Do you want to make cupcakes but don’t have a cupcake pan around? You might think you’ve hit an obstacle, but it’s actually not that big a deal!
In fact, you don’t need pancake pans at all to make a delicious batch at home! So, before you run to the store to buy some pans, take a look at this quick guide to see how you can do it.
1 – Sheet Cake and a Circle Cutter
When you think about what a cupcake is, you’ll discover it’s simply a small round cake in a paper wrapper with pretty frosting.
So, how can you replicate this without a cupcake pan? The first way is to use a sheet cake and a circle cookie cutter. Let me take you through the steps slowly.
Begin by baking a cake in a sheet pan or a cake pan. Any thick, flat cake will do! Ideally, you should bake the cake to be about as thick as a normal cupcake, which is about two to three inches high.
Now that you have your cake ready, you’re halfway to perfect cupcakes!
Next, find a cookie cutter that’s about the same diameter as a cupcake. A standard cupcake is three inches across, so a three-inch round cookie cutter is ideal.
Use the cookie cutter to cut circles out of your sheet cake and place the circles into cupcake wrappers. Starting to look like a cupcake, right?
Now, all that’s left to do is add your favorite frosting, and you’re ready to go!
2 – Fancy Silver Liners
Have you ever seen the shiny silver cupcake papers that are quite thick and look like they’re made of metal?
Well, these are the best cupcake liners to use when you don’t have a cupcake pan. All you have to do is line up the foil cupcake wrappers on a sheet tray, scoop your cupcake batter in, and bake!
Thanks to the super thick, heavy paper these are made of, the cupcake wrappers will hold their shape and support the baking cupcake batter without collapsing.
3 – Mason Jar Lids
If you don’t have the silver foil cupcake papers and you don’t have a cupcake pan, you can still make cupcakes using regular paper liners.
If you’re thinking that a simple cupcake liner on a sheet tray will fall over as the batter bakes, spilling the cupcake everywhere, you’re correct.
A paper liner isn’t sturdy enough to bake a beautiful cupcake. But I have a trick for you!
Do you know the silver screw top to a mason jar? Gather as many as you can; these are going to act as your cupcake pan! You don’t need the flat metal top of the mason jar, and you don’t need the jar itself, just the metal rings.
Place the rings on a flat sheet pan, and you are ready to go! Looks like a cupcake pan, right?! Put a paper liner inside each metal ring and then scoop your batter in.
The mason jar band will help support the cupcake paper, and the cupcake batter will bake straight up as if it were in a real cupcake pan! Neat hack, ha?
4 – Just Paper Liners
If all you have are paper cupcake liners and no other equipment in the realm of cupcake making, there’s still hope!
Instead of using just one paper for each cupcake, you’ll need to double up, triple up, and even quadruple up…or more!
I have found that if you place five paper cupcake liners on a sheet tray, all stacked together, they’ll support the weight of the cupcake batter as it bakes.
So, place the paper cupcake liners on a sheet tray in sets of five, scoop, bake, and then remove the extra papers before frosting and icing.
Tada! You did it!
5 – Ramekins
Now, this option is for those of you who simply don’t have any of the aforementioned tools. Ramekins make fantastic cupcake pans, especially if you don’t need the cupcake to be quite so portable.
This ramekin version of a cupcake will need to be eaten with a fork, which makes it a little more like a cake than a cupcake in the way of convenience.
Nevertheless, these will look like cupcakes, smell like cupcakes, and definitely taste just like cupcakes—all without a cupcake pan!
Make sure your ramekins are oven-safe, and then proceed to grease and flour them individually.
Scoop your cupcake batter into the ramekin and bake. Top with frosting just as you would a cupcake!
6 – Mugs
You may be surprised to find that many ceramic mugs are oven-safe. Now that you’re thinking about ceramic mugs, envision the size of a standard mug….about the same size as a cupcake, right?!
I bet you can already guess where we’re going with this one.
Place several oven-safe ceramic mugs on a sheet tray and drop cupcake paper into each one. Scoop your batter in, using your cupcake paper as a guide.
The batter should only come halfway up the sides of the paper liner, not halfway up the sides of the mug (unless you want super tall cupcakes).
Bake the cupcakes and then let them cool inside the mug. Once cooled, flip the mug upside down, and the cupcake should just slide right out, thanks to the paper liner!
If your cupcake is a little stuck, use a paring knife to go around the edges and help release it. Ice the cupcakes and enjoy!
8 – Glassware
Another option that many people don’t consider because they don’t know it’s safe is cups! Just a regular ol’ oven-safe cup!
You might think you don’t have any around, but take a deep look in your cupboard. See those custard cups you don’t use or even the small Pyrex measuring cups? Yep, these will do just fine!
Though they don’t like all that appealing during baking, they’ll help you get to where you want—eating cupcakes happily.
All you have to do is place your paper liners, add the batter—don’t overfill, though—and place them on a baking sheet in the preheated oven.
Keep your eye on them and test if they’re done with a toothpick. Just poke it through, and if it comes out clean or with just a few crumbs, it’s ready.
What To Expect From These Unconventional Methods
Of course, because you’re using something other than a regular cupcake pan, you’re bound to come across some difficulties.
For instance, there’s a chance your cupcake will bake unevenly, leading to overcooked edges and undercooked centers.
In this case, rotate the baking sheet halfway through the baking time to ensure even heat distribution. If you’re using a thick container, like ramekins or mugs, lower the oven temperature slightly and extend the baking time while keeping your eyes on the cupcakes.
Also, because the containers might conduct heat differently, you can end up with overcooked or dry cupcakes.
What to do in this situation? Easy! Check for doneness with a toothpick a few minutes earlier than the recipe suggests, especially when using thin or glass containers.
So there you have it! Not only is it possible to make cupcakes without a cupcake pan, but there are seven ways to complete this challenge!
You can use mason jar lids, fancy silver liners, ramekins, mugs, cups, and more.
Why bother ever buying a cupcake pan?! You can make fantastic cupcakes without one so easily. Happy baking!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.