Why You Should Never Fry Food In Parchment Paper

In some ways, parchment paper is a miracle of culinary invention, and it would surely baffle the people who came before it. How does wet batter come off so cleanly? How is this paper not set ablaze in the scalding oven? If you've ever wondered about the science behind this great technological advancement, you won't be surprised to find that it comes down to a lot of chemistry.

For starters, parchment paper is made of a complex mixture of acids and natural compounds, which turn it into a highly heat-resistant material. The Wise Baker explained its production process, noting that a pure paper made of wood and cotton fibers is dipped into a mixture of acids that turn the paper into a gelatinous mass. This is then coated with heat-resistant silicone so that it can withstand incredibly high temperatures. So, as one naturally would assume, why not line our frying pans with parchment paper? It seems like the best possible kitchen hack; it minimizes clean-up, and it even adds an extra layer of silicon to our nonstick pans! But not so fast — parchment paper should really only be used in the oven.

Parchment paper isn't flame-retardant

While parchment paper is incredibly durable and heat-resistant, it isn't flame-retardant. In fact, Culinary Lore reports that it is only heat-resistant up to a certain point: roughly 420 degrees Fahrenheit. Any higher temperature can actually burn its silicone coating right off. Although parchment paper can be used in the oven, you should think twice before using it with your broiler setting, which usually exceeds its temperature threshold. Putting parchment paper in a toaster can also make the paper burn, and it will eventually start smoking.

Strangely enough, Culinary Lore conducted an experiment that showed that parchment paper burns faster than regular paper. This means that having parchment paper anywhere near your stove can be a huge fire hazard. 

As tempting as it seems to fry things on parchment paper, science advises against it. If you want to fry messy or sticky ingredients, your safest option would be to use a nonstick pan. Using parchment paper is ideal for baked goods, but not for deep-fried ones like donuts. Rest assured, the good news is that you can use it safely in a microwave and even in the air fryer (at temperatures lower than 400 degrees Fahrenheit), per The Wise Baker.