An alternative to parchment paper

I’m always looking for ways to save a little cash and to free-up storage space in the kitchen. Recently, while standing in the grocery aisle grumbling over the price of parchment paper, I realized that I was about to make a bad purchase.

For less than what I spend per year on parchment paper, I could buy two reusable Silpat silicone baking mats and simply store them flat in my cookie sheets. I’ll save money and storage space.

I can’t believe I didn’t think of this earlier. Now I’m worried there are even more obvious things like this that I’m missing. What substitutions have you made in your home to save money and storage space? Share your substitutions in the comments.

61 Comments for “An alternative to parchment paper”

  1. posted by Rose on

    Although Silpat doesn’t come cheap, it’s definitely worth the expenditure. I’ve had mine for years, and love, love, love it. As you pointed out, storage is almost invisible, and it produces no waste to add to the trash. Just wash it and it’s ready to re-use. And no more burnt cookies !

  2. posted by Amanda on

    I’ve never used Silpat but I hear great things about them. I’m still going to buy parchment paper though, because I bake often and a recipe often called for the parchment paper to be cut into a particular shape, something one can’t do with a Silpat.

  3. posted by Michele on

    While you might save a little cash and storage space (which I guess is the theme of this post), I’d rather cook on something natural than something synthetic any day.

  4. posted by Another Deb on

    I have one roll of parchment paper that has lived in the cabinet for many years. I use it once a year or so, and cannot even remember what it cost. Maybe you all know something I don’t about using it for more purposes.

    I’d rather have the thin roll of parchment stored out of the way than to deal with storing the silicone mat on my frequently-used baking sheets. Since I store them sideways, the mats would tend to fall off.

  5. posted by ageekymom on

    I use both, because some recipes do better baking on parchment paper than silipat. Especially things that need to be especially crispy.

  6. posted by chzplz on

    other suggestions – I replaced paper towels with some white washable cotton ones. They don’t work great for everything (bacon in the microwave comes to mind), but they fold up flat and can be tucked away in a drawer instead of taking up counter space. I can’t do an under-counter holder with my under-counter lighting.

  7. posted by Kira =] on

    I have also grumbled over the price of parchment paper in the past. It’s ridiculous! and now I just bake anything I can on stoneware. I’m the kind of cook that forgets about the food in the oven until I smell it (which normally means it’s too late & has already started burning) and the stoneware still keeps it from burning. Yay. =]

  8. posted by Anonymous on

    Michele,
    Silicone is made from oil, which comes out of the Earth. Parchment is made from chemically treated wood, which comes from the Earth and a science lab. Cookie sheets are made out of metal, which comes out of the Earth. How is parchment more natural?
    Confused

  9. posted by Rachel Barton on

    I use several things that demarle has. A cupcake maker, which also can be smashed up and stored in a drawer and no cupcake papers either and they have a cake/lasagna baker/chicken roaster/anything you want to put in it and it is very simple clean up. The food just slides right out when you are finished. You can store all these in one drawer or basket.

  10. posted by Abbie on

    I have found that cloth napkins in place of paper save me money. I got them on clearance at the home-goods store, and spend a few cents washing them, and nothing to dry them because we hang dry our laundry. It is a great money saver and we don’t have to go to Costco to buy more trees.
    As an avid cake baker I do like parchment. I can cut it to line my 6″ and 14″ cake pans. And as an avid couponer, I get my Reynolds parchemnt paper for about $1/roll at my grocery store. I love using the Silpad for cookies because I could never for the life of me get them off the cookie sheet!
    Thanks for the post! Abbie

  11. posted by J on

    I’ve never even heard of parchment paper before today.

  12. posted by Rob on

    I’ve actually gone back to parchment. After a while of using the Silpat, I found it to be a bigger pain.

    When you store your Silpat, make ABSOLUTELY sure it doesn’t get creased (store it flat or rolled up in a tube) or it will break/crack and be worthless. It’s actually got fiberglass in it, so it can be dangerous to use.

