What does butcher paper do when smoking meat?

Last Updated on: 29th May 2023, 05:39 am

Butcher paper are paper sheets of pink color that is primarily used by butchers to protect meat from flies or pack meat for delivery.

But recently , it has taken the smoking industry by storm after being used by several pitmasters like Aaron Franklin.

If you are an old follower of Aaron Franklin, then you might have also seen him wrapping various meat cuts in butcher paper.

But a lot of beginners are confused about what does a butcher paper do when smoking meat . We are going to explain it briefly.

What does butcher paper do when smoking meat?

Butcher paper aids in protecting meat from over-smoking , drying and also keeping meat warm for sometime..

when meat is wrapped inside a butcher paper ,the moisture is trapped inside the butcher paper and meat can be smoked without the fear of drying out .

Related:how to keep ribs warm

First of all , smoking is a complex process which involves various factors that need to be tweaked to smoke meat to perfection.

Moreover, you have to keep both the appearance and taste of smoked meat equally good to get a better flavor.

Butcher paper comes in handy when the meat has been smoked for enough time and further smoking can lead to darkening of the bark and a bitter taste.

while wrapping it in foil can result in a mushy appearance. So the butcher preserves both the appearance and taste of the meat cut.

It is basically a replacement for aluminum foil because it allows the meat to breathe.

The meat cut wrapped inside the butcher paper can retain its tenderness, but the porous shape of the butcher paper allows the excess moisture to evaporate.

While in the case of aluminum foil and parchment paper, the meat can’t breathe . So the moisture is trapped inside the foil and can’t leave it .

Due to which it deposits back on the meat and can lead to mushy appearance.

Although the absorbing of meat juices is good for flavor, but when absorbed in excess, it can affect the appearance of meat.

But in the case of butcher paper, it allows excess liquids to evaporate away while retaining enough moisture to keep the meat chunk tender.

Using butcher prevents hard chunks of meat, such as brisket, from drying out during longer smoking periods.

In addition to retaining the moisture of the meat , butcher paper also protects the meat from over-smoking.

After the bark has developed on the surface of meat , the smoke can’t penetrate deeper into the meat chunk, so it keeps depositing on the bark.

It can lead to the darkening of the bark and charring.

However, wrapping your meat chunk in butcher paper can protect it from over-smoking while still allowing some smokey flavour to enter through the pores.

Moreover, a butcher paper also helps in beating the stall while smoking hard chunks of meat like brisket as well as delicate meat like ribs to protect them from over smoking.

To those who are hearing the term ” stall ” , it is basically a stage in smoking when the internal temperature of the meat chunk stops rising.

If the meat chunk is wrapped inside a butcher paper, then the paper helps the meat retain heat for a longer time, reducing the heat loss, which leads to an increase in internal temperature.

 In addition, it also allows a small amount of heat to escape, so the internal temperature of meat will not overshoot suddenly.

Butcher paper vs aluminum foil vs peach paper

Butcher paper is a recent modification in the smoking industry which is used as an alternative to aluminum foil and peach paper.

Butcher paper is better than  other two because it is food grade and also allows the excess moisture to evaporate away.

The second item on the list is aluminum foil. Aluminum foil is usually used for brisket to avoid over-smoking and beat stall.

It has a flaw that it traps the moisture inside, so the appearance of the meat chunks becomes mushy.

The last one is peach paper. Although it is similar to butcher’s paper to some extent, it does have some differences.

The major factor that affects the effectiveness of peach paper is that it contains various additives like wax, which can affect the quality of the meat placed inside the smoker.

How to use butcher paper for smoking

Using butcher paper is quite simple and doesn’t require much expertise.

If you are familiar with wrapping with aluminum foil or peach paper, then you can master using butcher paper in no time .

But there are some differences in all three of them which you should keep in mind.

Butcher paper doesn’t require much effort because it is food grade and it is unlikely that you can go wrong with it.

You can place the butcher paper inside the smoker along with the meat chunks without any worries because it doesn’t contain any chemicals.

To use butcher paper, you just need to wrap your meat chunk into the paper like you do with aluminum foil and peach paper.

But you should be careful while wrapping because it usually isn’t much wider, so you may need to use two paper sheets in parallel to each other to wrap the meat.

The other thing you should keep in mind is to always wrap the brisket loosely so that the moisture and smoke can pass through it.

