If you're going to make muffins or cupcakes at home, a muffin pan is essential. Whether you're whipping up healthy muffins full of nuts and seeds or decadent chocolate ones, selecting the right pan can be the difference between success and failure.
Muffin pans have individual cups designed to produce baked goods like muffins with a crispy, dome-like top. You can also use them to make small, circular quiches. Take a look at our shopping guide for more information on the different materials, sizes, and nonstick features these pans have to offer. We've also included our top recommendations, including our favorite: a classic tin by Cookware America that's built to last a lifetime.
Considerations when choosing muffin pans
Muffin pan material
Coated steel: Steel is a sturdy and inexpensive material. Muffin pans made of steel are coated with a nonstick substance like silicone or Teflon for quick release of your baked goods. Be aware that steel pans can rust over time, and the coating can wear off.
Stainless steel: These pans are classic muffin "tins." They are resistant to scratching and rusting and last a long time due to steel's durability.
Aluminum: Probably the most popular material for muffin pans, lightweight aluminum conducts heat smoothly, producing evenly baked muffins. We recommend choosing a pan made from thicker aluminum that won't develop holes over time.
Silicone: This plastic material is so flexible and lightweight that it feels like rubber, and it's oven-safe up to 500°F. Nonstick coating isn't necessary for silicone pans because you can "invert" the cups and easily pop out your muffins once they're baked and cooled.
Traditional muffin pans are also available in cast iron, stoneware, and glass.
Muffin pan sizes
Standard: Regular muffin pans have cups designed to hold half a cup of batter. This will produce standard-size muffins.
Mini: The cups of mini muffin pans are about half the size of standard ones. They are designed to hold 1/8 to 1/4 cup of batter in each cup. These are great for baking muffins for kids or dieters.
Jumbo: For big eaters, jumbo muffin pans are designed to hold between 1/2 and one cup of batter, depending on the manufacturer. Many bakeries use jumbo pans.
Muffin top: These pans are shallow and designed to only produce the "tops" of muffins. Msy consumers say the "top" is their favorite part.
Number of cups: Standard-size pans have anywhere from six to 24 cups per pan, though 12 cups are most common for muffin pans. Mini muffin pans typically have 24 cups. Jumbo muffin pans may have as little as three or four cups per pan.
Nonstick coating types
The most helpful feature of many muffins pans is a coating that allows for food release and keeps your muffins intact during the removal process. Nonstick coating eliminates the need to individually grease cups or use paper liners.
Teflon: Also called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), this is a slippery coating that is used in metal pans. Be aware that Teflon breaks down over 500°F, so never use it above that temperature for your safety.
Ceramic: Another nonstick material used on metal pans is a thin layer of ceramic. This is an eco-friendly, nontoxic option. However, it tends to be pricey and can lose its wear over time.
Superhydrophobic: This newer type of coating is designed to be water repellant, a quality that effectively keeps your muffins from sticking to the pan. It's made from different nanoscopic materials.
Muffin pans range in price from $10 to $25. For under $10, expect to get a nonstick steel pan that may break down over time. For $10 to $15, you can find silicone muffin pans and pans with handy side grips. Aluminum pans and ceramic-coated ones are priced between $15 and $20. For top-of-the-line stainless steel pans and cast-iron pans, expect to pay upwards of $25.
Q. I've noticed some muffin pans have a ridge near the top of their cups. What are those for?
A. These extra ridges, or lips, are a nice feature that helps the top part of the muffin rise up and not out, creating a high dome that many prefer atop a good muffin.
Q. Is there a difference between a muffin pan and a cupcake pan?
A. There is a slight difference. Muffin pans tend to be slightly deeper than cupcake pans and have straighter cup walls. Cupcake pans have more slanted cup walls.
Muffin pans we recommend
Best of the best: USA Bakeware Cupcake and Muffin Pan
Our take: A nonstick, commercial-grade pan of very durable aluminized steel.
What we like: Lasts a lifetime. Nonstick coating is BPA, PTFE, and PFOA free. Doesn't need to be greased, and nonstick coating handles wet batters.
What we dislike: Must be washed by hand. Pricey.
Best bang for your buck: Rachel Ray Oven Lovin' Non-stick 12-cup Muffin and Cupcake Pan
Our take: An inexpensive pan that's easy to use both in and out of the oven.
What we like: Features silicone grip handles. Nonstick. Quality steel construction from a trusted brand. Easy to clean.
What we dislike: Nothing.
Choice 3: Farm Table Chef Silicone Muffin Pan Set
Our take: A silicone mini and standard muffin pan set with accessories.
What we like: Comes with two pans for a total of 36 muffins for a good price. Silicone is free of BPA. Includes scoops and mini spatulas.
What we dislike: Can't buy the pans individually.
Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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