What Is Freezer Paper — And How Is It Different from Wax Paper and Parchment?

updated Jun 17, 2020
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(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

Have you ever come across a recipe that calls for freezer paper and then spent some time scratching your head? Huh? Is freezer paper just the same thing as parchment or wax paper … you know, once it’s been designated for the freezer? Or is it something entirely different? Let’s take a look!

What is freezer paper?

Freezer paper is thick paper with a plastic or wax coating on one side. It differs from parchment, which has no wax coating, and wax paper, which has a wax coating on both sides.

What is freezer paper used for?

Although it’s less popular now, freezer paper was traditionally used to wrap up meats for freezing. The meats would be wrapped against the waxy side to protect the surface of the meat, as well as to help prevent moisture loss, but the paper on the outside meant that it was a surface that could be written on for labeling purposes.

You’ll still see it at the grocery store, though, as freezer paper is still used at the meat or seafood counter. This type of paper is preferred because the plastic side prevents the juices from meat and seafood from soaking and leaking through.

Besides meat and seafood, freezer paper would also be a great material to wrap pieces of cheese in to allow the cheese to breathe but not dry out. It is also used in craft projects like printing on fabric and quilting.

Credit: Cameron Whitman/Stocksy

What is wax paper?

Wax paper has a very thin coating of wax on each side — this coating makes it nonstick and moisture-resistant. This coating, which is not heat-resistant, also makes it so that wax paper can’t be used in the oven, because the paper could melt, smoke, or even ignite.

Wax paper is commonly used to line baking sheets or plates when freezing produce, dipping treats in chocolate, wrapping foods to be stored in the fridge, funneling ingredients, or lining the counter to make messy projects easier to clean up.

Credit: Shauna Sever

What is parchment paper?

Parchment paper has no wax coating but it does have a thin coating of silicone, which helps make it nonstick and moisture- and heat-resistant. Because it doesn’t have wax, it can be used to, say, line a baking sheet without setting off the smoke detector (you can not do the same with wax paper or freezer paper!). You can find parchment paper that’s bleached or unbleached.

As you’d expect, bleached parchment is white, while unbleached parchment is brown. Unbleached parchment paper is untreated and totally chlorine-free, while its bleached counterpart is treated with chlorine, producing that gleaming white color. The type of parchment paper you use really comes down to personal preference. Read more on that here.

Related: Why You Should Buy Your Parchment Paper at the Dollar Store

Do you use freezer paper? If so, for what?