Best Muffin Pans

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

32 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
294 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best muffin pans

Last Updated August 2019

If you are longing for the ability to make those yummy, fluffy muffins from the bakery at home, you are going to need the right equipment. A muffin pan is a baking pan designed with individual cooking cups. These cups will help you bake up creations like muffins, cupcakes, and mini quiches that are easy to take on the go, freeze, or share with friends.

Unlike a cupcake, a muffin is usually a healthier option. It is best to think of the muffin as more of a quick-bread than a cake. While there are thousands of easily available recipes, many are filled with nuts, fruit, seeds, and oats. The pan you choose can make a difference in how successful you are with the final product, particularly if you are hoping to get a crispy, high and rounded “dome” top, like the ones professional bakers produce.

While a muffin pan may seem like a simple product, there are a lot of things to consider before you buy. Size, material, nonstick material, and number of cups will vary from pan to pan. We want you to be successful with your purchase, so take a look at the shopping guide below to get an idea of the kinds of things you should consider before you buy.

A muffin pan will ideally have more distance between the cups than a cupcake pan, allowing space for muffin tops to expand without overlapping.

Muffin pan considerations

Size

Muffin pans come in three sizes: standard, mini, and jumbo. There are also pans specifically designed to only create muffin tops.

  • Standard: A standard sized muffin pan will hold about one half cup of batter or slightly less in each muffin cup. This is the most common size for homemade muffins.

  • Mini: Mini muffins are roughly half the size of a standard muffin. You should be able to put somewhere between one eighth to one fourth cup of batter in each cup. These muffins will be just one or two bites. They are great for portion control if you’re watching caloric intake, or for light eaters like kids who never finish a whole standard sized muffin.

  • Jumbo: These tins are much larger than your standard muffin. They will vary in size based on the manufacturer. Jumbo muffin pans will hold somewhere between one half to 1 cup of batter. If you are trying to make a bakery style muffin at home, you may want to try the jumbo sized pan. These are the size many bakeries use.

  • Muffin top: These are shallow cups that bake up most people’s favorite part of muffins — the tops.
     

Depth

The depth of the cup will vary, even on standard sized pans. On the short side, a standard sized muffin pan will offer a depth of about 1 inch. Deeper pans will be closer to 1.5 inches. Muffin top pans will be less than 1 inch deep.

Number of cups

Pans come in standard number of cups that range from 6 to 24 (although some of the jumbo cupcake pans may only have 3 or 4 in a pan). A standard sized muffin pan with six cups might be the best choice for a single person or small household. The most common muffin pan has twelve standard sized muffin cups and is a good number for most families, or if you hope to freeze some for later. If you want to have muffins to share with friends or co-workers, you will want to get a 24 cup pan. The 24-cup pan is quite large, however, so if you are short on storage space but still plan to bake the muffins to share, consider getting two stackable 12-cup muffin pans.

Materials

The most common materials for muffin pans on the market are coated steel or stainless steel, aluminum, and silicone. You can find some muffin pans in cast iron, stone, or glass, but these are not common. Here are some things to keep in mind when you choose material.

  • Coated steel: Coated steel pans will have a nonstick coating over steel. They are sturdy, reliable, and cheap. However, the pans are prone to rust and become unusable when the nonstick coating wears off.

  • Stainless steel: Stainless steel muffin tins clean easily and resist both scratching and rust. They are also beautiful. Some don’t think they bake as evenly as aluminum, but they are very durable and will keep their shape better than aluminum.

  • Aluminum: A favorite choice for muffin pans, aluminum is a smooth heat conductor and will bake your muffins evenly. These pans will be lightweight and should not corrode. They can be more difficult to clean, though, and over time they could develop little holes which may affect your baking. You can find aluminum in a variety of thicknesses. The thicker aluminum will last longer, but be heavier.

  • Silicone: The silicone muffin pan is made from a flexible material that is lightweight and feels a little bit like rubber. You can actually invert the holes on this to easily pop muffins out of the pan after they are baked and cooled off. Silicone is lightweight and can be used in the microwave. While these pans are limited on the temperatures they can withstand, most can handle up to 500º F, which is sufficient for just about every muffin recipe.

  • Cast iron: This traditional material is most often used for corn muffins. These are heavy, like the pans your great grandparents would have used. After seasoning, they are naturally nonstick. However, care of cast iron is a bit tricky, and they require regular “seasoning”, or treating them with oil so food doesn't stick to them. If you want this type of pan, make sure you learn how to clean it: don’t use soap and never put it in the dishwasher.

  • Stoneware: While not as common, if you like baking with stoneware, there are muffin pans available in this material. These should be seasoned like cast iron. Some are only rated for 400º F max, which makes them a poor choice for getting those beautiful raised tops on your muffins.
     

Pan color

The color of your pan can make a difference in your finished product. If you buy a metal pan, you will notice variations in the color of the metal.

  • Darker pans will bake quicker and be able to deliver a crispier edge.

  • Light colored pans will distribute the heat more evenly. They can bake slower and are able to maintain more moisture in your final product.
     

This rule does not apply to silicone pans, which usually come in bright or primary colors. Because silicone pans do not conduct heat, the color you choose should simply be one you like.

DID YOU KNOW?

