How to Bake Cookies without Parchment Paper?

Realizing that I have no parchment paper for cookies used to always send me straight to panic mode. I have a habit of using parchment paper for everything, even the most unnecessary things. 

It wasn’t until I started working at a bakery that I learned that this do-it-all paper could in fact easily be replaced, and is sometimes not even necessary at all.

I’m Angie, I’ve been baking for over 10 years. I had the opportunity to work at a neighborhood bakery for a period of time before starting my own home-baking business. Let me tell you, you run into the strangest situations running a baking business. 

One day your fridge decides to bail on you, and the next thing you know your timer gets stuck to your oven stone, and your parchment paper supplier delays your shipment. I can go on for days talking about them. Point is, you learn to be spontaneous.

But enough about me, you’re here because you probably ran out of parchment paper, or you never had them, or you don’t even know what it is but you need them but you can’t be bothered to run to the store.

Don’t worry, I got you. Let’s get into it. 

What Does Parchment Paper Do?

Whenever I talk about replacing something, I always start by examining why it is needed in the first place. Parchment paper is paper treated with silicone. This heat-resistant, nonstick material functions as a barrier between your baked goods and the surface on that it is baked on. 

You can use parchment paper to line your baking trays/pans, transfer your dry ingredients, wrap up food, and more. 

In cookie baking, parchment paper serves two main purposes. It prevents your cookie dough from sticking to the tray, making it easier to remove the cookies when done and clean up a breeze. 

The paper can also reduce browning which means your cookies will be less likely to burn. 

Parchment Paper Substitutes for Baking Cookies

Say you don’t have parchment paper on hand, are there alternative ways you can prevent sticking or reduce browning? Absolutely. 

Option 1: Aluminum Foil

Similar to parchment paper, aluminum foil comes in rolls and can be found at most grocery stores. Aluminum foil is made of aluminum, which is the same chemical element that makes most baking trays. 

This means that you will achieve pretty much the same result baking on aluminum foil as you would baking directly on your baking sheet. The only difference is that the foil can simply be removed after each bake. 

For this method to work, you need to also grease your aluminum foil because, unlike parchment paper, it is not nonstick on its own. 

Option 2: Silicone Mat

If you’re environmentally conscious, a silicone mat might be something you’d want to invest in. They’re essentially parchment paper, but better, reusable, and will last you years.

As mentioned, parchment paper is coated with a layer of silicone which makes it heat-resistant and nonstick. Silicone mats on the other hand are made of silicone which makes them not only more heat resistant and nonstick, but also grease and waterproof. 

There are however a few things to keep in mind when using a silicone mat instead of parchment paper. First, make sure that you are aware of your silicone mat’s temperature. Though it’s highly unlikely that you will, going over the limit can result in your mat flexing or melting. Generally speaking, the limit of silicone mats is 428°F. 

Because silicone mats are more heat resistant than a thin piece of parchment paper, it’s possible that your cookies may not get the browning or crispy button you’re looking for. Some cookies may even spread more. I suggest you give it a few tries to get the hang of it.

Option 3: Baking Spray

If you’re using a cookie recipe that is on the drier side and you’re worried you’ll have a hard time removing them from the tray, try giving your baking sheet a layer or baking spray. This is another quick and no-fuss alternative to using parchment paper.

These days you can find baking and cooking sprays in most supermarkets. There are different sprays available for different purposes and preferences, such as a heavy butter-flavored spray and formulas made specifically for baking. 

My go-to baking spray is the Pam Canola Oil Baking Spray with Flour. This flour in the spray also helps release your baked treats from the pan. It’s tasteless, not overly greasy, and really does a good job of making sure my cookies and cakes don’t stick to the bakeware. 

This method, however, will not reduce browning and you will have to wash your baking sheet after spraying it, which makes it a little less convenient. Also, don’t use the olive oil spray unless you want cookies that smell like olive. 

Option 4: Oil/Butter

Greasing your pan with oil is also a simple way to prevent sticking. Any oil works, be it canola oil, sunflower seed oil, coconut oil, or butter. Similar to choosing a baking spray, you just want to make sure that the flavor isn’t heavily flavored as you don’t want one that can mess up the taste of your cookies. 

One way to make this method even more failproof is to dust flour over the pan after greasing it. This extra layer of flour can absorb any excess oil and can really help release those cookies from the pan and will give it a rustic look.

If dusting flour feels like too much work for you, another solution is to create your own anti-stick spread with ingredients you probably already have at home. 

The mixture can be saved and used again next time ready to go. It saves time. All you need is an equal ratio of flour, oil, and shortening, mix it together and you have it. 

Option 5: Going Commando

Whoa whoa … Keep them on. Just letting you know from baker to baker, that it’s not ACTUALLY necessary to use any parchment or barrier for cookies. 

Cookies are usually quite high in fat content already. Once it goes in the oven, the butter in your cookies will melt to the bottom and help them slide off when they’re done and cooled. 

Because we are relying on the fat in your cookies, you need to make sure there is a good amount of it. If your cookies are too dry, they can burn in the oven. 

Final Words

You don’t need parchment paper to make cookies. All you need is aluminum foil, a silicone mat, baking spray, and oil/butter. You can still make them even if you don’t have any of them. Just make sure to check on your cookies and turn your tray regularly to prevent unevenness in your cookies.

Let me know what you end up choosing and does it work for you! I’ll also be here to answer any other questions you might have regarding baking cookies without parchment paper.

About Angie
I am a self-taught baker. I’ve been baking for over 10 years and started my own home baking business as a side hustle. I was born in Hong Kong and spent a pretty big chunk of my life in Canada. If you’re ever looking for me, I am probably there whisking vigorously away in the kitchen.

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