Which Side Of Parchment Paper Goes Up? [Plus Alternatives]

Parchment paper, otherwise known as baking paper, is a non-stick surface that is designed to be used while baking.

This disposable and heat resistant cooking tool is simple and easy to use, but which side of the parchment paper goes up? We have the right information to ensure that you get the most out of your roll!

Most parchment paper is coated on both sides with a thin layer of silicone. This means that you can lay it down in either direction.

However, if you buy generic brands, there can sometimes be a “right side” and a “wrong side”.

In the instance where your parchment paper looks like it has two differently textured surfaces, the shiny side of the parchment paper goes up. This glossy coating has non-stick, heat resistant and and water repellant properties. Thus, it is the surface that should come in contact with your food. 

Parchment Paper Versus Wax Paper

While these terms are used interchangeably, there is a drastic difference between parchment paper and wax paper.

According to the food experts at Reynolds, “wax paper is made by applying a coating of wax to a thin paper sheet.

Parchment paper has a natural non-stick coating produced through a special “parchmentizing” process.”

This is an important distinction because the process that parchment paper undergoes involves exposing it to chemicals that make the vegetable fibers resistant to specific levels of heat (up to 425 degrees Fahrenheit). It also gives the material water resistant qualities. 

In comparison, wax paper possesses the same non-stick and moisture repelling attributes.

However, wax paper is highly flammable, and therefore, not intended for oven use. Nonetheless, you can safely use both products in the microwave.

Due to these differences, parchment paper is ideal for baking whereas wax paper is better utilized during the preparation of baked goods as well as storing items in the freezer.

While not as long lasting as freezer paper, wax paper can keep foods free of freezer burn for a few months.

In case you didn’t know, freezer paper is essentially a thicker version of wax paper that only has one wax coated side instead of two. 

Brand Matters – One Sided Versus Two Sided Parchment Paper

Most big name brands, like Reynolds and Glad, now make parchment paper double sided.

This means that no matter what side of the parchment paper goes up, you are good to go! Unfortunately, for those who purchase generic brands, this is not always the case.

Therefore, always take the time to read the box. Manufacturers will include explicit instructions for use, when they are warranted.

However, if you do not have the original packaging, another easy way to determine which side goes up is to hold the parchment paper up to the light.

The Shiny Side Always Goes Up

The shiny side will have the non-stick quality that you desire. This is thanks to the chemicals and compounds, like silicone, that are applied to the surface.

Most importantly, when you lay the correct side of the parchment paper facing up, you can actually use it a handful of times. 

Considerations When Using Parchment Paper

Cooking Surface And High Heat

Parchment paper is ideal for most baking surfaces. This can include a cookie sheet, a muffin tin, a pie pan or even a skillet! It can also be used in convection ovens and air fryers.

However, it should never come in contact with an open flame. While heat resistant, it is still flammable when exposed to extreme temperatures. 

This means that you cannot use this product directly on a grill or on an oven burner. It is also important to not place a baking sheet lined with parchment paper too close to the broiler.

Lastly, always take the time to read the box prior to use. The company will note the maximum temperature that this product can handle, which can vary from product to product.

Bleached Versus Unbleached

When shopping for parchment paper, you may notice that it comes in two color options — brown and white. What is the difference?

Parchment paper that comes in a brilliant white color has been bleached with chlorine.

Conversely, the brown paper is a more natural choice. It uses less chemicals and is safer for extended use.

Thus, unless you are foodie on social media and need picture perfect products in your photos, there is no benefit to buying parchment paper with added compounds in it.

Benefits Of Using Parchment Paper

If I have a nonstick pan, then why do I need parchment paper? This is an excellent question that many inexperienced cooks and bakers may ponder. The answer is quite broad.

However, one thing is for certain — no matter which way you use it, make sure that the shiny side of the parchment paper always goes up!

Keeps Dishes Clean

First, parchment paper eliminates messes. If you line your baking tray with this convenient and reusable baking tool, you can simply put the pan back in the cabinet after use.

In other words, goodbye dishes! Just wipe the paper off with a damp paper towel or clean dish rag once it has cooled. Then, allow it to air dry before for your next baking project.

Prevents Overcooking And Facilitates Cooling

Second, the difference between a perfectly cooked dish and a burnt one is residual cooking. This is especially true of glass, ceramic and certain types of metal bakeware, like Pyrex or stainless steel.

These materials retain heat well, which means that your food keeps cooking after it has left the oven.

Parchment paper prevents this problem by allowing you to remove your food from the cooking apparatus immediately.

When using it for this purpose, it does not matter which side of the parchment paper goes up. Either direction will ensure that nothing overcooks and that you can eat your food sooner!

Ensures A Picture Perfect Meal

Additionally, we have all squashed our brownies, pinched our muffins too tight and had a seemingly pristine dish stick to the pan. Parchment paper makes for a seamless removal of food from any container.

This guarantees beautifully cut cakes, spectacularly sliced breads and delightfully flaky fish that remains in one piece until it is time to eat.

Guarantees Food Cooks In The Way You Intended

Moreover, this extra cooking layer provides an even baking surface that prevents sauces and grease from pooling. This means soggy servings are never an issue.

Furthermore, when cooking items that dry out easily (like fish), you can actually use this baking tool to create a pouch to lock in the moisture.

The French call this technique “En papillote” or enveloped in paper. If you are using one sided parchment paper, make sure that the shiny side goes on the inside of the packet. 

Assists In Other Forms Of Food Prep And Storage

Finally, parchment paper is not just ideal for baking! You can also use it to cover your home counter tops when decorating Christmas cookies and you can also create a quick piping bag for frosting those sweet treats.

Speaking of sugary snacks, those planning a romantic Valentine’s Day meal can use parchment paper to make their chocolate covered strawberries.

In addition, those creators of custom goat cheese logs and homemade butters can use parchment paper to not only form these spreads, but store them as well. You can also use it to roll sushi!

Finally, for those who like to steer clear of plastic, parchment paper can double as a simple wrap for sandwiches, snacks and even fruit.

Parchment Paper Alternatives

Aluminum Foil

When cooking with higher temperatures, parchment paper is no longer a viable tool in your arsenal. Thankfully, heavy duty aluminum foil is a fantastic substitute. 

Interestingly enough, the folks at Reynolds note that, similar to parchment paper, there is no specific side of aluminum foil that goes up either! Best of all, it can handle temperatures up to 1,220 degrees. 

When using aluminum foil, there are two considerations to keep in mind. First, aluminum foil can leach into certain foods.

Highly acidic products are more susceptible than others so consider what you are cooking.

Second, aluminum foil will not possess the same non-stick qualities that come with parchment paper. Thus, if you have a non-stick pan available, then it might be best to skip the foil and just wash the dish after cooking.

heavy duty aluminum foil is a fantastic substitute in cooking with high temperature

Wax Paper

As mentioned, wax paper is extremely similar to parchment paper. While it is not ideal for the oven, it is perfect for all other purposes!

Whether you are making fudge or kneading your sourdough bread, the nonstick quality will help you get the job done.

Final Thoughts

It is always best to double check the box for instructions on use. Thankfully, most brands make parchment paper where you will achieve the same result when either side goes up. However, something to consider upon purchase is the intent for use.

Many companies now make parchment paper in custom sizes and shapes to better accommodate your needs.

For instance, Baker’s Signature has parchment paper specifically designed to fit in an air fryer and it even has pre-cut holes to facilitate the air flow!

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