Parchment paper is used quite often in the kitchen, especially if you’re baking. Its non-stick and humidity resistance make it ideal for covering your baking tray before you lay down the food that needs to be baked or cooked, and it’s super-easy to work with and dispose of.
But have you found yourself asking which side goes up? It’s not like it comes with instructions to help you out, so how are you supposed to figure it out…
With parchment paper, there’s no right or wrong side. Both sides are coated with silicone, which makes them non-stick, grease-resistant, and moisture-proof.
However, some parchment papers, typically the ones from value brands at the store, only come coated on one side of the paper. If that’s the case, this should be indicated on the packaging. It’s rarer, but always make sure to double-check.
What should you do then?
Usually, one side will be glossier or shiny, and the other won’t. You can hold the parchment paper up to a light to be able to see it better so that you can check which side is shinier than the other.
The shinier or glossy side of the parchment paper will be the one coated with the silicon, so this is the side that should be coming into contact with your food (and should therefore be the side that goes up).
Can I Use Parchment Paper in the Oven Instead of Foil?
The answer to this is yes. Parchment paper is an excellent and completely viable alternative to aluminum foil, and it can be used in the oven at temperatures of up to 420°F (215°C).
In fact, there are many people that now defend the use of parchment paper over aluminum foil in the oven, and in cooking in general.
Parchment foil can be a lot more versatile, and it’s been proven to be a lot better than foil in many different aspects. So not only can you use parchment paper in the oven instead of foil, it is also highly encouraged that you do so!
Here are a few reasons why you should use parchment paper instead of foil:
Versatility. Parchment paper can be used in many more ways than aluminum foil, and it can be used with more different types of recipes and cooking styles, such as baking!
Non-stick properties. Parchment paper has more properties, such as it being non-stick, which aluminum foil isn’t!
Health concerns. Both parchment paper and aluminum foil are perfectly safe to use in the kitchen and in the oven, or else they wouldn’t be used so commonly.
However, there is a possibility that foils leach into your food a tiny bit, especially when used at a higher heat or with specific types of food.
Some studies show a small correlation between the use of aluminum foil and health problems such as Alzheimer’s, kidney disease, and even breast cancer. However, this is a very weak and small connection, so there’s no need to worry too much.
But parchment paper, on the other hand, has shown no health risks whatsoever.
Taste and outcomes. Aluminum foil is made of metal, and so it can sometimes slightly affect the flavor of the food that you’re cooking, even if practically unnoticeable.
Parchment paper, however, leaves nothing behind and can be used with all types of foods without the risk of flavor leaking in any way.
Convenience. As a general rule, aluminum foil tends to be a lot more convenient, which is why it’s still so popular. It can be used and then thrown away without leaving a mess behind, and it’s super easy to find in stores.
However, parchment paper is becoming more and more accessible, and it can be just as convenient. Plus some parchment paper is compostable or can be reused!
Does Parchment Paper Burn in the Oven?
Unfortunately, parchment paper does indeed present the risk of burning in the oven. However, if used properly, this should never be a problem, and should never even happen.
So in what circumstances or conditions does parchment paper begin to burn in the oven? Let’s take a look at the main few:
Most parchment papers are safe to be used up to an oven temperature of 450°F (215°C), although there are some that can withstand temperatures higher than that if necessary.
But as a general rule, using parchment paper in too high a temperature will cause it to burn.
Parchment paper has humid resistance, so it’s already designed to stay dry. If it is left in an oven that is too dry, for too long, it might begin to burn and even catch fire.
Nothing should ever touch the walls of the inside of an oven, as they are usually incredibly hot and dangerous.
If the parchment paper is too big, and overflows from the baking tray, touching the walls of the oven, it might catch on fire. So be careful!
What Do I Use If I Don’t Have Parchment Paper?
A lot of recipes, especially those within baking, will often require you to use parchment paper to cover your baking tray before placing it in the oven.
But what if you don’t have any parchment paper at home? Does this mean you have to stop, go and buy some, and then continue?
Not at all! There are plenty of alternatives to parchment paper that you might happen to have at home, so you can use them instead.
Here are the best main substitutes for parchment paper:
- Aluminum foil
- Silicone rubber molds
- Cooking non-stick spray
- A baking mat
For wrapping foods, you can also use butcher’s paper or wax paper, but never use them in the oven as they are not heat-resistant.
Which one’s your go-to choice? Let us know in the comments below!
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article failed to mention that wax paper, as a substitute for parchment paper, is not heat-resistant and should only be used for wrapping foods. We corrected the article on December 2, 2021, thanks to reader feedback.