When it comes to lining sheet pans for roasting vegetables, baking cookies, and everything in between, two of the most commonly reached-for liners are parchment paper and silicone baking mats.
Parchment paper is paper with a thin layer of silicone that creates a nonstick, heat proof surface. Parchment paper is different from wax paper though, which is coated in wax and therefore not able to withstand high temperatures without melting or burning. GIR’s silicone baking mat is made with pharmaceutical-grade, BPA and BPS-free silicone. Silicone baking mats are a great alternative for single-use parchment paper or aluminum foil, as they can be reused again and again, and are naturally nonstick, which means you won’t need to use any cooking oils or sprays.
While these two materials are generally interchangeable, there are some key differences you’ll want to be aware of before using one or the other for your next baking project. Read on for some of the major distinctions, pros, and cons of a silicone baking mat vs. parchment paper.
Silicone baking mats can be endlessly reused, which makes them an eco-friendly option to swap in for parchment paper or aluminum foil. Parchment paper, on the other hand, can only be reused up to a handful of times before it becomes too damaged or ineffective. America’s Test Kitchen recommends only reusing parchment paper that isn’t too messy, greasy, or wet with anything that might burn on its second round through the oven, and usually only suggests using it twice.
Parchment paper, since it’s made from paper, can’t be washed. It can be wiped down with a wet towel, but as we mentioned above, it can only be reused a handful of times. A silicone baking mat can be washed and reused as many times as you’d like, and is also dishwasher safe, so you can easily clean up after even the messiest baking project.
If you’ve ever tried to roll out dough on a piece of parchment paper, you know just how infuriating the experience can be. Parchment paper will often curl up or slide away as you’re trying to keep the dough in one place, but a silicone baking mat is better-equipped to stay put on your counter. If it does slide a bit, try laying a damp kitchen towel flat underneath like you would with a cutting board, and that should solve the problem.
Both materials are often reached-for by professional bakers, chefs, and home cooks when it comes to lining pans for baking. Parchment paper typically cut or folded to size for sheet pans, is particularly useful for lining oddly-shaped pans like springform or square pans for just one use. GIR’s silicone baking mat comes in two sizes: 9x12 (quarter sheet pan) and 12x17 (half sheet pan), but can actually be cut to fit any pan you want just with a pair of scissors. Since a silicone baking mat is roughly only three times the price of a roll of parchment paper (with unlimited uses!), it might be a worthwhile investment to cut silicone baking mats to fit all your oddly-shaped pans and cut down on single-use liners.
Both parchment paper and silicone baking mats have temperature restrictions. Most parchment paper is rated for use at 420-450 degrees at the highest, while silicone baking mats can usually withstand a bit higher, between 480-500 degrees. Neither material should be put under the broiler, though; parchment paper can burn or melt, while a silicone baking mat can be damaged or stained from the super high heat.
Both parchment paper and silicone mats yield evenly-baked goods, but silicone mats have the added bonus of laying flat on the pan, so it’s much easier to plop down cookie dough or spoon in batter. Lots of bakers do swear by the slight insulation silicone mats provide, though, as it prevents baked goods from getting too crisp too fast.
The Final Verdict
Choosing your baking and cooking tools is totally personal preference, but if you’re looking for a versatile, reusable, and eco-friendly option for all the roasting and baking you do, a silicone baking mat is just the thing.