Muffin Pan vs. Cupcake Pan – What’s the Difference?

Two common bakeware items you might find in your kitchen are muffins and cupcake pans. 

While they may seem similar at first glance, there are a few key differences to consider when deciding which one to use for your particular recipe.

Understanding these differences helps you choose the right pan and achieve the desired outcome.

Muffin Pan vs. Cupcake Pan

Let me try to explain the differences (or similarities) between a muffin pan and a cupcake pan based on different aspects.

The Difference in Shape

A key distinction between muffin and cupcake pans lies in the shape and size of the cavities. 

Muffin pans generally have a dome shape with broader cavities, while cupcake pans have a more uniform and rounded top. 

The reason behind this difference is that muffins require enough space to expand and form a dome-shaped top when baking. 

Cupcakes are meant to have a rounded and even surface for easy frosting application.

The difference in the shape of the pans affects the outcome of baked goods. 

Muffins baked in a muffin pan will have a distinct, protruding top, while cupcakes will come out with a more delicate and rounded top, making them perfect for decorating with frosting. 

The shape of the pans is directly attributed to the ingredients used in each recipe, which leads to varying results in texture and appearance.

Here’s a comparison of the two pans’ shapes:

Muffin panCupcake pan
Dome-shaped cavities with wider openings.Uniform, round cavities for a more flattened top.

The Difference in Depth

Muffin pans and cupcake pans may look similar, but there are some key differences in their depth. Muffin pans typically have straight sides and are designed to be deeper than cupcake pans. 

This depth allows them to hold 1 to 3 ounces of batter, which is necessary for the heavier, denser texture of muffins. A muffin pan creates a dome-shaped top that is characteristic of muffins.

On the other hand, cupcake pans are shallower and have rounded sides. 

They are designed to hold 2 to 5 ounces of batter, which is suitable for the lighter, fluffier texture of cupcakes. 

Here is a summary of the key differences: 

Characteristic FeaturesMuffin PanCupcake Pan
Batter Capacity1 to 3 ounces of batter2 to 5 ounces of batter

The Difference in Dimensions of The Base

Muffin pans typically have a larger base size than cupcake pans, accommodating the difference in batter consistency. 

As muffins tend to have denser batters with mix-ins such as dried fruits, chocolate chips, or nuts, they require larger cavities in the pan. 

Consequently, muffin bases are typically 5cm in diameter, while the top measures 7-9cm, giving them a flatter appearance.

On the other hand, cupcake pans have a smaller base and widen towards the top. 

Their shape caters to the lighter and more delicate nature of cupcake batter, which is made with all-purpose flour and has a higher sugar content. 

The smaller base of the cupcake pan often results in the formation of a nicely rounded top, a characteristic feature of cupcakes.

To summarize, the key differences in the dimensions of the base are:

Muffin pansCupcake pans
Diameter: 5cm (base)Diameter: smaller than muffins (base)
Top: 7-9cm (flatter)Top: wider at the top, more rounded

The Difference in Variety of Designs

Cupcake Pans are available in an extensive range of shapes and designs. 

You can find cupcake pans in a variety of different shapes, such as stars, hearts, cartoon characters, geometrical shapes, and animals. 

This variety allows you to explore your creativity and craft visually appealing cupcakes for various occasions and themes.

On the other hand, Muffin Pans are traditionally circular. While you may come across some muffin pans in different shapes, the variety is significantly limited compared to cupcake pans. 

The reason behind this limitation is the difference in batter and ingredients. 

Muffin batter usually contains oat flour, wheat flour, or nut flour, and may have dried fruits, chocolate chips, or nuts as mix-ins, which makes it denser than cupcake batter. 

This dense batter may not adapt to intricate shapes as well as cupcake batter made with all-purpose flour.

Here is a quick overview: 

FeaturesCupcake PanMuffin Pan
ShapeVarietyExtensive Limited
Common IngredientsAll-purpose flourOat, wheat, or nut flour
Mix-InsNoneDried fruits, chocolate chips, nuts

Overall, if you’re looking to get creative with shapes and designs, opt for a versatile cupcake pan, while for traditional baking needs, a straightforward muffin pan will suffice.