    I’ve found large rolls of parchment paper (that last for a couple of years at least for a medium-quantity baker like me) at Costco.

  13. posted by Rob on

    Uh, “dangerous to use ONCE BROKEN” I meant to say. 🙂

  14. posted by Anonymous on

    I have two Silpats and they’re great for cookies and definitely have reduced my need for parchment paper. But you’ll still want a roll of it in the drawer for other tasks (lining cake pans, steaming fish, etc.). So it’s more money- than space-saving.

  15. posted by Sarah on

    yeah, ditto what other posters have said, you still will need parchment paper from time to time. But I love my mats! (I went with exopats, just as good and half the price because they’re not famous).

  16. posted by NancyV908 on

    I’ve been using Silpat for years. As a previous poster warns, though, you have to be careful to store them so they don’t crack–I had to replace one.

    Truthfully, I prefer parchment. For one thing, the Silpat mats don’t extend to the edges, so I can bake fewer cookies on a sheet at a time. But I stick with them to reduce waste. (Although I never investigated the environmental angle on silicone before switching.)

    Also, do NOT make the foolish mistake I once did & try to substitute them for aluminum foil when you’re roasting vegetables! Ugh. (Incidentally, if anyone has an alternative to that I’d be interested–I hate using the foil & throwing it out after one use, but I find it nearly impossible to clean an unlined pan after roasting vegetables.)

  17. posted by Miracle Maxine on

    My pet peeve are cookie sheets that are a tad too small. If I could custom-order two or three large sheets that fit inside my oven with minimal wasted space, I would. For some reason the stove in my new house has a very shallow drawer so I can’t store all my baking pans in one place anymore.

    Interesting to hear about the silpat – we bake our own bread so this could come in handy.

    My frugal $0.2 is using the plainest cheapest vinegar in lieu of Windex and fabric softener. I pour the vinegar in the cute little softener-dispenser ball. No vinegary smell, just nice and soft laundry.

  18. posted by JJ on

    I agree with using both. The parchment is still necessary for lining cake tins and making paper packet foods. I have used the Silpat for cookies etc. but I initially bought it for making pasties. They just slide right off and clean up is a breeze. I am fortunate to have the space to keep them rolled in a drawer.

    I second using cloth napkins and kitchen towels, and add general cleaning rags to the list. I can’t wrap my mind around the waste generated by disposable toilet brushes and cleaning wipes.

    Cloth diapers anyone? If properly cleaned and the infant’s bottom cared for they are far better for the earth and the baby. Children who experience the discomfort of actually being wet and soiled toilet train at a greater and more effective rate, and the diapers make great rags when they are no longer cradling baby’s bottom.

  19. posted by Brittany on

    Not only does a Silpat save money and space – but think of all the unnecessary waste you save by not throwing away used parchment after every baking project. I LOVE my Silpat.

  20. posted by Bianca on

    I also use my silpat mat for kneading bread dough. The dough doesn’t stick to the silpat and clean up afterwards is easier.

  21. posted by Carol on

    I bake quite a bit but I’ve never used parchment paper or silpat sheets. My understanding is that it makes things non-stick and I use non-stick pans so it seemed pointless. Or am I misundertanding the purpose of parchment paper/silpat?

    While I’m here, I want to replace my bulky airbake cookie sheets with something smaller. The flat (dark) metal sheets and pans always seem to burn my baked goods. Would silpat or parchment paper help prevent burning?

  22. posted by charissa on

    I’ve got to be honest. I have both silicon mats (which I use for cookies) and parchment paper and I don’t think they’re equivalent. (For one thing, you can’t fold up the mat to line a loaf pan.)
    The parchment paper (being thinner? I don’t know why?) gives anything you bake on it a nicer crispy finish, so, although I feel bad that I’m throwing it out after, there are times when I still choose the parchment over a silpat.

