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12 Great Ways to Make Muffins (Without a Muffin Pan)

12 Great Ways to Make Muffins (Without a Muffin Pan)

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Muffins are some of the easiest and tastiest baked goods you can make at home and are delicious for breakfast or as a snack. The ingredients are store-cupboard standbys, so you can probably get some milk, eggs, flour, and sugar together.

But what if you don’t have the ideal baking tray? Can you make muffins without a muffin pan?

To make muffins without a muffin pan, use paper, silicon, or foil muffin liners (or create your own) on a baking tray, in mason jar lids. Bake muffins in ramekins, ovenproof mugs or cups, or even clean cans. Bake muffin batter as a loaf or cake or in a skillet. Or use an electric muffin maker.

Don’t despair if you want to whip up some muffins but don’t have a muffin or cupcake tray. Although muffin trays are conveniently shaped with individual metal muffin-shaped cups, these trays are not essential to the enjoyment of a fresh muffin.

So long as you have something that can hold your muffin batter in shape while it bakes and rises, you don’t need a muffin pan. There are many creative ways of making muffins without a muffin pan.

1 – Use Flat Ice Cream Cones

Various Ice Cream Cones

It’s pretty common to see tiny cupcakes baked in ice cream cones for kiddies’ parties – and it’s practical too, as the “cup” is edible as well.

Cupcakes are not the only confection you can bake in an ice cream cone. Muffins work well baked in cones too, and you don’t need a muffin pan if you use those flat-based ice cream cones. Plus, healthy muffins suddenly look like party food to fussy children.

Here’s how you can bake muffins in flat ice cream cones:

  • Place the cones close together on a baking tray to give each other support.
  • You may also want to use a baking tray with a lip in case there are any spillages.
  • For extra support, stand the cones in mason jar lids or ovenproof ramekins or mugs.
  • Fill the cones with batter and bake as usual.

2 – Use Free-Standing Baking Cups

Freestanding Cupcake And Muffin Cups

Freestanding baking cups are a fabulous invention that does away with the need for a muffin pan.

You can buy these cups in paper, foil, and silicone, and they are sturdier than the usual baking cups or liners, so don’t buckle or distort under the weight of the batter.

Most freestanding cups come with ruffled edges, like traditional paper liners. You can purchase them in jumbo, standard, and mini-muffin size

The advantage of freestanding baking cups is that they just need to be placed on a baking sheet, filled with batter, and put in the oven – no muffin tray required. Another advantage is that they bake more quickly than a metal muffin tray, so keep an eye on the muffins.

The paper and foil cups are single-use (no washing up!), but the silicone cups are washable and reusable.

3 – Use Multiple Paper Muffin Liners

Multiple Muffin Liners

You can always use ordinary paper muffin liners if you don’t have a muffin pan or any freestanding muffin cups.

These paper liners are not sturdy enough to be used on their own, but if you use two or three at a time, they are robust enough not to leak batter – even though the result may not be perfectly round muffins.

Here’s how you can make muffins in paper muffin liners:

  • To use paper liners to hold your muffins, place the liners on a baking sheet, preferably one with a lip to prevent any leakage in your oven.
  • Place the muffin papers close together or even touching so that the muffins can support each other as they bake. You may get slightly squarish muffins, but they will still taste delicious.
  • Don’t overfill the muffin cups, as even double or triple paper liners will buckle a little and can tip over.
  • For extra support, place the muffin papers on mason jar lids side by side.
  • Remember that muffins baked in paper linings will bake more quickly than if they were in a metal baking tray, so check your muffins early to see that they are done.

4 – Use Homemade Muffin Liners

Foil And Parchment Paper

If you don’t have a muffin or cupcake tin, chances are you don’t have any muffin or cupcake liners either. But never fear – sturdy muffin liners are easy to make if you have aluminum foil or non-stick parchment paper. Here’s how:

  • Cut your aluminum foil or parchment paper into 5 x 5-inch squares.
  • To make the liners stronger, make them double-layered, with the outer layer out of foil and the inner layer out of parchment paper. Double-layering means you can even reuse the foil outer sections.
  • Wrap the paper or foil around the base of a glass to shape.
  • Press a measuring cup down around the paper to make the bottom of the homemade liner completely flat.
  • Use the liners as you would any purchased liners.

