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Cupcakes and muffins are genius creations that allow you to enjoy a delicious treat in the palm of your hand! These two desserts are usually baked in the same type of pan, a muffin pan, using liners. But how do you bake cupcakes and muffins without liners?
As a whole, there are four effective ways to bake muffins and cupcakes without liners. Greasing your pan, using parchment paper, using aluminum foil, and using silicone molds are the best ways to prevent your muffins and cupcakes from sticking to the pan. This is ultimately the reason for their use.
The worst moment about baking is finding out you’ve run out of something! Liners are convenient but sometimes I forget to buy more. Read on for some tips and tricks I found out about baking cupcakes and muffins without liners!
Why do you use liners when baking cupcakes & muffins?
Generally speaking, liners are used because of their convenience. Liners minimize the clean-up necessary after using muffin pans, and they also help shape and stabilize cupcakes and muffins. In addition to these benefits, liners help cupcakes and muffins stay moist longer.
Whenever I bake cupcakes or muffins, I prefer to use liners, if possible, because they provide many benefits, especially when I need to make multiple batches of these treats.
When I use liners and I’m careful not to get batter on my pans, I can make multiple batches of cupcakes and only have to do a quick wash of the pans in between each use since the liners help prevent burnt batter or crumbs from being on them.
On top of that, liners make displaying cupcakes and muffins easier after baking them since they provide a nice protective layer that both help prevent the treats from drying out and act as a barrier when I need to touch them for transport.
Furthermore, liners also help muffins and cupcakes keep their shape both while baking and when they are on display. Liners also help prevent the edges of cupcakes and muffins from baking too fast since they keep the edges of cupcakes and muffins from directly touching the pan while baking.
Lastly, liners look nice and can act as additional décor when you use themed liners for a holiday or party.
During my search for the perfect muffin/cupcake, I came across a Great Nonstick 12-Cup Muffin Pan that will make my muffins/cupcakes the perfect size. Ever since I got it, my muffins came out looking better than ever before! You can find this Muffin Tin on Amazon!
There may be times, however, when you find yourself wanting to make muffins or cupcakes, but you do not have any liners, or you may have some, but not enough for how many muffins or cupcakes you need to make.
I’ve found myself in this position a few times, and because of that, I now know a few ways you can bake cupcakes and muffins without using liners!
|What To Do When You Don’t Have Liners|
|Grease your pan with butter, vegetable oil, or baking spray|
|Line muffin pan wells with parchment paper|
|Line muffin pan wells with aluminum foil (and grease them)|
|Use silicone molds or silicone liners|
|Use pre-lined aluminum cups meant for cupcakes and muffins|
1. Grease your pan
Generally speaking, greasing your pan is one of the best ways you can bake cupcakes and muffins without liners. You can use butter, oil, or sprays to grease your pan. Each oil has its pros but make sure not to overcoat the pan as it can make your dough greasy. Use just enough to cover the surface.
When I need to grease my pan because I don’t have liners, I usually only use butter when making muffins because using butter can leave behind a flavor that I think works well when baking muffins but not so much when making cupcakes.
According to cookbook author and baking instructor Joy Wilson:
You need a layer of fat in between a metal pan and gluten and sugar so that your cake will release from the pan after it’s baked!
I, as well as many of my friends and family, like to put butter on our muffins, so baking my muffins with a butter-greased pan just adds more of that flavor combination we like.
When greasing my pan with butter, there are a couple of ways I may do it.
One way is to melt some butter in a bowl and then use a small pastry brush, (or a paper towel if a brush isn’t available), to grease the muffin pan with butter.
*Side Note: I recently wrote an article explaining Why Your Cupcakes Might Overflow & Sink while baking. In this article, I spoke about all the ways to fix and prevent sinking and overflowing cupcakes. You can check out this article here!
It’s important not to add too much because the butter can make your muffins bake too fast on their sides and bottoms, but you don’t want to add too little either because it can make getting your muffins out later more difficult.
You know you’ve added too much if you see a lot of butter collecting on the bottom, and you’ll know if you’ve added too little butter if parts of the cups don’t feel slick or have dry spots.
The other way I sometimes grease my pan with butter is to just take a stick of butter and rub it around the sides and bottoms of each cup in my muffin pans. I don’t use this method often, but it does work as well.
