What Happens If You Use Wax Paper Instead Of Parchment Paper?

Don't get wax paper and parchment paper mixed up.

Wax paper vs parchment paper
Photo: Julia Sudnitskaya

Wax paper and parchment paper might look similar, but they serve very different purposes in the kitchen. Wax paper has a thin coating of wax on each side, which prevents food from sticking to it and makes it moisture-resistant. But wax paper is not heat-resistant. The wax will melt at high temperatures, and the paper itself can catch on fire. Because of this, don't use wax paper to line baking sheets or cake pans or put it in a hot oven. Here are the other ways to use wax paper and when it's best to stick with parchment paper.

You can use wax paper and parchment paper interchangeably if you are not cooking with heat. If you are cooking with heat, the bottom line is you need to use parchment paper. If you are debating what paper to buy, here is a list of uses for each to help make your decision easier

How To Use Wax Paper

Rolling Out Dough

Wax paper is helpful in many ways. It's handy for rolling out all kinds of dough, pounding chicken breasts into cutlets, or lining a baking pan for no-bake bar cookies (like our No-Bake Fudgy Toffee Bars).

Covering Countertops

It can also be used as a covering for countertops when decorating iced cookies, working with melted chocolate, or dusting a recipe with powdered sugar.

Sifting Dry Ingredients

You can sift dry ingredients onto a large piece of wax paper, then lift the paper and pour the contents directly into your mixing bowl. The wax paper can help you save precious ingredients when accidentally adding too much because the rolled paper acts as a funnel to transport it back to its container.

Wrapping Items

Wax paper is a great wrapper for sandwiches, sticks of butter, or wedges of cheese. Since wax paper is less expensive than parchment paper, it is a good option for wrapping things like lunches where you won't be able to save the paper for a second use.

How To Use Parchment Paper

Using It in the Oven

Like wax paper, parchment paper is also moisture-resistant and non-stick. It contains silicone, so you can also use it in the oven—generally as high as 450 degrees. Even if your oven temperature is a little hotter, the paper will usually darken but not burn.

Baking Liners

Use parchment paper to line baking sheets, pie or cake pans, meatloaf pans, and fish and vegetable en papillote (grease-wrapped paper). Parchment paper also can substitute muffin pan liners for a makeshift muffin solution.

Types of Parchment Paper

Parchment paper is available in bleached (white) and unbleached (light brown) varieties, but the color does not make a difference in your recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • At what temperature does wax paper melt?

    Wax melts when exposed to high heat, with a melting point of approximately 420°F and higher, so wax paper is best for cold applications in the kitchen.

  • Can parchment paper and wax paper be used interchangeably?

    While you can use parchment paper anytime wax paper is called for, you cannot do the opposite. This rule is based on the reaction of wax paper to heat. While parchment paper is made to withstand heat, wax paper is not.

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