5 – Use Ramekins

Cupcake In A Ramekin

Ramekins, those tiny glass or ceramic dishes used for individual desserts, quiches, or soufflés, come into their own as emergency muffin trays.

Using ramekins is an excellent idea if you plan to serve your muffins at home – it is hard to tip your muffins out of ramekins, and because they are breakable, ramekins are not very portable.

However, eating a muffin out of a ramekin with a spoon makes muffins look like an elegant dessert (even though it will taste like a homely, delightful muffin).

Here’s how to use ramekins instead of a muffin tray to make muffins:

  • You can put ramekins straight into the oven, but it is more practical to lay out the ramekins on a baking tray to fill them.
  • Remember to grease and flour the ramekins individually or pop a paper muffin liner in them before filling.
  • Put the entire baking tray in the oven.
  • Because ramekins are glass or ceramic, they heat up more slowly than metal, so your muffins will take longer to bake than in a standard muffin tray.
  • If you’ve used paper liners, you can slip the muffins out of the ramekins. Otherwise, you’ll look lovely nibbling the muffin out of a ramekin!

6 – Use Ovenproof Cups or Mugs

Mug Cake Or Muffin

If you’re not much a baker and don’t have muffin trays or ramekins, everyone has cups and mugs in their kitchen. And most ceramic mugs and cups are ovenproof or oven safe. Hey presto – instant muffin cups!

Here’s how to use ordinary ceramic cups or mugs instead of a muffin tray to make muffins:

  • Set out your mugs or cups on a baking tray.
  • Grease and flour the mugs or put a paper muffin liner in them before filling.
  • You can fill teacups like standard-sized muffins pans, but you can’t fill a whole mug without adjusting the baking time.
  • Put the entire baking tray in the oven.
  • Because mugs are ceramic, they heat up more slowly than metal, so your muffins will take longer to bake than in a standard muffin tray.
  • If you’ve used paper liners, you will be able to slip the muffins out. Otherwise, eat your muffin with a spoon like a mug cake.

7 – Use Clean Tin Cans

Empty Tin Cans

When you’re craving muffins and don’t have the kitchen baking equipment, a creative solution is to use those small cans you’ve put aside for recycling. If you have some cans that are pretty much the same size, you have a ready-made muffin tray!

Here is how you can use cans instead of a muffin tray:

  • Find six to twelve cans of roughly the same size.
  • Carefully cut the tops off the cans. You can cut them shorter if you like, but be very careful of the sharp edges.
  • Wash the cans thoroughly and sterilize them – your dishwasher can do this for you.
  • Set out your cans on a baking tray.
  • Grease and flour the cans or put a paper muffin liner in them before filling.
  • Put the entire baking tray in the oven.
  • Bake as usual.
  • The cans will be extremely hot when you remove them from the oven – take special care!
  • Your customized muffin tins are reusable.

8 – Use a Loaf Tin

Loaf Pan

Okay, so these muffins won’t be muffin-shaped – but any muffin recipe can easily be adapted to become a quick loaf baked in a loaf tin. (And vice versa – any quick loaf recipe can become a batch of muffins.)

The advantage of baking muffins as a loaf is that it’s simple to slice a piece off for breakfast in the morning and toast and butter it.

To make your muffins into a quick loaf, do this:

  • Mix your muffin batter as usual.
  • Set the oven to or about 5⁰ lower than your typical muffin recipe (350⁰F or 180⁰C).
  • Instead of a standard muffin tin, pour your batter into a greased and floured standard loaf tin (9 x 5 inches).
  • Bake for 45 minutes to an hour.

9 – Use a Cake Tin

Cake Pan

Although muffin batter is far thicker and denser than cake batter, you can still – at a pinch – bake your muffin batter in a standard-sized cake tin. However, you will need to adapt the baking time as it will take longer for the thicker batter to bake.

