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Leonardo da Vinci once said, "Details make perfection, and perfection is not a detail," and this definitely applies to baking cups. Little cakes, muffins, and cupcakes are designed to be detail-driven. We look at them more closely than we might a larger cake or loaf, we admire their precision, and many bakers find ways to decorate these treats for the individual person in a number of inspired ways.
The idea of a tiny cake feels like a bit of romance at its best, and at its least, it still feels like a special treat. As a tool to create small cakes, the baking cup presents lots to consider; choosing one is full of important details. What style is your cupcake or muffin? Farmhouse kitchen, fun and friendly, or chic and stylish? What kind of batter will you use, and will the cakes be easily released from the baking cup? What color do you want your little cake to be wrapped in? Most importantly, however, the baking cups on this list are inexpensive, so it’s easy to invest in trying a few that interest you.
Here are the best baking cups.
Best Overall: Paper Chef Parchment Baking Cups
These high-quality parchment baking cups are made by PaperChef, a company whose mission is “the art of cooking with parchment.” The baking cups are made from 100 percent eucalyptus fibers, a genuine vegetable parchment from recycled paperboard. It’s nonstick, oven safe to 425 degrees, and certified biodegradable and compostable. With a nice weight to the paper, these large baking cups are sized to fit a standard muffin tin, with mini and extra-large liners available as well.
Best Silicone: Chicago Metallic Silicone Baking Cups
Made in the U.S. with the same quality assurance as all other Chicago Metallic kitchenware products, these silicone baking cups are designed for great performance. They’re reusable, with 12 silicone cups included for a full set in the colors brown, pink, and orange. You can use these baking cups without a cupcake pan, and even your gluten-free recipes will bake into a firm shape. They are safe in the freezer and microwave, heat resistant up to 500 degrees, and can be cleaned on the top rack of dishwashers.
Best Paper: Sur La Table Standard Bake Cups, Set of 32
Classic paper baking cups are a favorite of many home cooks, and this bakery-quality set of 32 baking cups comes in a variety of beautiful colors you can order: a gorgeous red, a soft light blue, an antique gold, and sweet white ivory. Exclusive to Sur La Table, these baking cups add elegance to the simplest cupcake or muffin! They can be used in muffin tins or lined up on a cookie sheet to bake. The dimensions are 2 x 1.3 inches with the capacity of approximately a third of a cup.
Best Foil: Gifbera Standard Silver Foil Cupcake Liners
It’s safe to say that Gifbera is a cult favorite foil baking cup! Used by professionals and home bakers alike, these foil cupcake liners have a great look and feel, and perform perfectly. The elegant liners come in eight color options and are sturdy enough to hold up when stacked on a pastry stand. Each set includes 200 greaseproof, standard-size paper liners that will easily release from your baked goods.
Best Mini: de Buyer Silicone Mini Muffin Cups
These very chic black silicone mini muffin cups will make the most basic muffin, cupcake or confection look very sophisticated! Made by the well-known French kitchenware company de Buyer, they have the perfect thickness and weight for baking minis. Easy to clean and easy to store, the black minimalist design has such style that you might want to keep them handy in a display container on your kitchen countertop. The set includes 12 mini muffin molds, each measuring 2 inches deep by 1 inch in height.
Best Jumbo: Sur La Table Jumbo Bake Cups, Set of 20
Made exclusively for Sur La Table, these jumbo baking cups are made from bakery-quality, heat-resistant, nonstick greaseproof paper. These are for truly jumbo muffins or cupcakes, with a full 1-cup capacity! The paper is a gorgeous ivory color, easy to peel off, and can be used in both standard and jumbo muffin tins or placed on a cookie sheet. Available in sets of 20, each liner is 2 x 2.5 inches, and safe to be used in a microwave, oven, or freezer.
Best Parchment: Paper Chef Parchment Baking Cups
Culinary parchment is great for all-purpose use, and these PaperChef baking cups are classic! The nonstick surface releases easily from all baked goods, and the unbleached parchment is just the right weight for these standard-size baking cups. The company's website is filled with inspiration and ideas for using its products.