I typically do this method with chilled butter as room-temperature stick butter is often harder to work with as it’s softer and harder to control.
The most common way I grease my pan when I need to is with vegetable oil. I prefer this method because it’s more cost-effective, and it only takes a little bit of oil to grease each cup.
I use vegetable oil rather than other oils since it doesn’t leave behind a weird flavor or aftertaste and because I always have some on hand.
To use vegetable oil to grease your muffin pan, all you have to do is pour a little oil into each cup. Then, after that, you have options on how you want to spread it around each cup: You can use your hands or a paper towel, or you can use the gravity method.
*Side Note: You might also want to know Why Your Muffins Didn’t Rise the way they were supposed to. I recently wrote an article talking about Tips For Preventing Flat Muffins, you can check it out here!
I call this the gravity method, but there may be another name for it: Essentially, what you are doing with this method is making the oil spread around the cups in your muffin pan on its own by carefully maneuvering the pan in the air.
I start by lifting the pan up off my counter, and then I slowly move it around drawing the oil up and around the sides of the cups in the pan.
Once each pan is completely greased with oil, then I get rid of any excess oil by pouring it out of the muffin pan or by gently dabbing it out with a paper towel.
The easiest way to grease a muffin pan is by using a spray. This method may not be as cost-effective, but it definitely saves time and energy.
When I use sprays to grease my pans, I like to use the ones that use flour as they really make getting my cupcakes and muffins out easy, and they often don’t have that weird aftertaste that some baking sprays can have.
2. Use Parchment Paper
As a whole, you can use parchment paper to make liners for your cupcakes and muffins if you do not have any. To do this, you just need to cut your parchment paper into squares and press them into your muffin pan. All you have to do is pull out the parchment paper and your dessert comes right out.
To use parchment paper to make liners, the process is simple, and you can do it in minutes once you’re familiar with it.
You first need to measure and cut your parchment paper into 5”x5” squares and place them into your muffin pan, pressing them down inside as you do.
I then like to use a small cookie or ice cream scoop to help me make sure the crinkles in the parchment paper are smoothed out and the parchment paper is well-fitted into the muffin pan cup.
Once I have a parchment paper liner formed into a cup, I then like to quickly add batter into it to ensure it keeps its shape as I move on to make another one in the next cup.
The process to do this can be slow at first, but once you’re more comfortable with it, the time it takes to do this method shortens drastically.
A quick tip when doing this method, once you’ve measured and cut your first square, you can use it to measure and cut your other squares.
I always had the old-fashioned parchment paper roll in my kitchen but I recently came across a Box of Heavy Duty Flat Parchment Paper Sheets that work great without trying to rip the perfect sheet which never seems to work out. These sheets come in different sizes to fit your pans! You can check out these parchment sheets on Amazon!
3. Use Aluminum Foil
As a general rule, when using aluminum foil to make cupcakes and muffins without liners, you just need to cut or tear the foil into squares and then shape it into the cups of your muffin pan. After that, I recommend greasing your aluminum foil-made liners with vegetable oil, butter, or baking spray.
Aluminum foil is a great alternative to liners. They adapt to the shape of the muffin pan better and when it is well greased, make it non-stick!
To use aluminum foil, the process is similar to what you do to make parchment paper liners above, but with foil, you need to do the extra step of greasing the foil afterward in order to prevent your cupcakes or muffins from sticking to the foil after baking.
Like in the parchment paper step, secure the foil in each of the muffin pan wells. Once done, lightly spray the foil with baking spray or brush with vegetable oil.
*Side Note: I recently wrote an article about If It’s Safe to Use Aluminum Foil In The Oven. This article talks about what you can expect when using aluminum foil in the oven. You can check out this article here!
4. Use Silicone Molds or Silicone Liners
Generally speaking, you can use silicone molds or liners to bake cupcakes and muffins if you don’t have paper liners and do not want to keep having to buy them. Silicone molds and liners need to be washed well with soap and water before their first use and greased with oil or baking spray.
I like to use silicone pan molds when just baking muffins for my family or for a small get-together.
There are many silicone muffin pan molds that you can buy, and they come as varied as regular muffin pans.
It’s imperative that you wash any silicone molds you use well before using them with soap and water, and you need to make sure you rinse them well to ensure no soap is left behind.
For the first few uses, you will need to grease your silicone molds, but after that, you will no longer need to do that.
