Parchment Paper vs. Wax Paper: What’s the Difference?

Planning on baking anytime soon? Don't make this mistake.

Parchment-wax-paperShutterstock

While some people might be master bakers, the rest of us tend to prefer the good old-fashioned buy-it-at-the-bakery method. But there usually comes a time in one’s life when baking is inevitable, which is why it’s so important to point out something new bakers might not know: the difference between parchment and wax paper.

Is wax paper the same as parchment paper?

To both new and novice bakers, parchment and wax paper look pretty similar. They’re also both non-stick and moisture-resistant, so we can see how that can get pretty confusing. But if you find yourself reaching for the wax paper to bake because it’s cheaper than parchment, stop right there. According to Alicia Rooker, a recipe editor and tester for RD.com’s sister site Taste of Home, the papers’ have very different layers. Wax paper has a coat or layer of wax, but parchment paper has a layer of silicon, Rooker says. Confusing parchment and wax paper is one of the 12 baking mistakes you didn’t know you were making.

Can you put wax paper in the oven?

Wax paper is non-stick and moisture-resistant—not heat resistant—so you shouldn’t put wax paper in the oven as it might melt into your delicious baked goods, or even ignite a fire in your oven. “It should not be used to line pans if a food is going to be heated or baked,” Rooker says. That doesn’t mean you have to toss out your wax paper. Good uses for wax paper like this kind include wrapping cold foods, lining pans for no-bake bars or fudge, separating cookies or candies during storage, and rolling out cookie dough, Rooker says. Don’t worry, there are still plenty of uses for your wax paper outside of the kitchen, too, like polishing metal fixtures, fixing a zipper, and these other extraordinary uses for wax paper, as well.

Parchment paper like this, on the other hand, uses silicone to create a non-stick and heat-proof lining—perfect for making delicious chocolate chip cookies. It’s also grease-resistant, moisture-resistant, and heat-proof up to 425F, making it a great option to line all your favorite baking pans, Rooker says. Now that you know the difference between parchment paper and wax paper, check out these 20 other things people think are the same—but aren’t.

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Brittany Gibson
Brittany Gibson is a regular contributor to RD.com’s culture, food, health, and travel sections. She was previously an editorial intern for RD.com and Westchester Magazine. Her articles have appeared on Buzzfeed, Business Insider, AOL, Yahoo, and MSN, among other sites. She earned a BA in English from the University of Connecticut
Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is an assistant staff writer at Reader's Digest who previously wrote for INSIDER, the Food Network, POPSUGAR, Well + Good, Westchester Magazine, and more. There's also a 90 percent chance Emily is drinking tea right now, but when she's not writing away about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting heavy things at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts, and liking one too many astrology memes.