Baking times on your recipes may change based on the size of muffins you are making. Mini pans will bake quicker. Jumbo sized pans will require longer to bake completely.

Additional features to consider

Nonstick coating

The most frustrating thing about baking muffins is when you are not easily able to get them out of the pan after they bake without a mess. Spraying or greasing each individual muffin cup can be a tedious experience (as can using paper liners), so many bakers opt for a pan with a nonstick coating. If you want this option, there are three main choices:

  • Teflon: This slippery coating is the most common nonstick option for metal pans. While considered generally safe and effective, it is important to keep in mind that Teflon breaks down at temperatures over 500º F. Never bake with a nonstick coated baking pan at this temperature.

  • Ceramic: This environmentally friendly option is created by spreading a thin layer of ceramic over the inside of a metal baking pan. It is very effective, but usually costs a lot more. If can also lose its nonstick properties with wear over time.

  • Superhydrophobic coating: This is the newest type of nonstick coating. It can be created from a variety of materials. The word refers to a coating designed to repel water — making it roll up into drops.This function can make it very effective at keeping your muffins from sticking to the pan.
     

Side grabs

A handy feature you may overlook are the side-grabs. The simple function of this feature on your muffin pan is to make it easier to take out of the oven without touching the baked goods. Some also come with holes that will allow you to grab the muffin pan out with a potholder or oven mitt more easily. You can find metal muffin pans with silicone grabs. The drawback to this kind of grab is that it will make your muffin pans more difficult to stack in the cabinet.

Lip on the cups

You may have noticed a small extra ridge near the top of the cup on some muffin pans. The function of this ridge is to help the muffin top rise up rather than out. Choose this style if you are trying to get those lovely high domes on your homemade muffins.

The easiest way to make sure you can get your muffins out of the pan easily after baking is to use muffin liners. They will also make clean-up easier.

Staff
BestReviews

Muffin pan prices

Since most recipes are created to make 12 standard sized muffins. We have compared prices for you on those muffin pans that make a dozen.

Inexpensive

At under $10, these pans will usually be of a lower quality. They are often steel with a nonstick coating. These pans must be cared for properly, or they will lose their nonstick quality and potentially rust. You can also find silicone models at this price point. Unless you only plan to make muffins on a very rare occasion, we recommend at least spending $10.

Low mid-range

At $10 to $15 you will start to find wider side grips and holes for hanging which will make your storage options more flexible. You will also find some more creative designs for helping you achieve the desired shape for your muffins.

High mid-range

These still reasonably priced models will start at about $15 to $25. At this price point you will begin to see aluminum or aluminum mixed with other metals like copper or steel. These may be considered industrial grade. You can purchase a ceramic coated pan in this range.

Expensive

For $25 and up you are going to find better quality and longer lasting muffin pans. The exact price will likely depend on the material. A stainless steel muffin pan will cost about $35. A cast iron muffin pan at the same price will likely only be a six cup pan.

EXPERT TIP

While the six muffin pan might be more practical for a small household, you will most likely need to half the recipe. To have enough batter to fill a 24 muffin pan, double most recipes.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • If you want your muffins to have a beautiful domed top, try baking them for the first five minutes at a higher temperature (for example, 425º), then reduce the heat to the normal baking temperature called for in the recipe for the rest of the cook time.

  • To get an attractive domed top on a muffin, you should fill the cups most of the way to the top with the thick muffin batter. This is different than a cupcake, which is a cake batter and rises more. If you are making cupcakes, fill the cups only about three fourths of the way to the top.

  • If you choose a dark colored muffin tin, you may want to lower your baking temperature by 25º F, or shorten your baking time.

  • While your muffins may look done, insert a toothpick into the center of a muffin in the center of the pan and see if it comes out clean. Also, be careful not to overcook them, or they will take on a rubbery texture.

  • The biggest mistake people make before they even bake muffins is to overmix the dough. Only mix until the ingredients are fully incorporated, or they will turn out tough and not rise as high.

  • Some muffin pans come with an attachable lid with a handle on top and plenty of space so that high-topped muffins or frosted cupcakes can easily be taken on the go.

Other products we considered

In our shopping guide suggestions, we looked at full muffin pans. If the top of the muffin is your favorite part,  you can buy pan for baking just the muffin top. These will create narrow cakes that look like the top of the muffin. These muffin top pans by Chicago Metallic holds six, has a non-stick surface, and can also work well for cooking eggs in the oven. If you really like muffin tops, Wilton makes a pan that can help you create a dozen at a time. Freshware makes a decent silicone version, offered in either a 3 inch or 4 inch top.

Most recipes that say they will yield a dozen muffins are referring to the cup volume in standard sized pans.

FAQ

Q. Is there any difference between a muffin pan and a cupcake pan?

A. A lot of people just use the same pan for either a muffin or a cupcake. However, there is a difference. Muffin pans tend to have straight sides and may be a little deeper than a standard cupcake pan. Cupcake pans have slightly slanted sides.

Q. What is the difference between an enameled pan and a ceramic coated pan?

A. Both are types of nonstick coating which are durable and considered safe. Enameling is usually done with porcelain on cast iron. This is a type of coating that can provide a nonstick surface that is stronger and lasts longer. Ceramic coated pans over steel are a good option for an eco-friendly nonstick pan.

The team that worked on this review
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Karen
    Karen
    Writer
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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