Pro Baking Throwdown: Parchment Paper Vs Silicone Baking Mat

Parchment Paper Vs Silicone Baking Mat

In most professional bakeries, you'll often see the pastry chef using parchment paper or silicone baking mats. There are lots of reasons why. Easier cleanup. Nonstick surfaces. Less wear and tear on baking sheets and pans. But why choose one over the other? Here's the scoop on which baking booster is best: Parchment Paper Vs Silicone Baking Mat.

Parchment Paper

Parchment paper is a cellulose-based paper that's used as a disposable nonstick surface. It's convenient to purchase and relatively inexpensive (about $10 per roll.) What's also great about parchment paper is its ability to fit any pan you please. Just roll it out and cut it to the size you need. Because parchment paper is meant to be disposable, it isn't the most eco-friendly option and sometimes getting the rolled paper to lay flat can be frustrating. There are options to buy parchment paper in flat sheets, or even specific pan sizes (8", 9" 10", etc.), but the cost per sheet is often higher than just using the rolled product.

Parchment paper is best for goods that you want crispy and dry on the edges. It soaks up extra fat in baked goods and ensures the perfect outer crust. Parchment is also a great option if you're a bulk baker, because you can just throw-and-go for pan after pan of pastries.

Silicone Baking Mat

Silicone baking mats (also sold under the brand name Silpat®) are flexible, nonstick mats made out of fiberglass and food grade silicone. They're reusable, which is a big plus for those looking to lessen their environmental impact. Also, because silpats are nonstick, you won't need to grease them or otherwise prep them before use. And when we say nonstick, we really mean it. Baked-on cheese and hardened candy can easily be wiped off which makes them great for gooey products and candy making.

Silicone baking mats are slightly sticky, so they stay in place on the baking tray once you set them down. They are a bit more costly than parchment paper in the short-term, as you may need to buy several sizes so that they fit into pans exactly. Depending on the brand, you can find silicone baking mats from $20 -- $30 dollars each.

With silicone baking mats, you must be careful what types of utensils you use on top of them. Sharp tools such as knives and pizza cutters can slice through the top layer exposing the fiberglass inside. Silpats can be used at oven temperatures up to 480°F, but should not be used under the broiler or directly on the oven surface. Depending on use and care, a silicone baking mat can be used for at least a year before they need to be replaced.

The Verdict

You really can't go wrong with either option. Both are great solutions that cut down on added grease and cleanup time - and both can be used for more than just baking. It really comes down to personal preference with a few exceptions:

  1. With super sticky recipes like hard candies or pralines, silicone baking mats are your best bet.
  2. Using a silplat can result in lighter colored bottoms, especially if used with an insulated cookie sheet. If you are looking for crisp, brown bottoms, parchment paper is a better choice.
  3. Brandy snaps and very thin cookies such as tuiles work best on a silicone baking mat as they could obtain a wrinkled appearance and stick if baked on parchment paper.

Either way, you've got great options for your baking needs.