Filed Under: Baking Science | Cookies

Silpat vs. Parchment Paper

Recipe By Tessa Arias
  |  
November 18th, 2019

Testing the differences between baking with Silpat vs. Parchment paper – which is better? Which is easier, cheaper, and provides better results? The answer might surprise you!

A question I’m asked often is which is better: Silpat vs. parchment paper?

Let’s take a peek side-by-side at the same batch of cookie dough baked at 350°F for 13 minutes, the only difference is the parchment vs. Silpat surface. I used the same brand of baking sheets too, one is just a year older than the other.

I used the Sur la Table brand Silpat and precut unbleached nonstick parchment paper from Amazon.

Four cookies side by side to compare silpat vs parchment paper

Silpat: spread more, browned more

Because the Silpat surface is so slick, it can actually lead to more spread in cookies while baking. This thinning can lead to more browning as well as a crispier texture.

Parchment paper is disposable, which means you don’t have to clean anything extra. In my kitchen that’s a huge plus. It’s possible parchment is not as environmentally friendly – but I don’t actually know the manufacturing process of silicone baking mats.

Not to mention they require a lot of hot water to get all of the residual grease off. And you can usually get a few uses out of one sheet of parchment as long as the flavors are similar and you’re wiping off with a cloth between uses.

You can also cut parchment to the exact size you need. Or purchase it precut to fit virtually every pan (including cake pans). I buy pre cut sheets of unbleached parchment, never the roll of parchment from the grocery store (it’s too difficult to cut evenly and keep flat).

Four cookies side by side to compare silpat vs parchment paper

Virtually nothing will stick to a Silpat. However, it’s something else to be cleaned. You should never use a knife near a Silpat because they have fiberglass inside that could end up in your food if pierced. They can’t be used at high temperatures or with the broiler.

They’re also pretty expensive. They can also retain strong flavors. So clean your Silpat *very* well if switching between roasting garlic or fish and baking cookies. Or keep sweet and savory Silpats separate.

Another issue with silicone baking mats is that if a baked good like a cookie is allowed to cool on the mats, the residual heat can create more moisture. With silicone, there’s nowhere for that moisture to go. Basically it can make what were once crispy cookie edges more soft and mushy.

The only time I use a Silpat is when I’m making something super delicate like tuiles or sticky like candy, praline, or toffee. With the latter, it’s nice to be able to peel off the candy from the Silpat without worrying about sticking or ripping. However, it’s critical your Silpat is perfectly clean and free of any residual grease.

So what’s the final verdict?

I use parchment paper 99% of the time.

Baking legends Alton Brown and Stella Parks agree.

However, I believe this to be more of a personal preference. Some people might prefer the textures silicone provides. Which do you prefer?

More Baking Science Articles

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Find Tessa on  

Leave a Comment & Rating

Add a Review or Question

*Please select a rating to complete your comment.

  1. #
    Eleni — November 18, 2019 at 8:15 am

    Interesting! I’ve always wondered if one reigned supreme. I really like using a Silpat, especially after I learned that you can roll it up and put it on the top rack of a dishwasher to clean!

  2. #
    Susan A Terry — November 19, 2019 at 8:04 am

    I have both, but have gravitated toward parchment. I hate cleaning the silpat. I got pre-cut parchment from Amazon and have never regretted it. What I love about them is that if I cut it in half the long way, I can use it in an 8″ square pan.

  3. #
    Danielle — November 19, 2019 at 9:55 am

    I have several Silpats, as well as the King Arthur Flour brand of silicone mats. I almost always reach for the parchment paper over either, although I like the KAF mats much better than Silpat brand. I do buy the refillable parchment paper dispenser from KAF, as well. It doesn’t roll up on the pan, which makes it worth the extra money in my mind. I buy the unbleached rolls. I do keep the mats for “just in case” reasons, although not too many have come up.

  4. #
    Barbara Pierson — November 20, 2019 at 8:38 am

    Very helpful. Thanks.

