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It’s a good bet you’ve already got a muffin pan or two in your kitchen, but do they really work as well as you’d like? Muffin pans are one of those kitchen tools that often don’t get taken as seriously as they should be, and because of this, they end up in the back of the cupboard, unused and forgotten.
The possibilities a good muffin pan offers are endless. You can use them for muffins—there’s such a wide variety of recipes to choose from—of course. You can make cupcakes of all sizes, from a delicate little nibble to a jumbo creation that can be eaten as an entire meal. Batters can range from the sweet to the savory, from the light to the rich and dense, and from the healthy to a glamorous sugar-frosted confection (red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, anyone?). But there are many other ways muffin pans can be helpful in the kitchen, too—from using them to shape meatballs of different sizes to crafting them into a type of bento box filled with different foods or snacks in each cup, making crisp little toast cups to fill for appetizers, or baking crustless individual quiches.
Most likely the reason muffin pans end up forgotten in the back of the cupboard is because of bad experiences due to the fact that “one size does not fit all" for this useful tool. We curated this list with all the possibilities in mind to help you decide what your kitchen needs.
Here, the best muffin and cupcake pans.
Best Overall: Wilton Baker's Best 12-Cup Muffin Pan
This muffin pan offers consistently excellent performance. It’s sturdy, won’t buckle, and can be used in high heat. The edges are softly rounded so you can get a good grip on the pan when placing it in the oven or removing it. The steel construction maintains a level baking temperature, and the nonstick surface allows muffins or cupcakes to release easily if you use muffin liners or not! It’s rustproof, dishwasher safe, and comes with a five-year manufacturer’s warranty. For all levels of cooks, this pan takes the worry out of making a batch of muffins and cupcakes.
Best Mini: Wilton Advance Select Premium Nonstick 24-Cup Mini Muffin Pan
This mini muffin pan’s design answers the challenges that can happen when baking mini muffins or mini cupcakes. The weight of the steel is thick enough so that heat is evenly distributed, but not so thick that the delicate, small cakes risk burning. The nonstick coating is infused with silicone to assure easy removal (important with cakes this tiny), and the handles extend out from the pan far enough to get a comfortable grip. It can be used with muffin liners or without, and the coating makes the pan scratch-resistant. Put it in the dishwasher for easy cleanup! It comes with a lifetime limited manufacturer’s warranty.
Best Jumbo: Cuisinart 6-Cup Jumbo Muffin Pan
This simple yet very well-made muffin pan can bake up to six jumbo muffins or cupcakes. It’s manufactured with nonstick aluminized steel and the design ensures you can bake the larger-than-standard jumbo muffins at a perfect, level temperature throughout. It’s heavy enough to not warp and can be cleaned in the dishwasher after use. It’s the best in this category because its weight and composition are perfect for baking jumbo muffins, which can sometimes brown too quickly on the outside while not cooking through in the center.
Best Silicone: Trudeau Structure Silicone Pro Standard Muffin Pan
This marble-looking silicone muffin pan by Trudeau is absolutely gorgeous, a definite step up from the usual silicone pans. Rather than being completely flexible, the pan has been designed with an integrated metal rim that provides stability while also making the pan easier to handle. As an added bonus, you can take this pan from oven to freezer without any damage. If you want a statement piece for your kitchen that’s also a pleasure to cook with, this is worth the investment. It's also dishwasher safe, comes with a lifetime warranty, and is offered in multiple sizes depending on your preferences.
Best 6-Cup: Wilton Recipe Right Non-Stick 6-Cup Standard Muffin Pan, Set of 2
Wilton’s reputation for quality bakeware strikes again in this set of two classic silver muffin pans. These pans offer great design, solid construction materials, and useful details in a package of two for added flexibility on days you may only want to bake six muffins rather than a dozen! The pans have a hardworking nonstick surface that allows use with or without muffin liners and are capable of handling high oven temperatures without buckling. They're also safe for easy dishwasher cleanup! In the nonstick category, these pans go above and beyond for everyday use.
Best Set: Range Kleen Nonstick Muffin Pan Collection
Here’s a ready-to-go set of three muffin pans from Range Kleen in different sizes, from mini to regular to jumbo. Having a set really makes it easy to bake any recipe you choose without worrying about adapting the portion size to different pans. The charcoal grey nonstick coating provides easy cleanup, and they’re made from carbon steel to maintain oven heat evenly throughout as you bake. If you’re new to baking muffins and cupcakes, having a set like this is a great way to explore different recipes and sizes as you develop your favorites!
