7 Simple Steps for Cooking in Packets

Learn how to cook dinner "en papillote" by following these easy steps.

Steaming food in the oven in folded packets of parchment paper (or foil) is a great way to keep food juicy and tender. As the food heats up in the packet, it creates steam, which gently cooks the food and prevents it from drying out. Follow these easy step-by-step instructions for making packets for the oven. Or, if you’re grilling, check out our tips on making foil packets for the grill.

Cooking in Packets

Step 1. Fold Parchment Paper or Foil

Start with four 20- to 24-inch-long pieces of parchment paper or foil. Fold in half crosswise. With the parchment or foil folded, draw half a heart shape on one side as you would if you were making a Valentine.

Cooking in Packets

Step 2. Cut Out the Heart

Use scissors to cut out the heart shape.

Cooking in Packets

Step 3. Open Up the Heart

Open up the parchment paper or foil heart on your work surface to begin filling the paper packet or foil packet.

Cooking in Packets

Step 4. Arrange the Ingredients

Arrange the ingredients on one side of the heart fairly close to the crease. Leave at least a 1-inch ­border around the edges for folding.

Cooking in Packets

Step 5. Close the Packets

Close the packet to cover the ingredients.

Cooking in Packets

Step 6. Seal the Packet

Starting at the top, seal the packet by folding the edges together in a series of small, tight folds.

Cooking in Packets

Step 7. Twist the Tip of the Packet

Twist the tip of the packet and tuck it underneath to help keep the packet closed.

Foil Packets

Tips for Making Foil Packets for the Grill

Cooking in packets is great for the grill, but it’s not safe to put parchment paper over an open flame, so use foil.

To prepare packets for grilling, start with eight 20- to 24-inch-long pieces of foil. Layer two sheets for each of four packets (the double layers will help protect the contents from burning). Arrange the ingredients on one half of each double layer. Fold the foil over the ingredients and tightly seal the packets by crimping and folding the edges together.

For grilling times, see the “Grill Variation” at the end of each recipe. When cooking packets on the grill, rotate them to another spot on the grill about halfway through to ensure even cooking.

Next: Healthy Packet Recipes to Try »