“Can you grab the parchment paper?” If you’re not frequent baker or veg roaster, having this question directed at you may induce panic. Your eyes dart around the cabinet filled with long cardboard-housed rolls of kitchen papers. Is it this one? Nope, that’s foil. This one, then? It’s see-through, so no, that’s plastic wrap—rats! OK, it *must* be this one then. Wrong again, it's wax paper. You finally pick up the last box and there it is, parchment paper. (TBH, it looks exactly like wax paper.)

We promise you’re not being punk’d; there is actually a reason why you were told specifically to use parchment paper. Let us break it down for you.

parchment paper: roll

What the heck is it?

Scientifically speaking, parchment paper is a disposable, nonstick, cellulose-based paper. Translation: It’s a moisture- and oil-resistant paper treated for ovens.

When is it used?

Parchment paper is typically used to line baking pans, removing the need for grease. Since the paper is nonstick, it’s easy to quickly make multiple batches of baked goods or roasted vegetables. Plus, the paper is disposable, which makes for infinitely faster and easier cleanup.

Why can’t I swap in wax paper?

Although both baking papers are nonstick, wax paper’s coating isn’t heat resistant—clearly, this could be a big problem if it’s thrown in a 475-degree oven. You can, however, use parchment paper instead of wax in a pinch.

parchment paper: baking sheet

What's the most creative way to use it?

Parchment paper can also be cut into lids for covering pots and pans (allowing for foods to cook down but still letting steam escape), as well as a cake and muffin pan liner, and a perfect wrapping paper for baked goods you’re giving as holiday gifts.

Can it be used in other ways around the kitchen?

Parchment paper can be used to cook en papillote—literally “in parchment,”—a method of steaming food (typically fish, poultry, or veggies, but sometimes even pasta) in the oven.

Want to try it? Here are a few of our favorite recipes.

parchment paper: Cod en Papillote
Photo: A Better Happier St. Sebastian
parchment paper: Mushrooms en Papillote
Photo: Girl Cooks World
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