The Shocking Truth About Wax Paper in the Oven
Can wax paper go in the oven? Read on to find out how Martha Stewart set me straight on the difference between parchment vs wax paper.
My online niche of crafts and recipes is – by design – rather uncontroversial.
But, every now and then, I step unknowingly into a “controversial” topic completely by coincidence.
Such was the case a few weeks ago when I was making our family favorite vanilla layer cake for our son’s birthday while I was on Instagram stories.
I explained in great detail how I followed my mom’s method for getting the cake easily out of the pan by lining it with wax paper.
Oh my stars and garters!
I woke up to many, many messages in my inbox that went something like this:
- “What? Can you put wax paper in the oven?”
- “Really? I don’t think you can you bake with wax paper!”
- “Is wax paper oven safe? I didn’t think it was…”
- “What is difference between wax paper and parchment paper?”
- “Doesn’t your cake taste like wax?”
There were so many comments, in fact, that I decided I’d better get my facts straight.
I typed, “Can you put wax paper in the oven” into Google to ask the experts.
Martha Stewart popped up first. To summarize her parchment vs wax paper article, the answer is, no! The current trend is that you should not bake with wax paper.
Never mind that my mom lined every birthday cake pan we ever ate with it…and I’ve been baking birthday cakes like that for 28 years! In fact, I even did a YouTube video and wrote on how to assemble layer cakes with using wax paper as my “magic trick” for easily getting cakes out of pans!
I’ve dug a bit deeper on this wax paper for baking topic, and have been fascinated with what I found. I thought you might be interested, too!
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know (or didn’t even know you wanted to know!) About Wax Paper
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for the reader’s shopping convenience.
History of wax paper
This Chicago Times article on kitchen wraps is a fascinating read-if you’re curious about all those boxes of wrap shoved in your kitchen drawer. Ironically, written in 2005, it states in one of its first sentences: “You can line a cake pan with wax paper.”;)
Thomas Edison is credited for inventing wax paper – infusing thin tissue paper with food grade paraffin wax. The Reynolds Company made it a household kitchen product in 1927 when they put it in a box with a serrated-edge cutter.
The article does go on to say that parchment paper is a far superior product and more highly recommended for kitchen use than wax paper.
When did parchment paper become so popular for kitchen use?
The truth is, parchment paper has been around since the 1800s. However, I don’t recall it being in my mother’s kitchen world, and like many others, didn’t start seeing it in stores and kitchens after it had been formulated for kitchen use until the early 2000s.
Turns out, we have Martha Stewart to thank for that! Her teaching and tv shows -and food shows in general – demonstrating recipes and baking prep introduced the world to the magic of parchment paper, and forever changed our baking ways.
What is the difference between wax paper and parchment paper?
Wax paper is not made to resist heat, and placing it in the oven could very well cause a fire. So, wax paper is recommended for food items that are not going into the oven. It makes a handy tool if you want to sift something onto it, and then fold the paper to pour the sifted item into a measuring cup. It also works well to place in between layers of food (like cookies) that you are freezing for later use.
The caveat to the “no wax paper in the oven” that I found was that, if it is under cake batter (like I was using it), it isn’t exposed directly to the oven temperature – which makes it safer. I guess that’s why we’ve had no troubles in the wax paper fire department all these years!
On the other hand, parchment paper is developed for baking, so it is safe to use in the oven. It is perfectly fine to use to line baking sheets for cookies or other baked goods. Note that it is recommended to not use in temperatures above 450 degrees. (But, who cooks hotter than that??) I find that baking with parchment paper has 2 main advantages:
- Cakes come out of pans much easier and cookies don’t stick to the baking sheet.
- Clean up is a breeze!
Is parchment paper flammable?
This question is very valid and important to note. Although parchment paper is designed for heat and will only darken in color with heat (up to 450 degrees) – I know from first hand experience that- yes! – it is flammable!! (Just like the pants you are wearing…)
I was baking a delicious batch of glazed apple cookies one day when the parchment paper slid off the baking sheet and went directly onto the oven element. (One of the downfalls of parchment – it’s slippery…)
Before I could even blink, it burst into flames.
However, within seconds, the fire burnt out and only ashes remained.
My advice? Hang on to that paper as you slide your pan into the oven!
Where to purchase wax and parchment paper
Most grocery stores will have both wax and parchment paper in the section with baking wraps. However, you can also get them online. Here are some Amazon options:
As I was hunting down those links, I also found these neat wax paper treat bags that would be great for sandwiches or treat gifts.
Although I’ve never tried these out personally, many people have told me they like to use silicone baking mats as a great non-stick, oven safe option.
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So interesting! I usually cover things that could splatter in the microwave with wax paper, but maybe I should switch to parchment paper. Thanks for doing the research 👍🏻
This was so informative! I’ve actually wondered a time or two about the difference between wax paper and parchment paper! Super helpful, Rita! Thanks!
my mom & grandmothers all used wax paper in baking. no fires to my knowledge but thanks for the in-depth information!!
You are so welcome. My mom always used waxed paper under batter (for cakes) and it worked fine. So, I still do that, too!
Very interesting! Thanks for that!