Best Flower-Shaped: Freshware Silicone Flower Reusable Cupcake and Muffin Baking Cup
If you’re looking for something a little different in a baking cup, these might be just what you’re looking for! Available in either red and black or multicolored pastels, these baking cups have an accentuated fluted edge that creates the look of a flower for your baked goods. The possibilities for decoration are endless with this shape, taking the everyday to the extraordinary!
Made of nonstick silicone that’s BPA-, PVC-, and phthalate-free, this set of 12 is flexible enough to pop baked goods right out of the mold. The silicone can handle temperatures from minus 40 to 446 degrees meaning it's safe in the microwave, oven, and freezer. While these can be cleaned on the top rack of your dishwasher, handwashing is recommended.
Best Printed Design: Wilton Pinks and More Mini Baking Cups
Brightly colored bold designs of flowers, stars, and cupcakes make these paper mini baking cups from well-known brand Wilton a lot of fun to use! Suitable for birthdays or celebrations of any kind, they bring an air of festivity to any occasion, and kids love them. There are 150 baking cups included in the set with a diameter of 1.25 inches.
Best Unbleached: If You Care Unbleached Large Baking Cups
This three-pack set of 60 baking cups are made from If You Care's premium quality, unbleached, chlorine-free paper. Measuring 2.4 inches in diameter and 2.6 inches in height, the baking cups have a nonstick coating of natural silicone and are nontoxic when incinerated. These standard-size liners are oven safe to 425 degrees.
For an upgrade from run-of-the-mill baking cups, the Sur la Table Standard Baking Cups (view at Sur La Table) bring a touch of beauty to the table in any or all of the three colors offered. Continuing along on this theme of creating an individual look for your cupcakes or muffins, the Freshware Silicone Flower Reusable Baking Cups (view at Wayfair) offer the chance for a whole new level of a cupcake or muffin design without the least bit of extra work, and the de Buyer Silicone Mini Muffin Cups (view at Food52) are simply irresistible, to the point where you might want to serve your minis right in their silicone molds!
What to Look for in Baking Cups
Baking cups are made from a multitude of materials. Consider whether you are serving these mini cakes or cupcakes at a party at your house, or if they need to be transported. You might want something sturdier if transit is part of the plan. You might also look to the formality of the event; a laid-back event is perfect for disposable, biodegradable paper cups, whereas an event that's slightly more formal could call for a fun-shaped cup or a colorful silicone cup.
Baking cups come in mini, standard, and large or jumbo sizes. It's a good idea to have an assortment on hand so you're ready to bake at a moment's notice.
Disposable baking cups, bought in bulk, tend to be the most cost-effective purchase, but you might want to splurge on something reusable if you'd rather something a bit more sturdy and slightly more sophisticated or festive for serving. Consider your budget and how often you're most likely to use baking cups.
Are cupcakes the same as baking cups?
Cupcakes can be made in baking cups, which are the liners that you put in the pan—or stand-alone cups such as silicone ones that are sturdy enough to fill and bake. Cupcakes, muffins, and mini cakes are commonly made in baking cups.
Do you need to oil baking cups?
You should not have to oil or grease baking cups unless the recipe explicitly states so. Some batters will benefit from having the cups greased ahead of time if they are exceptionally sticky, but many cups have nonstick coatings on them to help facilitate an easy release.
Do baking cups make cleanup easier?
The answer to this is a resounding yes. Anyone who's run out of baking cups before and had to resort to greasing their 12-cup muffin pan knows that scrubbing a pan clean of cupcake residue can be challenging and time-consuming. Not to mention, using the cups makes extracting the cakes from the pan an absolute snap.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Karen Resta is a writer specializing in food culture and history, cooking, pastries, and restaurants. She's also a former pastry chef and has traveled to Budapest, Kyiv, and Paris during their Fashion Weeks as a photographer and writer, always finding the best authentic pastries along the way. She now spends a lot of her free time baking at home and recommends quality within your given budget. Having the right tools available and knowing how to use them well (it can take practice, like anything else) makes all the difference, and she curated this list with that in mind.