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Butcher Paper vs Parchment Paper: What’s the Difference?

Butcher Paper vs Parchment Paper: What’s the Difference?
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Choosing between butcher paper vs parchment paper? Which of the two should you use when baking, or creating barbeque and grilled dishes?

Many people confuse them, as they look alike, but knowing their differences can give you a great advantage in the kitchen. Read on and find out which of the two is best to use in every cooking situation!

Difference Between Butcher Paper vs Parchment Paper

an infographic showing the differences between butcher paper and parchment paper

Let’s set the record straight — is parchment paper the same as butcher paper? No, they are not. Though both are great papers to use in the kitchen, they have a few contrasting qualities that matter depending on what you are making.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the differences between parchment paper vs butcher paper to help you differentiate the two: 

  • Material – Both are plant-based products. However, butcher paper is from wood pulp, while parchment paper is from cellulose fibers (cotton and flax) and coated with silicone to become paper.
  • Appearance – Butcher paper comes in different colors and is thick, sturdy, permeable, and breathable. Parchment paper, on the other hand, is a much thinner waterproof kitchen paper that usually comes in brown or white color.
  • Texture Butcher paper is stickier than parchment paper because it is more absorbent and sticks on moist or wet food. In contrast, parchment paper has a non-stick texture because of its coating, making it easy to peel when used for baked goodies, and is greaseproof.
  • Uses – Both kitchen papers can be used in storing, wrapping, and roasting food. However, butcher paper for grilling and smoking meat, and parchment paper is best used in baking. 
  • Heat Tolerance – Though both are flammable and may set alight after having direct contact with a heat source, parchment paper has a higher heat tolerance than butcher paper, so parchment can remain unaffected by heat slightly better than butcher paper.
  • Pricing – Neither are expensive, though parchment paper is slightly cheaper than butcher paper.
  • Availability – You can purchase both in supermarkets, groceries, or online stores. But parchment paper is usually more widely available than butcher paper.

What Is Butcher Paper?

Butcher paper (or sometimes called butcher block paper) is a thicker and sturdier version of kraft paper. It is from treated wood pulp that is heavy-duty and FDA-approved — meaning it is safe to use for your food. 

We may know butcher paper as a meat wrapper used by butchers (thus the name) in your local meat shops or when you visit a farmers market. It is a breathable material and does not retain excess moisture, which explains why you can also use butcher paper in cooking, wrapping, storing food, and even arts and crafts!

Because it’s thick and does not tear easily, you should use butcher paper for smoking and grilling meats like beef brisket, pulled pork, ribs, and fish recipes. Bear in mind that before cooking, ensure that they are 100 percent made from paper and are unwaxed. Waxed butcher paper can be highly flammable.
If you’re wondering where to buy butcher paper, it’s usually available at local grocery stores and supermarkets. You can also purchase it online from Prime Butcher Wraps, which offers custom-printed butcher paper at affordable prices with free shipping throughout the USA.

5 Types of Butcher Paper

chef using butcher paper to wrap a piece of meat 

You may notice different colored butcher paper when purchasing it in the market. Each color has its own set of qualities and specific uses.

  • Brown butcher paper – This is an unbleached and unwaxed type of butcher paper. We often mistake this for Kraft paper in arts and crafts lessons. You can use this butcher paper for smoking meat like smoked steak.
  • White butcher paper – A butcher paper used to wrap sandwiches and meat products. This uncoated type of butcher paper is also great for smoking meat as its permeable material allows smoke to penetrate through the paper, giving your meat a rich smokey flavor.
  • Pink/Peach butcher paper – Pink or peach butcher paper has a hue that perfectly complements meat color and masks its juices. It has breathable material, since it has no coating, making it also good for smoking meat.
  • Treated pink/peach butcher paper – This is a butcher paper treated using a sizing agent that serves as another layer of coating, making this paper more durable. It is also a bit more pricey than other butcher papers because it is premium grade and water-resistant. However, its coating causes it to catch fire easily. 
  • Gardenia butcher paperUsually green in color, this butcher paper type is generally used in wrapping poultry and fish meat. It is good in protecting the meat from outside moisture.

Why Use Butcher Paper?

Wondering why you should use butcher paper? We’ve listed some of its advantages to help you decide.

  • DurabilityButcher paper is thick and sturdy. It does not easily tear and has high heat resistance (can withstand temperatures up to 420 degrees Fahrenheit), which is why you can use this even in your oven or smoke food on your pellet grill. 
  • Prevents soggy food – Most types of butcher paper are untreated or uncoated, making their surface permeable and super absorbent. Since it doesn’t trap moisture, using this kitchen paper for cooking gives your food a crusty outer exterior and prevents sogginess.
  • Eco-friendly storage If you are looking to switch out your plastic freezer containers for more environmentally friendly options, butcher paper is a good choice! You can also reuse ordinary butcher paper as gift wrappers or for your next arts and crafts project. Butcher paper is also highly compostable as it is from wood pulp. 

