Can Parchment Paper Go In The Microwave?

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It’s a common misconception that you can’t microwave parchment paper. In fact, not only is it safe to do so, but it also has some key benefits.

Using parchment paper in the microwave oven can help you reheat leftovers without a large mess and makes cleanup easier.

In this guide, I’ll explain what parchment paper is, why it’s safe to use, and how to use it in the microwave. I’ll also dispel some of the myths about microwaving parchment paper and give you some tips on how to get the most out of this versatile kitchen tool.

Is Parchment Paper Microwave Safe?

Microwaves don’t affect the safety of using parchment paper in your microwave. Not to be confused with wax paper, you don’t have to worry about it melting or affecting the quality of your food.

The nonstick surface can tolerate high temperatures up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit under direct heat. On the other hand, microwaves use energy waves to heat moist contents from within much more rapidly.

Keep in mind that parchment paper can burn under certain circumstances.

Think of the last time you made microwave popcorn. You’ve probably had at least one experience of cooking it longer than the directions called for and ended up with a few burnt kernels or, even worse, started a small fire. This can happen with parchment paper, too, so you’ll need to keep an eye on it.

steamed salmon parchment paper

According to the USDA, it’s important to allow venting when using parchment paper because steam will build up if it encloses your food. This could lead to an explosion of steam or hot contents when you go to take it out of the microwave.

The last thing about the safety of parchment paper is to check the box that it comes in. There should be directions or warnings about using it in certain situations. On my particular box, it says that it is safe to microwave but keep away from an open flame.

How To Tell If Parchment Paper Is Microwave Safe

There are various types of high-quality parchment paper products and baking paper used for cooking food. Two common types you will find are:

Unbleached Parchment Paper – You may also find this at the grocery store under the name “brown parchment paper.” This is untreated parchment paper and considered non-toxic by default.

Bleached Paper – As the name suggests, this has been treated with chlorine to whiten it. It’s the most common type of parchment paper you can find at a grocery store. There is a concern that the treatment may be toxic when using temperatures too high or past what is written on the box.

Both of these are microwave safe and should have a microwave-safe label on the box, but continue reading to learn about the dangers of how these heat-resistant parchment papers can be a problem when used incorrectly.

Can Parchment Paper Catch On Fire In The Microwave?

Yes, parchment paper can catch on fire if it’s exposed to too much heat for too long. This is why it’s important to keep an eye on it and use it according to the package directions.

Parchment paper is made with a silicone coating that helps it withstand high temperatures. Under normal circumstances, this silicone coating won’t catch fire.

However, you’ll need to use your best judgment when it comes to determining whether you’ve cooked something for too long. The last thing that you want is for food or parchment paper to catch on fire.

Foods you need to be careful of microwaving with parchment paper:

  • Bacon
  • Hamburgers
  • Cheese
  • Oils

My best tip is to cook or reheat food for a minute or two at a time, stir, and microwave a little longer. Keep checking it and making sure heat is distributed evenly.

Don’t just pop your meal in the microwave for 5 or 6 minutes at a time unattended.

How Long Can You Microwave Parchment Paper?

It’s difficult to determine how long parchment paper will last in the microwave because it depends on how much power your microwave has and what food you are microwaving.

If you have a higher wattage microwave, you can usually get away with microwaving parchment paper for a shorter amount of time than a lower wattage microwave.

As a general rule, parchment paper should not be microwaved for more than two minutes at a time.

If you are microwaving something that is likely to create a lot of steam (such as soup or vegetables), it is better to use a microwave-safe bowl with a lid instead of parchment paper.

That said, if you are microwaving something low in moisture and do not intend to reuse the parchment paper very often, then it should be fine for a couple of minutes at the most.

What Happens To Parchment Paper When You Microwave It?

When you microwave parchment paper, very little happens until it gets near its flash-point. Then it undergoes a number of fascinating chemical transformations.

At first, the paper begins to brown and emit a pungent odor as the high temperatures cause the cellulose fibers in the paper to break down.

Next, the volatile compounds released from this breakdown begin to interact with one another, creating new structures that absorb and reflect electromagnetic radiation on many different frequencies.

The end result can be a shimmering mass of bubbles, black paper, and eventually combustion.

What Can You Use Parchment Paper For In A Microwave Oven?

Personally, I find parchment paper to be incredibly helpful when I am reheating leftovers or cooking frozen foods.

For example, I can use some parchment paper to line my plate or bowl before adding my food, which makes cleanup much easier and prevents splatters from contaminating my microwave.

Using parchment paper as a lid will allow steam to escape compared to a plastic lid which could lead to a large mess or injury.

Additionally, I often use parchment paper to wrap around food to steam it and keep it moist.

With a few folds of parchment paper, you can easily create steamers for seafood and other delicate items without having to worry about burning your fingers on hot plates or metal bowls.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are heating up snacks at work or cooking a full meal from scratch in the comfort of your own kitchen, parchment paper is an indispensable tool for getting the most out of your microwave experience.

So next time you need to use your microwave for any kind of cooking or reheating, don’t forget about this handy kitchen staple!

Written By Tara Williams

Tara is a food writer that has been editing and authoring articles for KitchenSanity since its founding. Her writing offers personal experience from experimentation with food and recipe creation. If you’re looking for simple tips, she will make your journey in the kitchen straightforward with a dash of fun.