Home-baked muffins are tasty treats, and recipes abound with flavor options and fruit or nut add-ins. Yet while ingredients are important, the secret to amazing results—even baking and beautiful browning—is a quality muffin pan. What’s more, the current array of muffin pans lets you choose the size that suits your style, from minis to jumbos and even just muffin tops. Read on to learn what to look for in the best muffin pan and why the following products are considered quality purchases.
- BEST OVERALL: USA Pan Bakeware Cupcake and Muffin Pan
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: CAKETIME 12 Cups Silicone Muffin Pan
- BEST FOR MUFFIN TOPS: Wilton Perfect Results Muffin Top Baking Pan
- BEST FOR LARGE MUFFINS: OvenStuff Non-Stick 6 Cup Jumbo Muffin Pan
- BEST FOR MINI MUFFINS: Wilton Perfect Results Mini Muffin Pan
- BEST FOR EVEN BAKING: CHEFMADE Muffin Cake Pan
- BEST FOR SECURE GRIP: Rachael Ray Yum-o Nonstick 12-cup Muffin Tin
- BEST FOR BAKED EGGS: keliwa’s 12-Cup Silicone Muffin Baking Pan
Muffin Pan Materials
Muffin pans are made from aluminium, stainless steel, carbon steel, and silicone. Choose the material that best suits your baking goals.
Aluminum bakeware conducts heat well and heats up and cools down quickly. This reliable heat-conducting capacity tends to yield even baking results. Untreated aluminum can react with acidic foods like tomatoes, but it would be unusual to find acidic ingredients in a muffin recipe. Additionally, most aluminum bakeware is anodized (coated with a protective oxide layer) for durability and scratch resistance and is also coated with a nonstick material, so reactivity shouldn’t be an issue.
Both lightweight and recyclable, aluminum is nontoxic and does not leach out to cause health problems. A widely circulated rumor that began in the 1960s claimed that aluminum cookware led to Alzheimer’s disease, but according to the Alzheimer’s Association, this is a false and misleading myth.
Stainless steel is a nontoxic, nonreactive metal that’s typically heavier than aluminum. Though strong, durable, and relatively inexpensive, stainless steel doesn’t conduct heat as well as aluminum, so muffins made in stainless steel pans may not bake evenly. Some high-end stainless steel bakeware is constructed with an inner core of aluminum or copper to improve heat conductivity and ensure even baking.
A safe, nontoxic bakeware material, carbon steel (steel with a minute amount of carbon) heats quickly and retains heat well to provide even baking results. Carbon steel requires special maintenance, however. Much like cast iron bakeware, a carbon steel muffin pan must be seasoned before and after use with oil or fat in order to make the surface nonstick.
To prevent rusting, be sure to dry your carbon steel muffin pan completely after cleaning, and season it before putting it away. Carbon steel is lighter in weight than cast iron, making it easier to whisk in and out of the oven.
A synthetic, rubber-like material that is lightweight and flexible, silicone is one of the newest trends in bakeware. It’s nonreactive, nontoxic, and nonstick, but also highly resistant to heat. Silicone doesn’t conduct heat as well as metal, which can lead to uneven baking.
Although silicone bakeware is nonstick, some baking experts recommend a light greasing before use with cooking spray, vegetable oil, or melted butter.
Silicone bakeware is available in bright colors, which can add to the fun of making muffins, especially if children are involved. For added stability, use a metal cookie sheet under a silicone muffin pan.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Muffin Pan
Your personal baking needs and preferences will steer you toward the best muffin pans, but keep these factors and features in mind as you shop.
Muffin pans feature wells or cups into which batter is poured. The size of these wells determines the size of the finished product. Muffins come in three basic sizes: standard, mini, and large (jumbo).
The typical dimensions of standard-sized wells is approximately 2.75 by 1.4 inches. For mini muffins, choose a pan with wells measuring around 1.5 by 1 inches. If jumbo muffins are on the menu, go with wells measuring approximately 3.75 by 1.5 inches.
