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Calorie Count Blog

5 Reasons to Use Your Muffin Tin


By Mary_RD on Dec 10, 2010 10:00 AM in Recipes
Edited By +Rachel Berman

By Matthew Kadey, MSc., RD

The muffin tin might be the most versatile piece of cooking gear you have in the kitchen. Here’s why you should start giving your muffin tin a stiff workout.
 
1.  Built-in Portion Control
The growing size of meal portions in the past couple decades coincides with the steady rise in obesity in America. A recent study from Cornell University compared recipes in seven editions of The Joy of Cooking published from 1936 to 2006. Researchers found the average calories per serving increased for 17 of the 18 recipes analyzed due to a shift to larger serving sizes and higher-calorie ingredients.  One way to fight escalating portions is to prepare your meals in the muffin tin.  Be it mini-sized meatloaf or chocolate cake, the muffin tin creates built-in portion control helping you stay on good terms with the scale.
 
2.  Save Energy
Using a muffin tray can slash cooking time by up to half. Not only will this get food to the table quicker, but it will also result in an energy savings. What’s more, by reducing the time you use the oven, you can reduce heat coming from your kitchen.  For example, if you divide the batter for a pumpkin loaf among muffin trays, cooking time decreases by 30 to 50 percent.

3.  Better Lunches
Smaller food items cooked using the muffin tin can make preparing lunches easier for adults and children. You can bake up a batch of mini-salmon cakes on Sunday and you can have a week’s worth of calorie-controlled portions. For style points, a Japanese bento box is a perfect lunch container for your muffin tray creations.

4.  Improved Taste
Cooking items in smaller portions decreases the risk of food drying out. So using your muffin tin could improve taste by keeping food moist longer than food baked in loaf pans.
 
5.  Variety
From mini-pizzas to a low-fat panna cotta, and even muffins, there is no shortage of recipes that can be adapted for use in the muffin tin.  Try your favorites and see if smaller is better.  Here’s one to get you started:
 
Salmon Lentil Cakes

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup dry red lentils
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 6 oz. can sockeye or pink salmon
  • 1 tbsp horseradish
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • In a saucepan, bring lentils and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils have become tender and water has mostly been absorbed, about 10 minutes.
  • As lentils cook, heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a skillet and cook shallots for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and cumin seeds and cook 1 minute more.
  • Mash lentils with a fork or potato masher and combine with shallot mixture: salmon, horseradish, eggs, dill, bread crumbs, salt and pepper.
  • Divide mixture among 10 lightly greased or paper lined muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes, or until set and slightly golden on top. Let cool before unmolding.

See the Nutrition Information for one of 10 salmon cakes.


Your thoughts....

What do you bake in your muffin tin?
Matthew Kadey is a Canadian-based dietitian, food writer and recipe developer. His website www.muffintinmania.com proves that great things come in small packages.


Comments


I've used my muffin tin to freeze pre-portioned sauces, soup stock and creamed vegetables. When frozen I can put them into bags and keep them in the freezer for future use. 



I've used muffin tins to portion out my favourite meatloaf and frittata recipes.  Less time to cook and convenient grab and go portions.  Also find that the kids love it!



I have used them to make mini quiches for the low carb diet, that way I grab one pop it in the micro and breakfast is done.



this is a good low carb recipe that my whole family loves!

Ham Muffins

12 thin slices ham

6 eggs

1/2  cup parm cheese

6 slices bacon - cooked and crumbled

sharp cheddar cheese - desired amount

pepper

Preheat oven to 350 - spray 12 muffin cups with Pam . Line each cup with a slice of ham so the ham sticks out at the top - beat eggs and mix with Parm cheese. Pour the egg mixture 3/4 way full. Sprinkle with bacon  and cheddar cheese and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes or until egg is set. Let cool for 5 minutes and then go around each muffin with a knife and they pop right out. These are good reheated.



