Silicone baking mats and trays have been gaining in popularity in recent years. They offer many benefits such as being lighter weight, non breakable, and easily storable. They also come in fun colors which brighten up the kitchen. While the final verdict is not yet in, the silicone used in production is food grade and is considered generally safe for your family. (Articles on safety here, here, here and here). But is using the more expensive silicone muffin cups worth it?
- Better for the Earth – silicone baking dishes can be reused a couple thousand times before they need to be replaced
- Better for the Earth (part 2) – the silicone can be recycled when you’re ready for a new set
- Durable and easy to store
- You don’t need a muffin tin to bake them in – can stand up on a flat surface
- Non-stick – but without the teflon coating to worry about
- Fun colors available – I love using bright cheery things in the kitchen
- Many, many more uses than just baking muffins are possible!
- A litte pricey – it will take me about four years of use to break even on the cost versus using paper cups (which can be composted)
- Tough to clean – especially the muffin cups which have lots of little crevices
- Not disposable – can’t take them to potlucks unless you de-mold or you’ll be stressed out chasing all of these expensive little guys down
Last Christmas, a dear friend gave me a gift card to a specialty kitchen store. The first thing I got was a butter crock, which I had been wanting for a long time. My second choice was a little harder, but I settled on silicone baking cups for muffins. I was excited to try them as they were free (for me) and would replace all those little paper wrappers I’d been buying for so long.
The baking cups arrived and I put them to work immediately after washing. I mixed up my family’s favorite banana chocolate chip walnut bread (with whole wheat flour substitution, and maple syrup to sweeten), had the three year old put the baking cups into the muffin tin, and filled them up exactly the same way that I would the paper wrappers. The silicone is safe in the oven up to 425 degrees F so I wasn’t worried about baking at all. The muffins turned out great and I didn’t notice any good or bad differences in the quality of the baking vs paper.
Overall, I recommend reusable silicone muffin cups. They work well, but not better than disposable muffin cups. They are reusable, and fun to look at. My kids enjoy picking out what “color” muffin they will have. I feel good being able to reuse them. But I’m not sure I would have sprung for them without the gift card. They are tricky to clean – I find a long soak, and attention with a scrubby sponge can do the job, but not quickly. Go get some if you feel excited about this idea, but if you don’t you will probably survive!
UPDATE: Andrea, and others on Facebook have commented with some fabulous other uses for these little cups:
- I sometimes make egg muffins (eggs, meat and cheese scrambled together) and bake them in these cups. The sticking problem is still there to some extent.
- I also use them to quarantine wet foods in box lunches. That works really well in containers that are about the same height as the cups. They can also be tucked into odd little spaces in a box because they are pliable.
- They work well for freezing individual portions of thing in the freezer. Once frozen, whatever it is can be easily popped out and all of them put into a storage bag or wrapped up to take up less space.
- They are good popsicle and jello molds.
Do you use silicone bakeware? What has your experience been? Do you have any other ideas on how to use these little baking cups?