Best High-End: Silpat 12-Well Silicone Muffin Pan
If you bake muffins or cupcakes often, this muffin pan is a real boon. The Silpat Company is the original creator of the innovative silicone-covered fiberglass fabric bakeware first developed for professional use, which is now available for home kitchens with the same level of quality. The brand still manufactures the best silicone bakeware on the market. It’s a real pleasure to use, easy to clean and store, wonderful to gift, and a treasure to keep! The silicone wells are enough to hold batters on their own without being set into a metal muffin pan, which means you can place this on a cookie sheet on its own. To clean, rinse and place on the top rack of your dishwasher or simply wash by hand.
Best Budget: Great Gatherings 12-Cup Muffin Pan
If you’re working within a budget, this pan cuts the usual cost of fairly similar muffin pans in half. This all-purpose muffin pan has a lot going for it. Made of carbon steel with a nonstick coating, it can be used for muffins, cupcakes, or any small cake you have in mind. If you’re doing a lot of baking and gift-giving, this pan would likely be appreciated as a cupcake/muffin holder, too! It is hand wash only, however.
The Wilton Baker's Best 12-Cup Muffin Pan (view at Bed Bath & Beyond) is a great choice if you’re new to muffin pans and want to have the chance to try your hand at a few recipes, or if you rarely use muffin pans but want to have a good quality pan when you do. If you’re looking to explore a lot of recipes and don’t want to have to resize or rethink the recipes as you go along, the Range Kleen Nonstick Muffin Pan Collection (view at Bed Bath & Beyond) is a wonderful option—you’ll be ready for anything!
What to Look for in a Muffin Pan
Number/Size of Cups
Muffin pans come in an assortment of sizes, with most pans having between 4 and 24 cups. To make the best final product, all of the wells in the pan should be filled with batter, so it’s important to choose a pan that will be the right size for the number of muffins (or cupcakes or quiches, etc.) you want to bake. Beyond that, muffin cups are sized as follows: Mini (1 inch), Standard (2 inches), or Jumbo (2.5 inches). Though most muffin batters can be used for all the different sizes of cups, the amount of batter to be used and the baking time must be adjusted so it's good to keep the size in mind.
Muffin pans of good quality are generally made of steel, carbon steel, aluminized steel, silicone, silicone-lined steel, silicone-lined fiberglass fabric, and steel-lined silicone. The weight of a good muffin pan has been designed to make oven heat flow and transfer well for the size of the pan, and it can vary.
Most muffin pans being manufactured today have a lining applied to the overall surface of the pan, including inside the cups, that provides a nonstick surface. These linings vary in their composition and can be branded by the manufacturers, but all bakeware sold in the USA must conform to FDA standards.
Muffin pans are generally used in a moderate oven at a temperature of between 325-375 degrees Fahrenheit, but most are heat-safe to 450-500 degrees Fahrenheit. This information should be provided in the product specifications.
Ease of Cleaning
The majority of muffin pans on the market today are completely dishwasher-safe, but some may need to be rinsed beforehand. If super simple cleanup is important to you, stay clear of the hand-wash-only models.
The vast majority of muffin pans are very moderately priced and quite affordable, so what matters in this category is to be sure you’ve chosen the right details in your pan for the use(s) you want to put it to! There can be outliers in price—for example, if a pan is much less expensive than the others you’re looking at, it’s possibly lacking in weight, sturdiness, or heat dispersal. If it’s more expensive than the norm, it should have special features that are instantly recognizable: a well-known brand name, for example, or new technology incorporated into the design.
What is the best way to season a muffin pan?
Unless you have a vintage cast iron muffin pan, your muffin pans do not need to be seasoned. Based on the material your contemporary muffin pan is made of, it may require greasing before use or it may not. To grease a muffin pan, you can use a pastry brush and melted butter. Or, there are alternatives like cooking spray, shortening, and even professional baking grease.
When is the best time to take muffins out of the pan?
It’s best to wait an average of 5 minutes before taking your muffins out of the pan. This can be reduced to 3 minutes for mini muffins and increased to 8 minutes for jumbo muffins.
What is the best way to clean a muffin pan?
The muffin pans on the market today vary a lot in terms of what they are made out of, so it’s important to read and follow the directions for cleaning your specific pan. In a general sense, the usual cleaning methods for other pans will work for muffin pans, but be aware that many of these pans have special coatings that could be damaged if you use harsh soaps or scrubbing methods.
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.