I have used it with meatloaf, and love the idea of using it to portion before freezing.  That would reduce the number food storage items in the freezer and being able to go straight to the microwave  is great.  Thanks for the idea!



I've used it for mini-meatloaves prior to joining CC (haven't eaten ground beef for a while) and I used it to make portion-controlled pumpkin custards from a recipe I found on this site.

Made in the muffin tin, each one was a mere 65 delectable calories. I love pumpkin pie but this was a low-calorie replacement. I also love the idea of using the tins to freeze portions - should try that the next time I make my favourite buttnernut squash soup.



Ooh... I bet it would work nice to make smaller sized flan. My ramekins are pretty big, but perhaps using the muffin tin would help lower the portion size on that favorite dessert of mine!



Awesome recipe ideas!  Keep them coming :-)



I love this. Great ideas and recipes. Thanks.



I'm in the market for a new muffin pan. Can anyone suggest one of the best to buy?



I'm an avid fan of King Arthur Flour; their things last forever and many are made in the USA!

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/12-cup-muffin-pan

 



Mini lasagnas are my favorite to make - and I use the mini muffin tins for tiny cup cakes...you can eat 4 and have the same amount as a slice of cake.



Original Post by: chefness

Mini lasagnas are my favorite to make - and I use the mini muffin tins for tiny cup cakes...you can eat 4 and have the same amount as a slice of cake.


Oooooohhh! Could you share a recipe for a mini-lasagna in a muffin tin?

That sounds like a terrific 'comfort food' choice for winter nights.

Please??

Keep well,

Val



How about how I can use my muffin TOP?



I use my muffin tin to make & freeze small portions of pesto sauce. 

When my basil plants are ready to harvest, I'll make big batches of fresh pesto in the food processor, put paper liners in the muffin tin, fill each with 1-2 TBS of pesto sauce, and pop in the freezer.  In less than an hour, I can take out the muffin liners and put them in a freezer bag.

When I need pesto, I just get out a serving or two.  The portions are so small that one usually thaws by the time I'm ready to toss it with pasta or (yum!) rice.  If you're low-carb-ing it, pesto is also good on just about any kind of fish.



xiaoqinjnj, I would love your recipe for pesto.


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Here’s how I use my muffin tin:

Meat loaf. Takes almost no time to cook, and making 8 tiny loaves from 16 oz. of ground meat assures me I get exactly 2 ounces per serving.

Quick breads (date-nut, banana bread, Boston brown bread, pumpkin bread). They may look like muffins, but the consistency is perfect for slicing and serving.

Non-fried crab cakes (I do coat the tin with a healthy oil. Cooked at 425 degrees gives them a crispness you don’t get from regular oven baking.)

Non-fried salmon cakes (ditto)

Mini cheese cakes (this REALLY helps in portion control. Took me a while to get the right temperature and time, though. Generally, 300 degrees for 15-20 minutes.)

Sorbet (puree frozen fruit in a bullet blender, spoon into muffin tin, and refreeze for a while – about 20-30 minutes)

Flan (again, portion control for desserts is a real bonus)

Any kind of individual custard dessert (crème brulee, for example)

Cloverleaf French-bread rolls

Spinach, broccoli, or asparagus soufflés

Individual corn puddings or Yorkshire puddings

Cherry pies. Line the tin with pressed out crescent rolls, fill with cherry pie filling, and bake until crust is done.

Mini quiches (easy if you use refrigerated pie dough)

Real baked beans (topped with a slice of Canadian bacon)

They do make a giant-size cup muffin tin, and those are great for Shepherd’s Pie and Chicken Pot Pie.

Any tips on how to make cleaning the tins easier?



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Any way to prevent posts like the above, just plain advertising and nothing to do with the subject?



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I have a use for my muffin tin that has nothing to do with cooking.  Whenever I buy something that requires assembly, the first thing I do is grab the muffin tin.  I then sort all the screws, nuts, bolts, washers, etc. and place them in their individual cups.  This keeps everything neat, sorted, and handy.  And no more screws rolling off the table and getting lost!