Many people who enjoy baking for different functions have a collection of muffin pans. For instance, you might want to make two batches of minis for a large gathering, such as an office party. If you’re having overnight guests, you may wish to bake a pan of jumbos for brunch.
Most standard-size muffin pans feature 12 cups or wells, while pans for mini muffins offer 24 wells. Jumbo muffin pans only have six large wells, so if you want to bake a dozen jumbos, you’ll need two pans.
Grips and Handles
Grips and handles let you get a secure grasp on a muffin pan when placing it into or removing it from the oven. These features can help you avoid spilling batter on the way in and dropping the pan while wearing bulky oven mitts on the way out. Grips and handles are especially important to make baking easier for those who experience pain and stiffness in their hands or wrists from arthritis or other conditions.
Pan thickness determines how quickly muffins bake and, in general, a thicker pan is more effective for even baking. A thick metal pan typically provides more even heat distribution than a thinner one. With thinner material, hot spots will develop around the pan, potentially leading to dry, overdone muffin bottoms.
Even heat distribution helps ensure that muffins turn out just right. Aluminum is perhaps the best material for even heat distribution, especially if it is anodized. Stainless steel bakeware, with an inner core of aluminum or copper, helps ensure even baking. Silicone muffin pans are not as good at conducting heat as metal pans.
Natural vs. Coated Nonstick
Nonstick coating helps muffins release from the pan after baking. This means that you can turn out smooth, whole muffins, and then clean the pan with ease. Consult product descriptions to ensure that nonstick coatings are free from harmful chemicals such as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and bisphenol A (BPA). Even when using nonstick pans, most baking experts recommend lightly greasing pan wells, so muffins pop out neatly and easily.
Light vs. Dark Pans
When shopping for the best muffin pans, you may notice that some are darker colored than others. Dark pans catch and hold heat more readily than lighter ones, as lighter, shinier metal deflects heat away. Muffins will bake and brown more quickly in a dark pan, so based on the color of your pan, you may need to adjust the baking time given in a recipe to get the best results.
Due to the way they absorb heat, dark pans may also bake muffins more quickly on the bottom, producing an uneven result. To avoid this problem, try dropping the recommended oven temperature by about 25 degrees Fahrenheit when baking muffins in a dark pan.
Our Top Picks
Now that you have a sense of muffin pan capabilities, consider the key features that will work for you. The following products were chosen based on the criteria detailed above to help you select one of the best muffin pans.
If you hope to bake like a pro and enjoy fuss-free cleanup, this USA Pan product is worth checking out. The muffin pan offers the durability of a commercial grade, heavy-gauge aluminized steel pan and the convenience of a safe, nonstick coating. Aluminized steel provides even heat distribution for dependable results.
The patented Americoat coating is made from silicone that’s free of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and bisphenol A (BPA) chemicals. This silicone coating allows you to quickly release your baked muffins, while cleanup and care are as simple as a swish and rinse with hot water and mild dish detergent. This pan, featuring 12 standard-sized muffin wells, measures 15.75 by 1.3 by 1.33 inches overall with each well measuring 2.75 by 1.38 inches.
The CAKETIME silicone muffin pan is a lightweight, durable, and budget-friendly alternative to metal pans. Resistant to extremely hot or cold temperatures, the pan is safe for the oven, microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator, and freezer, so in addition to muffins, you can use this versatile pan for cheesecake, mousse, custard, and more.
This cheerful red pan will bake a dozen standard-sized, 2.75 by 1.1 inches muffins. Remember, silicone is flexible, so place the pan on a cookie sheet for stability. When muffins are done, simply press the pan lightly and your baked treats should pop right out. Then, simply clean the pan with mild soap and water.
