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Wonder why you should bake on parchment paper or use silicone baking mats? Learn all about baking on parchment paper or silpat baking mats!

If you look at every single one of my cookie recipes you’ll see that I call for lining them with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. This is because using a liner on your cookie sheet helps ensure baking success, not to mention helping with cleanup!

overhead photo of silpat on teal cookie sheet with roll of parchment paper on top

What is Parchment Paper?

Parchment paper is a specially treated paper processed to make it oven-safe and nonstick. The treatment also provides grease resistance and water resistance.

Parchment paper in baking, is used primarily as a nonstick surface in lieu of greasing a pan. I love baking cookies on parchment paper.

Pros for using Parchment Paper for baking:

  • Eliminates the need to grease your pan
  • Bakes more evenly than baking directly on a cookie sheet
  • Cuts easily to fit any size pan
  • Easily lift full slabs of brownies or bars out of the pan for clean cuts
  • It’s heat safe and repels grease and water
  • Great for lining pans when making no bake candies like chocolate truffles or bark
  • Easy clean up (just throw it away)

Cons for baking with parchment:

  • The length of a roll doesn’t fit quite right on a cookie sheet, so you usually have gaps at the top and bottom
  • While most parchment is reusable up to 3 times, it’s disposable, therefore not as environmentally friendly.
  • While it’s cheaper than buying silicone, you still have to purchase new rolls when you run out.
cookies on parchment paper on cookie sheet

What is a Silpat Baking Mat?

Silpat is the most recognizable brand of silicone baking mat. A silicone baking mat is made of food-grade silicone and is used much in the same way as parchment: to line your pans in lieu of greasing. It’s nonstick and heat-safe and is another great way to ensure even baking. Silpat baking mats are a good replacement for parchment paper.

Pros for baking on silicone:

  • Eliminates the need to grease your pan
  • Bakes more evenly than baking directly on cookie sheet
  • Heat safe, repels oil and water
  • Easy pan clean up (the silpat gets dirty but your pan stays clean)
  • Can also be used as a nonstick surface when making chocolate candy or bark
  • Doubles as a rolling mat for pie crust and doughs (the silicone acts like rubber – it won’t slip or slide).
  • Eco-friendly because it’s reusable

Cons for baking on silicone:

  • You have to wash them in hot soapy water to get any grease off (they’re not disposable)
  • Expensive investment up front
  • Comes in one size so you can’t cut it to fit your pan. If you’re using large cookie sheets or half sheets for baking, they fit but otherwise they’re too big.
cookies on cookie sheet with silpat baking mat

Why should you use parchment or silicone for baking?

In short, your recipes will turn out better if you bake on parchment paper or silicone.

  • Cookies will brown more evenly on the bottom
  • Cookies will spread considerably less than baked straight on a cookie sheet
  • The baking is more evenly distributed, allowing for a puffier cookie
  • No need to grease your pans = less greasy cookies

When to use which one

It’s really personal preference! They both serve basically the same purpose but there are a few times when one is better than the other:

  • When baking something sticky (or making sticky candy), use silicone for easy removal.
  • Silicone is also best for things like macrons or delicate pastries
  • Brown Bottoms: silicone produces a lighter brown bottom than parchment, so go with your preference there
  • While many resources say cookies spread more on silicone, I find the opposite to be true: cookies spread more on parchment paper than Silpat baking mats. This is also even more apparent when you’re using a thick insulated baking sheet vs a cheaper thin one. The difference is very slight, but while writing my cookbook and baking hundreds of cookies on both, the cookies definitely spread more on the parchment paper. (However, I have not tested this theory on other brands of silicone baking mats.)


Is parchment paper the same thing as wax paper?

NO it is not! Wax paper is coated in wax. Do NOT put wax paper in the oven. The wax will melt and burn. Wax paper is best for things like storing cookies or when you’re making a (no bake) candy or chocolate truffle.

Where can you buy parchment paper?

There are tons of brands that sell it, but the most popular one is Reynolds. Every store has their own store brand as well. Find parchment paper at any grocery store, craft store, Target, Walmart, and Amazon.

Where do you buy Silpat or silicone baking mats?

If you want the original Silpat brand, you’ll need to shop at Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table or Amazon. If you just want silicone baking mats and don’t care which brand, you can find other less known brands at Target, Walmart and craft stores, or Amazon (I found Oxo Silicone Baking Mats on Amazon, but there are lots of brands too.)

Is parchment paper oven safe?

Parchment paper is oven safe but check the box to see the highest temperature it can handle. I’ve used parchment up to 500 degrees, but be sure to double check to make sure.

overhead photo of silpat on teal cookie sheet with roll of parchment paper on top

Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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  1. Can you bake with a glass or ceramic pie pan directly on a Silpat to catch the syrupy overflow from a fruit pie? That way one does not have to clean the rack crusted with burnt-on overflow. I understand that the Silpat can be used on the lowest rack to catch runoff.

      1. I liked your article on silpat vs parchment. I like to bake thick chewy cakey cookies, but they spread if I don’t refrigerate them first. With parchment I have to put them in the freezer a few hours and bake of their cold cookie sheet and bake them like 15 more minutes but the bottoms get brown and crispy. I was wondering if using the silpat instead would produce the same consistency at the same temp and time?

      2. It really depends on the recipe – most bake similarly but some recipes are different.