5 Things You Shouldn’t Put in Your Oven—and 1 Thing You Should

Updated: Apr. 25, 2022

It's better to be safe than sorry!

The phrase “you learn something new every day” is applicable to everyone. Even seasoned home cooks aren’t exempt from learning a thing or two in the kitchen. For example, only certain things can be stored in your oven drawer.

It turns out a lot of people want to know whether it’s safe to use waxed paper in the oven—and that’s only one of the many, many questions we’ve heard about oven-safe materials. Let’s find out what can safely go in the oven!

Can I Put Waxed Paper in the Oven?

wax paper on a baking pan sitting atop an oven stovetopTaste of Home

Waxed paper is a roll of paper coated in a very thin layer of paraffin wax. You can use it for lots of things, but definitely not for heating food in the oven.

This paper is nonstick and water-resistant, but it’s not heat-resistant. According to our Test Kitchen, waxed paper likely to melt and ruin your pans and leave your kitchen a smoky mess. Technically, you can use waxed paper in the oven for a few moments at low temperatures—but it’s best not to risk it.

Use this waxed paper hack to keep your cabinets clean.

Can I Put Paper Plates or Other Paper Items in the Oven?

While some sources say that paper plates are safe as long as they don’t have a plastic coating, our Test Kitchen advises against even trying. Shannon NorrisTaste of Home‘s senior food stylist, says, “Between the possibility of it catching on fire, having hazardous chemicals, etc., it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

The same rule applies to paper towels—they might not be 100% paper or natural. As for paper takeout containers, most are lined with wax or plastic to make them leakproof. Because this lining can catch on fire, it’s best to transfer the contents to an oven-safe container before reheating.

Can I Leave Towels or Oven Mitts in the Oven?

While oven mitts and potholders are designed to be heatproof to a certain temperature, they’re not meant to be left in the oven. Our Test Kitchen says that they might contain synthetic fibers that could combust.

Wet or damp towels can begin to let off hot steam if you use them to take things out of the oven, which can burn your hands. It’s always best to opt for oven mitts while pulling things out of the oven—and make sure you don’t leave them inside!

Can I Put Plastic in the Oven?

A lot of our favorite healthy frozen meals come in plastic containers, which means you’ve definitely wondered if any old plastic container could be popped in the oven. While it’s tempting to do just that, our Test Kitchen says that plastic will melt in the oven, unless it’s specifically advertised as “oven-safe.” The containers can’t be reused—commercial grade oven-safe plastic is only designed to be used once.

Plastic also contains harmful chemicals, so even if your plastic container doesn’t melt, it might leach chemicals into your food. It’s best to check the label to see if your container is oven-safe.

Can I Put Glass in the Oven?

person placing a tart in a glass dish into an open ovenundefined undefined/Getty Images

You’ve probably used plenty of glasses dishes in the oven, so this seems like a no-brainer. But all glass isn’t created equal—unless your dish is advertised as oven-safe, like Pyrex, err on the side of caution. Oven-safe dishes that are chipped or damaged may also burst when the temperature changes.

Before you heat up a meal that’s frozen in a glass dish, let it thaw in the refrigerator. (Here’s how to know whether it’s safe to eat freezer-burned food.) Same goes for taking hot things out of the oven—don’t set anything on a cold marble counter without a trivet as a buffer! These are the best casserole dishes for your oven.

Can I Put Parchment Paper in the Oven?

Yes, absolutely! While waxed paper is a no-go for the oven, parchment paper is made for baking cakes, cookies and more. It’s the only exception to the “no paper in the oven” rule. This nonstick, grease-resistant and moisture-resistant paper is specially treated with silicone for use in ovens, and is very different from waxed paper. Our Test Kitchen advises against putting it under the broiler, though.

Here are all the best ways to use parchment paper!