We all know that parchment paper is not very environmentally friendly.
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It can maybe be reused twice if you’re lucky, and then into the trash it goes. If you bake regularly, this results in a lot of unnecessary waste.
Not only this, but constantly having to purchase parchment paper can become expensive quickly.
We have rounded up a selection of cheaper and much more sustainable alternatives to parchment paper that every baking enthusiast must have in their kitchen.
What is parchment paper?
Parchment paper is silicone coated paper that comes either bleached or unbleached. Parchment paper is water and heat resistant, as well as non-stick.
It is made by soaking and compressing paper fibers into thin sheets, which are then dipped into a bath of acid.
They are then washed again and run across many rotating hot drums to dry them off. This ensures all of the fibers are in alignment, which gives the parchment paper a lot of strength.
It is commonly used to like cake tins and baking sheets. It makes light work of rolling out sticky doughs and can even be used to create parcels around delicate fish for cooking.
Almost everything you can think of, parchment paper can be used for.
This is a type of non-stick silicone baking mat. They are reusable, there is no need to grease, and they are highly durable.
They are made from food-grade silicone combined with fiberglass mesh. The mats are certified by the National Science Foundation, they are kosher, and they meet FDA regulations.
The mat was created in France in 1965, by a baker known as Monsieur Guy Demarle. The mat is said to distribute heat evenly to ensure a consistent bake.
They can deal with heats of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, much hotter than regular household ovens reach.
They are stored rolled up gently. They are not the cheapest to purchase initially, but the time and money they will save you means they are a good investment.
The only real downside to Silpat is that you cannot cut on the top in case you damage the mat. They are available in multiple sizes.
Pyrex baking sheet
The cookware company Pyrex has created a borosilicate glass baking sheet that can be used without the need for a liner.
It is colorless and odor free meaning that you don’t need to worry about the flavors of your food being impacted.
You can cut directly on the surface of this baking sheet without damaging it, making it very useful for things such as pizza. It is also dishwasher safe.
This baking sheet can be used for temperatures ranging from -40 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning it can be used in all environments.
It is thermal shock resistant, meaning that you can take the tray straight out of the freezer and pop it in a preheated oven without worrying about it cracking.
This is not a perfect substitute for baking paper as it cannot be used to line dishes. It does make a handy replacement for lining flat baking sheets though!
This is also referred to as waxed paper. It is coated with wax, as the name suggests, and should not be heated in the oven due to its low melting point.
This is good for lining cool dishes such as refrigerator cakes. It is also highly useful for layering between cookies in a storage container.
This is not reusable indefinitely, but it is slightly cheaper than parchment paper. While it is a substitution, it is not very sustainable.
It is very good for wrapping cheese in to retain freshness and is fantastic for rolling out dough - saving you the hassle of cleaning up loose flour.
Reusable baking sheets
This is essentially reusable greaseproof paper. It comes in large sheets that can be cut to size.
You can get these in rectangles, squares, circles, or strips. Many manufacturers claim that their products will last for up to 5 years.
They are heat resistant and suitable for use in the oven. Most of them are also dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. They are made of a fabric core with a PTFE plastic coating.
This is the most traditional method for preventing foods from sticking to your baking sheet.
Simply coat the baking dish with a thin layer of oil or butter to lubricate the space between the food and the tray. You could also use some cooking spray.
Some recipes call for greasing the walls of cake tins with a layer of flour or cocoa powder. This is fairly uncommon though, due to the risk of it burning and forming a charred crust on the exterior of your bake.
Some bonus ideas
Flour is also very useful for rolling out doughs on a countertop. Icing sugar is a good option for sweet things such as fondant. These are good, and less wasteful, substitutes for rolling things out using parchment paper.
Aluminium foil is also coated with silicone, making it a non-stick surface. It can withstand high heats and is suitable for baking things on.
It is not a more sustainable swap, but it will serve as a suitable replacement for parchment paper if you find yourself out of it. We suggest using double strength aluminum foil to ensure it will not tear under the pressure.
If you want a more natural substitute to make baking parcels, we recommend wrapping your protein in a banana leaf.
Soaked corn husks and bamboo leaves would also work well here. These are very eco-friendly and sustainable substitutes, that will likely impart a slight flavor onto your dish too.
Please never use paper grocery bags as a substitute for parchment paper, despite what people may say to you.
This is quite a dangerous idea as this untreated paper is highly flammable. If it was to catch fire this would not only ruin whatever you are cooking, but could potentially be very harmful.
Many paper grocery bags do not have a coating, meaning that the fibers can easily be transferred to the surface of your food.
This could ruin the taste, but also has the potential to make you very ill. Your food is also very likely to stick to the paper on the bag, which will be a pain when you are hungry and just want to eat.
The ink used on grocery bags is unlikely to be of a food-safe grade. This could potentially be toxic if ingested, and it is not worth taking the risk.
Frequently Asked Questions
On the odd occasion when you do not have any parchment paper available you may wonder what you can use instead of parchment paper for your cookie baking antics. While parchment paper works really well when it comes to cookie baking, the main properties of parchment paper that are used for this exact process are the anti-sticking properties.
This is why you can use anything really as long as it does not stick. You could use aluminum foil instead of parchment paper for your cookie baking, although we would recommend you grease the foil first to prevent any of your cookies getting stuck to it. The best solution in this instance is to simply grease the baking tray to prevent the cookies from sticking.
Can I use regular paper instead of parchment paper?
You must NEVER ever use notebook paper or grocery bag paper as a substitute for parchment paper, especially for cooking. You can use them as food wrappers for storing your food, but never use them as a baking paper.
They can easily ignite even at fairly low temperatures, and you won’t want to watch your baking go up in flames. Also, the ink that is used in these types of paper can be very toxic if it comes into contact with your food, so not only would your oven be on fire, but your food would be toxic and ruined.
Regular paper is a no-go zone for cooking purposes. Use it for storage or freezing by all means, but keep regular paper away from anything hot and keep that ink away from your delicious baked goods and food. You do not want to be tasting toxic ink when you chow down on some lovely fresh food.
Can you bake bread without parchment paper?
If you are a baker and love baking your own bread, but then you go to the cupboard and find you are all out of parchment paper, what should you do? Well, you could run to the store.
Or… you could make no knead bread, which is the easiest option when you have no parchment paper. Parchment is the easiest way to lift your dough and place it into the hot pot, so without this you can just try out no-knead.
You could also use a floured towel to rest your dough on and use it to transfer the dough to the pot. Although the dough may stick to the towel, so it may not be the best choice.
Overall though there are plenty of options for baking bread without parchment paper, try out the different techniques and find which one is best for you, personally, we think no-knead is the best option here.
How do you make homemade parchment paper?
Parchment paper is not like the old timey parchment people used to write on, it is a greaseproof paper that is used for baking.
You could easily make your own greaseproof paper if you are sick of going to the store, use an old paper bag and some cooking oil. Cut open the paper bag, so it lays flat on your baking tray, add a tablespoon of olive oil and spread it over quickly with a pastry brush, make sure the paper absorbs all the oil.
Store it and let it sit, and you can use that as a baking base. The oil will do the job as it is no longer a dry surface. However, we still think that it is just so much easier to just grease/ oil your baking trays.