Parchment paper is essential for bakers and cooks, as it provides a heat-resistant and non-stick surface to prepare cookies, fish, meats, and much more. But what happens if you run out of it inadvertently, and the dough or food is ready to go in the oven?
In that case, your next step should be finding the proper parchment paper substitute.
There are seven products that you can use as alternatives for parchment paper. Each of the products described here has its pros and cons, which is why it's important to learn about them before putting them inside the oven.
So, put the dough on hold, and let's explore how you can get that batch of cookies properly baked even if you don't have parchment paper.
What is Parchment Paper and Where is it Used the Most?
Parchment paper is a cellulose-based composite resistant to grease, heat, and has a non-stick surface.
The primary use for this type of paper is oven applications, allowing you to line cake molds, baking sheets, or any baking sheet substitute. This paper can also wrap fish, and prepare multiple other dishes cooked en papillote.
Using parchment paper for cooking and baking improves your kitchen experience in more than one way.
This paper eliminates the need to use oil for greasing sheet pans, letting you turn batches of baked goods around without creating a mess. Baking sheets will be easier to clean, and the next batch of cookies won’t stick to them.
This paper can replace wax paper in many scenarios due to the non-stick surface, but using wax paper as parchment paper is not commendable.
Wax paper is not heat-resistant, whereas parchment paper usually resists up to 420°F. Putting wax paper in the oven will create smoke and damage the taste of your food.
But what if you don’t have any parchment paper? Check the next section to learn what other alternatives you can try.
Also know: is parchment paper toxic?
What to Use Instead of Parchment Paper?
Don’t have any parchment paper around? Don’t worry! Consider the following products to find a good replacement.
1. Aluminum Foil
Use aluminum foil if you're looking for a near-perfect parchment paper alternative that can do pretty much the same things. Lining baking sheets with foil prevents drips or spills, even though it doesn't have an effective non-stick surface as parchment paper does. Still, applying a bit of oil over it can get the job done without food sticking.
Aluminum foil is reflective, which means that it will cook your food considerably faster. You can also use it for cooking en papillote, whether it's over the barbecue or inside the oven.
After all, it would take 1220°F to melt it. Lastly, foil is easier to fold when compared to parchment paper, which requires a specific technique. So, in many ways, aluminum foil is friendlier to beginner and amateur cooks.
2. Silicone Baking Pad
This product features food-grade silicone and fiberglass with a non-stick surface that is also resistant to heat. It can withstand up to 428°F, making it a much more suitable option for baking than wax paper.
Use it to line baking sheets, pans, or even as a protective layer on the countertop for rolling and kneading dough, catching drips, and keeping kitchen surfaces clean, among other uses.
Silicone baking pads come in different sizes and shapes that adapt to almost any sheet or pan. Perhaps the most satisfying benefit of this product is that you can wash and reuse it more times than parchment paper.
Is there any downside to silicone baking pads? Not really, but you must be careful to buy the right one.
Get it from a well-established company to guarantee it will be food-grade. Non-food-grade silicone produces toxins under high or low temperatures, and that's something you want to avoid.
3. Oil, or Butter, or Flour
Using common kitchen products like oil, butter, or flour was an effective method to bake goods without sticking to the baking sheets or pans. You can use each one of these items depending on what you want to do. Here's a quick rundown on how each one would benefit your food.
- If you're cooking fish, poultry, meat, or vegetables, use oil or butter to grease the pan.
- For baking goods, use butter to grease the baking sheet and then sprinkle flour over it.
- Are you dealing with dough that sticks to the surface? Flour is everything you will need to prevent that issue.
These products serve one purpose, which is to keep stuff from sticking to pans, surfaces, or baking sheets. Therefore, it works as an alternative for that reason only.
Using shortening is another viable option if you want to avoid the slight saltiness found in traditional butter. Shortening is a flavorless type of butter used for greasing pans to keep food from sticking to its surface.
Is shortening the same as unsalted butter? No, they’re not the same.
Unsalted butter and shortening share the same flavorless properties, but they have a different effect over baked goods.
When you use unsalted butter over the baking sheets, there will be a noticeable golden brown color once the baking process ends. On the other hand, shortening is less likely to produce that browning effect.