  23. posted by Olga on

    I don’t use either for my baking. If the recipe doesn’t have enough butter to make cookies non-stick, then I just grease the non-stick cookie sheet with butter or oil. Works just fine and nothing extra to buy or store.

  24. posted by Susan on

    I used cloth diapers when my children were babies in the mid 1960’s. I do not use parchment or silpat or teflon cookie sheets. Just a little shortening or oil and using a timer keep my cookies from sticking and burning on my mid 1960’s cookie sheets. I have found that a sheet of non-recycled “typing” paper cut to size and some oil allow my cakes to release from my mid 1960’s cake pans when I bake one once or twice a year. My baking pans with stuck on food come clean easily after soaking them overnight with some water and dish detergent in them. For extra tough burnt on stuff, smear a little dishwasher detergent gel on them. Smearing with dishwasher soap also works to clean those nasty,greasy over the stove metal mesh vent fan filters.

  25. posted by Erin Ferree on

    I bake cookies, tarts, bread and pizza on my Silpats. And, I do more than just baking on my silpats – anything that would stick to a cooking sheet and require a lot of cleanup. Roasting veggies or potatoes is one of my favorites in this category – the Silpats make sure nothing sticks, and cleanup is simple.

  26. posted by Sarah on

    seeing the comments about size and fit — silicon mats are sized to fit into “professional” full, 1/2 or 1/4 sheet pans. If your pans are any other size, they won’t fit perfectly. But standard mats plus 1/2-sheet pans = baking heaven! (And the pans are maybe $6 from pro supply shops and last forever…..)

  27. posted by Splomo on

    Leaving the kitchen for a moment (although those cookies sure smell good..) and heading down the hall, I just began using tartar control toothpaste (Crest ProHealth has gritty bits in it) as an alternative to scouring powder/gel to remove the mineral buildup on the sink and toilet.

    This saves space (and time) and seems safer than tall attractive bottles and cans of bleach-containing or inhalable scrubbing products (we have two preschoolers.)

    (Although fluoride is not good to eat, our kids don’t like the taste of grownup toothpaste at all, so at our home this practice is relatively safe.)

  28. posted by Liz on

    @NancyV908

    I’m totally with you on the aluminum foil dilemma when you’re roasting veggies! I try to reuse foil when I can, but in this case, the foil is usually trash when I’m done. I’ve started roasting veggies in a large glass pyrex that’s been lightly greased. To clean up the inevitable gunk, I soak it for an hour or so, scrub what I can out, and then use baking soda as a natural abrasive with a dishrag. It’s a pretty quick process!

  29. posted by Lisa on

    Whenever a recipe calls for parchment paper, I use a paper bag. I usually have one sitting around and it does the trick!

  30. posted by ns on

    Silplat and other silicone mats are great, yes, but are also absolutely impossible to keep clean. More like, I personally have a very difficult time cleaning them. I had to even throw one away because some impossible goo would not come off despite using every trick in the book. So, in the end, I went back to my parchment roll.

  31. posted by martha in mobile on

    Try roasting veggies in a clay cooker. Very yummy, easy cleanup. No foil, no silpat, no parchment paper…

    I can second the old diapers as house-cloths. I’m still using diapers from 10 years ago.

  32. posted by Lori Paximadis on

    I bake a lot and have never used parchment or Silpat sheets. If you prepare your pans well, you don’t need either. (If you love the fish-in-parchment thing, that’s another matter.)

    Lining pans with aluminum foil does make cleanup easier, but it’s wasteful. I have yet to meet a residue that an overnight soak with a squirt of dish detergent followed by a little elbow grease won’t eliminate.

  33. posted by Sky on

    I don’t use Silpat or parchment paper. Just a little shorting or spray oil works great. If there is some overcooked impossible to clean stuck on mess in a pan, I put hot water in the bottom, sprinkle baking soda on and let it sit a few hours. It will wash off easily.

