Is Parchment Paper The Same As Wax Paper?

Throughout your years in the kitchen — whether big or small — you've probably come across various papers and liners to use. Whether you're using parchment paper, wax paper, aluminum foil, or even plastic wrap, all of these play a helpful and crucial role in the efficiency of a household or commercialized kitchen.

According to Future Market Insights, the parchment paper market is expected to reach $1.6 billion by 2031, thanks to the overall growth in the food and food services sector. More restaurants and bakeries are also using more parchment paper in order to streamline preparation and cleanup times of food items. This comes as no surprise, because parchment paper is one of the most widely used and helpful tools you can have in your kitchen.

But what about its sister counterpart, wax paper? They're both sold next to each other in the grocery store, and they look nearly the same. So what's the deal? Is parchment paper the same as wax paper?

Parchment paper vs. wax paper

Because they both look very similar and have overlapping similar uses (more on that later), you're probably wondering what the real difference is between parchment paper and wax paper. We're here to tell you that is there indeed a key difference. While they both boast exceptional uses when it comes to cooking in the kitchen — wrapping meat, separating layers of baked goods, lining countertops — there is one key difference: each paper's coating. 

According to Greatist, parchment paper is coated with silicone, giving it its notable nonstick and heat-resistant coating. On the other hand, wax paper is coated with (you guessed it) wax, most often soybean or paraffin wax. Because of this, wax paper definitely cannot go in the oven. If you were to put wax paper in the oven while baking a pie or any baked good, the wax will definitely melt in the oven. This would create a tough mess to clean up and may even catch on fire.

When to use parchment paper and when to use wax paper

Since you can't put wax paper in the oven, what are the best uses for wax paper? Wax paper is best used for any other use for anything non-oven related. This includes wrapping food for cold or freezer storage, lining the countertop to roll out doughs, crusts, and kneading bread, sifting dry ingredients like sugar and flour, and as a layer to spread out candy, sprinkles, and more to cool (via Martha Stewart). On the other hand, parchment paper is best used for lining your baking pans. This will give you that nice nonstick layer you're hoping for, without the danger of melting or fire (via Simply Recipe).

It's always best to err on the side of caution, and it is easy to get the two papers mixed up. You can always test them side by side. Feel the waxy texture of the wax paper compared to the smoother texture of the parchment paper to ensure you're not putting the wax paper in the oven.