Do You Know of a Good Butcher Paper Substitute for BBQ Wrapping?
  Posted by: Chief Editor, Rated Paper, on April 25, 2017 12:44 pm Leave your thoughts
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Do You Know of a Good Butcher Paper Substitute for BBQ Wrapping?

Butcher paper is used as a well known piece of specialist BBQ apparatus for the purpose of steam wrapping meats for a well smoked finish. Whilst delivering desirable results for hot smoke roasting all kinds of meats, have you ever thought what material you would use as a substitute if your butcher paper supplier was out of stock?


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There are many reasons why butcher paper is chosen for its utility in BBQ wrapping of meats. The butcher paper barrier acts as a semi-permeable membrane for achieving peak conditions around the meat for optimising the benefits of smoke-based flavour enhancement and tenderness of meat through cooking humidity.


Butcher Paper Substitute

Butcher paper is a competent facilitator of hot smoking BBQ meats, like beef brisket, for a number of reasons. What do you do if it’s simply not available? In such cases you want to ensure that you are going to make the right alternative choice, thus side-stepping the risks associated with making a poor substitution.

We firstly aim to present you with the most advantageous reasons for using butcher paper, and then to comparatively show which other recommended materials provide the best fit resemblance to butcher paper BBQ results.

The following are the main points of this blog post, entitled: “Do You Know of a Good Butcher Paper Substitute for BBQ Wrapping?

  • Porous Membrane for Best Appearance
  • Holding Vapour for Humidity
  • Food Safety Standards
  • Molecular Sieve & Filter
  • Alternatives to Butcher Paper

Porous Membrane for Best Appearance

One of the main advantages afforded by untreated butcher paper in the process of hot smoking BBQ meats is its porous nature. Being porous, butcher paper allows the some chemical communication between the meat (inside the envelope) and the air produced by the smoker.

The molecular pore size of the untreated butcher paper, by experiment, is large enough to allow gasous compounds like Carbon Monoxide and Nitrogen Monoxide to seep through and interact with the meat.

Supporting evidence for this is provided by scientific experiments performed by experts affiliated with the barbeque indsutry who demonstrate that even when red meats are hot smoked in butcher paper they still exhibit, what is commonly known as the ‘smoke ring’.

This smoke ring is a thin, pink coloured margin of meat in the layers immediately under the surface, which is quite pronounced in meats which have been smoked for prolonged periods.

Experts claim the smoke ring occurs when NO (nitorgen monoxide) or CO (carbon monoxide) gases permeate the surface layer of the meat and diffuse further into layers of meat underneath as far as 1/2″ in depth. These gases react with myoglobin proteins in the meat, changing the meat colour to from grey to bright pink, signifying its exposure to NO and CO.

The smoke ring is largely regarded as an aesthetic marker of a well smoked BBQ meat, rather than a feature which largely affects flavour or aroma. Neither NO or CO are chemically responsibly or detectable by the tougue as being related to anything to do with taste.

Holding Vapour for Humidity

About 75% of lean animal muscle tissue is water, by estimation. This means that as the temperatures of the meat inside of the butcher paper get high enough they will begin to promote steam being liberated.

As the steam concentration builds up within the butcher paper parcel, the net effect will not be a dissapation of steam through the pores, but rather a consistent steam cooking effect.

This raised humidity and steam cooking effect on the meat causes tenderness in its texture over time and the moistening of meat fibres.


Food Safety Standards

Not all wrapping materials for barbecuing meats are approved for use by the appropriate food safety standards agencies.

FDA Approved White Butcher Paper

FDA Approved White Pink Butcher Paper (Courtesy of Oren International)

Even butcher paper which is FDA approved will probably leach some dyes and sizing agents when exposed to high enough temperatures, which will compromise food in some way. The food safety approved untreated butcher paper is the better option for these reasons.

Wrapping materials which have not been prepared within food safety approved manufacturing conditions or workflows may well contain various chemical impurities, or may have been exposed to bacteria or environments posing some health risk or another.

It is therefore advised, before you use any paper-based product for food services/purposes, you ensure both the supplier and the product are suitably approved/accredited by the appropriate governing body for the intended use.

A well regarded, international butcher paper manufacturer and supplier based in US, Oren International, are also providers of FDA (US Food and Drug Agency) approved peach butcher paper.

Molecular Sieve & Filter

Butcher paper as a porous membrane which acts very effectively as a molecular sieve and filter larger products of combustion. In the process of BBQ smoke roasting of meats this action of butcher paper is most advantageous for one simple reason.

With grilling using hardwood log fuel, two of the major products of combustion are soot and creosote. Both substances are highly undesirable as additives to the BBQ cooking process, yet unavoidable – that is, unless you use a material like untreated butcher paper as a screen filter.

When you wrap your BBQ meats in untreated butcher paper for the purpose of steam wrapping and the wrap is exposed to hardwood smoke and vapour for prolonged periods of cooking, the soot and creosote (tar-like) substances are simply too large to pass through the paper pores.

This leaves the meat inside free from impregnation of those noxious, bitter and unhealthy substances which naturally occur when smoke roasting. This protects your final product from bearing such bad features and improves the overall dining experience for your guests.

Alternatives to Butcher Paper

Given the summary of expected benefits of using butcher paper for BBQ smoke roast wrapping, we now ask the question, “Do You Know of a Good Butcher Paper Substitute for BBQ Wrapping?

If you are a BBQ aficionado, a physicist/chemist/biologist, a paper expert or just an outdoor cooking enthusiast, perhaps you have a few points of value to share – feel free to comment below.

We get the discussion going here by suggesting are a few substitutes for butcher paper, including the comparison of how they match up alongside butcher paper’s attributes:

  • Parchment paper vs. Butcher Paper
    • Parchment paper can be used as a substitute for butcher paper with the following differences:
      • Butcher paper is a Kraft paper which made by the Kraft process and therefore is stronger than parchment and will not break as easily, even if soaked.
  • Foil vs. Butcher Paper
    • Foil can be used as a substitute for butcher paper with the following differences:
      • Foil is non-porous and therefore will not allow the diffusion of NO/CO molecules, which are responsible for producing the pink discolouration effect in smoked meat known as the smoke ring.
  • Freezer Paper vs. Butcher Paper
    • Freezer can be used as a substitute for butcher paper with the following differences:
      • Freezer paper is treated with a poly-coating which makes it an impermeable membrane, blocking the diffusions of vapour and smoke. This quality aids humidity, but doesn’t allow for guaiacol or syringol (aromatic compounds responsible for BBQ taste and smell enhancement respectively) to come into contact the meat.

These are just a few suggestions which came to mind, now we ask… “Do You Know of a Good Butcher Paper Substitute for BBQ Wrapping?

Feel free to comment below – or get in touch.


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