Butcher Paper Or Freezer Paper: Our Definitive Guide

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Butcher paper, and freezer paper, aren’t they the same? With so many types of paper you can use in the kitchen, does it really matter? There are so many different ones, how are we expected to keep track of all of the different types?

There is wax paper, parchment paper, butcher paper, and freezer paper. We won’t look at all of these today. Today we want to focus on what the difference is between butcher paper and freezer paper. 

Do these two types of kitchen use papers do the same thing, and is one better to use than the other? How do these two even differ? So many loaded questions, but to break it down simply, no they are not the same. 

You see, while butcher paper and freezer paper could be very interchangeable at times, they were designed with different purposes. 

We don’t get too caught up in the details just yet. But we are here so that you don’t need to be to scratching your head staring at these two types of paper trying to guess what their differences are, and when you should use each. 

In our simple guide today, we will give you all the information you need to know about each of these two products, what they are, what their differences are, and when it is best to use each of them. So sit back, relax, and we will give you all the facts you need. 

We will start off by breaking down the information on these two individual types of paper, and then we will give you a comprehensive overview of their primary differences too. 

Let’s get into it! 

Comparing the two 

Butcher paper and freezer paper both serve different purposes for use in the kitchen, lets break down these details for you. We think it will be best to cover each paper time on a more individual level so that you can get all the information that you need on each. 

We will finish today with an overview, if you are in a hurry and need a quick understanding of the differences, you can always jump to the overview, where we will be highlighting those key differences. 

What is Butcher Paper?

Butcher paper is also often known as ‘kraft paper’. As the name suggests this type of paper was originally created  to provide butchers with paper that could wrap up their various meats with and then distribute them for sales. 

  • Butchers paper is thick and is great for preserving whatever is wrapped up inside it.  Butchers paper is foldable and heavy, it is an inexpensive method used for storage. You will often find it sold in butcher paper rolls so that it is easy to buy in bulk and tear or cut off appropriately sized strips as needed. 

  • Kraft paper or butcher paper is made from kraft pulp and is very heavy-duty.  This paper can come in varying colors, often white, or a reddish brown color. Pink butcher paper and white butcher paper were all the rage for awhile. Sometimes the paper may feel grainy or coarse to the touch due to the materials that it is made from. 

  • It is much like a brown paper bag, however it is generally much thicker and even sturdier. You should also know that butcher paper that is used in food wrapping or other storage methods needs to be FDA approved. 

The original use of butcher paper is to wrap meat up from a butcher shop. However, as time has progressed and there are more and more requirements, there are so many uses for butcher paper. 

Let’s have a look at what you can use butchers paper for. 

  • Advertising purposes.
  • Arts and crafts. 
  • Banners. 
  • Newspapers and other types of print. 
  • Packing for china or glass items. 
  • Posters. 
  • Tray and table lining. 
  • Wrapping up deli foods or sandwich wrap.
  • Wrapping up smoked meats and ribs, including at barbecue competitions. 

These are just a few of the most common uses for butchers paper, however it is easy to find, and easy to buy too. It works fantastically well for a variation of things.

However, if you are not looking to use butchers paper for food products then you can buy the cheapest selection and have a huge, giant roll at your service.

If you are using butcher paper for food purposes, then ensure that it is FDS-approved for food contact. 

Whatever the case it is an inexpensive product generally, and it will always come in bulk. 

Butchers paper, is still used by butchers all around the world. If you have meat processed on your own, you may receive meat that is wrapped up in butcher paper when you get it. It is often wrapped to the side, or taped/ sealed, in one manner or another for full protection. 

You can freeze meat that is wrapped up in butchers paper, and it will also protect your meat from developing freezer burn or any other adverse effects that it may get in the freezer as well. 

You may find that freezer paper can be the best alternative for freezing meat, but butcher paper does still work fantastically. There are no real limitations to butcher paper and what it can do for you.

What is Freezer Paper?

Freezer paper is more commonly mistaken for wax paper than butchers paper as it is very similar to wax paper. While butchers paper is thick and coarse, freezer paper is thin, and it is coated in a plastic layer that give it a waxy appearance and feel. 

Despite their similarities though, freezer paper is not wax paper by a long shot. Wax paper is coated on both sides, while freezer paper is only coated on one side. Similarly, freezer paper is also different from parchment paper, as parchment paper has no coating on it at all. 

  • As you would imagine, freezer paper is fantastic for freezing foods, meats and seafood options in particular benefit greatly from this. Freezer paper has a unique make up with the wax coating (poly coated freezer paper) that it has on one side, this helps to preserve the meat and protect it from freezer burn. 

  • Freezer paper is also the optimal way to freeze meats because it will hold in the juices. The idea here is that juices from the meat will not seep through the paper or leak out and make a mess all over your freezer and surfaces. 

This is a quality that butcher paper lacks and is why most will turn to freezer paper for this purpose instead. To use freezer paper you wrap up your meat or freezer items in the paper with the waxy side on the inside, touching the foods. 

The wax on the paper protects whatever is wrapped up inside, holding in the moisture to prevent freezer burn, or anything else that your food may need protecting from 

  • As only one side is coated with wax, the side on the exterior can be used to write on. This is useful for noting down dates and the product that you have wrapped up.  You can also tape down the paper to keep it nicely wrapped and sealed. You could also wrap it up in foil or, store it in a freezer bag as well, for that extra protection. 

Freezer paper is not quite as easy to find as some other options. This is probably due to a lack of knowledge as to what freezer paper can actually do and how it should actually be used. Due to this it simply is not purchased as much as other types of paper are. It is usually found in a freezer paper roll.

That being said, for the purposes of freezing, freezer paper is the best option, because not only is it made for this purpose, it also retains all the juices of meats you wrap up in it, and therefore keeps the flavor too. 