  34. posted by empty on

    I bake a lot and for years used neither parchment nor silicon liners, but once I started I realized what I’d been missing. It was like when we finally bought a potato ricer after resisting it as clutter for years (unitasker, sure, but so useful in our lives). Parchment is brilliant; baked goods come out perfectly and cleanup is easy. But although I tried the silicon liners I could never get them clean; they always had grease left on them that would smear on everything they touched.

    Where I live parchment can go in the municipal compost, so it doesn’t seem particularly wasteful to use it appropriately, especially when weighed against the water and soap costs of washing greasy trays and scrubbing off pan residue. We now use parchment for roasting vegetables instead of foil for that reason.

  35. posted by Cahy on

    Hello from Australia: I gather “parchment” paper is the same as “baking” paper?

  36. posted by NancyV908 on

    Hey Liz & Martha in Mobile–

    Thanks for the veggie-roasting tips! I’ll try the glass-dish one first, since I have a bunch of those.

    And back on topic, I also think there may be a very slight difference in the finished goods when I use the Silpats–I think they don’t deliver as crispy a finish (when crispiness is what you’re after).

    Also, to Carol, looking to replace the airbake sheets: I think you want to avoid dark baking sheets. Shiny aluminum is what I’ve always heard is ideal for proper baking & to avoid scorching.

  37. posted by sue on

    Have 2–love ’em! I store mine on the refrigerator wall secured with a magnet.

  38. posted by kristi on

    I exchanged purchased bottled water for several Sigg bottles. We no longer store cases of water, and don’t have to collect and dispose of tons of used plastic bottles.

  39. posted by ari_1965 on

    I make dog biscuits to sell. If I use parchment paper, one side of the biscuit doesn’t get darker than the other while baking. Of course, the dogs don’t care what the treats look like. But evenly browned biscuits look better and, therefore, sell better. I reuse the parchment paper for batch after batch until the paper is too brown to achieve its purpose (approximately 11 oven cycles). Then I put it in the waste paper recycling.

  40. posted by Nat on

    We love parchment paper. We finally went out and bought the 1000 sheet pack for commercial pans. We split them in half for our baking pans and use the full sheet for fish packets. It’ll last us a several years, but much cheaper than buying rolls in the long run. It stores flat, but it’s not exactly a storage saver. Hopefully municipal composting will start here soon so we can compost it.

    As for other things: we use cloth napkins, cloth diapers, cloth wipes for the baby. At the risk of TMI, I’m also considering using cloth wipes instead of toilet paper since we already wash wipes for the babe, and I already use Glad Rags in place of disposable maxi-pads.

  41. posted by Luxcat on

    OK I feel like a total moron here…

    I’m in my mid 30s, I consider myself a reasonably well trained “housewife”- that is, I can cook, sew, and clean anything that seems to need cooking, sewing or cleaning.

    And I cannot remember a single time in my life that I ever used parchment paper nor silicone baking mats.

    Am I out of touch or perhaps just uncluttered a little too far?

  42. posted by caffienejunkie on

    I bake, but I don’t find that I need parchment or anything.

    Cleaning though – Vinegar & baking soda are the best. Vinegar not only works well on stickiness, it’s a disinfectant. And Baking soda is a great abrasive cleaner.

  43. posted by Celeste on

    I choose parchment paper to avoid scrubbing and have really learned a lot about how to use it in baking; it’s very versatile and I won’t be without it. I wish I could find it at a bulk price like I do with freezer paper.

    I like the Silpat idea, but it would take me back to washing. I would also have to have two (or more) of them for big cookie-baking marathons. $$$ Then there is the issue of them always fitting the pan I want to use.

    @Nancy–look into cast iron. I’m thinking a fajita-type pan is what would work for you in the oven. We’ve been adding cast iron slowly to our cookware. You actually WANT bits oxidized on it, so you aren’t going to have to worry about getting them scoured clean. Another alternative is grilling; I just read a good article about it in Cooks Illustrated this month, and they are really thorough with the advice.

