We Tested 14 Muffin Pans to Find the Best Ones

Our favorites are from USA Pan and OXO.

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an array of muffin tins, with two stacked on top of the others

Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

Straight to the Point

Our favorite muffin pan is the USA Pan Bakeware Muffin Pan. Delicate cupcakes slid out with ease, blueberry muffins rose beautifully and released easily, and egg frittatas cooked evenly. We also liked the OXO Non-Stick Pro Muffin Pan; the larger rim made it a cinch to grab, and baked goods released easily from the cups.

A bad muffin pan can turn a fun baking session into a stressful one: no one wants muffins that stick in the tin or that emerge too pale, too brown, too dry, or not domed enough. As Stella Parks explained when we previously reviewed muffin pans in 2016, a bad muffin pan can be too blame for all of the aforementioned. "How quickly a pan conducts heat will influence how long the batter needs to bake and how deeply it will brown along the edges, while the texture and shape of the pan itself will determine the proportions of the muffin's dome," she noted.

With this in mind, we set out to find the best, most versatile muffin pans. In our previous review, Stella overall preferred nonstick-coated muffin pans for their browning, lift, and release. She also noted standard, uncoated aluminum muffin pans (what commercial bakeries favor) are assets for white cupcakes, as aluminum bakes quickly and reflects light, helping to minimize browning (this also means they will likely produce too-pale muffins). So, for this review, we tested nonstick and uncoated aluminum muffin pans, as well as a couple of silicone models. While we previously didn't recommend silicone muffin pans, we felt their popularity still warranted their inclusion in our updated testing.

The Winners, at a Glance

The Best Muffin Pan: USA Pan Bakeware Muffin Pan

USA Pan Bakeware Muffin Pan

This nonstick muffin pan had standard-sized muffin cups (about 100 milliliters, or a heaping 1/3-cup per cavity) that released cupcakes, muffins, and egg frittatas with ease. We found baked goods browned evenly and rose properly. Clean-up was also painless, with baked-on batter and sugar scrubbing off quickly (nonstick can scratch, though, so be sure to use a nonstick-safe scrubbing pad or soft sponge). We also liked its border's grippy, textured surface.

The Most User-Friendly Muffin Pan: OXO Non-Stick Pro Muffin Pan

OXO Good Grips Nonstick Pro 12-Cup Muffin Pan

While this pan had standard-size muffin cups, its edges were larger than most, sporting a textured surface and thick rim. These features made it easier to grab and move into and out of the oven and kept oven mitt-clad hands away from delicate muffin tops. The nonstick surface was also easy to clean, and cupcakes and muffins released easily and without any sticking. (Note: the pan we received did not have the cross-hatch pattern of the OXO model shown in the product's listing; we think this was a production error, but in all other respects the pan we tested was the same.)

The Tests

blueberry muffins made in two different tins

Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

  • Cupcake Test: We baked cupcakes directly in the tins, without cupcake liners, to see how evenly the results baked up, if they stuck, and how difficult it was to clean the muffin pan afterwards.
  • Blueberry Muffins Test: We baked homemade blueberry muffins, without paper liners, to see how well the muffins rose, browned, and released from each pan. We also topped the muffin batter with a generous amount of turbinado sugar, knowing that some of the sugar would caramelize and adhere to the pans, making them extra hard to clean. We then hand-washed each pan to see how difficult it was to scrub off the burnt sugar.
  • Frittata Test: We baked mini frittatas with shredded gruyere cheese, mushrooms, and onions in the muffin pans to see how roomy the cups were, how evenly the frittatas cooked and browned, how easily they released from the pans, and how difficult it was to clean the pans afterwards.
  • Durability Test: We took a butter knife and gently scratched the muffin pan (the bottom and sides of its cups) 10 times to simulate general wear and tear. We then checked for damage.
  • Usability Tests: During the course of our testing, we noted if the pans were easy to fill, if they were comfortable to hold and maneuver, and if they were easy to clean.

What We Learned

Standard Muffin Cup Size Wasn't so Standard

During our testing, we found out the "standard" muffin pan wasn't actually that standard. When we measured the muffin cups with water, the capacities ranged from 82 milliliters  (Nordic Ware) to 112 milliliters (GreenLife). With a 20-milliliter difference, batter in the small Nordic Ware cup overflowed and flattened when baked, while batter in the large GreenLife cup stayed nestled inside, not creating that coveted muffin top. Instead, pick a muffin pan that has a medium-size muffin cup, roughly 100 milliliters in capacity, as that seems to be the size that most recipes are designed for. Our favorite pans, the USA Pan and OXO muffin pan, both had 100-milliliter cups, and muffins, cupcakes, and frittatas all baked up tall and golden brown.

Stick with Nonstick

muffins upside down on cooling rack
Uncoated aluminum (left) versus nonstick coated (right).

Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

Because muffins often mushroom out, creating the much loved muffin top, we preferred nonstick-coated muffin pans. Normally we say nay to nonstick, but in this case, nearly all the metal muffin pans we tested had some sort of nonstick coating, with the exception of the Nordic Ware pan. These nonstick pans were much easier to clean and many were dishwasher-safe (though we recommend hand-washing nonstick).

Outside of cleanup, there are performance reasons to consider nonstick. Typically made from steel that's covered with some sort of proprietary nonstick coating, nonstick muffin tins have darker coatings that absorb more light than uncoated aluminum (as well as silicone), meaning baked goods brown more thoroughly. All of the nonstick pans we tested were also much heavier than the uncoated aluminum muffin pan. This meant there was more metal to heat up and, therefore, the pans conducted heat more slowly, leading to a longer bake time and improving the rise of some batters (like muffins).

