Tips & Techniques

The Fail-Safe Way to Line a Baking Pan with Parchment Paper

August  4, 2015

Get a perfectly lined baking pan, even if you failed geometry.

Lining a baking pan with parchment paper is one of the easiest ways to save time and energy when making brownies, cakes, or any other baked good. If you've used parchment, after your goods are baked and cooled, all you have to do is lift the edges of the paper to pull your treat out of the pan. From there, you can peel off the parchment and cut your baked good into portions—no awkward knife-maneuvering in the pan, no risk of damaging the pan.

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More: Alice Medrich has 5 handy tips about parchment.

Lining your baking pan with parchment is also helpful if you’re planning on freezing your treats. You can simply remove the entire batch from the pan and wrap it up in plastic wrap, then place it in the freezer. This way, you keep the baking pan available for more baking projects. 

Plus, if you’re careful and don’t spill any batter on the pan before baking, there is no need to wash the pan when finished.

Are you sold? Here’s how to line an 8- by 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper so the paper sits smoothly and doesn't rumple into a big mess: 

First, pull out the parchment and cut it to be approximately 14 inches long (this will give you 3 inches of overhang on each side of the pan). Next, fold 3 inches of one side of the parchment onto itself. Take the opposite side of the parchment and repeat the process. 

Fold in each of the remaining sides the same way, 3 inches in, until you have a square-shaped piece of parchment. Place the folded parchment square into the 8 by 8 baking pan. If your square does not fit properly in the pan, simply adjust the folds as needed until it fits in place. 


Now, lift the two top folds, on the left and right side of the pan, so that they are standing up facing each other. Next, lift one corner of the remaining side of parchment that is still lying down in the pan. Allow it to naturally fold onto itself, a triangular shape, as you raise it up to the side of the pan. Firmly press and crease the folded corner of parchment into place. Repeat the process with the remaining three corners. You are now ready to bake!


This technique will work for any four-sided baking pan you choose to use (whether 8 by 8, 9 by 9, 9 by 13, etc). Simply adjust the amount of overhang for the size you are using and trim down any excess parchment. For instance, if you’re using a 9- by 13-inch pan, first pull out the parchment and cut it to be approximately 4 inches longer than the 9 by 13 baking pan. You will want 2 inches of overhang on each side of the shorter edges of the pan. Repeat the exact same process as the 8 by 8 pan, only fold each side 2 inches in onto to itself instead.

Regardless of the size pan you’re using, the important part to remember is to make sure you have enough parchment overhang to cover up the entire inside of the baking pan.

Photos by Teresa Floyd

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • JustTabandMe
  • Meagan Pankey
    Meagan Pankey
  • Pamela_in_Tokyo
  • Dennis
  • Joyce
Teresa Floyd is a freelance photographer, food writer, and pastry chef living in Kansas City, MO. She is the creator of Now, Forager, a pastry blog focused on seasonal pastries and desserts.


JustTabandMe August 30, 2022
I’m an Octogenarian (AKA older than dirt!), and we used brown paper bags or Waxed Paper. AND, we turned our pan over (bottoms up!), made our folds to *wrap* the bottom of the pan. Then, turn the pan over, and fit the liner into the pan. I’ve never had the paper scorch. Blessings and Hope this helps!!!
Meagan P. January 4, 2021
I guess I should've read this before I made my lemon bars. The parchment paper and the crust were charred. I cut my paper just to fit the bottom of the pan. Is that where I went wrong? I think I will just stick with my method of spraying the pan with nonstick spray, or just use foil.
Pamela_in_Tokyo January 4, 2021
I often just line the bottom of my pan with parchment paper and I have never had any scorching or charring. It sounds like your pan was too close to the heating element on the bottom? Or was the temperature slightly too high? Just wondering....