What Is Parchment Paper?

roasted baby carrots on a parchment paper 

Roasted baby carrots on a parchment paper

Parchment paper (also known as bakery paper) is a silicone-coated type of paper made of cellulose materials from trees and other plant types. Unlike freezer and wax paper, parchment paper does not contain paraffin, which is why it is safe to use for cooking and baking.

We commonly use parchment paper as a cooking or baking liner. You can also use it in wrapping food like sandwiches or your favorite Subway BMT sandwich. And because of its highly effective moisture resistance, you can use this to catch meat drippings while roasting which you can use in making sauces and gravy. Parchment paper is so versatile, that you can also use it to wrap and cook thigh and belly meats, or soft vegetables. You can easily find them in local supermarkets, grocery stores, baking supply shops, or online.

Though versatile, we highly recommend you to not use parchment paper directly on hot grills. You can cause a fire because it is paper and fairly thin. That said, you can use parchment papers for grilling but not the same way as you would with butcher paper. You should wrap your food in parchment paper and position it away from the fire, somewhere without the charcoal. This can help your food to still cook while reducing the risk of burning. 

2 Types of Parchment Paper

  • Unbleached parchment paper Also identified as brown parchment paper, this parchment paper tends to be more expensive as it is preferred by people who want organic products. Why? Because it does not undergo chemical procedures.
  • Bleached parchment paper It is a cheaper type of parchment paper that comes in white color because of chlorine bleaching. That said, you can use bleached and unbleached parchments interchangeably for any cooking purposes. It will not affect the quality or the taste of your food. 

Why Use Parchment Paper?

baking cookies using parchment paper 

  • Less permeable It is waterproof, which is why it is excellent for locking in moisture while cooking your food. 
  • High heat resistance Like butcher paper, it also has a high heat resistance (up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit) because it is made from cellulose fiber. However, note that you can’t use it for grilling as it will burn once it comes into contact with any direct heat source like fire or ignited lump charcoal. 
  • Non-stick surface One reason why bakers prefer parchment paper is because it is easy to separate from your baked goodies. You can use this paper as a liner when baking your favorite cake or when creating pastries and other baked treats like this tiger butter brownie.   
  • Eco-friendly Parchment paper is also eco-friendly like butcher paper, mainly because both are from biodegradable materials. However, even though it is not as thick and sturdy as butcher paper, parchment paper is waterproof compared to other butcher paper types, making it more recyclable as you can reuse it as a cookie liner up to 3 times.

Want to discuss the differences between butcher paper and parchment paper further? Join the conversation in the Kitchen Equipment forum section and share your experiences and tips with fellow cooking enthusiasts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you substitute for butcher paper?

Though you can use butcher paper and parchment paper interchangeably, there are other butcher paper substitutes that you can choose from, like wax paper, freezer paper, and aluminum foil. For wrapping and storing food, use wax or freezer paper. For cooking, grilling, and roasting meat and vegetables, use aluminum foil.  

What can you substitute for parchment paper?

Though butcher paper can be a great alternative to parchment paper, you can also use other alternatives depending on the cooking situation. When baking pastries or cakes, you can use a silicone pad or just grease the pan you will use.

You can also use wax paper if you just need an alternative wrapper for your subs and sandwiches. However, you can opt for aluminum foil for other cooking purposes like roasting meat, poultry, or fish.

Can you put parchment paper in the microwave? How about butcher paper?

Yes! Both paper types are microwave safe since they have high heat resistance. Both will not burn unless they reach their heat limit or come into contact with a direct fire source.

Is wax paper the same as parchment and butcher paper?

Like butcher paper and parchment paper, wax paper is the preferred paper type when it comes to wrapping and storing food as it keeps moisture, making them fresh and not soggy.

However, wax paper for baking or other cooking purposes is a big no-no as it has a much lower heat tolerance. Coming into contact with heat (directly or indirectly) will melt its wax or, worse, catch fire.

Butcher Paper vs Parchment Paper: Which Is The Best?

The answer to this question depends on your purpose. Butcher paper and parchment paper possess qualities you can effectively use to your advantage in the kitchen. If you want breathable paper that does not lock in moisture and is absorbent, go for butcher paper. But if you want to save your meat drippings as sauces and gravies, or keep your food fresh and moist, go for the less permeable parchment paper. So, what are you cooking? Answer that question, and let it help you choose wisely. Happy cooking!

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