  44. posted by lisah on

    i like silpats but rarely use mine as they are a dog and cat fur magnet. i would rater use the occasional piece of parchment. To the other Lisa, i never thought of paper bags! i will have to try that, soon.

  45. posted by Courtney on

    tips:
    Diva Cup instead of tampons/maxi pads
    butter/flour, cast iron (clean only with SALT), baking stone instead of parchment paper/silpat
    bidet instead of toilet paper

  46. posted by Anita on

    I have to admit I’m not the largest quantity baker, but I find that a roll of parchment paper lasts me long enough that I don’t have to worry about its cost.

    Silpat would be impractical for me because I use parchment paper mostly to line cake/loaf pans (needs to mold to the pan), or when I make biscotti (want the crispier finish that parchment paper gives).

    A tip for baking cookies without parchment paper is using a double cookie sheet with an air cushion (such as: http://wearever.com/wearever/b.....irbake.htm); they spread the heat more evenly and prevent cookies from burning/sticking.

    Also: I’m thinking about switching to silicone cake and loaf pans, for ease of storage, but I’m still reading up on the pros and cons…

  47. posted by honestb on

    There are some things parchment can do that Silpat can’t. Like be folded up into a couche for Baguettes (I could use a pizza peal to put them in the oven and take them out, but I find it a lot more trouble) or using it to drop a loaf of bread into very hot stoneware (this can be done by hand, but lifting the loaf up with parchment makes it easier to not burn yourself, or to line cake pans. And you can fold things up in envelopes. You can reuse sheets of Parchment paper, but not indefinitely.

    All in all, for my purposes as primarily a bread baker, parchment is worth the cost and storage. We don’t go through it all that quickly and it is a big time saver. Those big silicon mats seem like they’re great for things you want to cook on a flat pan, but that’s about it – not exactly a unitasker, but not as versatile as parchment.

  48. posted by Joanne in Canada on

    I am on my second silpat. After not many years of use, the original stopped being non-stick. I was informed they do wear out and must be thrown away.

    I use the silpat for cookies and that’s about it. For meringues, we used to use cut-up paper grocery bags to line the pan, before parchment (baking) paper was available. Now I use parchment paper for meringues, as well as for lining a pan for roasting vegetables and barbecuing ribs. Also – I use wax paper for lining cake pans and loaf pans as it’s much cheaper than parchment. Bread always goes on a pizza stone using a peal. I have a silicon muffin pan which I love as I have been able to eliminate paper muffin cups – but I still have to grease it or else the muffins won’t come out. I have no use for foil except on the barbecue. For separating cuts of meat (chicken breasts, hamburger patties) for the freezer, I cut up and reuse the liners from cereal/cracker boxes.

    Okay, my kitchen drawer looks very cluttered, but I do like to have the best and most economical product. Reading the other comments, I could probably do better.

  49. posted by Julie in California on

    Love the baking stones for cookies, pizza and bread. They also have stone roasters that are awesome for roasting veggies.

  50. posted by Jen on

    Confused: silicone may come from oil, but it has been chemically modified to a completely different, unnatural product with unique properties. Concerns about the safety of silicone for cooking, especially with heat, have been raised, including suspicions of carcinogens being released. The FDA and similar organizations have not looked into this yet. Parchment, on the other hand, is still just paper with a light coating. It has been used for many more years, and is much more natural, than silicone.

  51. posted by lola meyer on

    The 1,ooo sheet commercial box of parchment works for me. Split it with a girlfriend or two and you still have alot of paper for a very good price. Instead of a baking stone, I use unglazed tiles from the local building supply store. Four 8″ tiles laid on the oven rack make one large stone for minimal investment. Wonderful for making rustic Italian bread loaves. My lemon zester works great for shaving some parmesan on pasta or striping a cucumber peel before slicing.