Having a bit of a flap of the parchment paper up the sides of the pan does make it easier to get cakes and bars out.... I also would wonder wouldn’t foil stick to the baked item?? I’ve never tried foil, so I don’t really know.
Pamela_in_Tokyo October 25, 2017
It’s probably a good idea. But, I can’t figure out how to do that last couple of steps. Why don’t you have more close-ups showing in detail how to do it? I mean why make the photos so small.... I use parchment paper, but I cut the flaps....
Dennis August 16, 2017
This should work when you want to make something where the recipe says to use a 'non reactive pan', and all you have are 'reactive' ones, shouldn't it?
Joyce March 31, 2016
I've always used parchment or wax paper to line my baked goods; however, how would you adjust this for a round pan? It's truly a royal pain. Keep looking for some smart company to come out with pre-cuts.
Sylvia P. October 22, 2017
I've never tried to fully line a round pan, but if you cut two long, thin strips of parchment paper and put them in your pan so the edges overhang, then cut a round to fit the bottom of the pan, you end up with four tabs you can use to lift the cake out of the pan.
Phishstyx April 9, 2024
I crumple a sheet of parchment [you need to work at it so the paper is completely supple]. Then straighten it & form it to the contours of the OUTSIDE of the upside down pan. I like to run my nail around the edge of the bottom to crease the PP. Then, it should fit into your pan, and not bounce up.
frizz August 14, 2015
I tried to do this, and it was a royal disaster. I was following along just fine until it was time to create the triangles. I think this might be an example where words fail. A video might be better. Anyway, over five minutes trying to fuss with this method, my brownies went into the oven.
Diane M. August 10, 2015
Great Tip! Parchment is ideal if I want my baked goods to look great. I could use wax or foil in a pinch; but if Im baking for an event, I'll use the best. Thanks!
MelissaH August 4, 2015
I find it a lot easier just to use two pieces of parchment, criss-crossed at the bottom and run up the sides. I've never had an issue with any little uncovered bits in the corners sticking. Sure, it might use a little more parchment to get the job done, but it's a lot faster for me, and if I leave the ends long, I have a sling that helps me to get the baked good out of the pan.
Gay S. August 4, 2015
And guess what!!! You can buy parchment paper at the Dollar Tree!!!
702551 August 4, 2015
Okay, I see that Target also sells parchment paper. Maybe I won't need to get a second mortgage to buy a roll. ;-)
Smaug August 4, 2015
Aluminum foil is easier and, for most consumers, cheaper than parchment, which is treated as a gourmet item in supermarkets and the like. If you're only lining the bottom, wax paper works at least as well and is also cheaper.
702551 August 4, 2015
You can buy cheap parchment paper at a restaurant supply store or Amazon. For sure, the stuff sold at high-end grocery stores and kitchen shops like Sur La Table is over-priced.

I'm a big fan of wax paper myself, like you said it is cheap but we're probably two old timers.
Smaug August 4, 2015
Also at Costco, but it's a big roll to keep around the kitchen if you don't use a lot. I keep one around, but I usually end up using Silpats, foil or wax paper.
AntoniaJames August 5, 2015
Compostable parchment (yes, please look for compostable) has a much lower environmental impact than aluminum foil, even in places that recycle foil. Didn't know that about wax paper, oldunc. Thank you for sharing that tip! ;o)
Smaug August 5, 2015
I don't remember seeing compostable parchment, but most of us are still struggling with the idea of affordable parchment. I don't know enough about the manufacturing process to have any idea of the environmental impact of parchment, but ten cents says it's more than is obvious. Mostly, I just find it a hassle to use for this kind of thing- foil folds and refolds much more easily and can often be reused- though not when lining cake pans. I've used the same piece for pie shells for years. I must be getting old; EVERYONE lined pans with wax paper up until what seems pretty recently to me.
Bella B. August 4, 2015
Thank you for the tip! I will have to try this, it looks so easy!
Ness August 4, 2015
In the article, you say "First, pull out the parchment and cut it to be approximately 14 inches long (this will give you 3 inches of overhang on each side of the pan). You want about 3 inches of overhang on all sides of the pan. " Did you mean to repeat the line about 3 inches of overhang twice?
Ali S. August 4, 2015
Thank you for catching!! The post has been updated.