Cooking ‘En Papillote’ Is Easier Than You’d Think. Here’s How

The eternal question: What can I make for dinner that’s quick, flavorful, healthy and won’t fill my sink with dishes? We have the answer: Cook your meal en papillote.

What does that even mean? En papillote (say it with us: on-pap-ee-ote) means “in parchment” in French. Protein, vegetables and aromatics are folded inside a pouch of tightly sealed parchment paper and baked. The paper traps moisture, which turns into steam and cooks the food. Think of it as the original one-pan meal: zero cleanup and almost no dishes. Oh, and professional cooks love it (like Ina Garten—ever heard of her?).

The method is often used for fish and vegetables, but any type of protein (like chicken, shrimp or lamb) works. Bonus: You don’t need any cooking fat, so it’s as healthy as it is easy (though we wouldn’t scoff at a pat of butter for flavor). And because the steam is trapped in such a small package, any additional herbs or flavorings concentrate and permeate the food.

en papillote 1
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How can I try it at home? All you need is some parchment paper, a sheet pan and whatever you’d like to cook. Once you choose a protein and vegetables (cut into smallish pieces for even and quick cooking), you can riff with any flavors you like: soy sauce, ginger, garlic, soft green herbs and lemon juice are all tasty.

Arrange your ingredients on one half of a piece of parchment paper, then fold it over and crimp the edges to seal it tightly. As it bakes on a sheet tray, the pouch will puff with steam. To serve, cut a slit in the paper and watch your dinner guests ooh and ahh at your effortless, all-in-one entrée.

Anything else I should know? Yep. Since paper is flammable, stick to your oven when cooking en papillote. (Save the grill for its low-brow but equally loved cousin, the foil pack.) And whatever you do, don’t substitute wax paper. The coating will melt into your food—not exactly what we want to eat.

Ready to try? Here are eight easy en papillote recipes to inspire your appetite.

Fish En Papillote

Any flaky white fish will do, and the lemon and herb butter melt into a totally hands-off (and delicious) sauce.

Shrimp, Bok Choy And Noodles En Papillote

Hot tip: Some grocery stores stock pre-cut parchment that’s made just for this method. It’s practically foolproof.

Baked Sesame-ginger Salmon En Papillote

With no cleanup, dinner is done in almost no time (but tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen).

Ginger Mango Chicken En Papillote

It’s not all about fish: Chicken breasts cooked en papillote come out juicy and flavorful.

Zoodles And Clams En Papillote

A little bit healthy, a lot of flavor.

Lemon Salmon En Papillote With Potatoes And Dill Yogurt

Salmon is a classic choice, and it’s almost impossible to mess up.

Vegetables And Potatoes En Papillote

It’s just begging for you to put an egg on it.

Lemon Garlic Chicken En Papillote

Say hello to the most flavorful dinner you’ve ever tasted.


Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...