Is Foil Or Butcher Paper Better For Smoking?

Posted on: January 17, 2023

If you’re a fan of smoked meat, you may have your own smoker at home. Preparing this delicacy whenever you want can be a great joy. Whether it’s for a weekend night with family and friends or simply just a cozy evening by yourself, smoked meat can be enjoyed in almost any circumstance. A lot of times, you need to wrap meat in order to prepare it. Once the meat is ready, and the smoker is good to go, a question often arises: “should I use foil or butcher paper?”

If you’ve found yourself wondering which of these options are best, you’re not alone. It’s important to understand that both foil and butcher are popular choices and have their pros and cons. Many times, it depends on what kind of meat you’re smoking. Let’s go through both foil and butcher paper to help you figure out which is best for you.


If you’re a fan of braised-like smoked meat, foil is the way to go. Foil is not breathable and tends to trap in all the juices and fat from the meat. Once your meat is cooked and taken off the smoker to rest, those fats and juices are then reabsorbed, locking in all that goodness and flavor. However, perhaps the most important differentiator when it comes to foil is time.

Smoking with foil drastically reduces cooking time due to the foil’s insulating properties. While cooking time is reduced, it’s important to understand that since the cooking environment is very moist, it can threaten the crunchiness of the meat’s crust. All in all, if you’re short for time, foil is the way to go.

Butcher Paper

If you want the outer crust of the meat not to be soggy, then butcher paper is the way to go. Unlike foil, butcher paper is very breathable and therefore lets moisture escape. This prevents the meat from over-steaming. Butcher paper not only prevents over-steaming but also protects the meat from the full impact of the smoker.

Butcher paper will soak up the grease from a brisket as well, and since it’s breathable, it allows more smoke to pass through than foil, leaving the meat with even more flavor.

Wrapping Process

Now that we’ve understood the main differences between foil and butcher paper, it should provide you with a better understanding of when to use each. The wrapping process for both is almost identical. Here’s how to wrap meat in foil or butcher paper:

Start with 2 sheets of foil of butcher paper and make sure they are four times the length of your meat.

Start by placing the first sheet on a flat surface and make sure the long edge is perpendicular to you. Make the second sheet overlap by half of its width. With the top side up, put the meat lengthwise on the paper or foil. Keep the meat about a foot from the edge. You can lightly add some vinegar to the foil to give the meat some moisture.

Next up, fold the edge of the paper or foil over the top of the meat and pull it tight. Every fold should follow the shape of the meat.

Fold in one side of the paper of foil so it resembles the shape of the meat you’re smoking, and it should run at an obtuse angle from you.

Make sure to smooth out the paper or foil. Next up, tuck in the paper or foil from the opposite side to make sure it’s secure. Then you fold in the paper from the top so it runs an obtuse angle away from you.

Roll the meat over for the last time and ensure the top side is up. Pull the wrapped meat tightly around all the time. Roll over the meat and tightly secure the foil or the paper it’s wrapped in. Fold in the sides again.

Lastly, fold the top end of the foil or paper so it’s double the thickness.

There are many variables that go in to making BBQ, but you can only change one thing at a time. Check out the results of Aaron’s brisket wrap test:

Final Thoughts

These steps should now help you wrap whatever kind of meat you’re smoking. So to recap, foil is closed and lets the juices and fat stay in while the meat rests after cooking. As for butcher paper, the breathable properties of the paper allow more smoke to pass through, and so you’ll have smokier and more flavorful meat for everyone to enjoy.

Overall, being able to smoke meat in the comfort of your own home is one of the greatest weekend joys, and now you know which kind of wrapping to use according to the kind of flavor, texture, and smokiness you require. With this expert guidance, we hope you’re able to cook up a delicious meal.

For more great ideas on how to get the most out of your Bradley Smoker, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Food Smoking Blog for more tips & tricks.