Did you know you can reuse parchment paper? Not just once, but over and over until it almost falls apart in your hands, or becomes so old and stained you simply can’t bear to look at it anymore. For getting your money’s worth out of a product (and reducing waste at the same time), reusing your baking parchment is one of the simplest, most common-sense steps you can take in the kitchen.

But hold on: Why bother with reusing parchment when you can easily recycle or compost it? After all, it’s paper, isn’t it?

Well, yes, but parchment paper includes a thin coating of silicone, which makes it water-resistant, nonstick, temperature-resistant — and not a candidate for recycling. Because silicone isn’t easily separated from the paper itself, coated parchment isn’t recyclable (or compostable, either).

Not recyclable, not compostable — this is why you want to use each sheet of parchment as many times as possible before adding it to your local landfill. Part of environmental sustainability is keeping waste to a minimum, and reusing parchment is one way you can help do your part. (Another way? Ditch the plastic wrap!)

Two rounds of scones, cut into triangles, baked on a piece of parchment on a half-sheet pan. PJ Hamel
Parchment is invaluable for reducing cleanup: Thanks to parchment, this half-sheet pan will need only a quick wipe-down after baking Fresh Apple Cinnamon Scones.

When (and when not) to reuse parchment

First rule of thumb: Be sensible. Food safety matters, and you don’t want to reuse parchment that’s held meat or fish, even if you think it looks pretty clean. So, bakin’ the bacon? Discard that parchment!

Exposure to dairy is another story. If you use a parchment-lined baking sheet to bake cookies, scones, biscuits, dinner rolls, or anything else with milk, eggs, and/or butter, your parchment will carry traces of those ingredients when you’re done baking. Thankfully, baking at temperatures above 250°F kills the potential bacteria from fresh ingredients in your raw dough or batter, so any residue left on the parchment after baking should be bacteria-free.

On the other hand, if you use parchment strips to catch the messy smears of frosting at the edge of your layer cake, it’s probably best to discard those. Without exposure to heat, any milk or butter from the frosting remaining on the parchment after its wipe-down could prove problematic.

Along the same lines, if you use a sheet of parchment to roll out pie crust or knead bread dough (even a non-dairy dough) and then don’t bake on that parchment fairly soon (within a couple of hours), it shouldn’t be reused.

9" x 13" cake pan lined with parchment, part of a chocolate cake still in the pan, parchment covered with crumbs and stained with grease. PJ Hamel
Why line a non-stick pan with parchment? Because parchment both protects your pan and makes it easy to serve squares of tender sheet cake or sticky bars.

What about parchment you’ve used to bake a cake, brownies, bars, or other batter-based confections? Since it’ll no doubt be coated with the sticky residue of your cake or bars, as well as quite soggy, it would be hard to clean completely; best to discard. 

Bottom line: Reuse parchment only if it’s been baked on (rather than used in raw dough preparation and shaping); and only if it’s easy to wipe clean: which means no reusing parchment puddled with sticky, burned apple pie spillover!

How to reuse parchment

You’ve baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies on a fresh piece of parchment, and the parchment is marked with circular grease stains where the cookies rested, and perhaps some melted chocolate and a scattering of crumbs. Can this parchment be saved?

Absolutely. Simply wipe it down with a damp paper towel or, even better, a reusable bamboo-fiber cloth. (Heads up: At King Arthur, we only recommend the products that we, as bakers, truly love. When you buy through external links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.)

Store used parchment where it’ll get plenty of exposure to fresh air; this will help prevent the buildup of odors. I like to store my used parchment atop my stack of half-sheet pans; it’s out of the way, yet easy to grab when you need it.

Chocolate chip cookies on one side of a piece of parchment on a sheet pan; bare parchment showing grease rings where the cookies baked. PJ Hamel
Chocolate chip cookies will stain your parchment lightly, but that doesn't mean you should toss it; simply wipe off the crumbs and reuse, reuse, reuse!

How many times can parchment be reused?

It depends on how heavily it’s been used along the way. Parchment that’s simply placed under bagels or other simple yeast breads can be used until it becomes brittle and starts to fall apart. Parchment that holds baking cookies or other treats with more fat will eventually become quite greasy, despite your efforts to wipe it clean; when this happens (or when you can smell it), throw it out.

What about charred parchment?

Parchment used for pizza or some crusty breads is often exposed to super-high temperatures, upwards of 450°F in some cases. Though the parchment may darken and even char on its exposed edges, it’s still fine to reuse. Keep in mind, though, parchment used in high-temperature baking will deteriorate faster than parchment used at lower temperatures; when it starts to crumble around the edges, discard it.

Piece of streusel-topped apple pie with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, on a white plate on a piece of golden-brown parchment. PJ Hamel
Apple pie always looks good; but adding a background of lightly browned parchment for the camera makes it look even better.

Speaking of charred or simply darkened parchment, even when you no longer want to use it for baking you still don’t have to throw it away: It makes a handsome, rustic-type background for Instagram photos of your favorite baked treats!

 “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” — this was Americans’ mantra during World War II. What do you do today to reduce waste in your kitchen? Please add your best recycling/reuse tips in “comments,” below.

Cover photo (Now or Later Pizza Crust) by Kristin Teig.

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The Author

About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was an award-winning Maine journalist (favorite topics: sports and food) before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. Hired to write the newly launched Baker’s Catalogue, PJ became the small but growing company’s sixth employee.    ...
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