In the world of cooking, parchment paper and butcher paper are heralded as the queen bees of the papers used in the kitchen; most used and most admired. The parchment paper vs. butcher paper rivalry is pretty much an everlasting rivalry in the culinary world.
And I could not refrain from offering my take on this rivalry. Let’s see if we can end it once and for all.
Is Parchment Paper The Same as Butcher Paper?
Every one of us can identify which one is a piece of parchment paper and which one is a piece of butcher paper. But what are the differences between these two?
- Parchment Paper
Parchment paper is a cellulose-based paper that has been treated or coated to make it non-stick. According to Martha Stewert, parchment paper is treated with silicone, so it is nonstick; it is also heatproof and grease-resistant.
Also known as baking paper, liners, or bakery release paper, it’s available bleached (white) or unbleached (brown). It protects pans, aids cleanup, and prevents food from sticking.
As parchment paper is grease- and moisture-resistant, it is widely used in the oven, especially in baking.
It’s very versatile. It can also be used to line cake molds and baking sheets, to wrap fish and other dishes that are cooked en papillote, and to cover countertops during messy tasks to make cleanup easy.
You can also use parchment paper to pour liquid if needed and boil anything in it.
Parchment paper is heavily used in healthy cooking, as it protects the food inside from too much oil and grease and also by allowing the food to be boiled properly.
Parchment paper is also very affordable, so it is very convenient to use it in various aspects of coking.
- Butcher Paper
As the name suggests, butcher paper has originally been used by butchers to wrap fresh meat and fish. It protects raw fish and meat from airborne contaminants and flavor contamination.
Butcher paper originated from Kraft pulp which makes it a durable and resilient paper that doesn’t tear easily.
Butcher paper is available in a variety of colors and sizes to suit the unique needs of any business. Among them, white and brown butcher papers are most common.
These are used to wrap meat, fish, and other fresh and cooked food, grocery, and another packaging as well as in craft projects in hobby shops or art classes in school.
Apart from these, pink or peach butcher paper, peach treated butcher paper, gardenia paper, steak paper, freezer paper are some more variants of butcher paper.
Pink or peach butcher paper used to mask any blood or juices from raw meats. The paper is strong enough to prevent leaks while still allowing the packaged meat to breathe, preventing sogginess.
Peach treated butcher paper looks similar to pink butcher paper. But it is more premium paper treated with a sizing agent that preserves fresh cut meats for storage.
The treated paper allows just enough oxygen to reach the meat so that the meat stays fresh and its bright red color is preserved.
Gardenia paper is also a premium version of butcher paper. Used as a substitute for plastic wrapping, it prevents leaking of oil or juices but is also breathable to prevent sogginess.
Steak paper is commonly used to display beef and pork but works well as a backdrop to display any type of meat in butcher cases.
Freezer paper comes with a special coating on one side that protects foods during freezer storage. This paper is extremely effective for storing meats, thanks to the coated moisture barrier on one side and the thick paper on the other side.
Parchment Paper & Butcher Paper in Cooking
Parchment paper is widely used in cooking. Famous culinary blogger Martha Stewart loves using parchment paper in the kitchen. It can be used in baking, boiling as well as covering tables and countertops.
Parchment paper is used in baking for its non-sticky characteristics. Putting a layer of parchment paper on your baking sheets means you don’t have to grease them, and cookies will slide right off.
If you’re making multiple batches you can reuse the parchment.
Parchment paper can also be used to keep baked goods and candies from sticking together or frosting from smearing by putting a sheet of parchment between each layer in a container or box.
Parchment paper can be used to create an impromptu piping cornet for icing too. By covering the work surface with parchment paper, you can avoid a lot of hassle of cleaning your kitchen.
You can also use it to cook en papillote. It means to cook in a paper pouch. Encasing some seasonings and a piece of fish or chicken in a pouch of parchment paper will allow it to cook in its own fragrant steam bath, a healthy way to make flavorful and tender meals.
Butcher paper is mostly used in the kitchen to wrap and store freshly cut meat and fish, and sometimes, to store cooked food. General white and brown butcher paper can’t be used directly in baking or cooking.
But recently, barbecue enthusiasts have become obsessed with pink butcher paper. Also known as peach paper, you can use it for anything ranging from grilling meat or fish to brisket.
When it comes to using it for BBQ, pink butcher paper comes in handy as an alternative to the aluminum foil traditionally used to wrap meat. It is used to stop the meat from cooking any further.
Pitmasters generally wrap meat like brisket in order to prevent it from losing moisture towards the end of the cooking period. This helps to keep the meat tender and juicy.
Pink butcher paper lets the meat “breathe” a little, letting some of the moisture escape to prevent the meat from getting mushy and letting more of the smoky flavor in.
Using parchment paper in smoking and grilling is also possible. It is a lightweight and thin paper with several qualities that make it ideal for use in a smoker or on a grill. Parchment paper is surprisingly strong given how thin the sheets are.
Many people advise using parchment paper up until the temperature reaches to around 400°F. So anything that needs less than 400°F to cook, can be smoked or grilled in parchment paper.
The parchment paper can be used in baking cookies, brownies, cake, quick bread, and granola. Cooking fish in the oven, roasting vegetables in the oven (up to 420 degrees).
Parchment paper instead of butcher paper or foil to smoke brisket is not impossible as the ideal temperature for cooking brisket is around 195°F.
A side effect of this treatment is that parchment paper is less-permeable than butcher or writing paper. Instead of absorbing moisture from food, a wrapping of parchment paper can retain some of these juices. The parchment paper can deliver a twist on grilled foods when they are wrapped up and then placed on the grill.
Substitute for Parchment Paper and Butcher Paper
- Aluminum Foil
In baking, aluminum foil is a practical substitute for parchment paper. In fact, you can use aluminum foil for the air fryer too! However, unlike parchment paper and wax paper, the foil doesn’t have anything that makes it nonstick.
This means that you could end up with bits of foil stuck to your food when all is said and done.
In grilling and smoking, the foil is a great substitute for butcher paper. Actually, the use of foil is more widespread than the use of butcher paper. But the pink butcher paper is becoming more and more popular nowadays.
- Silpat Baking Mat
For a substitute for parchment paper that you can use to bake too, you might consider a Silpat Baking Mat. But these are expensive and not as versatile in the kitchen as parchment paper.
- Butter & Oil
Butter and oil can be used instead of parchment paper in baking. But it’s a really messy and inefficient way of getting things baked.
The primary reason that pink butcher paper has become more widely used amongst the BBQ crowd is, when it comes to wrapping meat, it has certain advantages over aluminum foil. They are:
- Wrapping meat in foil creates a heat-reflective highly-sealed environment around the meat that can result in “over steaming.”
- Over steaming occurs when too much moisture is trapped in with the meat while it cooks, turning it from tender to a textureless mush.
- Pink butcher paper cannot be as tightly wrapped around the meat and its looser weave and greater breathability, compared to foil, help to keep the meat moist and tender without the threat of it becoming too waterlogged.
- Paper also has the benefit of not being heat reflective, so you won’t have to adjust your cooking time to compensate as you would with foil.
- Also, both papers are way more environmentally friendly than aluminum foil, grease or any other substitutes.
Well, after so much talk, I think it’s safe to say that parchment paper and butcher paper, both reigns in their respective regions. These are two of the most practical and sensible options available in their respective fields.
So I will say, I hope we all can agree on the FACT that parchment paper and butcher paper are not really rivals, rather they are complementary forces fighting against all odds (unhealthy, expensive, pollutant, and inefficient substitutes).