5. Cooking Spray
Oil and butter are excellent alternatives, but cleaning up afterward can be exhausting because the surface might become too greasy. In that case, your go-to choice should be cooking spray. This product is basically oil in a can, but it won't leave a greasy surface, and you won't have to add flour either.
Cooking spray is beneficial in many ways. It prevents food from sticking to surfaces, doesn't add extra fat content, and only needs a fine mist over the pan or baking sheet to work. Cleaning up afterward is a breeze, making it an all-around backup if you run out of parchment paper.
6. White Food Grease Wrap Paper
This type of paper is a variation from standard wax paper, and it shares some of its limitations as well. One side of the paper has a wax layer that isn't suitable for applications under extreme heat. However, you can still use it as a disposable microwave liner in moderate temperatures.
Ideally, this product is better for wrapping food, such as burgers, fries, and sandwiches. The surface is grease-resistant, meaning it will wrap around food without falling apart if there's any dripping.
7. Paper Bag
A paper bag is far from a perfect parchment paper variation, but you can still use it for wrapping and storing foods. Printed paper bags are affordable, convenient, and eco-friendly too.
Just make sure to use them for cold food and avoid high temperatures. Heat can melt the ink on the paper bag and ultimately tarnish the food.
Taking good care of a paper bag will let you use it on more than one occasion. It's a cost-effective solution for those circumstances when there's no parchment paper nearby.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I don’t have parchment paper?
If you don't have parchment paper, you can use aluminum foil, silicone mats, or cooking spray for baking cookies.
Other substitutes like butter, oil, and flour can also do the trick of greasing up the pans and creating a non-stick surface. For wrapping up food and keeping it safe, a paper bag will be enough.
Can you use wax paper instead of parchment paper?
Use wax paper as parchment paper replacement for storing, presenting, or wrapping cool food, but never for cooking in the oven.
Wax paper is not resistant to heat, meaning that it can melt and contaminate the food. In the worst-case scenario, this type of paper can ignite and turn into a fire hazard.
Can you use aluminum foil instead of parchment paper?
Aluminum foil has a silicone coating that allows it to tolerate high temperatures, so you can definitely use it as a replacement for parchment paper.
Just remember that this product doesn't have a non-stick surface, which means you have to add a bit of oil to keep your baked goods from sticking over it.
Can you use freezer paper instead of parchment paper?
Parchment paper and freezer paper are not the same things, so you can't use them interchangeably.
A parchment paper is a product used mostly for baking and heating, whereas the purpose of freezer paper is to freeze food in the freezer. Freezer paper has only one coated side, while parchment paper doesn't have any coating.
Can you bake bread/cookie without parchment paper?
Some recipes don't require parchment paper, so using it over the baking sheet could be a detriment. For instance, some cookie recipes recommend not greasing the baking sheet to get better results.
This idea also applies to other baked goods, like sponge cake or angel food cake. These cakes must adhere to the sides of the pan to rise on each side, and greasing the baking sheet or using parchment paper won't allow that to happen.
Why should I use parchment paper or an alternative?
Parchment paper and its alternatives make it easy to clean the cookie sheets and extend their lifespan by avoiding discoloration.
These products also allow you to easily transfer the cookies to other places, like cooking racks. Other benefits of parchment paper include a non-stick surface and easier cleanup after baking.
Do silicone baking mats ruin cookies?
Cookies baked over silicone mats spread more and become thinner around the edges, turning them crisp. Silicone has an impact on how the heat transfers to the dough. As a result, the dough spreads and bakes faster but also puffs out less.
Also, the silicone baking mat is not as breathable as parchment paper. If you leave the cookies to rest over the baking sheet, they will sweat at the bottom and mess up their texture.
This is an interesting topic for discussion. I recommend you check out this in-depth review of how silicone baking mats and parchment paper influence the process of baking cookies.
And there you have it! Now you'll be able to find a proper substitute for parchment paper if you run out of it unexpectedly. As a final piece of advice, I would recommend knowing the limitations of each of these products before using them.
It's a common misconception that wax paper is the same as parchment paper, but that's not the case. Silicone mats are great, but the texture of baked cookies may not be the same either. As much as I love aluminum foil, the non-stick surface is a bummer.
Use any of these products as a temporary replacement but don't forget to run by the store and grab a new roll of parchment paper.