Moreover, loosely attached butcher paper lasts longer than tightly attached paper because the fluids can soften it over time.

After wrapping your brisket in butcher paper , you should consider placing it back into the smoker.

While placing it into the smoker, it is usually advised that the fatty side of the meat should face up , because fat can contribute to meat flavour when it melts.

Moreover, while placing in the smoker, you should be really careful about placing butcher paper near direct heat.

Butcher paper is made up of natural wood pulp and can catch fire immediately if exposed to fire.

Butcher paper, when used properly, can aid in breaking the stall of tough meats such as brisket.

It basically reduces the heat loss from the meat and protects it from over-smoking. As a result, heat is trapped inside and the internal temperature of the meat rises.

In addition to beating stall , it is also useful for protecting meat from drying out.

Drying of meat is not a problem for a shorter duration, but for prolonged smoking time like that of brisket , you should wrap your meat to avoid drying out.

why use butcher paper when smoking

Butcher paper has been trending recently in the smoking industry, and you can find it being used everywhere, whether you are in a smoking competition or as a guest at your favorite pitmaster’s place.

Here is why we use butcher paper when smoking.

Butcher paper is not a new addition to smoking accessories. In fact, it is just a better replacement for aluminum foil because it’s food grade and doesn’t affect the crispiness of the bark.

So if you were using aluminum foil in the past, you should consider using butcher paper as an alternative.

  • Butcher paper is used by most of the pitmasters in the smoking of tougher chunks of meat like brisket.
    It is more beneficial than simple aluminum foil or peach paper because it allows meat to breathe while retaining its tenderness.
  • Butcher paper is used to avoid the drying out of meat during prolonged smoking of meat chunks like brisket.
    It is usually used towards the end of smoking process when the meat has absorbed enough smokey flavour .
  • When a meat chunk is wrapped in butcher paper, the moisture is trapped within the paper and eventually deposits back into the meat.
  • It allows the meat to retain its moisture throughout the smoking process.
    You might be thinking that aluminum foil is useful for the same reason, so why is butcher paper better?
    The reason is that the butcher paper is porous and allows some of the moisture to evaporate away , so it doesn’t affect the crispiness of the bark.
  • Another reason to use butcher paper is that it protects meat from over-smoking. It is especially useful when smoking tougher cuts of meat like brisket, which require prolonged smoking time .
    After the bark has developed, the smoke stops penetrating into the meat and starts depositing on the bark.
    It can lead to over-smoking and blackening of the bark. By wrapping the meat cut in butcher paper, you can avoid over-smoking.
  • It protects meat from direct contact with smoke but lets a small amount of smokey flavour pass through its pores to enhance the flavor.
  • The major factor in the effectiveness of the butcher’s paper is its porousness. It traps moisture and heat but also allows the meat to breathe.
  • While in foil, breathing is not possible, due to which the appearance of the meat becomes mushy
  • In addition to the retention of moisture, it also helps in retaining the meat juices that come out of the meat during cooking.
  • These meat juices are absorbed back into the meat chunk after some time, which increases the flavour of the meat.

Where to buy butcher’s paper for smoking

Now that we have discussed why we use butcher paper inside a smoker, you might be thinking about where you should buy it in case you have made up your mind to test it.

Here we are going to explain the most comfortable places to buy butcher paper.

You can buy butcher paper from Amazon or your local BBQ store.

It is being used by a lot of pitmasters nowadays, and you will not have difficulty in finding one. You should make sure that it’s food grade before buying it.


The most convenient option for the purchase of butcher paper is Amazon.

There are various manufacturers providing butcher paper on Amazon. You can just order from these suppliers and get the butcher paper delivered to your doorstep.

Local BBQ stores

If you are living in a BBQ-loving city, then there is a high chance that there might be a BBQ store in your area.

You can easily find butcher paper from these kind of stores, but make sure to differentiate between butcher paper and peach paper.

Butcher paper is pink in colour and doesn’t contain wax.

If you are unable to buy butcher paper from any of above mentioned options , then you should consider contacting your fellow pitmasters or butchers to find out where butcher paper is available in your area.

Final Verdict

Butcher paper is an alternative of aluminum foil but it’s much better in effectiveness.

It helps in retaining the moisture of meat chunk and protects it from drying out. Moreover it also helps avoid over-smoking.

Jakob miller