Many people find something irresistible about the crusty brown outside and soft inside of the top portion of a muffin. This Wilton pan lets you bake muffin tops without the bottom, and it’s even more versatile than that. Its uniquely-shaped cups can be an excellent vehicle for baking mini taco shells, egg sandwiches, cloud bread, and more.
The 12-cavity Wilton muffin top pan is made of steel with a nonstick coating. It measures 0.78 by 11.65 by 16.8 inches overall and features oversized handles for easy gripping. The nonstick coating releases baked goods quickly and cleanly. Although this muffin pan is dishwasher safe, you may prefer to hand wash it with mild dish detergent to maintain the finish.
If you think bigger is better when it comes to muffins, the OvenStuff muffin pan may be the one for you. The 12.7-inch by 8.7-inch by 1.7-inch pan boasts six oversized wells measuring 3.5 inches in diameter. In addition to your favorite mega muffins, you can use it to turn out giant cupcakes, miniature cakes, and more.
This muffin pan is made from heavy-weight steel with a nonstick coating that’s nontoxic and PFOA-free. OvenStuff’s patented DuraGlide PLUS coating allows for a neat release of baked muffins. Handwashing is recommended to keep the pan in top form.
Mini muffins can be as cute as they are tasty—and they can disappear fast. Fortunately, this Wilton pan will let you whip up 24 tiny treats (measuring 1 by 1.5 inches) in one go. The pan is made of heavy-duty, cold-rolled steel (the cold-rolling process adds strength and durability) and features a quick-release, nonstick coating so the minis can come out neatly.
The pan measures 10 by 16 by 1 inches overall, and features oversized handles, making it easy to grip going in and out of the oven. Although the pan is dishwasher safe, the manufacturer recommends handwashing with mild detergent for best results.
If you’ve been disappointed in the past by muffins that got burned on the bottom or were underbaked in the center, this CHEFMADE pan might improve your results. This muffin cake pan is made of commercial-grade carbon steel to promote even baking results, and its 0.8-millimeter thickness contributes to even baking as well. Food-grade silicone coating ensures easy release of baked muffins, and its nonstick coating is free of PTFE and PFOA chemicals.
The edges of the pan are reinforced to avoid warping. Due to the thickness of carbon steel, this pan bakes quickly, so you can serve up muffins faster and just might save some energy, too.
If you want to ensure safe, secure handling of your muffin pan, check out this Rachael Ray offering. Brightly-colored silicone handles let you get a grip with comfort and confidence, a plus when wearing oven mitts or if you experience pain and stiffness in your hands.
Made from heavy-gauge, anodized steel, this sturdy muffin pan resists warping, and the nonstick coating allows for easy muffin release and cleanup. The pan measures 15.5 by 10.5 by 1.5 inches overall and has 12 wells for baking a dozen standard-sized muffins.
Runny yolks and soft whites make baked eggs a breakfast delicacy that, with this Keliwa muffin pan, you may enjoy more regularly. Flexible, nonstick silicone allows baked eggs to release and slide out neatly onto the plate. Each cup is about 2.5 inches in diameter, allowing room for an egg plus add-ins if desired.
This pan is BPA-free and safe for the microwave, freezer, and dishwasher. It’s heat resistant up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to silicone’s flexible nature, this muffin pan is best used on a cookie sheet for stability.
FAQs About Muffin Pans
If you want further info about muffin pans, consider the answers to these commonly asked questions.
Q. Is there a difference between a cupcake pan and a muffin pan?
These two types of baking pans are very similar, but muffin pans tend to have more space between the wells to allow muffin tops to spread out during baking.
Q. Should I spray a nonstick muffin pan?
Even when a pan purports to be nonstick, it’s best to grease lightly with melted butter, oil, or cooking spray before pouring in batter to help ensure a neat release of muffins and simplify cleanup.
Q. Can you bake muffins without muffin liners?
You can absolutely bake muffins without liners if you grease your pan well enough. The most effective way to grease a muffin pan is with a pastry brush.