  5. #
    Kelly — November 20, 2019 at 9:07 am

    This was so helpful! I, too, have noticed my cookies spread a little more on silpat. Can you share the best way to clean them thoroughly? I thought I remembered reading in the instructions that came with my mat that dish detergent shouldn’t be used?! But I don’t know another way to remove the grease.

  6. #
    Kathy — November 20, 2019 at 9:23 am

    Definitely Team Parchment Paper!!! In Germany, you would be hard pressed to find that kind of silicon baking mat. Also, it’s just more plastic… so I always go for parchment paper, the uncut one though. Tip for it to lay flat: crunch it up, really small, then flatten – it’ll lay down and not roll up again!

  7. #
    Judith Bruesch — November 20, 2019 at 9:28 am

    I use parchment only now, having tried to use Silpat in hopes of having less trash. Cookies spread like crazy and the whole thing was just messy.

  8. #
    Emcee — November 20, 2019 at 9:30 am

    Parchment paper, always for cookies. I do have a silicon ‘mini-tart’ pan that makes tiny tarts and quiches, and ‘one-bite’ brownies, and it’s great. But parchment paper for everything else.

  9. #
    Wendy — November 20, 2019 at 9:43 am

    I feel like I’m supposed to like silpats more than I do. Like you, my cookies and macarons spread and bake faster. So I reach for parchment. And then feel guilty so I use my silpat and regret it. But I haven’t gotten rid of it yet. I’m still waiting for that one thing silpat bakes better.

  10. #
    MARGUERITE STERLING — November 20, 2019 at 9:47 am

    I have become a fan of parchment paper since joining this group.. Silicone mats are difficult to get 100% clean and grease free. Thank you for always teaching us !

  11. #
    Jakub — November 20, 2019 at 9:53 am

    Parchment is just easier to use, clean up and size. I have not used my silpat in a long time.
    I even use parchment to line baking pans for no stick.

  12. #
    Paulette Pierce — November 20, 2019 at 10:28 am

    I enjoyed reading this comparison, even though I’m not much of a cookie baker. All good points to note for the future. I’ll say that I use unbleached sheets of parchment all the time for baking sourdough bread, inside Dutch ovens and on a baking stone as well. So handy and necessary. On the other hand, I love using my Silpat mats in cookie sheets for baking potatoes and many other uses. Lately my favorite is using Silpat to spread out grains I’ve sprouted and want to dehydrate in a very low temp oven overnight. Talk about nonstick and easy to clean up. They work great! So I have to say I rely on both items in my kitchen. Thanks for the info!

  13. #
    Carol Baxter — November 20, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    I use Silpat sheets for baking cookies. I have had two of them for many years and they only fit my cookie sheets. Since there is always someone waiting to “try” the cookies, they never get time to cool on the pan, so moisture is not a problem. I use parchment paper for other types of pans, especially if I want the sides covered such as for fruit loaves. For something delicate like sponge cake, I use parchment paper so that the product can cool completely before the paper is removed.

  14. #
    Cheryl — November 20, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    I use parchment every single day, from chicken nuggets to fresh cut home fries, from layer and cheese cakes to rewarming bread with ooey gooey drippy garlic spread and of course, from Dutch oven bread to cinnamon rolls. Parchment is perfect for no mess “football food” and roasted vegetables. EVERYTHING!

    Ahem, I found have three 165′ rolls in my pantry the last time I checked!

    When I make cookies at Christmas, I rotate 2 pans and use fresh parchment for each type of cookie. My adult sons with families of their own now know and use the wonders of parchment paper too!

    I use foil for anything too wet, such as cooked from frozen raw chicken tenders.

    I now only use my baking sheet Silpats (and yes I have 4 of them) when I make brittle and/or other candy and I need to spread the hot sugar quickly.

    I do have a really large Silpat Roul’pat I bought when I had tile countertops. I still use it for rolling extremely sticky and/or delicate dough. THIS I do recommend.

    • #
      Tessa Arias — November 21, 2019 at 5:30 pm

      Great tips, thanks for sharing!

  15. #
    Peggy — November 20, 2019 at 9:31 pm

    I almost always use parchment paper and the pre-cut sheets are a great size.

