Both serve an important purpose in the kitchen, but do you know when to use each?
Woman cutting parchment paper
Credit: Lucy Lambriex / Getty Images

Martha loves using parchment paper in the kitchen. Parchment paper is grease- and moisture-resistant paper specially treated for oven use. It is very versatile—use it to line cake molds and baking sheets, to wrap fish and other dishes that are cooked en papillote, and to cover countertops during messy tasks to make cleanup easy. If you're sifting or grating a small amount of an ingredient, you can simply let it fall onto the paper, then pick up the paper and pour it into a dish.

Wax paper has a thin coating of wax on each side, making it nonstick and moisture-resistant; it is a good, less-expensive substitute for parchment paper for tasks such as covering countertops, and is available at any supermarket. Unlike parchment paper, however, it is not heat-resistant and therefore should not be used in the oven, as the wax could melt, or even ignite.

Besides lining baking sheets and cake pans, this inexpensive paper can be used for a range of tasks, from pouring ingredients to steaming fish. Parchment paper is treated with silicone, so it is nonstick; it is also heatproof and grease-resistant. It's available bleached (white) or unbleached (brown). It protects pans, aids cleanup, and prevents food from sticking. It also makes a handy funnel for transferring dry ingredients. You can bake fish or chicken in it for a low-fat cooking method. Rolls of parchment paper are available in the baking section of most supermarkets. Precut sheets and rounds can be found in baking-supply stores.

Another good option for lining baking sheets is a Silpat baking mat. Made of flexible, heat-resistant silicon, they are much more expensive than either parchment paper or wax paper, but last for years.

How to Use Parchment Paper to Line a Cake Pan

Using the bottom of the pan as a guide, trace a circle on the paper, then cut out the round and fit it in the pan. This will keep cakes from sticking.

How to Use Parchment Paper When Sifting and Pouring

When sifting dry ingredients, sift them onto the parchment, then fold the paper to form a funnel for easy pouring.

How to Use Parchment Paper to Line Baking Sheets

Rub softened butter on the corners of baking sheets to help the paper adhere. This will also prevent rolled paper from curling up at the edges during baking.

How to Use Parchment Paper to Prevent Sticking

Foods baked on parchment paper release easily from the pan. This is especially helpful when baking thin cookies and other delicate pastries.

How to Use Wax Paper to Cover Your Counter

Measure dry ingredients, such as flour, sugar, or cocoa, over a clean sheet of waxed paper. Spoon into a measuring cup, and level the top with a straightedge (or a butter knife), sweeping excess onto the paper.

How to Use Wax Paper to Put the Extra Back

Once you've measured, pick up the paper, and funnel the excess back into the canister. Save the paper for the next time, if you like, or use it to line a cake pan.

Comments (11)

Martha Stewart Member
November 7, 2018
You keep saying don't use wax paper to line because it shouldn't go into the oven but twice you say that it can be used to line cake pans, which is it?
Martha Stewart Member
August 29, 2018
... what about the silicon bakeware...everything you bake slips right out of them without any greasing/flouring etc. less calories, I like that, and less steps in the baking process.
Martha Stewart Member
December 5, 2017
I won't bake without parchment paper it makes baking so much easier. Thank you martha
Martha Stewart Member
August 30, 2017
I like whiskey. My brother Rufus and I were going to back some things, but we got into the whiskey first. Wow, was it good! Ended up, we never baked anything, but dang that booze was great. : )
Martha Stewart Member
July 19, 2015
I use it make roasted chicken wings they come out great no mess I'm so glad I found parchment papper
Martha Stewart Member
May 17, 2015
Saw a video, Roasting Vegetables. Only had Wax Paper so I used it. Started to ignite. I know now to use Parchment Paper. That way the paper won't burn.
Martha Stewart Member
March 11, 2014
Can wax paper be used for lining cake tins or baking trays when making biscuits? There's so many papers here in the UK. Baking paper, grease proof paper, silicone paper, parchment paper & wax paper. I want to wrap toffees & line cake tins, which do I use?
Martha Stewart Member
December 10, 2013
I am a professional chef and used many different "Parchment Paper" i just got a hold of some genuine vegetable parchment paper from palisades paper.... gota tell you their paper is amazing smooth, and very easy to use. i called them and ordered an entire case check them out
Martha Stewart Member
August 5, 2013
Hi Alwyseva, Yes, SAGA Baking & Cooking papers are same as parchment paper.
Martha Stewart Member
July 24, 2013
Thank You very helpful
Martha Stewart Member
May 12, 2013
Hi, may I know whether Saga cooking paper can be considered as parchment paper?