Extra Helpings: The Paper Chase


What’s the big diff between parchment paper and wax paper?

What’s the big diff? Parchment paper can take the oven’s direct heat… wax paper can’t. Now, as Mama loves to do, I shall expound on the virtues of both.

Parchment paper is a nonstick heavy stock paper that is grease-proof and super moisture-resistant. It is treated with sulfuric acid and coated with silicone, which is why it’s also non-stick. If you ever see these words on a menu “en papillote,” that means the dish is fancy-do and cooked in a little parchment paper packet, which is kind of cool (or so the restaurant would like you to believe). It is sold bleached and unbleached in rolls and pre-cut sheets.

So…what can you use it for?

• Lining cookie sheets with parchment paper eliminates greasy clean-up.
• To reheat vegetables or casserole leftovers, cover your microwave-safe dish with a small sheet of parchment paper.
• To make a stencil, place a cookie cutter on a sheet of parchment paper. Trace around the cookie cutter and cut out the shape to make the stencil. Place it over your dessert and sprinkle with powdered or colored sugar.

Waxed paper is a much lighter weight paper that is coated on both sides with paraffin, and is mostly used to wrap and store foods. Wax paper is not as water resistant as parchment paper. You should only use wax paper in the oven if it does not come in contact with direct heat. Wax paper is sold in rolls and pre-cut sheets, and costs less than parchment paper.

And what can you use waxed paper for?
• Slip a piece of waxed paper slightly larger than the microwave-safe dish you are using to save time on clean-ups.

• Prevent spatters by covering microwave-safe dish with a piece of waxed paper.
• When frosting a cake, line the rim of the platter with strips of waxed paper to catch drips. Remove when finished.
• When grating cheese, zesting citrus or measuring dry ingredients put a piece of wax paper underneath dish or measuring cup to catch any spillage.
• Crumble-up waxed paper and slip it on top or on the sides of baked goods that need to be moved or mailed to hold them in place (though Mama generally recommends against mailing baked goods).

Handy Dandy Chart for Parchment & Wax Paper Uses

Parchment Paper Wax Paper
Grease Proof Yes Yes
Line Cake Pans Yes Yes
Line Containers For Baked Goods Yes Yes
Microwave Safe Yes Yes
Line Cookie Sheets Yes No
Moisture Proof Yes No
Use as a Pastry Bag Cone Yes No
Use as a Funnel Yes No




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I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: mamashighstrung@gmail.com