Who doesn’t love a warm, soft muffin right out of the oven? Since muffins require only a few basic ingredients, they are the ideal quick and easy breakfast for a busy morning— perfect to grab when you’re running out the door. They can also be surprisingly healthy to boot— muffins made with whole wheat flour, dried fruits, and nuts are not only delicious but rich in nutrients, so you can feel good about your breakfast choice all day long.
While muffins are simple (and fun!) to make, you’ll need a good-quality pan to get that perfect consistency. Muffin pans are usually made of silicon, aluminum, carbon steel, cast iron, or ceramic.
A quality muffin pan should bake the batter evenly and allow for easy release once that timer dings. Equally important is the pan’s durability and ease of cleaning. Let’s see how different materials affect each pan’s performance and ability to make delicious muffins and find you your perfect pan!
Cast Iron Muffin Pans
Cast iron holds heat better than other materials, as it heats slowly and evenly. Muffins come out with a lovely crisp top and a moist and soft inside—perfection!
A cast iron muffin pan will last for decades, and its cooking performance even improves each time you use it.
Just like with any other cast iron cookware, it is recommended you preheat and grease the pan before filling it with batter, as this will prevent stubborn sticking and ensure your muffins come out with ease.
It’s best to wash your cast iron pan under hot water using a brush and put the pan in the oven to dry thoroughly before storing it as this will increase its lifespan. To prevent rust and to maintain a surface that doesn’t stick, try rubbing a little oil on the pan after each cleaning.
Non-Stick Muffin Pans
Most non-stick muffin pans have a ceramic-reinforced or silicone coating over an aluminized steel or carbon-steel base. The metal core provides even heat distribution and sturdiness, helpful for mess-free handling. The non-stick coating ensures your muffins come out easily, meaning no need for cupcake liners! Non-stick muffin pans can be lightly coated with butter or oil, but even that is not necessary— if you do use oil, you’ll need significantly less than with other pans.
When using a non-stick pan, allow it to cool for a couple of minutes after removing it from the oven and the muffins will pop right out, leaving nothing behind.
Cleanup is easy and should be done by hand soon after the pan cools. The non-stick surface can be washed with warm soapy water and a sponge or nylon pad. Avoid putting your non-stick pan in the dishwasher, and make sure to use only wooden, silicone, or nylon utensils to avoid scratches.
Silicone Muffin Pans
Pans made of food-grade silicone are quickly becoming one of the most popular purchases in bakeware— not only are they oven-proof up to 450°F (232°C), but they boast the capability of being freezer, dishwasher, and microwave safe! Silicone pans also come in a variety of attractive bright colors, making them fun to bake with too.
Silicone bakeware has a non-stick surface, allowing for the easy release of baked goods. You just need to gently press the muffins from underneath to pop them out of their cups. This is a great alternative to disposable muffin cups and a good way to reduce waste in your kitchen and help the environment. New pans should be washed before first use in the dishwasher or by hand with warm, soapy water. Once washed and dried they can be stored until their next use.
One downside to silicone pans is that they are soft and floppy, making them nearly impossible to move around without making a mess. To prevent this, make sure you set your pan on a cookie sheet before you start to fill the cups— you’ll need it when placing the pan in and out of the oven. If the lack of stability puts you off, you can find silicone muffin pans with a built-in metal frame for easy handling—see below!
Silicone Muffin Pans with Steel Frame
Silicone muffin pans with metal frames provide a sturdy solution to the problem of excessive flexibility of regular silicone muffin pans. A durable steel frame around the silicone cups holds the pan’s shape and ensures easy transfer in and out of the oven. The silicone cups remain flexible allowing for quick, effortless release of your muffins, and while you may choose to grease the cups, it’s not actually necessary as muffins should slide out smoothly.
Steel-frame silicone pans are lightweight, yet sturdy and long-lasting. Their innovative design ensures even cooking, easy release, and effortless cleaning.
Ceramic Muffin Pans
Ceramic pans can be made of pure ceramic or stoneware but also can be made with a ceramic coating applied to a metal base. Pure ceramic provides even heating and great baking results, while ceramic-coated pans can be categorized into non-stick ones. Ceramic-coated muffin pans offer easy food release and are also easy to clean.
Which Muffin Pan Suits Your Needs Best?
With so many muffin pans types, it’s hard to choose! Those who prefer even cooking should consider a cast iron muffin pan. For easy muffin release, non-stick bakeware is unbeatable, while silicone pans are the best choice for those who prioritize the convenience of easy cleaning.