How to choose between using sheets of parchment paper or a silicone mat for lining baking sheets.
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Anyone who does a lot of cooking and baking at home is probably familiar with using some sort of nonstick lining when it comes to cooking with metal baking sheets. It comes down to two options: parchment paper or a silicone baking mat? Well, which one of those is better to use? That actually depends on first, your personal preference, and second, on what the baking project is at hand. Depending on what food you’re planning on baking, one might actually be more useful or helpful than the other one.
For example, one helps soak up the extra liquid released from foods while cooking, while the other is best for cooking tough, easily stuck-on foods such as baked cheese or hardened candy. One can be reused for several batches of cookies without needing washed or replaced in between. So how do you know when to use each one? Well, today I am going to help you by sorting out when to use Parchment Paper vs. A Silicone Mat.
When to Use Parchment Paper
First, let’s go over using parchment paper for baking. First of all, do not confuse parchment paper with wax paper. Wax paper is coated with wax -who would’ve guessed that, right?- which can burn so don’t use it for baking. Parchment paper is a cellulose-based paper that is commonly used as a disposable, temporary nonstick surface. This paper is used to protect metal baking pans from food getting stuck and baked on to the pan. This paper lining makes it not only easier to remove cooked foods for serving but also for cleaning up later on.
Parchment paper also comes in handy when baking foods that produce a lot of liquid while cooking. The paper actually helps to absorb a good bit of that extra liquid, whereas a silicone mat or just the baking sheet itself cannot absorb any liquid and so the food ends up just soaking in a puddle. That’s not exactly ideal. So in potentially messy cases such as this, hands down, parchment paper is the best to use.
The biggest complaint that I’ve seen with parchment paper comes from using a piece freshly cut from a roll of it. When cut from a roll, the edges of the paper will curl up which can be especially frustrating when trying to scoop food, like cookie batter, onto the paper. This problem is easily solved, though! I use pre-cut sheets of parchment paper which are perfect for an easy grab and go in the kitchen without having to worry about any of those curled edges.
What to keep in mind when baking with parchment paper:
- Best for when cooking with foods that produce a lot of moisture and need help absorbing extra liquid
- Best for baking goods that you want to have crispier edges and bottoms.
- Pre-cut parchment paper is the best to use because
- Curled edges are not a problem with these and…
- Fast and easy to use
You can actually find particular kinds of parchment paper that are compostable if the used paper is not too dirty or greasy. These kinds will be specifically marked as such, so just look for eco-friendly information. I don’t recommend trying this with parchment paper that was used to cook any meat though.
When to Use A Silicone Baking Mat
Now let’s go over baking with a silicone baking mat. A silicone baking mat is a reusable, nonstick surface made from food-grade silicone used to line a baking sheet. This mat not only keeps food from sticking directly to the pan, but it’s also super easy to clean up later on, even if food sticks to it a little bit. Usually, you can just wipe off any stuck-on foods, such as cheese or hardened candies, before washing with soap and water.
If you’re a baker who does a lot of cooking with sugar, such as with candies or caramel, then a silicone mat is going to be one of your favorite kitchen tools. Because of the mat’s nonstick surface, candies easily pop right off the surface. Another great thing about silicone baking mats is that they come in several different sizes to fit just about any type of baking pan, so you can easily find one to match any of your baking needs. Another huge benefit to using a silicone mat is that it’s reusable, whereas most parchment paper is not.
On the downside, you do have to be very careful when it comes to which utensils you use on these silicone mats. Sharp or metal utensils can damage the top layer which will affect longevity and make cleaning up more difficult. These silicone mats should not be used under the broiler or directly on the wire rack in the oven. These are to be used specifically as pan liners.
What to keep in mind when baking with a silicone baking mat:
- Best for batches of cookies since they don’t need to be washed in between batches.
- Best for baking hot confections such as candy or caramel.
- Come in various shapes and sizes
- Reusable and easy to clean
- Easy to store
- Nonstick surface
- Don’t use sharp tools on the mat
- Do not set mat under the oven broiler
My Baking Liner Conclusion
Both parchment paper sheets and silicone baking mats are great! They both play a huge role in making it easier to work with metal baking pans. From easy food removal to easier clean-up, later on, there is no doubt that either nonstick baking surface can be a huge help. I personally prefer to use parchment paper more often because it seems to suit my baking needs better in general. When it comes to figuring out which one to use in your own kitchen, well, that really just depends on what your preferences are and what your baking project is at hand.
Here are a few of my favorite baking recipes that I make successfully using the parchment paper method:
- Star-shaped Graham Crackers
- Oven-Baked Bratwurst
- Oven-Baked Bacon
- Giant Brioche Buns
- Unicorn Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Unicorn Meringue Pops
- Unicorn Meringue Cookies