It seems like all the time there are new techniques, hacks, and accessories that come out to help make smoking and barbecuing easier or more successful. What was once used mainly by butchers as wrapping for meat orders has become one of the latest must-have accessories for slow smoking large cuts of meat – pink butcher paper.
In this article, we’ve broken down what exactly pink butcher paper is, how it’s a better alternative to foil, and how to use pink butcher paper.
Even if you’ve never bought it, chances are you've seen pink butcher paper before. Sometimes also referred to as peach paper, this paper is usually what your cuts of meat (and sometimes seafood) will come wrapped in at the butcher’s counter.
Pink Butcher paper is an FDA-approved 100% food-grade type of kraft paper that is made from Southern Pine pulp. It has a high level of elasticity and will not tear easily when exposed to moisture. It also still has breathability, so it will still allow a good amount of smoke through. All of these things make pink butcher paper perfect for smoking meat.
The color of the pink (peach) butcher paper is because the paper is natural and unbleached, unlike the white variety. “Peach” is just another reference to the color of this paper and not any kind of peach flavoring or content.
This paper can be purchased in either individual pre-cut sheets or full rolls and is safe to put in your smoker at the normal “low and slow” cooking temperatures. It is important to note that waxed butcher paper, wax paper, and freezer paper should never go in your smoker or grill. It can catch fire and the wax will emit toxic fumes at high heat.
Butcher paper and parchment paper are very similar. So what is the difference? Compared to parchment paper, pink butcher paper is thicker, more absorbent, and more is more permeable (breathes better). It also has a lower heat threshold. With butcher paper, when smoking meat you’ll be able to still get a good level of smoke flavoring and a better bark/crust on the exterior of the meat.
So, deciding between using butcher paper or parchment paper largely comes down to the method you are using for cooking and the kind of results you are going for.
Pink butcher paper is perfect for slow-smoking meat. It will help retain heat while still preventing a buildup of excess moisture and allowing the meat to breathe. If you do want to retain moisture and collect juices for a sauce while smoking meat, parchment paper is a better choice.
Keep in mind that parchment paper often comes treated with a coating of silicone to increase its non-stick capabilities. Paper with coatings like this works just fine in an oven (especially for baking) but should never go in your smoker or on your grill.
So, for high-heat grilling applications, you should always opt for unwaxed parchment paper versus butcher paper. Parchment paper does have a higher temperature rating and can easily handle the temperature on the indirect heat side of a grill. Pink butcher paper, on the other hand, will just catch fire.
There are two main reasons that many BBQ pitmasters are now using pink butcher paper. The first is that it helps beat “the stall” that sometimes happens when smoking meat, especially beef brisket.
Wondering what “the stall” is? To put it simply, it’s the point during a low and slow smoking session that the internal temperature of a large cut of meat stops rising while cooking. (Make sure to check out our in-depth article on the stall for more information on this!)
The other good reason to use pink butcher paper when smoking meat is during the final stages of cooking. Wrapping the meat towards the end helps to lock in the meat’s internal moisture and heat, keeping it tender and juicy. The loose-fibered and loose-fitting pink butcher paper still allows the meat to breathe and can even help speed up smoking times without drying the meat out.
You may be familiar with the method known as the “Texas crutch”, which is using aluminum foil to wrap meat during low n’ slow smoking. This method is good for smoking pork ribs and can be very effective for helping big pieces of meat, like brisket, power through the stall.
But remember, once something is wrapped in aluminum foil, it is now inside an impermeable reflective layer. No more smoke can get in and heat cannot escape. So, cooking continues uninterrupted and no moisture escapes at all. With beef, this will sometimes make the meat too moist and it eliminates the chance for a nice crisp bark to further form on the exterior of the beef.
With pink butcher paper, the paper still allows the meat to breathe and doesn’t lock excess moisture inside the wrapping. You’ll still end up with moist meat, but you’ll get that delicious crispy bark that you want on your brisket or beef ribs. It will also help you effectively get through the stall and can even help shorten the length of the stall phase.
Pink butcher paper is most often used when slow-smoking beef brisket at lower temperatures. But, you can wrap many different types of meat cuts that you cook on a smoker. Pitmasters are now wrapping pork butt, ribs, and more.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and see what cuts come out better when wrapped in butcher paper and what cuts get better results with aluminum foil.
As you can see, pink butcher paper can be very helpful when smoking meat. But some other great uses for it that can come in handy as well, including:
Source: Challenge Butter
Pink butcher paper makes it easier to maintain proper internal meat temperature, allows the meat to breathe and absorb smoke flavor, prevents over-steaming, and enables you to achieve a perfect exterior bark.
If you’re not using pink butcher paper when slow smoking large cuts of meat, you should start today! This inexpensive cooking accessory adds utility and versatility to your smoking endeavors.
Do you use pink butcher paper when smoking meat? Have you recently tried it for the first time? Leave a comment below. We would love to hear about your experience with it!
If you are ready to really kick your meat smoking and grilling skills up a level, join the Champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters in first-of-their-kind in-depth virtual BBQ classes here at BBQ Champs Academy. Here you’ll learn competition-level cooking techniques, insider tips, and more. You can be showing off your competitor-caliber cooking in no time. Get your All-Access pass today!Also, make sure to check out the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel! Subscribe to get all the latest insider info and competition barbecue news straight from BBQ pros!
My favortie smoked porkbutt recipe call for wrapping the meat in aluminum foil and 2 cups of apple cider after smoking for a few hours. Can pink butcher paper hold liquid like that?
Hi Carolyn! Thanks for checking out our blog. To answer your question, yes, it should. Due to the coating on pink butcher paper (known as "sizing"), it should hold that liquid without tearing.
How do I keep the paper closed once it is wrapped around the meat? Do I need to tie it off? Obviously, this is all new to me.
Hi Mary, thanks for checking out our blog! To answer your question, you can either tape it closed with small pieces of masking tape or wrap/fold it so that you can tuck the corners of the paper in to keep it closed.