I use muffin pans for a lot more than just muffins. They’re perfect for baking individual portions of almost anything, and can significantly cut baking times. And my favorite muffin “tins” are actually silicone.
The first silicone pan I ever bought was a muffin tin, and I learned a bunch of lessons about buying silicone pans from that experience — both good and bad:
- Cheap “silicone” usually isn’t 100% silicone and has plastic mixed in. It’s much harder to clean, food won’t pop out as easily, it’s not as heat resistant, and it’s probably not good for your health.
- Paying a little more for thicker silicone pans is TOTALLY worthwhile, as they won’t have such a tendency to collapse when you fill them. Even if you put a metal pan under them, the thin ones can do all sorts of wobbly stuff.
- Even with 100% silicone pans, they’re not as non-stick as the marketing would like you to believe. I still usually use some nonstick spray.
- Bottoms and sides don’t brown as nicely with silicone as with metal pans.
- Silicone pans are much quieter to store than metal pans.
- If you buy a 12-cup muffin pan in silicone, you can use sturdy scissors and cut it into 3 “pans” — one with 6 cups, one with 4 and one with just 2. Use any combination as you need it. I particularly like this as I can often bake two things at once this way, even in a small boat oven!
- Cutting 12-cup pan into 3 smaller pans also makes them easier to store — the 4-cup and 2-cup pans can stack on top of the 6-cup pan.
Most big-box stores carry silicone pans, but don’t just grab the first ones you see. I made that mistake and while they were inexpensive, they were also were flimsy and I hated them. Actually, my experience with them made me think that silicone pans were a novelty item and not a real cooking tool until I saw better ones that a friend had. Yes, hers had cost about double what mine had but hers lived up to their promise. So I ended up not spending the “double” amount that I would have if I’d bought good ones to begin with, but “triple” as I bought first a cheap pan, then a good one. (Yes, I’ve finally learned to research before I buy.)
Lacking any better housewares stores near me, I end up buying online. And once again, my favorites are on Amazon:
For use on a boat, I prefer to stick to the standard-size muffin tin. Unless you’ve got far more storage space than most galleys, it’s the most versatile size and what I’ll choose if I can have just one pan. Mini muffin pans, “tops-only” pans and extra-large pans might be nice in some cases, but none of them is really all-purpose. The regular-size pans, on the other hand, can be used for anything.