The Difference in the Need for Liners in Cups

In general, cupcake pans require the use of cupcake liners, while for muffin pans, liners are optional.

Cupcakes typically have a thinner batter that can spread and lose shape without support; therefore, cupcake liners are essential to ensure the appropriate structure and appearance. 

Liners also aid in preventing the cupcakes from sticking to the pan and provide an easy way to handle and serve them. 

There are various types of liners available, such as parchment paper, foil, and silicone cups.

On the other hand, muffin batters usually have a denser texture and can hold their shape better than cupcake batters because muffins are bread-like compared to the cake-like texture of cupcakes. 

This difference in batter consistency means that you may or may not use liners when baking muffins. 

If you choose not to use liners, grease the muffin pan to prevent sticking and ensure easy removal after baking.

In summary, the key points to remember when discussing the difference in the need for liners in muffins and cupcake pans are:

  • Cupcakes require liners due to the thinner batter consistency, which needs support to hold its shape.
  • Muffins can be baked with or without liners, as the denser batter can maintain its shape without additional support.
  • A wide variety of liners are available for use, including parchment paper, foil, and silicone cups.
  • If you are not using liners for muffins, always grease the pan to prevent sticking.
Also read: How to Clean a Muffin Pan?

The Difference in Quantity of Batter

Muffin batter is usually thicker and denser than cupcake batter, which is lighter and more delicate. 

This difference in consistency is attributable to the fact that muffins often contain mix-ins such as fruits, nuts, and chocolate chips, while cupcakes are typically just flavored with sugar, butter, and vanilla.

In terms of filling the baking pans, the quantity of batter you use for each type of treat is important. 

For cupcakes, you’ll want to fill the cups about halfway. As cupcakes bake, they’ll rise significantly due to the higher sugar content and the chemical leavening agents like baking powder or baking soda. 

Filling the cups halfway ensures your cupcakes will have a nice, even dome on top once they’re finished baking.

On the other hand, muffin batter should be filled a bit more liberally. Aim to fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full. 

This might seem like a lot, but remember that muffin batter is denser and doesn’t rise as much as cupcake batter. Plus, the additional mix-ins can make the final product a bit heavier. 

Filling the cups three-quarters full will account for this and give your muffins a nice rounded top. If you want crispy edges on your muffins, you can even slightly overfill the cups to achieve this effect.

Remember the following guidelines for filling your pans with batter:

  • Cupcakes: Fill cups halfway
  • Muffins: Fill cups 3/4 full
Also read: How to Organize Baking Pans?

Two Best Muffin Pans

Let us now discuss two of the best muffin pans available in the market. These pans stand out for their design, quality of construction, and non-stick performance.

Wilton Perfect Results Premium Non-Stick Muffin Pan Set

Wilton is known for their high-quality bakeware, and their Perfect Results Premium Non-Stick Muffin Pan Set is no exception. 

Wilton Perfect Results Premium Non-Stick Mini and Standard Muffin Pan Set of 2, Steel

Constructed from steel, these pans are designed to provide even heat distribution for consistent baking results.

One key feature of the Wilton muffin pan set is its non-stick coating. This enables you to easily release your muffins and cupcakes without breaking or damaging them. 

Cleaning the pans is also simple, thanks to the non-stick surface, as food particles can be easily wiped away without much effort from your side.

The Wilton set comes with two pans, one mini muffin pan with 24 cavities, and a standard muffin pan with 12 cavities. 

This combination offers versatility in baking different sizes of muffins and cupcakes suitable for various occasions.

Also read: What is a Heavy Bottom Pot?

G&S Nonstick 6 Cup Jumbo Muffin Pan

For those who enjoy larger muffins, the G&S Metal Products Company OvenStuff Non-Stick 6 Cup Jumbo Muffin Pan is an excellent choice. 

