Once upon a time, people only used the cupped tray known as the muffin tin to bake muffins and cupcakes. Now, though, people have realized that this kitchen accessory has more uses than just for baking – here are 40 creative ways to get even more use out of yours.
40. Preserve herbs
It’s such a shame to throw away unneeded sprigs of an herb after meal prep. Your muffin tin can help you with that – dice your basil, oregano or parsley and place a bit into each cup of the tray. Then pour over a few tablespoons of your favorite cooking oil, freeze it all into cubes and store until you’re ready to cook with them again.
39. Bird feeder
A muffin tin can also hold a smorgasbord of snacks for your avian friends. Dangling the muffin tin beneath a pan, board or other roofing material will keep the snacks from getting wet, and birds can easily perch beneath it while they snack from the tray.
If you’ve ever carried a tray full of drinks, you know how precarious that job that can be. In comes the muffin tin to save the day, as the tray’s divots stabilize the cups. Pop your tin into a basket for added security – you can even bring it along on your next food run to hold all the drinks in a bumpy car.
37. Smoothie starters
Measuring, blending and pouring a smoothie can be a time-consuming task, especially if you’re on the way out of the door in the morning. So make your smoothies in advance, freeze them into muffin cups and pop the finished cubes in the freezer. Then reblend them when you want a smoothie for a quick, easy drink.
36. DIY bath bomb
There’s nothing quite like hopping into the tub to relax after a long day. You can further enhance your next soak with a scented bath bomb – and one that you made at home, no less. You’ll simply pack baking soda, scented oil, witch hazel and other ingredients into your muffin tin’s cups to create the perfect accompaniment for your next bath.
35. Mini pie mold
One pioneering piemaker realized that the cups of her muffin tin made the perfect mold for mini pies too. Even newbie bakers could pull off this project. A premade pie crust lays perfectly inside of the molds, and a combination of blueberries, lemon zest, sugar and a dash of cinnamon makes a sweet filling – of course, you could spoon canned filling into your pastry too.
34. Fondue tray
Once again, the compartmentalization of the muffin tin comes in handy for a fancy fondue night. Pour the chocolate – or the melted cheese, if you want to go savoury – into one cup. Then fill the rest with your dippable fruit, bread, sweets, veggies… then dig in.
33. Hard-boil eggs – in the oven
Thanks to your muffin tin, you can hard-boil eggs without any of the actual boiling. Instead, pop one egg into each of the cups of your tray. Then, stick them into an oven heated to 325 degrees for 30 minutes. After that, submerge them into ice water for about 10 minutes. Finally, peel and enjoy the easiest hard-boiled eggs ever.
32. Stand-in ramekin
Premeasuring everything you need for a recipe will hasten the prep process, but you might not have enough small bowls to hold it all. So reach for your muffin tin, and fill each cup with a different ingredient. Bonus points if you use paper liners too – then you can pull them out and throw them away once your cooking’s done.
31. Candle holder
Need a unique centerpiece for a dinner party? Grab your muffin tin and fill each cup with a candle. Whether you choose tall votives or tiny tea lights, they’ll add just enough twinkle, and the tray will catch any dripping wax for you too.
30. Succulent planter
Even without a green thumb, you can easily cultivate a succulent garden. Start yours with a muffin tin, preferably one with enough compartments for a variety of different mini cacti. Just be sure to drill holes in the bottom of each cup so that the plants can drain as needed.
29. Refresh broken crayons
Not all broken crayons are lost. Gather up all the waxy bits and pieces, remove their papers, and place a handful into each muffin tin cup. Then place the tray into a 300-degree oven for five minutes so that the wax melts. Once they cool off, you’ll have a set of new crayons in an easy-to-hold circular shape.
28. Bake better bread
Crispy crusted bread and pizza… there’s not much tastier than that. A muffin tin can help you ensure your homemade versions reach the right consistency. Simply fill the cups with water and place the tray into the oven while it’s preheating. This creates the perfect steamy environment for baking.
27. Save and freeze soup
It’s hard to whip up a batch of soup that’s just enough for you and your family to eat in one sitting. Ladle leftovers into a muffin tin and freeze them into portions that defrost rapidly and make lunch prep smooth. You can do the same with leftover broth or stock after using only half a carton for a recipe.
26. Pet feeder for fast eaters
Your pooch loves to eat. There’s nothing wrong with that – unless, of course, they inhale their dinner each night. A muffin tin can help slow down the dining process. Portion out your pet’s meal into all of the different cups so they have to pause and chew a little before moving onto the next one.
25. Egg dyeing tray
Egg dyeing is an Easter tradition, but it’s also a messy activity. Using a muffin tray can keep the dyes contained, yet close to one another for speedy double-dipping. And, once the job is done, clean-up is simple, too – just have to dump the dye down the sink and voila.
24. Art supply organizer
From markers to paintbrushes to scissors, art supplies are tough to organize – that is, until you get a muffin tin involved. Place a cup into each muffin holder, then fill those with supplies. The sturdy, upright stand will make it simple to whip out the tray when it’s time to create and clean up when art time’s over.
23. Jello mold
Jiggly jello makes a cool treat, albeit a messy-looking one when it’s scooped from a big bowl. By pouring warm jello into a muffin tin instead, though, you can ensure your sweets are individually sized and uniform. Top each with a bit of whipped cream for the perfect dessert.
22. Seedling grid
Here’s an out-of-the-box way to reuse your muffin tin. After tilling the dirt in your garden, stamp the ground with the bottom of the tray. This will create evenly spaced divots into which you can pour your seeds. Then cover them in soil and watch them grow.
