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How to Use Cupcake Liners (And the Different Types and Their Uses)

How to Use Cupcake Liners (And the Different Types and Their Uses)

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We all have cupcake liners in our pantry, ready to use anytime we bake cupcakes or muffins – plain paper, foil, or fancy ones with designs that are great for those special occasions.

If you’re like me, you may wonder why we use these baking cups and when we should be using them. Should you use them every time you bake?

I’ve included everything here in this article that you need to know about cupcake liners from the types of different paper cups available to why we use cupcake liners in the first place.

How to Use Cupcake Liners (And the Different Types and Their Uses)

Decorate with Cupcake Liners

Cupcake liners are a great way to add fun and whimsy to any occasion. Choose ones that match the theme of your party or event.

Where to find different varieties of liners? Grocery stores are going to carry your basic liners – but you’ll have to check out baking or kitchen specialty stores for anything other than your standard white paper liner.

Or shop online for an even greater selection. Just check for reviews before buying to see if any other bakers have had problems with specific cupcake liners sticking to the cupcake or muffin.

Types of Cupcake Liners

When shopping for cupcake liners, you’ll have your choice of those marketed for cupcakes and others that are specified for use when baking muffins.

Don’t let this confuse you – they’re both paper liners that can be used interchangeably when baking any type of cupcake or muffin, sweet or savory.

Here are some of the different types of liners available:

Standard White Liners

White Cupcake Liners

The standard, classic white cupcake liners have fluted edges – I use these as my every-day cupcake liner when I’m making a quick batch of cupcakes or breakfast muffins for my family.

They typically cost less than other liners and you’ll be able to find them in any store, including the dollar store when you’re in a pinch. Or order online in bulk so you never run out!

Decorative and Fun Cupcake Liners

Decorative Cupcake Liners

Exactly the same as the standard white cupcake liners are those paper liners that come in an endless variety of patterns and colors to match any décor or theme.

When I’m baking cupcakes for birthdays, I usually let the birthday VIP choose a theme and then find cupcake liners that complement their choice.

Foil Cupcake Liners

Foil Cupcake Liners

Foil liners can be purchased in colored or silver foil. They’re a bit stronger than the standard white liners so expect to pay a little more for these.

They also hold their shape really well so you can fill the liner and place them on a cookie sheet to bake if you run out of cupcake baking tins.

I use a colorful, shiny foil liner when I want to add a bit of bling to my presentation or when I’m making a denser cupcake that I want to pipe a filling into.

Flower Petal Shaped Liners

You can make those special occasions even more memorable by using liners that have a unique design, such as tulip or lotus petals.

Make adorable cupcakes for Easter using flower cupcake liners or when you’re making special cupcakes that are going to be the centerpiece at a baby or wedding shower.

Size of Cupcake Liners

When buying liners, you’ll need to select those that fit the dimensions of the pan. The standard cupcake liner measures 2″ x 1 ¼” – this is the most common size which is ideal for traditional cupcakes and muffins.

You can also purchase liners that are 3 ½” in diameter to make jumbo cupcakes – just be sure you’re baking with the right sized pan.

Then there’s the mini cupcake liner with a 1″ diameter for mini cupcakes. I often make mini cupcakes when I’m baking for kids’ birthday parties – mini cupcakes are ideal for small hands.

Uses for Cupcake Liners

Provide Easy Cleanup

One of my top reasons for using cupcake liners is the easy cleanup. Make the batter, place the liners into the cupcake or muffin tin, fill, and you’re ready to bake.

When the cupcakes are done, just let them cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack to cool completely. The pan will just need a quick wash with soap and water – no need to fuss about cleanup.

Cupcakes Cooling on Rack

Keep in the Moisture

After baking, cupcakes and muffins that have been baked in a liner stay fresher and moister for longer. I use cupcake liners when baking my bran muffins – when stored in a container with the liner left on, these muffins stay fresh for up to three days (see more of my ideas to keep your muffins fresh).

Help Cupcakes Keep Their Shape

When you want all your cupcakes or muffins to have the same shape, use a cupcake liner.

As the cupcake bakes, the liner helps the cake to keep its shape. This means that the plate of frosted cupcakes I’m taking to a potluck or a special event look deliciously pretty with every cupcake being the same size and shape.

Keep Cupcakes and Muffins from Burning

Another reason to use cupcake liners is to prevent cupcakes and muffins from burning. The paper cups keep the sides of the cake from directly touching the pan, protecting the cake from the direct heat of metal.

Keep Your Non-Stick Pans Looking New

New and Clean Cupcake Pan

If you bake a lot of cupcakes and muffins, like I do, it won’t take long for your shiny non-stick pans to start looking dull and drab.

Using cupcake liners reduces the wear and tear and keeps your non-stick pans looking good as new.

To Grease Cupcake Liners or Not

While it’s not necessary to grease cupcake liners, there are occasions when I do just that. It can sometimes be difficult to remove liners from cupcakes that are more delicate, such as those that have beaten egg whites folded into the batter to make them light and fluffy.

Lightly spraying the cupcake liner with baking spray lessens the chances of any cake sticking to the paper. You’ll want to make sure you aren’t using a non-stick pan if you’re using the spray though. The spray can ruin the non-stick coating!

Making cupcakes and muffins is easy when you know how to use cupcake liners and what type to use.

Used to keep cupcakes from sticking to the pan and to keep them moist, cupcake liners are a great way to make your favorite cupcakes look different every time you bake them.

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Monday 7th of August 2023

What is your take on the fact that cooking spray ruins non stick finishes? Their instructions specifically say not to use it.

Sarah Bridenstine

Friday 11th of August 2023

Hi Lori!

You make a good point! I'll make sure I note in that section that I don't recommend it on non-stick finishes. It is a useful tool otherwise though!


Friday 4th of August 2023

There are so many adorable cupcake liners available but they all lose their colors after baking. How do you preserve the design while baking?

Sarah Bridenstine

Friday 11th of August 2023

Hi Christie!

If I'm trying to make the cupcakes pretty (which they're for my kids who don't care most of the time haha), I'll either buy liners that say "grease-proof", since those should keep their color, or I will bake them in plain wrappers and then throw a pretty color wrapper over top or in place of. I hope that helps!