Butcher Paper Vs. Foil

Butcher Paper Vs. Foil – Ultimate Wrap Battle

When it comes to cooking and smoking meat, two commonly used items are butcher paper and foil. Both have their strengths and weaknesses and their preferred use often depends on the specific cooking scenario, as well as the chef’s personal preferences. 

However, understanding their differences is essential to making an informed choice between butcher paper and foil.

This article will delve into the characteristics of both, discussing their various advantages, disadvantages and their optimal usage in different culinary settings.

What is butcher paper?

Butcher paper also known as “peach paper” due to its peach-colored appearance, is a type of Kraft paper with a low porosity. It is made by pressing together layers of wood fibers, resulting in a dense and durable material.

Despite its name, butcher paper was originally used to wrap meat at local butcheries. However, it has since gained popularity in the culinary world for its versatile application in different cooking techniques, such as smoking and roasting.

Butcher paper is available in various sizes and thicknesses, allowing chefs to choose the appropriate one based on their needs.

What are the uses of butcher paper?

Butcher paper has a variety of uses in the culinary world, some of which include:

  1. Wrapping meat: As mentioned earlier, butcher paper is commonly used for wrapping different cuts of meat while cooking. It is especially popular in low and slow cooking techniques, such as smoking or braising.
  2. Lining trays and pans: Butcher paper can also be used as a liner for trays and pans, preventing food from sticking and making clean-up easier.
  3. Covering surfaces: The durable nature of butcher paper makes it useful for covering tables or countertops while preparing food. It protects the surface from scratches and stains.
  4. Creating presentation displays: Butcher paper can also be used to create unique and rustic presentation displays for dishes, adding a creative touch to the plating.
  5. Craft projects: Besides its culinary uses, butcher paper is also popular in arts and crafts projects, such as drawing or painting. Its large size makes it great for creating murals or wrapping gifts.

Advantages of butcher paper

  1. Allows smoke penetration: Butcher paper is porous, meaning smoke can easily penetrate it. This allows for an even distribution of smoke and flavor on the meat while cooking.
  2. Retains moisture: Unlike foil, butcher paper allows some air to flow through, preventing the meat from becoming too soggy or overcooked. This results in a perfectly juicy and tender end product.
  3. Environmentally friendly: Butcher paper is a more environmentally friendly option compared to foil, as it is made from natural materials and can be easily recycled.
  4. Easy to work with: Butcher paper is easy to handle and wrap around the meat, making it a popular choice for professional chefs and home cooks.

Disadvantages of butcher paper

  • Not suitable for high heat: Butcher paper is not recommended in high-heat settings, such as grilling or broiling, as it can easily catch fire.
  • Limited barrier protection: Unlike foil, butcher paper does not provide a strong barrier against air and moisture. This may result in meat drying out if stored for longer periods.
  • May tear easily: The porous nature of butcher paper also makes it more susceptible to tearing, especially when handling larger cuts of meat.

What is foil? 

Foil, also known as aluminum foil, is a thin and flexible sheet made from aluminum. It is often used in cooking and food preservation due to its ability to withstand high temperatures.

Foil comes in various sizes and thicknesses, with some specifically designed for grilling or baking purposes. It is also available in different colors, such as silver and gold, adding a decorative element to food presentation.

What are the uses of foil?

Some common uses of foil in the culinary world include:

  1. Wrapping food: Foil is primarily used for wrapping food, especially when grilling or baking. It helps retain moisture and prevents food from sticking to the cooking surface.
  2. Creating individual portions: Foil can also be used to create individual portions of food, such as foil packets for vegetables or fish. This makes it easier to serve and clean up afterward.
  3. Covering dishes: Similar to butcher paper, foil can be used to cover trays or pans while cooking, providing a protective layer against spills and stains.
  4. Grilling rack lining: Foil is popularly used as a liner for grilling racks, making it easier to clean and preventing food from falling through the grill.