Skip Silicone Muffin Pans

pile of muffin tins including silicone one
Silicone muffin pans have both performance and usability issues.

Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

As we noted above: we really didn't like silicone muffin pans.Silicone is nonstick and flexible, which means cupcakes, muffins, and other sticky and delicate items can be popped out (though this makes it easy to squish muffins during removal). It also doesn’t conduct heat the same way metal does, and everything we baked in the silicone muffin pans we tested came out pale and underdone. Because silicone muffin pans are so floppy, they're often placed on a sheet pan and then into an oven. This is no better and, as Stella explained in our previous review, "not only do the muffins now require twice as much equipment, they'll invariably brown too much along the bottom where the silicone touches the metal."

Lighter Colored Nonstick Pans Baked Better

muffin tins next to muffins

Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

If we're splitting hairs (as we tend to do...), we preferred lighter colored muffin pans over ones that were darker or even dark blue. (We had similar findings during our nonstick baking sheet review.) Darker pans—like the ones from Great Jones, Le Creuset, and Anolon—baked muffins more deeply than the golden brown we were aiming for and had dryer crusts. Lighter colored muffin pans, like the USA Pan, OXO, and Williams Sonoma, all baked up with a nice, even golden brown color.

The Criteria: What to Look For in a Good Muffin Pan

A seriously good muffin tin: nonstick, medium capacity, light colored

Serious Eats / Irvin Lin / Grace Kelly

While we normally don’t promote buying nonstick, this is one of the few instances we recommend springing for it. Even if you plan on using paper liners in the muffin tin, our favorite nonstick muffin pans yielded even browning and good rising.

Pick a muffin pan that has a medium-capacity cup, about 100 milliliters, since most muffin and cupcake recipes are designed with this size in mind. We also recommend getting a lighter-colored nonstick muffin tin, which yielded more optimal browning than darker nonstick pans.

The Best Muffin Pan: USA Pan Bakeware Muffin Pan

USA Pan Bakeware Muffin Pan

What we liked: This pan was sturdy and durable. Cupcakes rose well and baked evenly, muffins had beautiful tops, and frittatas cooked up consistently with golden-brown exteriors and moist, set interiors. Its slick, nonstick coating made for easy baked good removal and kept cleanup simple, with minimal scrubbing needed. We also liked that this pan had medium-sized cups (100 milliliters in capacity), making them versatile and able to work with most recipes. Plus, even after multiple baking, cooking, and durability tests, the pan still looked like new, with minimal wear.

What we didn’t like: Because of its silicone nonstick coating, cooking spray is not recommended to be used on this pan. It’s also not dishwasher-safe.

Price at time of publish: $30.

Key Specs

  • Material: Aluminized steel with nonstick silicone coating
  • Weight: 2 pounds, 8 1/4 ounces
  • Cup capacity: 100 milliliters
  • Depth and width of cup: 1 1/2 inches deep, 2 3/4 inches wide (at top)
  • Overall dimensions: 15 3/4 inches x 11 inches x 1 3/8 inches
  • Maximum oven temperature: 450°F
  • Cleaning and care: Hand-wash only
usa pan muffin tin

Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

The Most User-Friendly Muffin Pan: OXO Non-Stick Pro Muffin Pan

OXO Good Grips Nonstick Pro 12-Cup Muffin Pan

What we liked: This pan had an extra-large rim, wide borders, and a textured, grippy surface. The larger rim and squared-off, thick ridge made it easy to grab the pan, even when wearing cumbersome oven mitts. And the light, gold-colored nonstick coating released cupcakes, muffins, and frittatas easily and browned evenly. Cleanup was fairly painless as well. Plus, like the USA Pan, the cups are 100 milliliters, so most recipes should bake up well. We found the pan to be quite durable and no staining or scratching occurred. It’s also dishwasher-safe.

What we didn’t like: The thin crevice between the muffin cup and the top of the pan trapped bits of baked-on batter. A light scrubbing with a kitchen brush seemed to get the residue off, but it was a bit annoying. It was also larger than other muffin pans, requiring more storage space.

Price at time of publish: $28.

Key Specs

  • Material: Aluminized steel, ceramic-reinforced nonstick coating
  • Weight: 1 pound, 14.5 ounces
  • Cup capacity: 100 milliliters
  • Depth and width of cup: 1 1/2 inches deep, 2 3/4 inches wide (at top)
  • Overall dimensions: 16 1/2 inches x 11 3/4 inches x 1 5/8 inches
  • Maximum oven temperature: 450°F
  • Cleaning and care: Dishwasher-safe, though hand-washing is recommended
oxo muffin tin

Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

The Competition

FAQs

What is the best material for a muffin pan?

Look for a muffin pan that's metal and has a nonstick coating, which will conduct heat well and promote even browning, a nice rise, and easy release. Avoid silicone pans, as they don’t brown or conduct heat as well as metal does.

What are common sizes for muffin pans?

Unless it is specified as mini muffins or jumbo muffins, most recipes that call for a muffin pan are designed for standard muffin pans. Look for a muffin pan that has a cup that holds about 100 milliliters of batter, a generous 1/3-cup.

What’s the best way to clean a muffin pan?

Unless the pan says it’s dishwasher-safe, it's best to hand-wash it since the harsh detergents and heat from a dishwasher can damage the nonstick coating.

What are the best muffin tin liners?

We recommend foil liners. They're sturdy (helping with more rounded dome formation) and sold in most grocery stores.

Originally written by
Stella Parks
Stella Parks
Stella Parks is a CIA-trained baking nerd and pastry wizard, dubbed one of America's Best New Pastry Chefs by Food & Wine. She was the pastry editor at Serious Eats from 2016 to 2019.
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