If you’re tired of things like potato sticking to the inside of aluminum foil then you might be looking around for other types of wrap to use.
Which is where parchment paper comes in.
Parchment paper is well known for creating a non-stick surface for food in the oven, while also helping to reduce browning on the underside.
But does this use extend to grilling?
There are are a number of foods that are well known for their infuriating ability to sticking to grill grates. Chicken, for as much as I love it, can be a nightmare when it starts to weld to cooking grates.
So what if we were able to prevent this by using parchment paper? Could we use it effectively to stop meat or vegetables sticking to the grill? And could we do it safely?
In short…. No.
See, while in theory it sounds like it could work, parchment paper is in fact comprised of silicon-coated paper. This coating has a maximum temperature of about 450°F (230°C), which doesn’t make it ideal for the high temperatures that we use for most types of grilling.
For general oven use where temperatures don’t go as high it’s fine, but on the grill where we’re very likely to hit temperatures in excess of 400°F would avoid it.
What’s the best solution?
Personally, I only use foil for resting meat after cooking. This helps lock in juices and allows the meat to cool down slowly. I tend to steer clear of using it at all when grilling or smoking. Usually good indirect grilling or low and slow smoking, along with the use of a water pan is more than enough to cook your meat and vegetables effectively.
If sticking is an issue then I recommend applying a very thin layer of cooking oil to your food prior to putting it on the grill. Also make sure that your grill is seasoned prior to use. Also use salt on meat and vegetables to help lock in juices.
With many types of food on the grill you can do away with the parchment paper or foil altogether.
In the case of potatoes, you can use oil and salt to help prevent from sticking to the grill.
With chicken, a coating of oil will help stop it from sticking to the grill.
You can use non-stick aluminum foil to preserve veggies while they cook, like this foil on Amazon.
What can I grill with parchment paper?
If you are going to use parchment paper on the grill then here are some important tips to adhere to.
Don’t cook over 350°F. As mentioned, parchment paper has a burning temperature of 450°F, so to steer clear of this I’d use 350°F as a rule.
This will mean that high temperature grilling is going to be off limits, but long form grilling or smoking will still be fine in most instances.
Keep the paper away from the fire. I know that saying that paper burns is pointing out the obvious to the point that it’s almost insulting, but when arranging your grill do keep this in mind. This means keep anything wrapped or sat on parchment paper well away from your heat source.
This means you will need to set up your charcoal grill for indirect grilling, or arrange your smoker so that the paper isn’t above the heat source.
The same rule applies for gas grilling, so make sure the burner that you activate isn’t underneath the food.
In the case of any kind of meat, I would avoid paper altogether and stick to aluminum foil. It’s far better at locking in heat, so will do a better job of heating your meat quickly while also locking in juices. The length of time meat needs is also too long for the parchment paper to stay effective for.
There is a case for using parchment paper over foil in some cases however. Recent research in the International Journal of Electrochemical Sciences suggests that overruse of foil runs the risk of aluminum leaching onto food. The liklihood of this leaching increases as higher temperatures are used.
Extremely high levels of aluminum intake have been linked to neurological and nervous system diseases.
Some aluminum in the diet is inevitable, but it’s understandable if some people want to take steps to minimize intake of the metal.