Butcher Paper vs Parchment Paper: What’s the Difference?


Choosing between butcher paper vs parchment paper? Which of the two should you use when baking, or creating barbeque and grilled dishes?

Many people confuse them, as they look alike, but knowing their differences can give you a great advantage in the kitchen. Read on and find out which of the two is best to use in every cooking situation!

Difference Between Butcher Paper vs Parchment Paper

an infographic showing the differences between butcher paper and parchment paper

Let’s set the record straight — is parchment paper the same as butcher paper? No, they are not. Though both are great papers to use in the kitchen, they have a few contrasting qualities that matter depending on what you are making.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the differences between parchment paper vs butcher paper to help you differentiate the two:

  • Material – Both are plant-based products. However, butcher paper is from wood pulp, while parchment paper is from cellulose fibers (cotton and flax) and coated with silicone to become paper.
  • Appearance – Butcher paper comes in different colors and is thick, sturdy, permeable, and breathable. Parchment paper, on the other hand, is a much thinner waterproof kitchen paper that usually comes in brown or white color.
  • Texture Butcher paper is stickier than parchment paper because it is more absorbent and sticks on moist or wet food. In contrast, parchment paper has a non-stick texture because of its coating, making it easy to peel when used for baked goodies, and is greaseproof.
  • Uses – Both kitchen papers can be used in storing, wrapping, and roasting food. However, butcher paper for grilling and smoking meat, and parchment paper is best used in baking.
  • Heat Tolerance – Though both are flammable and may set alight after having direct contact with a heat source, parchment paper has a higher heat tolerance than butcher paper, so parchment can remain unaffected by heat slightly better than butcher paper.
  • Pricing – Neither are expensive, though parchment paper is slightly cheaper than butcher paper.
  • Availability – You can purchase both in supermarkets, groceries, or online stores. But parchment paper is usually more widely available than butcher paper.

What Is Butcher Paper?

Butcher paper (or sometimes called butcher block paper) is a thicker and sturdier version of kraft paper. It is from treated wood pulp that is heavy-duty and FDA-approved — meaning it is safe to use for your food.

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We may know butcher paper as a meat wrapper used by butchers (thus the name) in your local meat shops or when you visit a farmers market. It is a breathable material and does not retain excess moisture, which explains why you can also use butcher paper in cooking, wrapping, storing food, and even arts and crafts!

Because it’s thick and does not tear easily, you should use butcher paper for smoking and grilling meats like beef brisket, pulled pork, ribs, and fish recipes. Bear in mind that before cooking, ensure that they are 100 percent made from paper and are unwaxed. Waxed butcher paper can be highly flammable.

If you’re wondering where can you buy butcher paper, it is usually available in local groceries and supermarkets. You can also purchase it online as most BBQ/kitchenware shops sell this paper.

5 Types of Butcher Paper

chef using butcher paper to wrap a piece of meat

You may notice different colored butcher paper when purchasing it in the market. Each color has its own set of qualities and specific uses.

  • Brown butcher paper – This is an unbleached and unwaxed type of butcher paper. We often mistake this for Kraft paper in arts and crafts lessons. You can use this butcher paper for smoking meat like smoked steak.
  • White butcher paper – A butcher paper used to wrap sandwiches and meat products. This uncoated type of butcher paper is also great for smoking meat as its permeable material allows smoke to penetrate through the paper, giving your meat a rich smokey flavor.
  • Pink/Peach butcher paper – Pink or peach butcher paper has a hue that perfectly complements meat color and masks its juices. It has breathable material, since it has no coating, making it also good for smoking meat.
  • Treated pink/peach butcher paper – This is a butcher paper treated using a sizing agent that serves as another layer of coating, making this paper more durable. It is also a bit more pricey than other butcher papers because it is premium grade and water-resistant. However, its coating causes it to catch fire easily.
  • Gardenia butcher paper – Usually green in color, this butcher paper type is generally used in wrapping poultry and fish meat. It is good in protecting the meat from outside moisture.
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Why Use Butcher Paper?

Wondering why you should use butcher paper? We’ve listed some of its advantages to help you decide.

  • Durability – Butcher paper is thick and sturdy. It does not easily tear and has high heat resistance (can withstand temperatures up to 420 degrees Fahrenheit), which is why you can use this even in your oven or smoke food on your pellet grill.
  • Prevents soggy food – Most types of butcher paper are untreated or uncoated, making their surface permeable and super absorbent. Since it doesn’t trap moisture, using this kitchen paper for cooking gives your food a crusty outer exterior and prevents sogginess.
  • Eco-friendly storage – If you are looking to switch out your plastic freezer containers for more environmentally friendly options, butcher paper is a good choice! You can also reuse ordinary butcher paper as gift wrappers or for your next arts and crafts project. Butcher paper is also highly compostable as it is from wood pulp.

What Is Parchment Paper?

Parchment paper (also known as bakery paper) is a silicone-coated type of paper made of cellulose materials from trees and other plant types. Unlike freezer and wax paper, parchment paper does not contain paraffin, which is why it is safe to use for cooking and baking.

We commonly use parchment paper as a cooking or baking liner. You can also use it in wrapping food like sandwiches or your favorite Subway BMT sandwich. And because of its highly effective moisture resistance, you can use this to catch meat drippings while roasting which you can use in making sauces and gravy. Parchment paper is so versatile, that you can also use it to wrap and cook thigh and belly meats, or soft vegetables. You can easily find them in local supermarkets, grocery stores, baking supply shops, or online.

Though versatile, we highly recommend you to not use parchment paper directly on hot grills. You can cause a fire because it is paper and fairly thin. That said, you can use parchment papers for grilling but not the same way as you would with butcher paper. You should wrap your food in parchment paper and position it away from the fire, somewhere without the charcoal. This can help your food to still cook while reducing the risk of burning.

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2 Types of Parchment Paper

  • Unbleached parchment paper – Also identified as brown parchment paper, this parchment paper tends to be more expensive as it is preferred by people who want organic products. Why? Because it does not undergo chemical procedures.
  • Bleached parchment paper – It is a cheaper type of parchment paper that comes in white color because of chlorine bleaching. That said, you can use bleached and unbleached parchments interchangeably for any cooking purposes. It will not affect the quality or the taste of your food.

Why Use Parchment Paper?

baking cookies using parchment paper

  • Less permeable – It is waterproof, which is why it is excellent for locking in moisture while cooking your food.
  • High heat resistance – Like butcher paper, it also has a high heat resistance (up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit) because it is made from cellulose fiber. However, note that you can’t use it for grilling as it will burn once it comes into contact with any direct heat source like fire or ignited lump charcoal.
  • Non-stick surface – One reason why bakers prefer parchment paper is because it is easy to separate from your baked goodies. You can use this paper as a liner when baking your favorite cake or when creating pastries and other baked treats like this tiger butter brownie.
  • Eco-friendly – Parchment paper is also eco-friendly like butcher paper, mainly because both are from biodegradable materials. However, even though it is not as thick and sturdy as butcher paper, parchment paper is waterproof compared to other butcher paper types, making it more recyclable as you can reuse it as a cookie liner up to 3 times.

Frequently Asked Questions

Butcher Paper vs Parchment Paper: Which Is The Best?

The answer to this question depends on your purpose. Butcher paper and parchment paper possess qualities you can effectively use to your advantage in the kitchen. If you want breathable paper that does not lock in moisture and is absorbent, go for butcher paper. But if you want to save your meat drippings as sauces and gravies, or keep your food fresh and moist, go for the less permeable parchment paper. So, what are you cooking? Answer that question, and let it help you choose wisely. Happy cooking!

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>