21. Ornament holder
Packing ornaments post-Christmas is a tedious task, not to mention the fact that baubles can move around and break if improperly stored. Muffin tins provide a sturdy surround to prevent ornaments from shattering, plus you can plop each decoration into its own spot on the tray to hasten the clean-up process.
20. Beer flight
In ordering a beer flight, you give yourself the chance to sample an array of different beers to find your favorite pour. Make your own at home with a muffin tray – place one glass per confectionary cup and fill each with a different variety of beer. Then drink up.
19. Desk organizer
A muffin tin is thin enough to slide into your top desk drawer. Plus, each of its cups can help you organize all your office-related odds and ends. With one cup for paper clips, another for tacks and a third to hold binder clips and more, you’ll have no problem organizing this tiny space.
18. Taco bowl mold
Whether it’s taco Tuesday or not, you’re craving a Mexican-inspired meal. A muffin tin can come in handy during any fiesta. Flip the tray over and press tortillas into the gaps between cups. After baking for 10 minutes at 375 degrees, they’ll become crispy bowls perfect for taco salads.
17. Paint palette
An artist needs paint in a variety of hues, but a traditional palette can be tough to juggle. So reach for a muffin tin and fill each cup with a different hue. If you’re feeling creative, you can leave a few of the circles open for color mixing, or fill some with water to easily clean brushes and redip them in paint. As an added bonus, the tin will stand up on its own – no need to hold your palette now.
16. Condiment tray
When it comes to putting together a burger, there’s no one way to do it – and chances are, no two people at your next barbeque will fix theirs the same way. So, be sure to give your guests as many condiment options as possible. Fill each muffin-tray ring with a different topping to make customization that easy.
15. Stuffed pepper stand
In making stuffed peppers, you run the risk of watching your culinary creations wobble or even crumble as they bake in non-sturdy confines. That is, of course, unless you rely on the strength of the muffin tin. Its cups will keep veggies upright and cooking as they’re meant to.
14. Kids’ snack tray
Picky eaters in your family? Give them the luxury of choice with the help of a muffin tin. Simply stuff a dozen healthy snacks into each of the tray’s cutouts. Then hand it over and watch as even the most discerning of diners digs in.
13. Alphabet sorting tray
Teaching a little one to read can be a tough task, so let your muffin tin help you. Grab the letter tiles from a game like Scrabble or Bananagrams, and show your kiddo how to sort them into cups by the letter. In most cases, you’ll need multiple trays to give each letter of the alphabet its own receptacle
12. Cookie bowl mold
The other side of the muffin tray has uses of its own, as we know. Here’s another one – flipping it upside-down makes the perfect mold for cookie bowls. Fill the finished product with ice cream, frosting or another sweet option to take your cookie to the next level.
11. Countdown calendar
Behind the doors of this advent calendar hides the unexpected – a muffin tin. It turns out that the tray makes the perfect base for any sort of countdown calendar. Fill each cup with your treat of choice, then cover them with paper to ensconce the prize. Open one door per day as you get closer to Christmas or another countdown-worthy event.
10. Photo display
Let your creativity run wild as you transform your muffin tin into an art piece. Some have cut out circular photos to fit each muffin-shaped mold, while others have slipped tiny paintings into the openings. It’s art, so don’t be shy to pursue your unique vision for your tray-based display.
9. XL ice cubes
Sometimes, a traditional ice cube just won’t cut it. So use your muffin tin to whip up extra-large pieces of ice. You can make them even more special by dropping a piece of fruit into each one. As they melt, then, they’ll add a little bit of flavor to your water or other beverage-of-choice.
8. Workshop organizer
Muffin tins make great organizers, especially for small items that might otherwise get jumbled or lost. Add one to your workshop organization system and you’ll instantly have a home for loose nails, bolts, screws and any other small pieces that come in handy, but only when you know where to find them.
7. Mini herb garden
Fresh herbs bring a hearty dose of flavor to any dish into which they’re added. Having a selection of them on hand at all times, then, is a boon to your cooking. So grab a muffin tin and transform it into a tiny herb garden from which you can pluck your favorite flavorful greens. Yum.
6. Oyster platter
You could fill a huge tray with ice, pile oysters on top and hope it’s not too heavy or that the shells don’t shift around too much. Or you could put some ice in the cups of a muffin tray, place a single oyster in each one and instantly have a protective platter for your seafood. Slice some lemons, and add wedges for a finishing garnish.
5. Jewelry organizer
Any jewelry aficionado will tell you how tough it is to keep their baubles organized. And, without an effortless-to-browse system, it’s possible to forget even the best pieces. So, sort earrings, bracelets and necklaces into a muffin tin for quick perusing. When you’re done wearing, simply return each accessory to its cup to keep everything orderly.
4. Popsicle mold
Every hot day calls for popsicles, but there’s only one problem – you don’t have any frozen snacks on hand. In that case, you just need to find your muffin tin and treat each cup like a popsicle mold. Don’t forget to add a stick to each for easy eating.
3. Prep poached eggs
Timing is everything when it comes to poached eggs – the soft, runny breakfast favorite can be difficult to perfect. So, if you struggle to boil yours to perfection, try baking them in a muffin tin instead. After 13-to-15 minutes at 350 degrees, you should have the perfect yolks for your early morning meal.
2. Ice cream party prep
You could scoop ice cream in real time at your next party. Or, you could prep in advance by lining your muffin tin with baking cups, ladling ice cream into each and freezing them for a few hours before the party. When it’s time, pull the sweet stuff from the freezer – and from their paper liners – and get the snacking started right away.
1. DIY candle
Finally, your muffin tin mold provides an inspirational shape, at least as far as candle-making is concerned. Once you fill each cup with wax, decorate the top with multicolored wax and real sprinkles to give it the appearance of a cupcake. It might just be too pretty to light.