  16. #
    Doug Weller — November 21, 2019 at 2:53 am

    I’m in the UK. I struggle finding parchment paper that cookies won’t stick to. I did find some at CostCo that seems to work, and I sometimes use nothing at all. But supermarket parchment leaves me with stuck cookies.

  17. #
    Doug Weller — November 21, 2019 at 2:55 am

    I’m in the UK and find that cookies stick to at least supermarket parchment, although I’ve got some from CostCo that works. Why is this happening? Sometimes I use nothing at all, it depends on the baking tray.

    • #
      Tessa Arias — November 21, 2019 at 5:28 pm

      Hm, I’m not really sure! I would check the packaging and see if there’s a mention of the paper being coated with a nonstick lining. But honestly, the supermarket parchment is usually not the best. I prefer to buy in bulk like from Costco or online to get the professional quality stuff.

      • #
        Doug Weller — November 22, 2019 at 9:45 am

        Thanks.

  18. #
    Raymond — November 21, 2019 at 9:00 am

    I prefer using Parchment paper. Depending on what you are using it for, it can be used 2, 3, or even 4 times. I do alot of baking of sourdough products, such as buns, english muffins, and bagels, and have use the same sheet of paper 4 times.
    I even use parchment paper when cooking bacon in the oven. It absorbs alot of the grease so the bacon strips are crisper.
    Cost wise, the parchment paper is the winner.
    Ease of use, the parchment paper is the winner.

    • #
      Tessa Arias — November 21, 2019 at 5:26 pm

      Interesting about the bacon!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  19. #
    Pamela J Neumann — November 21, 2019 at 9:44 am

    I just save my money and grease the pan if that’s what is called for.

  20. #
    Rebecca L Boonstra — November 21, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    I use my silpats all the time, and have separate ones for sweet and savory. I find that they wash up easy in hot soapy water but NEVER let them soak. I like the idea of parchment and will give some a try. Thanks for doing the research!

    • #
      Tessa Arias — November 21, 2019 at 5:20 pm

      Smart to keep those separate!!

  21. #
    Lisa Jones — November 23, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    Thanks Tessa, I’ve only ever used parchment paper so can’t comment on Silpat – but I bake a lot of gingerbread cookies in the lead up to Christmas, and find that I can re-use the same pieces of parchment paper over and over again for them. Less waste! 🙂

  22. #
    Kelli — November 26, 2019 at 1:23 am

    I LOVE Parchment paper. For pralines, or sticky candy LOVE Non-Stick foil is an awesome product in my opinion. Thank you for article on Silpat vs Parchment. Have never used a Silpat & was curious about it.

  23. #
    John Dickey — December 3, 2019 at 10:39 am

    I use a mix depending on what I’m making. For many cookies I use Silpats. I found some that fit my 2/3 size baking sheets (The largest that will fit in my oven. More cookies per baking cycle!) The smaller batches on a 1/2 sheet pan will usually be done with a different silicone sheet that is not glass reinforced. Simple soap and water clean up in the sink with a small brush. I like the re-usability instead of buying so much paper and tossing it, even with a certain amount of multiple usage of some of the parchment sheets. Messier things like breads will usually be done with parchment on the appropriate baking sheet or other container. This is especially useful when doing egg-washes on the breads. Precut parchment where I can, such as 1/2 sheet pans and 9″ round pans. The 2/3 sheet I have to cut them myself, then flip the paper over to flatten to stop the memory re-roll. Interesting comment about crumpling to stop the curling of a piece cut from a roll. Have to try that.

Join the Handle the Heat Community

Join the Handle the Heat Community
Do you want a more delicious life?
Instead of digging through cookbooks and magazines and searching the internet for amazing recipes, subscribe to Handle the Heat to receive new recipe posts delivered straight to your email inbox. You’ll get all the latest recipes, videos, kitchen tips and tricks AND my *free* Cookie Customization Guide (because I am the Cookie Queen)!

Instagram

As Seen On....
NPR People Time Glamour Readers Digest The Huffington Post BuzzFeed
BLACK FRIDAY BAKING BUNDLE (50% OFF) BLACK FRIDAY BAKING BUNDLE   BUY NOW!
close
open