Can You Put Paper Towels In The Oven? (Safe & Easy Alternatives)

I recently tried a new recipe that called for parchment paper, and I just so happened to be out.

Then it occurred to me – I placed a paper towel over my food from time to time. I started asking myself a question whether I can put paper towels in the oven instead of parchment paper.

Placing paper towels in the oven is not recommended and poses a fire hazard. Paper towels are combustible and can ignite when exposed to the high temperatures typically used in oven cooking. Instead of using paper towels, opt for materials that are specifically designed to withstand high heat, such as parchment paper or oven-safe cookware. Always adhere to the oven manufacturer’s guidelines and use safe cooking practices to prevent accidents in the kitchen.

How Dangerous Is It To Put Paper Towels In The Oven?

When you learn that paper burns between 424 and 475 degrees Fahrenheit, you immediately wonder why it is such a hard no to put it in the oven. 

For example, if I put a casserole in at 350 degrees, what harm is there in placing a paper towel over it? 350 is a far cry from 424 degrees in temperature. 

It is necessary to know that there are many differences between a microwave and an oven in this situation. Whereas a microwave bases its cooking on water content, a range does not. 

What’s more, is that an oven has heating components inside. Typically you will find them around the sides as well as on the bottom. On the other hand, a microwave uses radiation waves.

If your oven is heated to 350 degrees, that is the temperature in the center of it. However, the heating coils will be at a much higher temperature. Imagine that you open the oven to check on your food, and the air that comes into the appliance blows the paper towel back towards the heating coils. Not a good situation. 

Other errors can take place as well. Not only can the heating components cause an issue, but oven malfunctions can as well.

At some point in our lives, we have all run into performance problems with our appliances. It is common for the elements of a range to run too high or go out entirely. 

Lastly, most consider the use of a paper towel to alleviate concern over food bubbling over in an oven.

In this case, you should also be concerned with the paper towel becoming mixed in with your food. Even if your range is 350 degrees, that doesn’t mean that your food will be only that temperature.

Depending on the components in your meal, specific ingredients or areas of your casserole could register at a higher heat than others.

If this happens, you may risk fire with your paper towel if it comes in contact with the overly heated food source. 

What About A Toaster Oven?

Just like a regular oven, it is highly recommended that paper products not be placed in a toaster oven.

The reasons for this are the same as for an oven, in that the internal components and heating can prove dangerous when combined with a paper source.

What Are The Other Options?

When you are cooking a meal that requires parchment paper you don’t have, you don’t want to turn to a paper towel to fill the void.

But what can you use? There are actually a few different options that can fulfill the need.

Roasted Corns

Aluminum Foil

Also known as tin foil, this product is not only used to transport your potluck offering between homes.

You can also pull this item out of the drawer to cover your dinner while it is cooking, or to line the bottom of a pan. 

Remember back in the day when a member of your family wasn’t able to make it in time for dinner? Often they were at sports practice or a PTO meeting.

At other times they had to work late. Whoever made dinner that night would wrap up a plate of food for the missing person, cover it in aluminum foil, and place it in the oven for them to eat later.

Did you ever stop to wonder why they did this? Aluminum foil traps things in. Heat is trapped within it, as well as messes.

By wrapping the plate of food in foil, it allowed it to stay warm. Putting the covered dish in the recently used range allowed it to be in a warm box and retain as much heat as possible. 

This process can be handy when you are concerned about your cooking food bubbling up or spilling over, as well as needing to line a pan or dish.

Using foil over the top of your pan or dish keeps all the food in one spot. This act helps you to avoid a giant mess more safely than a paper towel. 

Whole Pizza with Vegetable Toppings

Wax Paper Or Parchment Paper

Although there is a great deal of concern regarding spillage in the oven, there is an equal concern for a messy pan. One such food item that causes everyone this grief is bacon.

A well-loved breakfast food among all ages, bacon is frequently cooked in many homes. Some families even choose to bake their bacon.

Doing it this way is a more straightforward method with less worry of grease burns and allows you to be more hands-off while it cooks. 

However, the mess that bacon creates on the pan is outrageous. The amount of grease that comes out of bacon and affixes onto the pan is sometimes challenging to clean off. 

Therefore, many people look for innovative solutions to make the cleaning process a bit more simple. Parchment paper can fulfill this need, but what if you don’t have it?

When you make bacon on the stove, you typically lay it down on a thick pad of paper towels afterward. This motion soaks up the grease before you indulge in it. 

Many people have wondered, why not use the paper towel from the get-go? If you line the pan with it and then add the bacon – would it make clean-up a breeze?

Although tempting, it is best not to go that route. However, wax paper can fulfill the same role as paper towels and parchment paper. 


With a higher temperature limit, wax paper is a safer option for the oven than a paper towel. Many people use it for baking and place it on the cookie sheet before adding the dough.

You can take the exact route for bacon. After you line your pan with the parchment paper, you then add the bacon and bake. You are left with an easy clean-up and an excellent breakfast! 

Final Verdict

We all want to make the most of every day. Each minute counts when we are living busy lives.

At times, the addition of an unexpected occurrence, like a food mess in the oven, can switch our days from good to bad. 

However, this doesn’t have to be the case. There are clean-up prevention options out there that are safe and easy for your family.

Although our go-to item is often paper towels, don’t ever let yourself wonder – can I put paper towels in the oven? 

There are times and places where using such items in the oven is okay, but you should primarily consider other options:

  • Aluminum Foil
  • Parchment Paper

Keeping these two products stocked in your home (along with the paper towels) will help you leave a calmer, more peaceful life with far less frequent messes.

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