Are you looking for the best non-toxic cupcake and muffin pans without toxic coatings for all your blueberry muffins and other baking needs? Mamavation ranked all the muffin tins that we could find! You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like best air fryers sans PFAS “forever chemicals,” best non-toxic toasters, safest cookware, & best non-toxic dishes, now join us as we bring you the best non-toxic cupcake & muffin pans.
Disclosure: This post was medically reviewed by Sondra Strand, RN, BSN, PHN. This post also contains affiliate links.
Food Contact Surface Materials for Cupcake & Muffin Pans
The most important question to ask yourself before you purchase a cupcake & muffin pan is — what is the food contact surface made of? The same rules apply to a nonstick pan purchase. It’s important to understand what coatings are used to provide that “non-stick” effect. Mamavation investigated this category and found close to 30 brands selling muffin pans. The materials used to make muffin pans are varied, but the most important part is what touches your food. Here are the options we found.
Inert Food Contact Surfaces
The following food contact surfaces are inert, meaning they are not harmful. It’s important to rotate your cookware & bakeware so that not one type of material is all you use. This is because all cookware has issues, but rotation helps you stay safe. The most inert materials are stainless steel, seasoned or unseasoned cast iron, non-coated ceramic, or carbon steel.
Stainless steel cookware is the most popular because of its excellent corrosion resistance, high strength, attractive appearance, and general safety. Stainless steel is an iron and chromium alloy. While stainless steel must contain at least 10.5% chromium, the exact components and ratios will vary. They then add some of the following: nickel, carbon, manganese, molybdenum, sulfur, copper, or silicon. Some nickel does escape stainless steel so people sensitive to nickel should opt for Ferritic steel instead.
- 18/0 Stainless Steel ( aka Ferritic Steel) — This type of stainless steel is made without the use of nickel and contains 10.5 to 27% chromium. A small percentage of the population is sensitive or allergic to nickel and this option would be best for them. However, note that this type of stainless steel is not strong enough for a lifetime and is not as anti-corrosive.
- 18/10 Stainless Steel — This is the most common type of stainless steel you will find in cookware. This type of stainless steel typically contains about 8.2% nickel, not necessarily 10% like advertised. This is the highest quality of stainless steel because it will last for decades and is rust and corrosion-resistant. Stainless steel has durability and scratch resistance.
Seasoned or Unseasoned Cast Iron
Cast iron is a heavy-duty option, and it may last the longest. Most of the following brands offer more than one type of cookware, so be sure to shop carefully and choose only uncoated cast iron.
Cast iron is an iron-carbon alloy with carbon content of more than 2 to 4 percent, whereas stainless steel is less than 2 percent. Varying amounts of silicon, manganese, sulfur, and phosphorus also go into cast iron cookware. Cast iron is made by reducing iron ore in a blast furnace.
This inert cookware is heavy and tends to rust, so special care must be taken to keep it seasoned. Acidic foods will leach more iron into your food, so it’s best to avoid acidic food. For people who need more iron, this is a fantastic tool to get more iron into your life.
About 99% of ceramic pans and ceramic small kitchen appliances are not actually ceramic. They are a quasi-ceramic product with a coating that is either made from problematic nanoparticles or a mystery silicone coating with other additives. Therefore, it’s important to find a non-coated ceramic product.
Ceramic products can also be full of heavy metals, so it’s important to select companies that abide by California’s strict Prop. 65 heavy metal standards and test for heavy metal migration. Using new kilns and other modern practices can nullify the amount of heavy metals migrating out of the ceramic. Then to check for safety, laboratories can also have testing done to replicate two years of heavy usage effectively by giving the product an acid bath and testing what came out of the acid.
Carbon steel is the sister of cast iron, but despite its name contains more iron and less carbon than cast iron. It’s lightweight, versatile and convenient to use, but still releases ferric iron so it should be rotated regularly between your other cookware options. Remember to avoid cooking with acidic foods in these pans.
Problematic Food Contact Surfaces
There are several food contact surfaces you want to avoid when purchasing cupcake or muffin tins. Included in this group of problematic food contact surfaces are per or polyfluorinated chemicals aka PFAS “forever chemicals,” nano-titanium quasi-ceramic coatings, aluminum, and aluminized steel.
