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Parchment Paper versus Waxed Paper

By Cook's Illustrated Published March 2018

Parchment paper is the only option when it comes to baking, but it’s expensive. Can you use waxed paper for everything else?

Parchment and waxed papers are both designed to help keep food from sticking. Because parchment is manufactured to resist relatively high heat, it's indispensable for preventing food from sticking during baking, but it's pricey—our favorite product costs $0.20 per sheet (plus shipping). So for tasks other than baking, we turn to waxed paper. It costs only about $0.05 per sheet and works just as well as parchment, if not better. When we asked readers to tell us how they use waxed paper, the response was overwhelming. Here are some of readers'—and our—favorite uses.

Wrapping: It holds creases well, so it's great for wrapping sandwiches, candies, caramels, or cheese (loosely wrap cheese in a second layer of foil).

Layering: Its nonstick coating keeps moist foods, such as fresh tortillas, cookies, burger patties, chops, or steaks, separated for storage or freezing.

Cushioning: Since it doesn't compress easily, waxed paper works well for lining a cookie tin so that pieces don't break.

Microwaving: The material is microwave-safe and won't sag like plastic wrap can when exposed to steam, making it an ideal choice for covering foods to prevent splattering and contain moisture.

Rolling: The slick surface prevents sticking and functions well as a barrier between cookie or pie dough and the counter or rolling pin.