Do You Need Muffin and Cupcake Liners for Baking?

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The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska

Muffin and cupcake liners are papers used to contain batter poured into muffin tins. Made of paper or foil, they are usually corrugated and are often decorative. Most store-bought muffins and cupcakes come in liners. But do you really need liners to bake a successful muffin or cupcake? While there are good reasons to use one, they are absolutely optional.


You will see some liners labeled for cupcakes and some for muffins, but they will work for either. Make sure you buy the correct size of muffin liners for your pans. Most muffin and cupcake liners are affordable and a pack can be used on more than one batch of cupcakes.  

Back in the olden days, there were waxed parchment muffin liners. These are still available, but the options have expanded tremendously. Your choices are really limited only by your taste and budget. Some options include:

Colored Paper Liners

These come in every shade and can be a nice addition to birthday party cupcakes or sports-themed parties (with the team colors).

Silver or Colored Foil Liners

These are stronger and more decorative than paper but are also likely to cost more.

Tulip Liners

These are heavy waxed paper lines that rise above the top of the cupcake to create a pretty tulip shape. They are often used by professional bakeries.

Special Occasion Liners

Dress up your cupcakes or muffins with patterned liners.


While muffin liners are not necessary for baking, they can often be a good idea. Here are a few reasons for using muffin liners:

  • Sometimes greasing the pans is inadequate and you can get sticking. Muffin liners guarantee a beautiful final product and easier removal of delicate cupcakes.
  • Muffins and cupcakes are easier and more hygienic to handle when in liners.
  • There's no need to grease baking pans when using liners.
  • Liners reduce wear and tear on the nonstick finish of your pan.


You can bake excellent muffins or cupcakes and remove them safely from pans without using baking liners, as long you grease your baking pans. If you don't want to bother with liners, you're in good company. Here are some reasons to avoid muffin liners:

  • Muffin liners are sold in different sizes but it can be difficult to find some for tiny muffin tins.
  • Not all regular (medium) sizes are the same; sometimes they are on the small side.
  • Cheaper brands of liners do not always remove well from muffins or cupcakes.
  • Liners add to the cost of baking.

How to Safely Remove Muffins and Cupcakes From Pans

If you choose not to use (or don't happen to have) liners, you can follow these tips for perfect-looking final products.

  1. Be sure your muffins and cupcakes are really cooked through when you remove them from the oven. Insert a toothpick into the top center of the cupcake or muffin. If it comes out dry and clean, your muffin or cupcake has finished baking.
  2. Allow your pan to cool for at least 10 minutes on a wire rack before removing the baked goods.
  3. Use a butter knife to loosen each cupcake or muffin from the pan.
  4. Cover the pan with a clean towel. Flip the pan upside down. Your muffins or cupcakes should come out of the pan and fall safely into the towel.