Many people use parchment paper for baking and cooking food in the oven, but not many put it in the microwave.
As the question of whether or not you can actually use parchment paper in the microwave is a commonly asked one, I decided to do some research and write an article on the topic.
Most parchment paper brands are made from cellulose fibers and have a silicone coating, making them non-stick, moist, and heat resistant. As such, parchment paper is completely safe to use in the microwave as long as you don’t cook fatty foods with it.
Keep reading this article to learn more about parchment paper’s heat resistance qualities, why you shouldn’t microwave fatty foods with it, and if it gets toxic when heated.
Is It Safe to Put Parchment Paper In the Microwave?
Most parchment paper brands are entirely safe for microwaving and often have a microwave-safe label, which you can check when in doubt.
Parchment paper is made from cellulose fibers from fir trees or plants such as cotton or flax. Such material mimics the thickness and smoothness of parchment (hence the name).
Cellulose fibers are naturally resistant to heat and won’t melt or ignite easily when exposed to flames or high temperatures.
Another reason parchment paper is microwave and oven safe is its silicone coating.
Silicone rubbers have excellent heat resistance, as they can withstand temperatures of up to 450F.
Additionally, the silicone coating also makes parchment paper moist-resistant and non-stick.
These features make parchment paper highly microwave-friendly, and you can safely heat or reheat most foods with it.
But there is one exception that you should know about!
Foods with a high fat content, such as bacon, high-fat hamburger patties or ground beef, or cheesy pizza, should not be put in the microwave together with parchment paper for more than 2 minutes!
That’s because fats and oils can be heated to a much higher temperature than water.
They also heat up faster than water in the microwave, and if some of those fats or oils leak onto the parchment paper, it can catch on fire if you keep your microwave going for too long.
Reheating such foods, on the other hand, is usually not a problem, as long as you keep to the maximum 2-minute rule!
On the other hand, raw or frozen fatty foods that you have to cook longer in the microwave are, unfortunately, a no go!
PRO TIP: You can use a microwavable plate for fatty foods instead. It won’t start to burn, and the fats and oils won’t heat it up as much as the parchment paper.
It’s also noteworthy that parchment can get fairly hot to the touch if you have been microwaving it for several minutes.
This will, however, depend on the type of food and parchment paper brand.
If you keep those two things in mind, you can safely use parchment paper in the microwave together with your fresh or frozen foods.
How Long Can Parchment Paper Be in the Microwave?
As most conventional microwaves do not reach drastically high temperatures, you can use parchment paper in the microwave for both short and very long cooking sessions.
The highest temperature most foods or liquids (or parchment paper) can reach in a microwave oven is 212F.
That’s well below the maximum temperature that parchment paper can withstand without breaking down or igniting (you can read more on that further down in the article).
And so, whether you’d want to heat leftovers for a few minutes, defrost some chicken breasts, or warm up a yummy afternoon snack, you can safely use parchment paper for all these foods.
PLEASE NOTE: Remember: fatty foods, such as bacon or burger patties, are the exception here! These types of foods should be microwaved together with parchment paper for two minutes tops!
Is Parchment Paper Toxic When Heated?
The answer to this question lies in the type and brand of parchment paper you use.
Brown parchment paper is supposed to be 100% chemical-free and unbleached. Hence, it is not toxic when heated in the microwave or oven.
On the contrary, white parchment paper has been bleached with chlorine and can contain dioxins, which are toxic and can cause cancer.
A few studies have also shown that some types of dioxins found in white parchment paper can leach into baked goods during the heating process, but more extensive research will be needed to understand this issue better.
Currently, there is not enough conclusive evidence, and it is unknown or unclear exactly how many chemicals actually leach into the food product during heating and to what extent they can harm your body and health.
But, when it comes to chlorine, dioxins, and food, why take the risk?
You can easily avoid all these components by using brown, unbleached parchment paper when heating food in the microwave or oven.
There are enough things in food that can make us sick. We don’t have to add even more if you ask me.
At What Temperature Does Parchment Paper Burn?
Most parchment paper brands can withstand temperatures up to 420 to 450F, but will start to break down at temperatures above 450F or so.
At temperatures of 520 to 550F or higher, it can even ignite, even though that doesn’t happen very often in standard ovens for private use, as such modes often have a maximum temperature of around 500F.
Restaurant owners using commercial ovens have also reported that they generally don’t have problems using parchment paper at oven temperatures of around 500F, so you don’t have to worry about your paper catching fire.
That said, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
If you’re using parchment paper in high oven temperatures, keep an eye on it and turn off your oven immediately if it starts to blacken, fume, or burn.
Similarly, you should keep an eye on your parchment paper when heating fatty foods, as fats heat up faster than water in the microwave! (Remember: for those food types, do not microwave longer than 2 minutes!)
Is Reynolds Parchment Paper Microwave-Safe?
Reynolds Parchment Paper is labeled both oven, freezer, and microwave safe up to a temperature of 425F.
This parchment paper brand is non-stick, BPA-free, and can be cut easily to fit in your microwave.
It’s also reusable and can be used up to 3 times.
Although I have found that if you don’t microwave fatty or sticky food on it, you can actually use it more than three times!
Is Wilton Parchment Paper Safe to Use in the Microwave?
Like Reynolds Parchment Paper, Wilton’s is labeled as microwave, freezer, and oven safe up to 450F.
Wilton’s paper is silicone-treated and non-stick for an easy release and quick cleanup.
In other words, it’s a good choice for the microwave.
Can You Use Wax Paper Instead of Parchment Paper in the Microwave?
While wax paper can be used in microwave cooking, it is generally much less heat resistant than parchment paper.
Thanks to its silicone coating, parchment paper can take much more heat in both the oven and microwave.
So, especially for longer cooking sessions, parchment paper is much better than wax paper.
Wax paper has a paraffin wax coating that tends to melt or even catch fire at higher temperatures.
And while it’s perfectly fine to use for shorter microwave cooking, it has a poorer performance in longer sessions and is not at all safe to use in the oven!