Parchment paper and wax paper are two of the most important cooking and prep surfaces in any kitchen but most people can't tell the differences between the two.

Both are used to bake and cook an endless list of recipes and they look remarkably similar, so what's the difference then? More than you would think!

Parchment Paper

A pastry rests on a sheet of parchment paper

Parchment paper, also known as baking paper or baking release paper, is cellulose-based paper that is coated to create a non-stick surface.

Commonly Used For

Parchment paper can be used in a number of ways and situations, here are some of the most popular and effective uses.

To Prevent Sticking

There are few things more infuriating than picking freshly baked cookies off of a baking sheet, only to have the bottom of the cookies get stuck and rip away. To prevent that issue, many bakers — professional and novice — will bake cookies on a sheet of parchment paper, which allows the cookies to pull right off with no issues.

To Promote An Even Bake

Over time, baking sheets will build up a lot of character, for a lack of better terms, which can make getting an even bake something of a mixed bag. To promote an a more even distribution of heat and better cooking surface, parchment paper can be laid down. This creates a thin layer that will be help regulate temperature so your baked goods come out of the oven looking nice and clean.

For Sifting And Pouring

Parchment paper can be used for more than just a cooking surface — it can also be used as a tool as well. One of the biggest problems with sifting, is finding a way to pour the dry ingredients into a bowl as you sift. To get around this problem, sift the dry ingredients over a sheet of parchment paper, which can be used as a makeshift funnel.

Brownies cool on wax paper

Wax paper, also known as waxed paper or paraffin paper, is a paper that has been made water-proof through the application of wax. With roots going back as far as the Middle Ages, wax paper has long been used for its non-stick properties.

Commonly Used For

Wax paper can be used in a number of ways and situations, here are some of the most popular and effective uses.

Seal Wooden Utensils

Wooden spoons will take a lot of abuse over the years, but they can only take so much. Get ahead of the issue by sealing your wood spoons and other wooden utensils with wax paper for a quick and easy sealer.

Line Cabinets

Wax paper also makes for a great cabinet liner. It helps collect dust and messes that might spill out of boxes of food stored away. It also makes for an easy and efficient way of cleaning the cabinets every few months.

As A Prep Surface

There's no way around it — baking is messy. Not long after starting work on a batch of cookies, a cake, or any other baked good, your counters will be covered in all of the sugar, flour, and other ingredients that go into your favorite treat. You can get ahead of that by laying down a layer of wax paper. It also works as a great makeshift funnel to put the mess back in the bowl.

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