Who says you have to stick to baking regular old muffins in your muffin tin? We say leap over that line of ho-hum baking and walk on the wild side.

You’ll look so innovative and fun to your family and friends, but really, making muffin-sized meals and snacks is much easier and more convenient. (Shhhh. We won’t tell.) Smaller-sized dishes cook faster, plus these “muffins” are easier to transport for work lunches, school lunches, and party snacks. And you can individually freeze what you might not be able to eat before they go bad. That’s great for portion control too.

1. Prosciutto-Wrapped Macaroni and Cheese Cups


So macaroni and cheese is comforting, classic, and simple. But squish this traditional favorite into a crispy, salty, savory prosciutto shell and you’ve just taken it to the next level.

Photo and recipe from Chowhound

2. Gingered Pears in Phyllo Cups


This isn’t a dish for a weeknight meal at home. Reserve this beauty for entertaining because it takes a little time, plus there’s the wow factor. Imagine presenting to your guests these crispy folds of pastry enveloping gingery, caramelized pears, topped with pillows of tangy cream. See, we told you.

Photo and recipe from Chowhound

3. Mini Turkey Meatloaf


Go mid-century modern to the 1950s, when savory molds were all the rage. No, we’re not recommending gelatin hot dog molds – that was a thing, no kidding! But meatloaf is still considered a comforting (not scary) main dish in this century. Cooking Light lends us inspiration for this healthier version, made easier by individualizing each muffin-shaped loaf.

Adapted from Cooking Light

4. Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cups

Fried Dandelions

The freezer, rather than your oven, works to solidify this decadent chocolaty dessert, which just so happens to be vegan.

The recipe calls for a mini muffin tin, but if you don’t have one, you might have to settle with making extra-large chocolate peanut butter cups. That means you’ll be forced to eat it at that size. Sigh.

Photo and recipe from Fried Dandelions

5. Spaghetti Pie Muffins

Where Your Treasure Is

This “meal in a muffin” idea takes cooked spaghetti and mixes it with eggs and Parmesan cheese to form a delicious crust in the bottom of the muffin well. The filling can be a mix of whatever you like, but the recommended ground beef, classic tomato sauce, and melted mozzarella cheese makes for a delightful miniature Italian feast.
Photo and recipe from Where Your Treasure Is

6. Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf Muffins

Our take on a miniature chicken Parm is extremely kid-friendly and makes an easy-to-pack lunch. Japanese panko breadcrumbs form a crunchy topping and the whole-milk mozzarella cubes in the middle of the ground chicken are a delightful melted-cheese surprise.
Photo and recipe from Chowhound

7. Granola Cups

Get Off Your Tush & Cook

These mini granola cups are a mishmash of healthy ingredients, with old-fashioned rolled oats, shredded coconut, flaxseed, almonds, dried blueberries, and coconut oil to hold it all together. You can change up the combinations of dried fruit and nuts to suit your fancy, and the dollops of yogurt on top can be embellished with sliced fruit. (Or if you’re feeling festive, chocolate chips.)
Photo and recipe from Get Off Your Tush & Cook

8. The Rebel Within: Baked Egg Within a Bacon and Cheese Muffin

Follow Me Foodie

This is a real culinary feat. The Rebel Within, created by Craftsman and Wolves bakery in San Francisco, is a muffin with a soft-boiled egg cooked inside. The recipe here was reverse-engineered for a pretty impressive ratio of batter, egg, Asiago cheese, scallions, crème fraîche, and sausage. This isn’t just cooking; it’s a delicious breakfast experiment.
Photo and recipe from Follow Me Foodie

9. Spinach Puffs

Bon Appétit

These tiny garlic-, spinach-, onion-, and feta-filled pastry puffs are as pretty as they are tasty. The puff pastry dough is cut into strips and can be assembled ahead of time. Feel free to substitute different kinds of cheeses, and other wintry greens for the spinach: Kale, Swiss chard, and arugula are all good choices.

Photo and recipe from Bon Appétit

10. Donut Muffins


Step aside Cronut, the donut muffin is here. Bake these in a mini muffin tin and you’ll soon have 48 bite-sized buttermilk beauties ready to go for breakfast. Dense, sweet, but not too sugary, these donut muffins with a cinnamon-sugar topping are begging to be dipped into your morning coffee.
Photo and recipe from Chowhound

11. Mini Taco Cups

Sarah's Musical Kitchen

Wonton wrappers get involved in some cultural fusion with this mini taco cup recipe. Carefully place two wrappers in each muffin well. The filling is made with classic taco seasoning. Be sure to include all of your favorite taco toppings: guacamole, salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream, and tomato.
Photo and recipe from Sarah’s Musical Kitchen

12. Mini Tamale Pies


Our individual tamale pies are incredibly flavorful—the beef filling is seasoned with paprika, oregano, cumin, and cayenne. The crust is made by hand with masa harina and packed into the muffin wells. You can substitute different types of meat or veggies easily, and two or three of these make a great meal.

Photo and recipe from Chowhound

13. Vegan Jelly-Filled Muffins


Check out our recipe for vegan jelly-filled muffins to accomplish the impossible: a delicious vegan muffin. Change up the filling with different types of jam or even Nutella. These muffins are made with soy milk (or any milk substitute) and are perfect for a brunch spread on a lazy weekend.

Photo and recipe from Chowhound

Original story by Caitlin M. O’Shaughnessy, updated by Amy Sowder.

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