On the surface, parchment paper and aluminum foil may appear to be very different. After all, one is made of paper, while the other is made of metal. However, they actually have a lot in common. So, what are the differences between parchment paper and aluminum foil?
Parchment paper is ideal for baked goods, recipes that could damage your pans, easy cleanup, and for keeping foods separated when storing them.
Aluminum foil is best for tasks like high-heat cooking and grilling. Foil is also great for wrapping food since it can provide a tight seal that keeps steam and juices locked in while cooking.
Which should you use? They’re both great choices, but parchment paper is nonstick, while aluminum foil isn’t so much. In this guide, I’ll explain further when you should use each one and give tips for when you should avoid using them.
At A Glance: Foil vs Parchment Paper
- Parchment paper has a nonstick coating, but foil doesn’t, so it needs to be greased.
- Parchment doesn’t tear as easily and is better for rolling dough.
- Parchment paper can’t withstand high heat for long periods, while aluminum foil can tolerate very high temperatures.
- Parchment paper can’t be used for broiling because it can ignite, but aluminum foil is great for broiling and catching drippings.
- Aluminum foil shouldn’t be used with acidic foods because they will react with each other.
When To Use Parchment Paper
When Baking Or Roasting
The number one thing I think about when it comes to parchment paper is baking cookies or lining cake pans. Parchment paper is safe for baking, heat-resistant, and nonstick, so it’s ideal for baked goods that might stick to the pan or burn easily.
It also comes in handy when roasting meats and vegetables. When you line a roasting pan with a sheet of parchment paper for the oven, your food will slide right off the pan when it’s done cooking. No more scrubbing burnt-on bits of food!
However, it’s not completely impermeable, and some liquids or grease will make its way to the bottom of your pan.
This is not limited to your oven pans. You can also use parchment paper in your air fryer!
When Storing Food
While parchment paper won’t hold its shape without elastics or tape, you can use it to store food such as sandwiches, cookies, and other baked goods.
If you’ve got extra parchment on hand, I like to use a bit extra when wrapping food so that I can fold it over and use the weight of the food to keep it closed. It’s then easy to stack or place in another container to keep it fresh.
If storing it in the freezer, I use a sharpie to mark the date when it was made for future reference.
When Making Candy Or Working With Sticky Foods
You know that working with sticky ingredients can be a bit of a nightmare. From melted chocolate to caramel to taffy, dealing with gooey sweets can be frustrating (and messy).
Using parchment paper can help to prevent sticking and make the cleanup process much easier.
It’s also perfect for rolling out dough, as it provides a smooth surface that helps prevent sticking to your cutting board.
When Steaming Packets Of Food
Parchment paper is also great for making en papillote which is a French cooking technique where food is wrapped in parchment paper and baked.
This method seals in moisture and flavor, resulting in tender, juicy dishes.
When Working With Acidic Foods
Acidic foods can create a chemical reaction with aluminum foil. This can cause your food to have a metallic taste or can cause aluminum to leech into your food.
So for acidic foods, like tomatoes or lemons, it is best to use parchment paper.
When To Use Aluminum Foil
Broiling is an awesome way to crisp up food or add a slightly charred flavor to your dishes, such as fish or vegetables.
Broiling temperatures are often between 450°F and 550°F, much too high for parchment paper to survive without burning or catching fire. Whereas aluminum foil melts around 1220°F, much higher than your home oven can go, making it safe to use.
Using aluminum foil when grilling helps to keep food from sticking to your grill grates. This is really important for delicate foods like fish, which can easily fall apart when they stick to the grill.
Foil helps to create a barrier between your food and the flames, preventing the food from burning or charring for dishes that take a long time to cook, such as ribs, potatoes, or whole chicken. Once cooked, simply remove and place directly on the grill for a quick char.
My favorite use for grilling is to keep food warm after it has been cooked, such as steak, while it rests until it’s ready to serve.
When Roasting Vegetables Or Meat
Foil is great for wrapping potatoes to baked or keeping juices together when making a medley of vegetables with garlic, butter, and herbs. On the same note, It helps to lock in flavorful juices while roasting meat.
When Lining Baking Sheet
Similar to parchment, aluminum foil is a great option for lining baking sheets in the oven. It can help promote crispy bottoms as grease and fats will stay above the foil and sort of fry the bottom of your dish.
If you want to bake cookies on aluminum foil, you’ll need to pay close attention to your cookie recipe to make sure that the extra crisping power won’t affect the end result.
When Making Pie Crust
Homemade pie crust from scratch may need the help of both parchment and foil.
I typically use parchment to line the pie dish first, then add the dough. The next step is to blind bake it, then use foil to cover the crust edges after the filling has been added to help prevent the edges from burning.