Don’t get these two products mixed up.

By Lisa Cericola
Updated November 08, 2017

Wax paper and parchment paper might look similar, but they serve very different purposes in the kitchen. Wax paper has a thin coating of wax on each side, which prevents food from sticking to it and makes it moisture-resistant. But wax paper is not heat-resistant; the wax will melt at high temperatures and the paper itself can catch on fire. Don’t use wax paper to line baking sheets or cake pans or put it in a hot oven.

Wax paper is useful in many other ways. It’s handy for rolling out dough of all kinds, pounding chicken breasts into cutlets, lining a baking pan for no-bake bar cookies (like our No-Bake Fudgy Toffee Bars) and covering countertops when you are decorating iced cookies, working with melted chocolate, or dusting a recipe with powdered sugar. You can sift dry ingredients onto a large piece of wax paper, then lift the paper and pour the contents right into your mixing bowl. Wax paper also makes a good wrapper for sandwiches, sticks of butter, or wedges of cheese.

Like wax paper, parchment paper is also moisture-resistant and non-stick. But because it has been made with silicone, it can also be used in the oven, generally as high as 450 degrees. Even if your oven is a little hotter than that, the paper will usually darken but not burn. Parchment paper is sold bleached (white) and unbleached (light brown), the color will not make a difference in your recipe.

Use parchment paper to line baking sheets, cake pans, pie pans, and meatloaf pans, cook fish and vegetables en papillote, as a makeshift muffin pan liners, and for any of the tasks listed above.

Bottom line: You can use wax paper and parchment paper interchangeably if you are not cooking with heat. If you are cooking with heat, choose parchment paper.

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