Can You Microwave Parchment Paper? Safety Tips & Microwave-Safe Materials

There are many questions about what you can and cannot put in the microwave. One of them is “can you put parchment paper in the microwave?”

Questions like this arise because ovens and microwaves have similar purposes. So, it’s only natural to wonder if what goes into the oven can also go into the microwave.

Microwaves are essential, everyday kitchen equipment used for cooking and reheating food. But not everything can go into the microwave. Microwaves are highly sensitive and inflammable; you cannot put just anything into them.

Let’s take a look at the possibility of using parchment paper in a microwave. You’ll also find a list of things you should and should not put in the microwave.

What is parchment paper?

Parchment paper is a grease-proof, heat-proof, and non-stick paper used to line baking sheets. It is also moisture-resistant which makes it ideal for baking.

Parchment papers are cellulose-based papers coated with sulfuric acid and zinc chloride. These compounds make it grease-proof, non-stick, and easy to handle.

Can you put parchment paper in the microwave?

Yes, you can. Parchment paper is safe for microwave use. It looks flammable and likely to cause a kitchen fire, but, it is microwave-safe. However, it comes with its buts.

Parchment papers are likely to burn at 420°F (215°C). At this temperature, there is a high tendency that the paper will smoke and burn.

Although not many foods have to heat to this temperature, there’s hamburger and bacon which may heat beyond 420°F. Fatty foods like this increase the likelihood of parchment catching fire in the microwave.

If you’re heating only leftover food or foods that do not require very high temperatures to heat up, it’s safe to use parchment paper.

Safety tips for using parchment paper in the microwave

Before putting parchment paper in the microwave, here are a few things you should keep in mind:

1. Always confirm that the parchment paper is microwave-safe

Almost all types of parchment paper are microwave-safe. However, you cannot be too careful. Before putting any parchment paper in the microwave, confirm that it is microwave-safe to avoid any fire hazards.

2. Avoid torn parchment papers

Crumpled or torn parchment papers are likely to cause a kitchen fire. These defects in the paper cause hot spots that can make the paper smoke and burn.

If you notice that your parchment paper is crumbled or torn, dispose of it.

3. Keep parchment paper away from direct contact with the heat source

Parchment paper is highly heat-resistant and safe to use in regular thermal microwaves at about 200°F (93°C). In such microwaves, it’s safe to keep the parchment paper in direct contact with the heat source.

But in convection microwaves that can heat up to 500°F (260°C), avoid putting the paper too close to the heat source.

4. Don’t forget that you’re microwaving

One general safety rule when microwaving is to keep in mind that you are using the microwave. Be careful not to get too distracted and forget you have something in the microwave.

You should not microwave parchment paper for too long. Anything beyond the stipulated time will lead to a kitchen accident.

What can go into the microwave?

Apart from parchment paper, here is a list of other safe materials that you can use for baking, cooking, and reheating your food in the microwave:

1. Wax paper

Wax papers are papers coated with wax to make them grease-proof and moisture-resistant. They are used to wrap or cover food items for storage in the fridge and to protect food from sticking to surfaces.

It is also safe for microwaving because it is highly heat-resistant. However, wax paper cannot heat beyond 200°F (93°C). But it’s still safe to put in the microwave because most foods cook at 200°F (93°C).

2. Paper towel

Paper towels are thick and soft papers that can soak up moisture. They are used to dry the hands, clean up spills, and cover pastry or any liquid to stop it from splattering and messing up your microwave.

You can use it to cover your bacon to prevent the fat from spilling in the microwave. However, paper towels should not be used in a convection microwave. Convection microwaves heat so high and can burn paper towels.

Also, paper towels are highly absorbent. They can get soaked and dip into the food because of their weight. This is why it is advised to use multiple folded towels and ensure the towels are far above the food.

In addition, keep in mind that the towel gets very hot when wet, so you should handle it carefully when taking your food out. Use oven mitts to take off the paper towel to avoid burns.

3. Paper plates and bowls

Paper plates or bowls are grease-proof disposable materials made of wood pulp and other paper-based materials. They are commonly used to serve or dish food at casual dinners, picnics, or any event.

Paper plates are microwaveable, but materials vary. You should first confirm that a paper plate is microwave-safe before you put it in the microwave. 

4. Plastic

Most plastics are microwaveable, but you must also confirm that they are microwave-safe before putting them in the microwave.

Heating dry food in plastic containers may cause the plastic to melt. Avoid using single-use containers like yogurt and margarine containers because they melt easily.

To avoid steam burn when covering your food with plastic wraps, simply cover the plate lightly so steam can escape.

5. Glazed ceramics

Glazed ceramics like china and stoneware can safely go into the microwave if properly glazed. Glass cookware and CorningWare are also safe. But, those with over-glazed metal are not microwave-safe in any way. 

To be sure that your ceramic is safe to use in the microwave, check underneath the ceramic for the microwave-safe symbol.

If you cannot find it and wish to test further, fill it with water and microwave it in short bursts of 20-30 seconds for one minute. If you see sparks or uneven hot spots on the ceramic container, it’s not microwave-safe.

6. Styrofoam

Many people wonder if styrofoam is safe for use in the microwave because of its soft texture. The good news is that it is microwave safe only if you’re heating pure liquid like water or coffee.

You should not microwave fatty foods and solids such as soup or chicken in styrofoam. These foods tend to heat beyond the temperature threshold of styrofoam and cause a fire.

What should not go into the microwave?

Here’s a list of things that you should avoid putting in the microwave:

1. Brown paper

These types of papers are not heat resistant. Under high temperatures in the microwave, brown papers will smoke and catch fire.

They also contain toxic chemicals and emit fumes and germs which can leach onto your food and contaminate your food.

2. Metal pans

Using metal pans in the microwave is not necessarily unsafe but it is not efficient. Naturally, microwaves penetrate containers to cook your food evenly.

However, the heat from the microwave cannot penetrate metals. As a result, your food will only cook at the top while the underneath remains uncooked. Also, handling hot metal pans can cause burns.

3. Aluminum foil

Although aluminum foil is microwave-safe, it can emit sparks in the microwave, especially when it comes in contact with the sides of the microwave.

Aluminum contains thin metals that can heat up very fast due to the electric current flowing in the microwave. This, most times, ignites a fire in the microwave.

The best you can do with aluminum paper in the microwave is to place them underneath your food. Do not put food wrapped with aluminum foil in the microwave.

However, it is advised that you avoid microwaving aluminum foil in any case. Instead, go for parchment paper or wax paper.

FAQs

Is parchment paper the same as baking paper?

Yes, parchment paper is also known as baking paper. The term “parchment paper” is commonly used in the US.

How long should you microwave parchment paper?

Do not microwave parchment paper for more than 2 minutes. Also, when you’re sure your food is heated thoroughly, take the parchment paper out of the microwave.

Leaving parchment paper too long in a microwave can result in smoking and burns.

How many times can you reuse parchment paper?

Parchment paper is not very resilient. It cannot go beyond two uses, especially if you use it under very high temperatures.

Summary

Parchment paper is completely safe to use in the microwave because it is heat-resistant. It also prevents your food from sticking in the microwave or on plates.

However, you should be careful not to put it too close to the heat source in a convection microwave. Also, do not use crumpled or torn parchment papers to avoid fire.

Wax paper, glazed ceramics, paper plates, styrofoam, and paper towels are excellent substitutes for parchment paper. Know the temperature threshold for each of these materials and use them carefully.

Ever heard of butter paper? See what it is and how it differs from parchment paper.

Thanks for reading. I hope this article helped.