  52. posted by Karen on

    When I bake cakes or communion bread for church, i use parchment paper cut into circles to line the pans. The cakes and bread come out so easily. A Silpat wouldn’t do that. And i don’t bake cookies often enough to justify a Silpat, anyway.

    I do use cloth pads instead of disposable feminine products. A bonus, aside from not throwing out something I spent money on, is that it is healthier. Many women have found that switching to cloth pads has helped their monthly symptoms.

    We also only use paper towels for patting dry raw chicken.

  53. posted by jooly on

    Wow, talking about cookie mats and feminine pads on the same Web page… what a first.
    Anyway, things like Silpats don’t last forever and are not recyclable. Parchment paper is reusable and degradable.

  54. posted by Melissa on

    I have a cheeper version of a silpat. I was given one from my crafter friend. This one is the size that you put on the bottom of an electric broiler.

    So I will share her tip with you — When using paints for crafts you can paint your project and the paint just bubbles on the silpat. Great when giving kids something to paint. Cleanup is a snap!

  55. posted by janey on

    I bake a lot and am not a fan of the Silpat.

    I used to use it for baking, but found that they absorb flavors. If you bake something savory on the Silpat, it might taint your sweets later. I also found that you can’t get them super squeaky clean very easily. They absorb some fat, too, and the surface becomes a bit rancid.

    I stopped using the Silpat and went back to parchment. I put my parchment in the compost which is good for my garden and good for helping to conserve the water I would use to clean the Silpat.

  56. posted by Chiara on

    I came across your site today, love it! I have both silpat and parchment, and find that I rely on parchment more because it’s easier to clean up. But, DON’T THROW parchment paper away after one use! I’ve used only 2 sheets of parchment (for 2 baking sheets) to bake about 200 cookies! If I bake small batches, I just roll the parchment and put the roll in a big plastic zip bag for next time. I found this tip from King Arthur’s newsletter.

    Other saving tips would be to get a permanent water bottle (not a disposable one) and get a water filter. We’re considering reverse osmosis system (more convenient in the long run) but not sure if we have space. We use Brita for now and get the filters from Costco.

    And always have a container of vinegar and baking soda, you never know when you’ll need these versatile cleaners 🙂

  57. posted by A person on

    I am doing a science project on cookie sheets, and according to my experiment, parchment paper and silpat are about the same in the end. I find that parchment paper is more practical, but silpats are very nice as well, since they are reasonable.

  58. posted by A person on

    sorry, meant “reusable”

  59. posted by A on

    I use both; like many have said, silpats (I actually have 2 of the real thing and a couple of knockoffs that work just as well) are great for most things, but sometimes you just need parchment paper. I put mine in the composter and it degrades just fine.

    Oh, but a caveat: I love silpats for rolling out sticky dough so I don’t have to scrape the countertop clean. But once I made scones on it and then I *stupidly* cut the scones while they were still on the mat, using a pizza cutter. Had to toss the mat, thankfully it was one of the knockoffs. Do not cut on your silpat!

    Re storage – two silpats have a “permanent” home on the cookie sheets, they’re flattened together, so the silpats stay flat. The other two are rolled up and slipped behind the cookie sheets. They are very bendable and flexy, taking up very little space.

  60. posted by A on

    I forgot to chime in on the cloth/paper comments mentioned. We’ve used cloth napkins for about 3 years now and I stopped buying paper towels a couple of years ago. There’s a roll of “shop towels” (the thick blue paper towels) in the cupboard that gets trotted on certain, uh, icky occasions, like cleaning out a raw chicken or picking up offensive pet deposits, but on the whole, we use cloth dishtowels & napkins for just about everything. I already do a load of wash a day, keeping up with three guys, and it’s not a hassle to toss the cloths in with the laundry. (if anything, sometimes the dishtowels bulk up a just-shy load on our front-loading machine.)

  61. posted by salem on

    You can’t cut pattern pieces for clothing out of silpats, which is the only thing I use parchment/greaseproof paper for.

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