The Simple Swap You Need When Your Cooling Rack Is Out Of Commission

Whether cooking or baking, you should always have a cooling rack on hand. It's a necessary tool for a number of foods, from letting steaks rest for a few minutes to giving those freshly baked chocolate chip cookies a little time to set. But what happens if your cooling rack is in the dishwasher — or if you baked a big batch and need more than one rack? Rather than letting that food rest on a flat surface, you can get a little creative by using a muffin tin instead.


Cooling racks create a raised surface that allows air to flow underneath the food. This prevents condensation from forming underneath the hot food as it rests or cools, meaning your seared steak or crunchy cookie won't get soggy. Usually, cooling racks are wired; the thin metal wires are strong enough to hold the food but have enough space between them — and between the rack and counter top — for adequate airflow. But when using a muffin tin just make sure you flip it upside down.

An upside-down muffin tin serves as a cooling rack

Many kitchen items have alternate uses, such as a bundt pan. But for replacing a cooling rack, you'll need to find a replacement that will create enough distance between the counter and the food. Muffin tins are one of those essential baking tools you probably own, and they're perfect for this. Right side up, the individual spaces are around 2 inches deep, so when you flip the tin, it creates that much distance between the food and the surface. There is enough surface area among the muffin holes for the food to rest with the air flowing beneath it, performing the same job as a cooling rack.


Cooling racks can also be used in the oven to provide airflow for roasting, and since muffin tins are oven-safe, they'll do the trick here, too. Just make sure to place the muffin tin upside down in a roasting pan (or any pan with deep edges) to catch moisture that might drip off during the cooking process.

What to use if you don't have a muffin tin

Although muffin tins are a great option to replace a cooling rack, you might not have one to hand if you're not much of a baker,. Thankfully, anything in your kitchen that is raised with holes or wires for air flow can become a replacement cooling rack if needed. If you have a wire rack in your oven, try using that instead. But plan ahead; most ovens have at least two wire racks, so remove one before preheating the oven to ensure it's not too hot when setting the food on it to cool.


Toaster ovens also usually have wire racks; they are much smaller than oven racks, but they will get the job done if you have one piece of meat or only a small batch of cookies that need to rest. Similarly, an air fryer basket might have small legs that prop it up to prevent it from touching the bottom of the fryer. You can use this as a makeshift cooling rack if nothing else works. As long as it can let air flow through, there might be several items in your kitchen that you can sub for a cooling rack in a pinch.