An Overview Comparison

So, the question we are here to answer, what are the differences between butcher paper and freezer paper, and how do these two compare to each other. 

After looking at all that we have found so far, we can definitely say that there are plenty of differences, and while they are both useful when it comes to freezing and storage, freezer paper kind of wins the battle of the best for freezing. 

To break it down, these paper don’t really compare to each other though. Sure, they have their similarities, and they can share purposes in some cases. They are both a type of paper, that is an obvious similarity that they have, and they can also both be used with meat and often are.

These are the only two real similarities that we can say they have. They both serve very different purposes. Even though you can use butcher paper for freezing, it just isn’t as good as freezer paper, so, we will count that out. 

Let’s take a minute to summarize these primary differences. 

  • Freezer paper is wax coated on just one side, this feature helps to hold in juice and preserve meats, such as venison, lamb, veal, beef and so on. 
  • Butcher’s paper is thick and sturdy, good for packaging. 
  • Butcher’s paper is pretty inexpensive, it often comes in a large roll. Meanwhile, freezer paper is more expensive, and it will often some in a roll, similar to wax paper.
  • Freezer paper is most closely related to wax paper or parchment paper in its thickness and how it preserves the food inside it. 
  • Butchers paper does freeze fine, but it will not hold the juices of the meats inside it like freezer paper will, so it can be a bit messier to deal with. 

Ultimately, there is no real comparison between these two types of paper. Butchers paper is great for use in crafting, lining trays or tables, print products, and making wrap paper as well as much more, including butcher’s purposes of course.

Butchers paper works well for butchered meat wrapping, much like the name suggests, not to mention how this was its original purpose.

Essentially, when it comes to freezing your food, freezer paper is an obvious no-brainer choice. Butchers paper is not really comparable to freezing paper in this regard.

But, since butchers paper has so many more uses, it is still very useful and can be helpful in many other situations, just maybe not freezing, freezer paper should be used directly for freezing. 

As you try to decide and consider which one you will need, do be mindful that they both have unique properties and unique purposes. Both of these products can come in very handy for different reasons, and they can both be very useful to have in your kitchen. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I put butcher paper or freezer paper in the oven?

A good question. Butcher paper is oven-safe, it is a viable option to use if you have no other paper available. But it is more recommended to use foil, or parchment paper. It is much better suited for ovens.

So, while you could use butcher paper, if you have foil or parchment paper it is probably better to use those.

Due to the waxy coating of freezer paper, we do not recommend using it in the oven during cooking processes. Freezer paper is therefore best left for just freezer purposes. 

Is it better to use freezer paper than freezer bags? 

When it comes to freezing meats, freezer paper is an ideal solution that will work best, it holds the juices in and preserves the meat. You can however, place your freezer paper wrapped items into a freezer bag and extend your preservation even more. 

Can you use freezer paper to wrap brisket?

If you’re looking to wrap brisket to cook it, freezer paper isn’t the best option.

Freezer paper, as the name suggests, is designed to wrap around foods to be frozen. This includes meat and fish.

This paper is often confused with wax paper due to its wax coating, which serves as a barrier of moisture. When freezing meat and fish, this moisture barrier prevents the food from drying out.

This moisture barrier also prevents oil, blood, grease, and liquid from seeping through the paper, which prevents the food from making a mess in the freezer.

To cook brisket, you should wrap it in aluminum foil or a specific butcher paper. Foil is the preferred option because it can maintain heat and oil the best, so it will steam the brisket as well as cook it.

You would need to find a specific food grade butcher paper to wrap brisket, which is less easy to find than aluminum foil.

Which is better freezer paper or freezer bags?

The best material to freeze foods in should be a thick material, which is why freezer bags are the better option to freezer paper.

Freezer bags are made of plastic which is completely non-porous and tough to tear apart, which makes it a thicker and more durable material than freezer paper.

The design of these bags means that food can stay fresh for longer in the freezer without being exposed to freezer burn, which dries out the food.

Freezer paper is a fine option for freezing food, but only for short-term storage. Freezer paper is made of paper and a moisture glazing similar to wax paper, which means it is technically still porous.

This means that oils, liquid, blood, and grease still have the potential to leak through freezer paper when freezing meat or seafood.

In short, for long-term freezing, you should use freezer bags and freezer paper for short-term freezing.

How long does meat wrapped in butcher paper last in the freezer?

Butcher paper works as well as freezer paper for freezing meat. On average, a well-cut piece of meat that hasn’t been thawed and refrozen can last up to 4 years in a freezer.

Ideally, you would defrost and consume the meat before this to make use of its freshness, but this is generally how long it can stay frozen in butcher paper.

However, there are some factors to consider before assuming you can wrap anything in butcher paper. The meat must be wrapped properly, with the coated waxy side of the paper on the meat with the paper side on the outside.

It must be taped and properly sealed to prevent freezer burn, and then wrapped in aluminum foil for extra safety.

The better the cut of meat and the better the meat is wrapped, the longer it can stay frozen in the freezer for in butcher paper.

What’s the best way to wrap meat in the freezer?

It mostly depends on how long you want your meat frozen.

For short-term freezing, you should wrap the meat in freezer paper with the wax coating on the meat and the paper on the outside. This should be tightly sealed and taped, and then wrapped in aluminum foil for extra protection.

Freezer bags and butcher paper are the best options for long-term freezing. The butcher paper should be wrapped in the same way as freezer paper, with aluminum foil acting as a second barrier.

These are the thickest materials that help to keep meat fresher for longer, as freezer paper isn’t strong enough to maintain oil, grease, blood, and liquid for long periods.

For the protection of your freezer, wrap meat in freezer bags or butcher paper and aluminum foil.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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