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How to Bake Cupcakes or Muffins Without Liners

How to Bake Cupcakes or Muffins Without Liners

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Craving cupcakes but can’t find any liners? Fret not, linerless baker! With a few simple tricks, you’ll be cranking out cupcakes without the need for any liners. 

Sure, liners are handy for keeping your tin clean, but don’t let their absence get in the way of you making some delicious cupcakes. 

Now, grab your tins, and let’s talk about how to bake cupcakes or muffins without liners. 

How To Bake Cupcakes Or Muffins Without Liners

Quick Note: Cupcake liners and muffin liners are the same (basically a piece of paper formed to fit a cupcake/muffin tin), so I will be using those terms interchangeably. Cupcake and muffin tins are also the same by the way.

Why You May Want to Skip the Liner

Your reasons for not using paper liners when baking cupcakes or muffins vary. Some muffin tins differ in size, so while you may think that all ‘standard’ size muffin tins are the same, one may be slightly larger or smaller than the next. This can make a ‘standard’ sized paper liner fit funny and not really work for your needs.

Another reason you may want to skip the paper liners is to save money. Yes, cupcake liners are fairly cheap, but when you are making a lot of baked goods, those costs add up!

Prepping the Pan

Butter And Oil

When making cupcakes or muffins with paper liners, you simply drop the liner into the muffin tin and off you go—no more pan prep is needed.

When baking without paper liners, however, it may take a little more effort to get your pan ready, but you will be happy in the end when your cupcakes pop right out.

The key to muffin pan prep is grease; lots of grease!

Spray It

Baking spray is probably the easiest way to evenly grease a muffin tin. 

There are many types of baking spray you can purchase, from butter flavored to olive oil, high heat spray to spray that has flour in it!

Look for a spray that’s intended for baking (it will usually say baking on the can). The olive oil sprays and high-heat sprays are geared more toward culinary applications rather than baking. 

Besides, you don’t want your cupcakes to taste like olive oil…

Once you have a good spray, spray the pan evenly with a light mist. Try not to spray so much that the grease is dripping down the sides and pooling in the bottom of the cupcake tin.

Your cupcakes or muffins will absorb that extra grease and that may not taste so great. A little mist will go a long way. 

Once the pan is sprayed, scoop your batter straight into the pan and bake!


Butter is always my favorite method of greasing a pan when baking. It tastes the best; plain and simple. 

That being said, butter can be a little more challenging to use over baking spray as you really need to make an effort to get the butter into the corner of each muffin cup.

There are two ways to do this: use the stick right out of the fridge or melt the butter.

Grab a cold butter stick and slice off one tablespoon. Hold the butter piece directly in your hand and press it into each muffin cup, going around the edge and then also greasing the bottom. Using your hands to hold the butter will enable you to get into those corners a little more efficiently.

The second way to use butter to grease the cupcake pan is to melt about one tablespoon of butter in the microwave. Dip a paper towel or pastry brush into the melted butter and use it to grease each cup of the pan.

This method is probably the best if you opt to use butter in place of paper liners as you will really be able to grease the cupcake tin well.


You can use a wide variety of oils to grease your muffin tin for baking. Canola oil and vegetable oil are excellent and will add little to no flavor to your cupcakes.

Coconut oil is also nice to bake with and can lend a subtle tropical taste to your muffins or cupcakes. No matter which oil you choose, the process of prepping the pan is the same.

Just like I explained with the melted butter, you will need a pastry brush or paper towel to apply the oil to your cupcake pan. Dip the brush or towel into a small bowl of oil and then rub it around each muffin cup.

Make sure to get into those corners! And keep in mind, a little goes a long way.

Taking the Cupcakes Out of the Pan

Muffins Without Liners

You prepped your cupcake pan without paper liners, you scooped and baked your cupcakes, and they look perfectly golden brown as they come out of the oven…. Now what?

With no paper liner to easily lift the cupcakes out of the pan, how do you go about removing them?

Before you frantically try to pull the cupcakes out of a hot tin, let them cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes. 

If you try to remove the cupcakes while they are still too hot, they can very easily crumble. Letting them

 cool slightly will ensure that they stay one whole piece rather than turning to crumbs.

Grab a butter knife or mini offset spatula and stick it between the cupcake and the side of the muffin tin. Gently pry the knife upward and see if the cupcake easily pops right out. 

If it does, flip it out and proceed to do the same with the remaining cupcakes. If it is breaking or sticking to the edge of the pan, run the knife around the cupcake to loosen it from the edges. 

Do this to each cupcake and then, flip the pan upside down over a clean work surface. All the cupcakes should fall right out!

What If the Cupcakes Are stuck?

If you have let the cupcakes cool completely in the pan, the baking grease you used to prep the pan may have hardened. When this happens, it can sometimes act like glue and stick the muffins to the pan rather than help to get them out.

Easy Solution: Place the pan back in the hot oven for about 30 seconds. This will just heat up the muffin tin slightly and melt the grease again. Take the pan back out of the oven and flip the muffins out right away. Voila! Not stuck anymore!

Creative Liner Alternatives

If you’re in a pinch without traditional paper liners, get creative! You can make simple liner alternatives from common household items. 

For instance, parchment paper can easily be transformed into custom cupcake liners in a pinch. You can simply use a round biscuit cutter, the rim of a cup, or trace and cut out circles to create parchment paper lines. Tailor the liner sizes to fit your cupcake/muffin tin. 

Parchment is typically coated so that it won’t stick to baked goods, which makes removing it super easy. 

Alternatively, you can mold aluminum foil into homemade cupcake liners. Tear off small squares, then tightly press the foil into the muffin cups, smoothing with your fingers to contour it into the ridges. 

Make sure to generously grease the shaped foil liners so that it’s easy to lift the cupcake/muffin out after you’re done baking.

Another option is coffee filters. It’s not as great as parchment paper or aluminum foil, but it will do if you have no other option. You likely have a stash of filters in your kitchen just waiting to be upcycled into liners!

The shape and size of standard cone coffee filters make them ideal for making cupcakes and muffins. For a more snug fit, cut basket-style filters into rounds with scissors. The filters won’t stick to the baked goods and will absorb any extra grease. 

No More Liners

Cupcake liners can be great, but they really are not necessary—the pan’s not necessary either! 

As you have seen, all it takes is a little pan prep and a little skill to get the baked goods out of the pan. Now that you are well-educated in liner-free baking, toss those liners, grab the grease, and whip up some cupcakes!

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