When baking muffins or cupcakes in silicone molds, you need to put the mold onto a baking pan or cookie sheet before pouring in your batter and putting it into the oven to bake your muffins or cupcakes.
When I bake muffins in the air fryer I have to use these Silicone Muffin Liners which are super easy to clean and use! They make it very easy to remove the muffins out of the muffin pan without getting stuck. Check out the link on Amazon!
Silicone molds cannot directly touch your oven racks when you’re baking your muffins or cupcakes or they will melt which is why the baking pan or cookie sheet is needed beneath them.
When baking with silicone liners, the process is the same as when using silicone muffin pan molds.
When baking cupcakes or muffins in silicone molds or liners, you need to be more watchful of the time as the molds can cause the cooking time for your cupcakes and muffins to vary.
I recommend checking your cupcakes and muffins a couple of minutes earlier than you expect them to be done.
It is important that you don’t use a knife or sharp object to get your cupcakes or muffins out of your silicone molds as you can cut them.
Also, most silicone molds and liners can only handle heat up to 440°F-450°F, so be sure to check what temperatures your molds can handle.
*Side Note: If you are lacking baking equipment in your kitchen, I recommend for you to consider getting yourself some Silicone Molds. Silicone Bakeware has all types of molds including Silicone Cake Pan, Muffin Tins, Bundt pans, and so much more. I recently wrote an article explaining Tips For Using Silicone Molds which you can find here!
Can I use wax paper instead of liners?
As a general rule, you can not use wax paper instead of liners to bake muffins or cupcakes. The wax will melt and the paper can catch fire in the oven. Wax paper is only used for food storage purposes and should never be exposed to heat, such as the heat in an oven.
Unlike parchment paper which is made using silicone, wax paper is made with wax that will melt at high temperatures and the wax paper can catch fire.
It is highly recommended not to expose wax paper to heat, especially avoid placing it into an oven.
The ultimate use for wax paper is for food storage purposes. The waxy coating prevents excess moisture from penetrating your food.
*By the way, I recently wrote an article about The Difference Between Parchment Paper and Wax Paper. This article talks about in detail when to use both papers and how to make the best out of them. You can check out this article here!
How to safely remove cupcakes & muffins without liners?
Generally speaking, you can safely remove cupcakes and muffins without liners by using a fork. To do this, you just need to slide the fork down the sides of the muffin pan cups while following the natural curvature of the cups. Cool the pan at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before removing.
To safely get muffins or cupcakes out of the pan when you didn’t use liners, you first need to let them cool so that they can settle more and be easier to handle.
I usually leave the pan out at room temperature for a minimum of 30 minutes before attempting to remove it. During the cooling phase, the muffin/cupcake shrinks down a bit, naturally detaching itself from the sides of the pan.
*By the way, I recently wrote an article about The Best Ways to Make Dry Cupcakes More Moist. This article also talks about why your cupcakes turned out dry, to begin with, as well as how to prevent it from happening. You can check out this article here!
If you remove it while it’s hot, it’ll rip up! (Unfortunately speaking from experience…)
After that, you just need to get a fork and carefully slide it down each side of the muffin pan cups so that you can free your cupcakes and muffins from the sides of the pan. Once you’ve done that, then you can lift them out of the pan.
How to bake cupcakes without a cupcake pan?
As a general rule, you can bake cupcakes and muffins without a cupcake pan by baking them in silicone or metallic cupcake liners that are on a baking sheet. Paper liners typically aren’t sturdy enough to use on their own as they may spill out the batter from the sides.
There are many times when I would go on trips with my family and the places we visited didn’t have muffins or cupcake pans.
Instead of buying a brand new pan (I didn’t need any new ones since I had plenty at home), it’s cheaper just to buy aluminum cups that come pre-lined with liners.
These aluminum cups don’t need to be placed in muffin pans because they are sturdy enough to hold the weight of the batter. If you just use liners, the batter will spill over.
So instead, take a regular baking sheet or cookie sheet and place the aluminum baking cups onto it. Then, pour your batter 3/4 of the way into each cup. Bake according to your recipe and voila! No muffin pan is required!
Not having liners in your home should never stop you from baking muffins or cupcakes. These delicious treats can be baked without liners and have many alternatives!
Whether you own a muffin pan or not, baking cupcakes and muffins always have a way to be baked!