked good too much.
Here’s a fun trick: if you’re making a chocolatey dessert, don’t use flour at all. Instead, try cocoa powder.
Have you ever stopped to think about how long it takes your nonstick baking sheets to break down?
Granted, if it’s parchment paper, the decomposition time is between two and six weeks, which isn’t bad.
If it’s aluminum foil we’re talking about here, it can be up to 400 years before aluminum foil breaks down.
For those who would rather not damage our planet through their cooking and baking, banana leaves are an eco-friendly parchment paper alternative. The leaves are almost infinitely reusable.
Banana leaves do indeed come from banana plants. During each growing cycle, a banana plant can grow about 40 leaves.
Like the fruit, banana leaves are completely edible. They’re beloved for their decorative appeal, their waterproof quality, and their flexibility. You can lay them flat on a baking sheet or wrap your food into small pouches using banana leaves.
Now, I should note that banana leaves are rather porous. As they cook, the leaves will darken and juices will come out. Those juices can add banana flavor to your food, which is fine if that’s what you want.
If you’re not expecting it though, you could be in for quite an unpleasant surprise. After all, the taste of banana doesn’t meld with every dish.
Can You Use Paper Grocery Bags Instead of Parchment Paper?
I have to address a recommendation I’ve heard from a lot of people. When your box of parchment paper is empty, they suggest using a paper grocery store bag.
After all, the bags are readily available, free, and they’re paper like parchment paper is. What’s the worst that can happen?
A lot, as it turns out.
First, the composition of grocery store paper bags and parchment paper are not the same. Parchment paper, as I mentioned earlier, has a layer of cellulose so it’s nonstick, heat-resistant, and water-resistant.
Grocery store paper bags have none of that. They’re made of kraft paper, a type of elastic cardboard that doesn’t tear easily and is very porous.
Kraft paper is great for lots of uses, but it isn’t nonstick. If you put food like raw cookie dough on a piece of ripped-off grocery store bag, the dough will stick. Good luck getting your cookies off the baking tray in one piece!
Couldn’t you spritz baking spray on the paper? Kraft paper is not very absorbent, so it’d become sticky and soggy in no time.
Besides that, kraft paper isn’t water-resistant. Much more importantly though, it isn’t heat-resistant.
Once your oven reaches 424 degrees, the paper grocery bag will burn. When I say burn, by the way, I mean it.
You could have a huge fire in your oven, which is a terrifying sight. Whatever you cooked will be ruined, and your oven could be wrecked as well. A house fire can also spread.
If you’re still not totally convinced, this ought to do it. As the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences writes: “…according to the FDA, the ink, glue, and recycled materials in brown paper bags may emit toxic fumes when the bag is heated.”
It’s just not worth using these bags in lieu of parchment paper!