Why You Should Think Twice Before Frying In Parchment Paper

Parchment paper is to bakers what trail mix is to hikers. This versatile type of paper is resistant to heat up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and also protects against humidity and grease. It's also non-stick. You can use parchment paper to keep cakes or cookies from sticking to the base of a sheet pan — or other baking surfaces — by lining sheets at the top. Basically, if you want to avoid items sticking to a surface, parchment paper can help. You can also use it to aid in clean-up by placing sheets of parchment paper on top of a panini press or kitchen scale to serve as a barrier between the surface and your food. 

However, don't confuse parchment paper with wax paper. To shed a little light on the parchment paper vs. wax paper debate, wax paper is not suitable for heat and cannot be used in the oven. While we've established that you can safely use parchment paper at higher temperatures, you should still avoid frying anything in it — even if it means having more dishes to clean up later. 

Using parchment paper to fry can cause grease fires

Parchment paper, though heat resistant, is not flame resistant. "In general, it's not recommended to fry in parchment paper — especially if you have a gas stove," Traci Weintraub, chef and owner of Gracefully Fed in Los Angeles, told Martha Stewart. This is echoed by other experts like Shawn Matijevich, lead chef of online culinary arts and food operations at the Institute of Culinary Education. "Gas stovetops produce an open flame, which can spread to parchment paper. It might be safe to do on an electric stove, but even then, it's essential to avoid filling the pot or pan to the top," he explained, adding that, "if the oil bubbles over the side, it can lead to a grease fire."

Frying on parchment paper is not even practical. This is because, as Matijevich explains, if you happen to punch even a single hole in it by accident, you'll get not just a greasy pan, but also a soaked, oily paper. You can also risk getting pieces of paper in your meal, and paper isn't delicious. However, there are still culinary daredevils out there. One user on TikTok placed parchment paper onto a frying pan "so that nothing sticks to the pan," and then made a dangerous attempt to fry chicken. To avoid injury, it's better to use more traditional frying methods, but be sure to avoid other common deep frying mistakes in the process.