My completely rational excuses for owning a ridiculous amount of them

By Stacey Ballis
Updated October 26, 2018
Credit: Photo by Stacey Ballis

I love a muffin. Muffins are an excuse to eat cake for breakfast, enough said. I love a sweet muffin and a savory muffin, a muffin filled with fruit or vegetables or nuts. I like them glazed and frosted and plain. They are endlessly adaptable, quick to pull together, and most of them freeze beautifully, so they are a hostess’s pal for advance prep.

And these are all of excuses I have for owning a truly ridiculous collection of muffin tins.

I know most of you are saying to yourselves, How many muffin tins can one person possibly need? Some regular sized ones, maybe some mini ones for cuteness, and isn’t that it?

Well, you are very sane and rational, and completely in sync with my husband. So, when I bought the jumbo sized, I knew it was something of an extraneous acquisition, but I thought they might be useful. And when I bought the full-sheet sized, which makes two dozen in one pan, well, that just seemed like a time saver for large batches. The silpat ones, well that is just to accommodate extra sticky batters, since I don’t always want to use liners, so naturally that was excusable. And the antique ones are just pretty and I need those for photography.

But frankly, when the muffin tins started to seemingly be multiplying of their own accord, I needed better excuses and more frequent utilization if I was going to justify their shelf space. Lucky for me, muffin tins are actually one of the most useful tools you have in your arsenal.

As a Type 2 diabetic, managing carbs is a medical necessity. All of these muffin tins are awesome for portion control. Not just for baked goods, but for a lot of side dishes as well. Noodles, rice, stuffing—all benefit from both the limitations of portion, but also from the crispy outsides, which let’s be real, are the best part. If you are a corner-of-the-casserole person, then baking them in pre-portioned muffin tins gives you crispy edges all the way around. Plus, what is cuter than a little muffin of lasagna, or noodle kugel or mac and cheese?

The holidays are coming, and if you have that one uncle who bogarts all the stuffing, stuffing muffins will save you. A pile is easy to hide under slices of turkey, but if you are taking five stuffing muffins you look like a glutton. Do you love that crunchy tahdig on the bottom of Middle Eastern rice dishes? Packing your rice in a well-greased muffin tin gives everyone in the family their own little personal dome of crunch.

From frittatas to baked egg patties to hashed browns, muffin tins are a morning boon, especially if you want to make things ahead for fast reheating all week. And if you like oatmeal or grits with your breakfast, making a large batch and freezing in greased muffin tins gives you a bag of homemade frozen pucks that only need a minute in the microwave to get your morning going.

Anytime you are putting food on a buffet, making portions easier is a boon to your guests. So little individual meatloaves, for example, are both adorable and practical. Ditto mini personal quiches or even little deep-dish pizzas. Setting up any kind of “bar,” from bloody mary’s to yogurt to burgers makes good use of all of those little cups for organizing condiments and toppings. Baking cookies in them gives you a bakery level of finish, perfect circles with no need to roll and cut, and if you get the nonstick ones, a thin layer of grated hard cheese like parmesan or cheddar on the bottom and baked gives you a stack of lovely snappy cheese crisps to top your salads or soups or add to a cheese plate.

And finally, flip those suckers over and they can become molds for making little bowls out of everything, from cookie dough to bacon to pie crust. Corn or flour tortillas or won ton wrappers sprayed with nonstick spray and tucked between the cups and baked will give you crunchy shells that keep their shape for filling.

However you choose rock your muffin tins, one thing is for sure: You might need to go get more…even if all you really want to make is muffins.