G & S Metal Products Company OvenStuff Nonstick 6-Cup Muffin Caps Baking Pan, 13.5'' x 11.5'', Gray

This pan features six generously sized cavities that can accommodate jumbo-sized muffins or cupcakes.

Similar to the Wilton pans, the G&S muffin pan is made from steel and has a non-stick coating. 

This ensures that your baked goods release effortlessly from the pan and cleanup is a breeze. 

The non-stick material also helps in reducing the need for additional oil or butter, making your muffins and cupcakes healthier.

The American-made G&S jumbo muffin pan is an ideal option for those who want to create larger treats for breakfast, brunch, or even dessert. 

Its durable construction ensures that it performs consistently and remains a reliable addition to your bakeware collection.

By choosing one of these high-quality muffin pans, you’ll be able to create perfectly baked muffins and cupcakes while enjoying the benefits of non-stick materials and robust construction.

Two Best Cupcake Pans

Let us now look at the two best cupcake pans that stand out for their quality, design, and ease of use: Walfos and Wilton.


The Walfos Muffin Pan Set is a popular choice for bakers who demand a high-quality, non-stick cupcake pan. 

Walfos Muffin Pan Set - 12 Cups Regular Silicone Cupcake Pan, Non-stick and BPA Free, Great for Making Muffin Cakes, Tart, Fat Bombs - Dishwasher Safe, 2-Piece

These pans are made from silicone, which is known for its non-stick properties and BPA-free composition.

The Walfos pan features 12 cups for baking standard-sized cupcakes or muffins. 

Thanks to the non-stick material, your baked goods will easily be released from the pan, ensuring perfect cupcakes every time. 

Plus, the silicone construction allows for even heat distribution, resulting in consistent baking.

Aside from its non-stick qualities, the Walfos silicone cupcake pan is also dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning. 

The two-piece set gives you flexibility in your baking, as you can choose to make smaller batches or double up for larger events.


Another top choice among bakers is the Wilton cupcake pan. Known for its durability and even baking, this pan features a non-stick coating that ensures the effortless release of your cupcakes or muffins.

Wilton Perfect Results Premium Non-Stick Cupcake Pan, 12-Cup Muffin Tin, Steel Baking Supplies

The Wilton pan offers 12 cavities for standard-sized cupcakes. The non-stick coating allows for an easy release of your baked goods and also makes cleaning a breeze. 

A simple wash with warm, soapy water is enough to maintain the pan’s coating and keep it in great condition.

One outstanding feature of the Wilton cupcake pan is its heavy-gauge steel construction, which provides consistent heat distribution throughout the baking process. 

This ensures that your cupcakes will be evenly baked, with no undercooked or overcooked areas.

Choose either of these options, and you’ll be well on your way to baking delicious cupcakes in no time.

Also read: Best Egg Pans for Induction Cooktops

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions: 

How Does Using a Silicone Pan Affect Baking Muffins and Cupcakes?

Using a silicone pan for baking muffins and cupcakes can have some differences compared to using a metal pan. 

Silicone pans do not heat up like metal pans, which can affect the overall cooking time and browning of your baked goods. 

To use a silicone muffin or cupcake pan, place it on a cookie sheet for added stability, grease or spray the pan with non-stick spray, and fill with batter. 

Baking times may need to be adjusted, so keep an eye on your baked goods and test for doneness with a toothpick or cake tester.

What Are the Various Uses of a Muffin Pan Besides Baking Muffins?

Muffin pans are versatile and can be used for more than just baking muffins. 

Some other uses include making baked egg cups, mini quiches, mini meatloaves, granola cups, and even individual-sized portions of macaroni and cheese. 

They are also useful for freezing single portions of dish components like sauces, broths, or leftover batter for use at a later time.

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I’m Jueria and I am a regular contributor on In my articles, I share time-saving techniques, appliance wizardry, and health-friendly recipes to bring taste and wellness to your table. So raise a glass (or a spatula) with me, to good health and good food, made easy!