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Using single serving silicone muffin "tins" will let you prepare and cook various dishes and pack them directly in your lunch, while being able to reuse them again and again, compared with using the paper muffin cups.  In Japan they have these for making bento lunch boxes, which are a ton of fun  to make!  Check out this website - http://justbento.com/ ;



What an awesome idea I would of never thought of that thanks for all the recipes. Wow too cool !!!



Original Post by: islandscribe

Original Post by: chefness

Mini lasagnas are my favorite to make - and I use the mini muffin tins for tiny cup cakes...you can eat 4 and have the same amount as a slice of cake.


Oooooohhh! Could you share a recipe for a mini-lasagna in a muffin tin?

That sounds like a terrific 'comfort food' choice for winter nights.

Please??

Keep well,

Val


I too would really love your mini lasagna recipe! What a great idea!



oh please, please, please share your pumpkin custard recipe for the muffin tins?  did I say Please? =D  thanks!



I think this muffin tin idea is really great - I am really glad I read this article!



@chefness - would you please post the mini-lasagna recipe??...would LOVE to try it out!! Have never tackled the lasagna thing before, but think I could definitely handle mini ones!!  Thanks in advance!



I really think all of these ideas for using the muffin pan are wonderful. I think it would be even better if with some of the ideas the time and temp would be included. Anyone know how to find out the proper baking time when making portions from what had been a full meal...ect meatloaf/ make muffin loaves..time*temp*



Original Post by: heathersmether

How about how I can use my muffin TOP?


Probably best to not use your muffin TOP to cook with!  lol.  The awesome suggestions will help you lose the muffin top though!  I love this site. 



A couple of months ago, my microwave died. By the time that I had the extra cash to replace it, I realized that I really hadn't missed it much other than one pkg. of microwave popcorn that is in my cabinet. SO, instead of replacing it, I got a small toaster/convection oven instead. Not only has this led me to find ways to adapt my cooking practices to limit the amount of leftovers (too many of which end up in the garbage anyway) that I have, but I haven't used the "big oven" even once since I got the small one. Less energy consumed, MUCH less heat in the kitchen and takes much less time to preheat/cook. The one challenge has been that so much of my cookware is too big for the small oven. One of the best things I ever did was buy a mini muffin pan (12 minis)...all SORTS of things can be made in it, usually much faster than their larger counterparts. I think I have actually only made true muffins (blackberry/raspberry/greek yogurt muffins) in it...everything else has been an adaptation...have yet to be disappointed! Examples:

-If you love salmon patties or crab cakes (as I do), mix the ingredients as you would for any other cooking method, then simply scoop into a mini (or regular sized!) muffin tin and bake...the timing & temp. may take a lil experimenting, but I personally just use 350F as a starting point, keep an eye on them and adjust as necessary the next time.

-I became addicted to baked polenta about a year ago and have found that it's kinda hard to go wrong here...you can pretty much add/layer/create anything you want with cooked polenta (I just use yellow cornmeal, have never bought "actual" polenta)...I particuarly love stirring in chopped chipotle..or sundried tomatoes & feta cheese. I always made this in a pie plate in the "big oven", but the mini muffin pan is even better...portion control! I top it with a 1/2 tbsp. dollop of Greek yogurt..to die for!

-Meatballs! (Thank you, Alton Brown) Any type of meatball (I use either ground pork or turkey most of the time...this method seems to keep them moister than others)...they keep their shape & it's just kinda fun, lol.

The possibilities are pretty endless if you get creative. Things might not always come out as expected...more than once I have ended up eating something straight out of the pan because the planets..and my plans(!) didn't work out, but half the fun is figuring it out as I go!

Oh, and stuffing...if you love bread but don't need to eat as much of it as you may find yourself doing...baking your stuffing in mini muffins is another great portion control idea!



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