Butcher paper is one of those things that is misunderstood and often left out of the smoking, grilling, and barbecuing process because of the confusion of what it is and what it does. Butcher paper is not always the easiest item to find in the stores, either. You'll find a wide selection of parchment paper and aluminum foil, but your choices for butcher paper typically are limited. To make things even more confusing, there is more than one type of butcher paper out there and not all butcher paper is the same.
What is Butcher Paper?
Butcher paper is made from wood pulp like other types of paper products. You will find brown, white, and pink butcher paper. And all these items have differences that are important for how you cook your meal. Regardless of the type of paper you buy, make sure it is food-grade butcher paper.
Brown parchment paper is a craft paper good for wrapping meat to make a tidy package. This paper is primarily for craft purposes, but uses the same wood pulp as paper intended for cooking. The main difference is that brown paper lacks the processing and additives of other types of paper.
White butcher paper is similar to craft paper, but has undergone a process to bleach the brown color from the pulp. It is suitable for many cooking processes, but we tend to avoid using it in favor of more appropriate types of butcher paper.
Pink butcher paper, often called peach paper, is the type you will want to find for use on your smoker. The pink color comes from the natural composition of the wood pulp. Avoid buying pink paper that has added colors that may not be safe.
Pink Butcher Paper – Why it's used for BBQ
Pink butcher paper is used for barbecuing for several reasons. The main way to use it is to wrap a large piece of meat when you are smoking. This is typically done around 165 degrees internal temperature and speeds up the cooking process, helping to get that hunk of brisket past the stall temperature.
Peach paper starts as long, fine strands of wood pulp that gives the material strength and durability. It's common for pink butcher paper to have a treatment that helps to make the paper strong and resist smoldering. Peach paper is not to be used on the grill or barbecue, even on indirect heat because it will catch fire.
Wrapping your meat in the smoker helps enhance the bark and keeps the majority of moisture in the meat. Peach paper will absorb some moisture and also allows some evaporation, but not so much to ruin your meal when you are cooking.
Butcher Paper vs Foil vs Parchment Paper
Here is where confusion begins – understanding the difference between using butcher paper, foil, or parchment in terms of your finished meal. Let's see if we can help unravel the differences and show you the right way to use these different products.
As we pointed out above, butcher paper is food-grade wood pulp and the highest quality is peach-colored. It absorbs some moisture, but less than untreated paper. It's generally okay to use pink butcher paper up to the mid-450's.
Aluminum foil is one of the most commonly available products that is perfectly suited to grilling, barbecue, and smoking. It works great for wrapping odd-shaped meats and has a very high burn temperature. You'll have a hard time getting your grill up to the 1,220 degrees it takes to ignite aluminum foil.
There is some concern that aluminum foil may create an unhealthy situation when used on the grill or barbecue. As temps increase, aluminum particles can release from the foil and get into your food. Current science says there is little to no concern about using aluminum foil for cooking. Your body uses a little aluminum and can process leftovers unless you get a serious dose.
Parchment paper is a staple in any bakers kitchen, but is it safe to use on the grill? You could use parchment paper, provided your temps stay very low, but we don't really recommend it. Parchment paper typically uses a coating to provide flame resistance, but it will smolder at 400 degrees, contaminating your food.
Freezer Paper vs Butcher Paper
Although these two products look similar and are frequently sold in the same part of the grocery store, they are different. Freezer paper is treated with silicone and other chemicals to increase the strength of the product when it gets wet. Don't use freezer paper on the smoker because these chemicals will leach off even at low temperatures.
Where to Buy Butcher Paper
Butcher paper isn't always the easiest product to find. You might find it in a grocery store, or in a barbecue specialty store, but the easiest way is to buy online. We go through quite a lot of pink butcher paper, and we've tried different types from different brands, but naturally we decided to just sell our own. You can buy our butcher paper roll in our online store, right with our all seasonings. Each roll is 18" wide x 150' long, providing plenty of paper to keep you grilling and smoking over and over. It's also made in the USA, 100% FDA approved, unbleached, unwaxed and uncoated.
Pick up Some Rolls and Give It a Try
If you've always wondered about using butcher paper in your smoker, now is the time to try it. You may notice more intense smoky flavors, juiciness, and a tender roast with an improved flavor over aluminum foil and better heat and moisture resistance than parchment paper.
Pick up a couple rolls of paper this season and experience the difference in cooking and clean up that high-quality butcher paper provides.