Here’s what to do:

  • Mix your muffin batter as usual – a thinner batter is an advantage here.
  • Set the oven to or about 5⁰ lower than your typical muffin recipe (350⁰F or 180⁰C).
  • This is the average temperature for baking cakes.
  • Instead of a standard muffin tin, pour your batter into a greased and floured standard cake tin (9 inches).
  • Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, checking after 30 minutes and then every five minutes or so. If the muffin-cake starts browning too much, cover with foil.

10 – Use a Sheet Pan

Empty Sheet Pan

Another option if you’re without a muffin tray and not too concerned about the final shape of your muffins is to bake them in a sheet pan or brownie tin.

Many bakers end up preferring their muffins baked like this because you get moist, tender muffins with a lovely soft muffin top (arguably the best part of the muffin) and crispy golden edges.

If you’re making muffins for a crowd, it’s also much easier to bake a serve a big batch of muffins when baked on a sheet pan.

If you’re keen to try making sheet pan muffins, this is how:

  • Mix your muffin batter as usual.
  • Grease and flour or line your sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • Pour in your muffin batter and bake as usual. You won’t have to adjust the baking time because the sheet pan creates a thin layer of muffins.
  • Once the giant muffin has cooled, slice it into squares or fun shapes. If you want round muffins, cut out circles with a three-inch cookie cutter.

11 – Use a Skillet


If you love muffins and you love pancakes, then this is the solution for you. Did you know that you can cook your muffin batter like you would pancake batter in a skillet?

The resulting confection is not a pancake – the batter is too dense – but something in between. Have we just invented the puffin?

Alternatively, you can also make muffins out of pancake mix.

Individual Skillet Muffins

The advantage of making individual skillet muffins – apart from lush sugary pleasure – is that these muffins take only a few minutes to cook, rather than the 20 minutes you usually have to wait

To make your muffins on a skillet, do this:

  • Make your batter as usual – this is a time when a thinner batter can be an advantage.
  • Heat your skillet with a tiny bit of oil or cooking spray.
  • Ladle or splodge about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of muffin batter onto the skillet.
  • Allow space between the muffins as the batter spreads.
  • Cover the skillet and allow the muffins to cook for six to eight minutes.
  • Flip the muffins with a spatula and cook for a further two to three minutes.

Giant Skillet Muffin

You can also make a giant skillet muffin, rather like a Dutch pancake, apart from making individual skillet muffins. Here’s how you do it:

  • Make your muffin batter as usual.
  • Oil or spray your skillet or line it with parchment paper.
  • Set the oven to or about 5⁰ lower than your typical muffin recipe (350⁰F or 180⁰C).
  • Pour your batter into your cast iron skillet.
  • Bake for 45 minutes to an hour.

12 – Use an Electronic Muffin Maker

Red Electric Muffin Maker With Baked Muffins

For those of us who love kitchen gadgets, the appliance gods have created the electronic muffin maker. This device is similar to a waffle maker but has rounded holders for either mini or standard-sized muffins.

An electric muffin maker works in much the same way as a waffle maker or cupcake maker:

  • Plug in and heat the muffin maker until the green light comes on.
  • Make a batter, best using the recipe supplied with the appliance.
  • Scoop or pipe the batter into the holders. Depending on your model, you may have to grease or spray the muffin holders – others are non-stick, so you do not need paper liners.
  • Close the lid.
  • The muffin maker bakes the muffins more quickly than a regular oven, so you have perfectly shaped, moist, tender muffins within six to eight minutes.

The device is easy to clean and stores neatly. Who needs a muffin pan anyway?

Final Thoughts

Making muffins without a muffin pan is a cinch if you have an electric muffin maker. You can also easily bake muffin batter in a loaf tin, cake tin, sheet pan, or skillet.

If you want individual muffins, use regular muffin liners, doubled-up, or freestanding muffin liners. Get creative, use ramekins, ceramic cups or mugs, or even clean cans instead of muffin pans.

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Saturday 30th of April 2022

Empty clean food cans are my preference for small breads, but the cans I use are tuna cans or chicken cans. They work so well. Also, I steam my small breads instead of baking them. It would seem a very iffy proposition, but it has worked so well for me. You might try it as an experiment, which is how I started. Just take one of your small breads to start with. If you meet with failure, your loss is small. If you succeed, you have learned how to "bake" without an oven.