Wax Paper Should Never Go in the Oven

Have you ever been trying out a new recipe, only to find that it calls for using parchment paper and you don't have any? Don't swap it out for wax paper. If you're wondering if wax paper goes in the oven, we're here to tell you that using wax paper in the oven is a very, very bad idea. In fact, it might even lead to a fire in the kitchen, and nobody wants that.

What is Wax Paper?

Ice Cream Sandwiches on wax paper
Getty Images/LauriPatterson

As similar as these wax paper and parchment paper may look, they're far from interchangeable in the kitchen. Wax paper is a paper that's been coated in paraffin wax to make it water-resistant and non-stick. According to the USDA, the wax is pushed into the pores of the paper and spread over the outside as a coating. Like wax paper, parchment paper is non-stick and moisture-resistant. However, unlike wax paper, parchment paper is heat-resistant and oven safe up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use parchment paper for kitchen tasks such as lining baking pans and baking sheets for baking recipes, roasting veggies or meats, rolling out dough, and covering your countertop.

You can use wax paper for all of those things, too, but it cannot go in the oven, as it can't handle the heat at the high temperatures needed for baking and cooking. Any temperature significantly warmer than room temperature will cause the wax to melt, and higher temperatures can cause the paper to catch fire. 

When Can You Use Wax Paper Instead of Parchment Paper?

empty rectangular metal pan covered with brown parchment paper on a wooden table
Getty Images/nndanko

You can use wax paper for things in the kitchen like sifting dry ingredients onto a large piece of wax paper before pouring the contents into a mixing bowl. It's also ideal for lining countertops before rolling out pie crusts, wrapping up food for storage, and lining pans of dishes that won't be put into the oven. It can be used for microwave cooking, but it seems best to stick to using wax paper for tasks that don't involve heat, using parchment paper for things like cookie sheets and cake pans.

If you're dealing with high heat cooking involving temperatures above 450 degrees, you should use aluminum foil instead. That will still take care of splatter and prevent messes, and you won't have to worry about a kitchen fire.

This post was originally published on January 29, 2021.

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