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If your muffin pan is sitting in the back of a cupboard, only to be pulled out a couple times a year for school bake sales or potluck desserts, it’s time to change that. Muffin tins are good for so much more than baking muffins and cupcakes—from mac and cheese bites to mini tartlets, it can do every course. Check out these 15 recipes to see how you can use your muffin pan in new ways.
Seriously, don’t let the twee name fool you. A great muffin pan is a hardcore, multi-purpose piece of cooking gear that can be used in ways that go far beyond breakfast bran bites and dainty dessert cupcakes.
It’s an excellent vessel for creating perfect, single-serving sizes for brunch buffets and appetizers (g’bye ugly casserole dishes!). And when you’re serving rich, decadent foods, muffin pans offer an added bonus of built-in portion control.
Faberware 12-Cavity Muffin Pan, $5.99 at Walmart
The nonstick finish means it's a breeze to use even without baking cups.
You can also put them into service for other uses, like holding different condiments at a barbecue or an array of toppings at a sundae bar, or organizing the decorations for your sugar cookies (a great tip from Rachael Ray that makes baking with kids a little neater).
And they’re great for making a big batch of poached eggs all at once for brunch.
But this collection of recipes includes our very favorites, and showcases the sheer range and versatility of muffin pan cooking–from savory miniature meatloaf and baked eggs to cute-as-a-button pies and tarts for dessert.
Popover pan? Psssh. The multi-tasking muffin pan gets the job done. If your popovers tend to fall flat, readers who loved this recipe stress the importance of using room temperature milk and starting with a hot-hot muffin pan to get these fluffy, flaky popovers to puff. Get our Muffin Pan Popovers recipe.
This crispy, cheesy, two-bite party snack bears no resemblance to abuelita-approved steamed tamales, which can be a time-consuming, messy affair. If you want to make these into one-bite poppers, use a mini muffin pan, decrease the oven temperature to 325°F, and cut the cooking time to approximately 15 minutes total. If you’re new to handling masa dough, be sure your dough is slightly wet and sticky, and holds together when you squeeze it in your hand. If the dough is too dense and dry, the cooked pie “crusts” will be tough. Get our Mini Tamale Pies recipe.
Wilton Recipe Right 24-Cavity Mini Muffin Pan, $9.93 at Walmart
Same versatility on a smaller scale.
What’s better than eating mac and cheese? Not needing any utensils to do it! When portioned into muffin tins and baked, it gets extra crusty around the top and edges and firm enough to pick up in one piece (but is still plenty creamy inside as long as you take care not to overbake). We have a hard time choosing between our Bacon Mushroom Mac and Cheese Bites recipe and our Chicken Parmesan Mac and Cheese Bites recipe, so we say make both for your next party. And maybe these next ones too…
Mac and cheese is made elegant (and even more delicious) when you use a slice of prosciutto to line the muffin cups; it creates a pretty and useful edible cup and tastes amazing. Plus, the crispy, cured ham delivers the perfect crunch. Get our Prosciutto-Wrapped Macaroni and Cheese Cups recipe.
If you think of frittatas as strictly brunch-for-a-crowd territory, toss a platter of these minis on the appetizer buffet at your next dinner party and stand back. Or, go ahead and bring them out at brunch too for a fun, serve-yourself option that doesn’t require any messy slicing. Get our Onion, Mushroom, and Goat Cheese Mini Frittatas recipe.
Once you get past the phrase “meatloaf muffin,” you’ll embrace the sheer genius of individual meatloaves. The best part? The ratio of muffin pan surface to meat means more crusty, savory exterior in every bite (think: all edges brownie pan). Get our Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf Muffins recipe.
Muffin pans are also the ideal vessel for making these thinly sliced potato stacks enriched with herbs, cheese, and butter. They’re a perfect side dish to practically anything (including any kind of roast, from beef to chicken), and you can play around with the types of potatoes and cheese, as well as the herbs and spices used. Get our Scalloped Sweet Potato Stacks recipe.
If you’re among those rare birds who actually have any stuffing leftover after a holiday meal, this is–hands-down–the best way to re-enjoy it for breakfast or brunch. Take note of the reader/commenter who used cornbread dressing in place of traditional bread stuffing; that’s a genius idea. (But if you go the cornbread route, skip the food processor step.) Get our Baked Eggs in Stuffing Cups recipe.
It only looks like a dessert you bought at a swanky bakery–this sweet single-serving dessert is a cinch, particularly if you make the phyllo cups ahead of time. (The baked cups can be stored in an airtight container for up to two days.) Once you master the recipe, consider swapping the ginger-pear combo for your favorite fruit pie flavor or even a savory appetizer filling. Get our Gingered Pears in Phyllo Cups recipe.
Take everything you know about a rustic, traditional tarte Tatin, then rethink it with exotic ingredients (pineapple, coconut, ginger) and the very non-traditional muffin pan. There’s nothing not to love about this upside-down bite-size dessert. Get our Pineapple Coconut Tartlets recipe.
Ditto this one. It is not your instant pudding recipe-on-the-box dessert for pseudo cooks. This is a pastry chef caliber dessert–from scratch flaky pie dough to homemade dark chocolate pudding, and it’s completely worth it. If homemade pudding feels a bit too 2nd-grade snack for your guests, though, substitute with this amazing Basic Chocolate Mousse. Get our Chocolate Pudding Mini Pies recipe.
Adding finely ground graham crackers to crunchy peanut butter makes these homemade treats crazy reminiscent of (but so much better than) classic Reese’s. You can use semisweet chocolate or even dark chocolate if you prefer. For delightfully oversized desserts, increase the ingredient amounts and make these in regular size muffin cups instead of a mini muffin pan. Get our Peanut Butter Cups recipe.
Mini cheesecakes are the perfect dessert for a sit-down dinner party or to star in a holiday buffet sweet spread. These particular treats are flavored with brandy and fresh ginger in the filling, with a shiny orange juice, honey, and brandy glaze, and a spicy-sweet gingersnap crust. Garnish with candied ginger for even more zing and sparkle. Get our Ginger-Brandy Mini Cheesecakes recipe.
Okay, so this is more like something you’d expect to see come out of a muffin pan—but it tastes like the best apple cider doughnut of your autumn dreams (thanks to apple cider, of course, and a little apple cider vinegar). The muffin shape is mostly smoothed away after a roll in melted butter and cinnamon sugar, which also gives these an almost fried vibe, though they’re easy-baked (and no yeast is involved). If you don’t have apple cider on hand, our similar Donut Muffins recipe taste like old-fashioned buttermilk cake doughnuts with a sweet cinnamon sugar sprinkle, and are equally easy to make. Get Jessie Sheehan’s Baked Apple Cider Donut Hole recipe.
Original story by Christine Gallary, updated by Colleen Rush and Jen Wheeler