Anyone who knows their way around the kitchen will be familiar with the many uses of parchment paper. This semi-translucent, smooth paper has countless applications in the kitchen, from baking cookies to wrapping dishes. Its nonstick qualities make it great for baking your favorite cookies and other recipes.
Parchment paper can certainly go in the oven. But does this mean it can also go in the microwave?
Fortunately, parchment paper is microwave safe. It isn’t flammable like other paper products are, which is what makes parchment paper such a great tool in the kitchen.
What is Parchment Paper?
Parchment paper, also known as baking paper, is a type of cooking paper designed to be a nonstick barrier and heat resistant.
Unlike wax paper, which is coated with paraffin wax, parchment paper is coated with a thin layer of silicone, which is resistant to high heat levels.
In most cases, parchment paper will withstand up to 450 F without catching fire. However, the length of time you plan to cook your food will affect how long it can withstand high temperatures without burning.
Since parchment paper tolerates heat so well, it’s great for lining cookie sheets, baking pans, and casseroles to prevent recipes from sticking. It also makes cleanup much more manageable.
And, if you need a microwaveable container to heat up your dinner, you can use a bit of parchment paper to do the job for you.
You can find bleached and unbleached parchment paper for use in the kitchen. You can also buy pre-cut, rolled, and a type that is cut for precise applications, such as wrapping cupcakes or air frying.
Using Parchment Paper in the Microwave
Parchment paper is designed to resist igniting when exposed to high heat, which is why it’s such a versatile tool in the kitchen.
It’s versatile enough to be used for any of the following in the microwave:
- Reheating leftovers
- Defrosting foods
- Covering dishes to prevent splatters
- Wrap food for cooking
Before you put your parchment paper in the microwave, always double-check the box to make sure it doesn’t have any warning indicating it shouldn’t go in the microwave.
Since parchment is naturally heat-resistant, it’s unlikely you’ll see any warning against microwaving. But it doesn’t ever hurt to check.
Microwaving an item wrapped in parchment paper or on a parchment-lined plate is as simple as microwaving anything else. Simply set your time, and you’ll be good to go.
Parchment paper is a great way to steam veggies and fish in the microwave oven because it works for multi-step cooking without burning or degrading. So if you have a recipe you need to heat, then stir, then heat and stir again, the parchment will hold up well.
Parchment paper also works really well as a cover for dishes in the microwave. For example, if you need to microwave a liquid and want to avoid messy splatters like those you might get from spaghetti sauce, covering your dish with parchment paper will keep the mess contained.
The main thing to be aware of when using parchment paper in the microwave oven is its heat threshold. It can usually withstand temperatures of up to 450 F, which generally won’t be an issue with microwave cooking.
That said, there are a few caveats!
If the food you plan to cook has a high sugar or fat content, you might risk overheating, so limit fatty food and those with a lot of sugar. Make sure you pay attention as your food heats if that’s the case.
The fats and sugars that leak out of these foods can exceed the 450 F (232 C) maximum for parchment paper, which can cause the paper to ignite.
How to Microwave Parchment Paper
If you want to try using parchment paper in the microwave, it’s a pretty simple process. You can follow these steps to make sure you get it right the first time. Then, you’ll be set to go in the future.
1. Confirm Your Parchment is Microwave Safe
Before you put anything in the microwave, you should always ensure it’s microwave safe. Take a look at your parchment paper’s box and see if there are any warnings against microwaving.
The packaging will likely give you a clear indication of how hot your parchment can get before igniting.
2. Monitor Your Food
When you put your food in the microwave oven with parchment paper, make sure to monitor it as it cooks, especially if you’re cooking something for more than a minute or two.
For example, if you’re heating up soup, you might want to pause cooking and stir once or twice to make sure it’s heating evenly.
This step is important for cooking anything in the microwave, not just parchment, so keep it in mind for all of your microwave applications.
3. Keep Your Parchment Away From the Heat Source
It’s important to remember the difference between heat-resistant and fire-retardant. Parchment paper can resist high temperatures, but if you put it next to a heat source, it will almost certainly ignite.
So, when you’re microwaving your parchment paper, make sure it isn’t touching any heating element.
4. Only Reuse Within Reason
For most applications, you can reuse parchment paper in the microwave a couple of times. This is incredibly helpful because multi-step cooking often requires you to heat your food in stages.
Fortunately, you can usually do this without changing out your parchment.
However, in some cases, including those where your parchment might get particularly messy, you might want to toss your parchment and get a new piece.
Parchment Paper Substitutes
There isn’t one universal substitute for parchment paper. Instead, you’ll have to look at your purposes, then decide from there what you’ll use.
If you’re heating up last night’s burger or want to crisp up some bacon in the microwave, using a paper towel will be more effective and safer than using parchment.
A paper towel will absorb the fat from the meat, which will help keep the mess contained and prevent burning.
When you’re simply trying to contain a mess, you can always put a plate or other dish on top of the dish containing your food. This works exceptionally well for soups, sauces, and other items that have a high likelihood of splattering.
You can also cover your dishes with plastic wrap for reheating in the microwave. Plastic wrap is great for containing messes and preventing moisture from escaping.
However, make sure the plastic wrap doesn’t actually touch the food. Although it can stand up to hot air incredibly well, plastic wrap can and will melt very quickly if it touches hot food.
Although you can substitute aluminum foil in place of parchment paper in the air fryer or oven, never, under any circumstances, substitute aluminum foil for parchment paper in the microwave because it’s a major fire hazard.
It will cause sparks, fires, and cause your machine to break. If you need a parchment substitute in the microwave, use one of the ones listed here.
Still have questions about microwaving parchment paper? Here’s a bit more information that might help.
What happens if parchment paper gets too hot?
Parchment paper can withstand temperatures up to about 450 F. As it heats up, you might notice it curling, turning brown, or becoming brittle. These effects are perfectly normal.
However, if it starts to turn black or ignites, you’ve pushed it past its limits. Also, if the paper has turned brown, swap it for a new piece if you need to continue cooking.
Does parchment paper melt?
Parchment paper will burn if it gets too hot, but it won’t melt. However, wax paper, which is covered with wax and looks nearly identical to parchment, can smoke and melt if it’s exposed to heat because it’s not intended for high-heat applications.
Can I use parchment paper in the air fryer?
You can use parchment paper in the air fryer, but you’ll have to take precautions to prevent burning:
- Cut your paper so it’s slightly smaller than the basket.
- Preheat the air fryer before putting your paper inside.
- Make sure your paper is perforated for better air circulation.
- Only use parchment in the air fryer if you have enough food to hold it down.
Taking these steps will help ensure your paper doesn’t burn, your food comes out perfectly, and your machine doesn’t catch fire.
Should you grease parchment paper?
Parchment paper is naturally nonstick, so it won’t need any added grease. However, if you want to use an extra layer of nonstick protection, you can grease your parchment up with some melted butter.
How many times can you reuse parchment paper?
If you’re using parchment in the microwave, you can reuse it at least 2-3 times, assuming it hasn’t gotten messy or started to turn brown. If your parchment is greasy, wet, or sticky, it’s best to just grab a new sheet and start fresh.
Parchment paper is an invaluable tool in the kitchen. It’s excellent for baking, air-frying, and microwaving meals and is a great way to save time on cleanup.
It’s perfectly safe to put in the microwave, so if you need to reheat a meal or steam something, you can do it easily using a bit of parchment.