When cooking, there are a ton of different sheets and papers that get used for various things in the cooking process. You may be familiar with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, wax paper, butcher paper, and parchment paper.
There are major differences between all of them, but there seems to be confusion between butcher paper and parchment paper in particular. So, what’s the difference? Butcher paper is mainly used for meat while parchment paper is made for other baking and cooking purposes. There are more differences between the two as we will cover further down.
Table of Contents
- What is Parchment Paper?
- What is Butcher Paper?
- Are Butcher Paper and Parchment Paper the Same Thing?
- What are the Differences Between Parchment Paper and Butcher Paper?
- Related Questions
- So, Which is Better?
What is Parchment Paper?
Parchment paper is used during the cooking process of a wide range of different food items. This type of paper is constructed of cellulose with a variety of useful properties. Its primary purpose is for lining cooking utensils.
You could use something like a non-stick spray, but parchment paper tends to result in an easier cleanup. Don’t confuse parchment paper with wax paper; the latter can’t stand up to high temperatures or direct heat exposure for long. You can use parchment paper in the oven while you wouldn’t be able to do the same with wax paper.
What are the Pros and Cons of Parchment Paper?
- For starters, parchment paper is non-stick, keeping food items intact during the cooking process
- When compared to wax paper, parchment paper is heat resistive so that it won’t break down in the oven
- Parchment paper is also waterproof and won’t break down with wetter ingredients
- Parchment paper can also be used decoratively, not exclusively for cooking purposes
- It limits grease buildup during the cooking process, allowing for easier cleanup
- Speaking of easier cleanup, parchment paper can be used multiple times to save money
- It is ideal for cooking in the oven, especially when compared to other types of wraps or papers
- Parchment paper tends to tear apart relatively easily and can cause frustration by sticking to food and tearing
- From a decorative standpoint, parchment paper tends to come in just a single color, so you are limited from that aspect
- When compared to butcher paper, parchment paper is relatively low in strength
On the whole, parchment paper is a highly versatile kitchen utensil. It can be used for just about any purpose that you can think of, providing greater flexibility in the kitchen.
When Would You Use Parchment Paper?
Of course, parchment paper is not meant to be used in just any situation. Knowing when to implement it is key and can help you out in very specific situations. The two most common uses are for general lining of kitchen utensils and cooking pizzas.
- Covering utensils. Using a cooking utensil, something like a baking sheet, means the food potentially sticking to the surface. When that happens, the food can break apart, with big chunks left behind. Using parchment paper means getting a non-stick surface so that food items can be easily removed later on.
It is important to note that parchment paper should not be used in pots or pans. It is meant to be used on cookie sheets and other baking trays.
- Pizza. The most common use for parchment paper is when baking pizza. Parchment paper can stand up to temperatures of up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, making it optimal to cover a pizza stone while baking pizza.
With parchment paper, you don’t have to deal with dirty pizza stones whenever you want to cook a pizza in the oven. Sure, you could grease the stone to combat the sticking, but that extra grease can impact the taste of the pizza.
You can even make deep dish pizzas using cooking trays. Line the tray with parchment paper to help let out excess moisture, ensuring that you get the best possible cook on your pizza.
What is Butcher Paper?
Butcher paper and parchment paper may seem the same, but butcher paper is of heavy-duty quality. Moreover, butcher paper is primarily used for wrapping meats and it can even be used for BBQing and grilling.
You can generally find butcher paper in both rolls and sheets to fit whatever purpose you plan to use it for. Butcher paper is so strong because it has a sulfide and caustic soda mixture along with low lignin to give it high strength and durability levels.
What are the Pros and Cons of Butcher Paper?
- Butcher paper is highly heat resistant, making it great for grilling and BBQing
- It also comes in a wide array of colors for more decorative options
- Highly durable and strongly constructed to stand up to heavy-duty use
- It is highly affordable, making it optimal to purchase for just about any situation around the kitchen
- Butcher paper is great for the preparation of meat as storing raw meat for long periods can get messy and complicated
- Available in both rolls and sheets for optimal versatility
- Butcher paper generally doesn’t do well with wet foods so make sure to drain out as much moisture from meats as possible before wrapping
- Depending on the food item in question, butcher paper can have some poisonous qualities; do your research
- There is no grease too it, leaving it less slick than options like parchment paper or wax paper
- Unlike parchment paper, food can stick to butcher paper
Butcher paper is generally best for preparing meats. It can be used during the cooking process but it is important to remember that it does not possess non-stick qualities.
When Would You Use Butcher Paper?
You can probably guess by the name what its intended use is. Butcher paper is predominantly used for wrapping fish and meat when you purchase it from a butcher. Due to its tensile strength, it makes for a strong, durable protective cover that will keep the meat well protected.
Butcher paper should not be used directly on an open flame for grilling purposes, but it can be great for smoking. Since it is a durable protective covering, it can provide a more controlled smoking environment for more flavorful BBQing.
Some butchers also use butcher paper as a sort of fire starter for grilling. Butcher paper burns quite well and can be a wonderful starter for wood pellets and charcoal in grills.
Are Butcher Paper and Parchment Paper the Same Thing?
While they share similar properties and even similar uses, parchment paper and butcher paper are not quite the same thing. They are not completely different and can be used for things like brisket grilling, for example.
Both sheets are similar in flexibility and texture. They also share similarities in heat resistance, making them ideal for smoking and grilling meats. The main difference is in their moisture resistance and stick prevention. Parchment paper tends to better for those two situations.
What are the Differences Between Parchment Paper and Butcher Paper?
The two share many similarities, but it is important to know the major differences between them to truly understand their purposes.
- Construction and chemicals. Perhaps the most important difference is the chemicals used and the construction of the two. Parchment paper only uses sulfuric acid and, in a few cases, caustic soda along with some paper pulp. Butcher paper, meanwhile, uses caustic soda and sulfide as well as that paper pulp.
- Usage. Butcher paper tends to be used predominantly for cooking meats and grilling rather than straight oven usage. Butcher paper also tends to come in a variety of options as opposed to parchment paper. Parchment paper is great for general oven use and will keep foods from sticking to the surface of the utensil being used.
- Color options. While color may not be a big deal, there are some who like color options. Parchment paper tends to come in one color whereas butcher paper comes in a wide range. If you care about the aesthetics of your various food dishes, butcher paper may be the better choice.
- Moisture. If you plan on wrapping foods that have high moisture content, butcher paper may not be the best choice. It is not stickproof or moisture-resistant like parchment paper is.
Can You Wrap Brisket in Parchment Paper?
For the most part, you would want to use butcher paper to wrap any kind of meat, especially for grilling purposes. However, it is also quite common to use parchment paper when smoking brisket. There are plenty of instances where you can smoke a brisket for 8-12 hours, wrapping it in parchment paper afterward to continue cooking so that it remains tender. Parchment paper can keep the meat moister without ruining the bark-like edge using foil may do.
So, Which is Better?
There is no simple answer as to which one to choose. When it comes down to it, you must choose between parchment paper and butcher paper based on the foods you plan to cook and the needs that you have.
It is a good idea to have both on hand if you find yourself in the kitchen on a regular basis. Butcher paper may not be quite as versatile as parchment paper but there are a lot of shared usages. Knowing the differences is the first step towards making the choice that benefits you most.