Advantages of foil

  • High heat tolerance: Foil can withstand high temperatures, making it suitable for use in a variety of cooking techniques, such as grilling and baking.
  • Strong barrier protection: Unlike butcher paper, foil provides a strong barrier against air and moisture, keeping food fresh and preventing it from drying out.
  • Versatile application: Foil can be used for a wide range of cooking purposes, making it a staple in most kitchens. It is also commonly used for food preservation and storage.

Disadvantages of foil

  1. Not environmentally friendly: Foil is not biodegradable and cannot be recycled easily, making it a less sustainable option compared to butcher paper.
  2. May leach into food: There have been concerns about aluminum potentially leaching into food when heated in foil. While studies are inconclusive, some people prefer to avoid using foil for this reason.
  3. Can affect cooking times: As foil creates a sealed environment around the food, it can affect cooking times and may require adjustments to recipes. Additionally, food cooked in foil may have a different texture and flavor compared to those cooked without it.
  4. Not suitable for all types of food: Foil is not recommended for use with acidic or salty foods, as it can cause the foil to break down and potentially contaminate the food. It is also not suitable for use with delicate foods that may easily tear or stick to the foil. 

Brief Comparison Between Butcher Paper & Foil

Despite their differences, both butcher paper and foil

FeatureButcher PaperFoil
Heat toleranceLow, can catch fire at high temperatures.High, can withstand grilling and baking temperatures. 
Smoke penetrationYes, due to its porous nature.No, due to its non-porous nature.
Environmental impact Biodegradable and recyclable.Not easily recyclable and non-biodegradable.
Risk of tearing High, especially with larger cuts of meat.Low, due to its strength and flexibility.
Barrier protection Limited, may result in meat drying out if stored for longer periodsStrong keeps food fresh and prevents it from drying out
Suitability for high heat settings Not suitableSuitable
Suitability for acidic or salty foods Suitable Not suitable, these foods can cause foil to break down
Potential leaching into food NoPossible but inconclusive 
Suitability for high heat settingsNot suitable Suitable 
Versatility in use Limited to wrapping food and covering dishesWidely used for cooking, food preservation and storage purposes 

Price comparison between butcher paper and foil

Brand ProductAverage Price (per roll)
Reynolds Aluminum Foil $8.50
Peach treats Butcher Paper$15.00 
Boardwalk Butcher Paper$28.00 
Kirkland SignatureAluminum Foil $16.50

It is important to note that the prices might vary depending on the size and thickness of the product. Reynolds and Kirkland Signature are popular brands for aluminum foil, priced reasonably at $0.40 and $0.50 respectively. 

When it comes to butcher paper, Prime Butcher Wraps is a higher-end option, priced at $0.12/sheet, while Wax Paperie offers a more affordable alternative at $0.09 per sheet.

FAQs – Butcher Paper vs Foil

Can I achieve a crispy bark with butcher paper or is foil better for that?

While both materials can contribute to a good bark, many pitmasters prefer butcher paper for its balance between moisture retention and bark development. Foil tends to produce a softer bark.

Are there any health concerns related to using foil for cooking?

Some studies suggest potential leaching of aluminum into food when heated in aluminum foil. However, the findings are inconclusive.

Which is more environmentally friendly butcher paper or foil?

Butcher paper is generally more environmentally friendly as it is biodegradable and recyclable. Foil, on the other hand, is not easily recyclable and non-biodegradable.

What should I consider when choosing between butcher paper and foil?

Factors to consider include heat tolerance, moisture retention, environmental impact, risk of tearing, barrier protection, suitability for high heat settings, potential for leaching into food and versatility in use.

Are there specific considerations for using butcher paper or foil in outdoor versus indoor cooking?

Yes, outdoor cooking with butcher paper might be more common due to its breathability and smoke penetration. Foil, with its ability to trap moisture, can be used in various cooking settings, including indoor ovens.


Both butcher paper and foil have their unique advantages and disadvantages when it comes to cooking and food preparation. While butcher paper may be more environmentally friendly and easier to work with, foil has a higher heat tolerance and stronger barrier protection.

Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on personal preferences and the specific needs of each dish. Experimenting with both options can help determine which works best for different types of cooking and recipes. 

So next time you prepare a meal, consider whether butcher paper or foil would be the better option for your dish.