Nonstick Coating Using PFAS “Forever Chemicals”
Non-stick coatings have become well known for their toxicity, and they’re also bioaccumulative. These chemicals have been dubbed “forever chemicals” because of their inability to break down in the environment. Fluoropolymers used in non-stick coatings were found to increase the incidents of tumors of the liver, testicles, mammary glands, and pancreas in lab animals. The EPA has also categorized perfluorinated compounds (PFCs or PFAS) as likely carcinogenic.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered a shocking statistic — 98% of Americans have detectable levels of PFAS or PFCs in their bodies. Mamavation has been studying PFAS contamination closely in cookware, food packaging, and water.
These chemicals are linked with the following diseases and symptoms:
- reduction in immunity
- reduced vaccination response
- increased risk of allergies & asthma in young children
- affect the growth, learning, and behavior of infants and older children
- increase cholesterol levels
- metabolic diseases like obesity & diabetes
- cardiovascular disease
- lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant
- increase the chances of miscarriage
- lowers male fertility through low sperm count
- smaller penis size
- increase the risk of kidney & testicular cancers
- Causes endocrine disruption
- Disrupts normal thyroid function
The problem here is marketing. Many “PFOA-Free” claims have other types of PFAS present in their coatings.
Nano-Titanium Ceramic Coatings
Nanoparticles have been recently discovered as a leaching byproduct of ceramic coatings. Nano titanium dioxide is the most prevalent substance found and is hazardous because it’s been shown to cause immune system disruption and pre-cancerous lesions in the gut.
Nanoparticles themselves are problematic because their tiny size allows them to enter most areas of the body and wreak havoc in the most pervasive ways. Nanoparticles like to congregate around organs and other places they are not supposed to be. Another example of a nanoparticle is asbestos.
Aluminum is ubiquitous in cookware, meaning you’ll find it everywhere. Even cookware people claim is aluminum free will very likely have an aluminum core. The aluminum core is not the issue when we refer to aluminum in cookware, bakeware, and small kitchen appliances. The most important part to concentrate on is food contact surfaces and what your food touches when it’s being cooked. Aluminum cookware likely leaches trace amounts of aluminum into food when it’s part of the food contact surface.
Over time, trace amounts of aluminum in your diet can be problematic to your health. It is bioaccumulative and a known neurotoxin that can cause neurological disorders like dementia.
Aluminum cookware is an obvious culprit, but it’s also been found present at lower levels in ceramic and stainless steel cooking products, even high-quality aluminum.
Aluminized steel is controversial because it’s made from aluminum, and of course, aluminum as discussed above is not good for your overall health. However, this steel is a bit different and it’s important to understand how it’s different. There are actually two types of aluminized steel.
- Aluminized Steel for Cooking: The type of aluminized steel you find in bakeware, toasters, grills, & other small kitchen appliances is made by combining steel with aluminum and some silicone. Clean steel is dipped into a vat of molten aluminum that was mixed with a bit of silicone about three times. Then the outer layer is oxidized to prevent corrosion.
- Aluminized Steel for Industrial Purposes: Another type of aluminized steel that you would find in products like grain bins, air conditioner housing, corrugated roofing, and other industrial applications does not have an oxidized outer layer.
One of the biggest problems with aluminized steel is the possibility of contamination over time. If the oxidized protective layer that protects your family from the aluminum layers is compromised, then you’ll be exposed to aluminum. Therefore, it’s wise to avoid abrasive cleaning products (here are better dishwasher soaps) or anything that can scratch the metal. Exposure to toxic aluminum will take time to happen, so it may be fine with occasional use, but not medium to heavy use. If you decide to purchase anyway, we would also recommend tossing them way before you find problems just to be safe.
Food Contact Surfaces with Mixed Outcomes that are “Better” But Not “Best”
These food contact surfaces have mixed or unclear health outcomes. Inside this category is quasi-ceramic silicone coatings & enameled cast iron.
Quasi-Ceramic Silicone Coatings
Our advisors at the Food Packaging Forum have not cleared silicone or coatings made from silicone because it has not been proven safe. There are aspects to the chemical composition of silicone and silicone coatings that make it just as plausible to leach additives into whatever comes in contact with the food. Very little attention has been paid to studying how food reacts with silicone, so we do not have a good link that explains this. However, do we think this is as bad as PFAS or aluminum? No. Food contact surfaces with silicone surfaces would be considered “better” but not “best.” Hopefully, more will be known soon.
Enameled Cast Iron
Ceramic-enameled cast iron should be avoided most of the time unless a brand can prove they do not have problematic heavy metals migrating out of the pan. Safety can be proven by treating the product with an acid bath and then testing what comes out in the acid bath. If a brand doesn’t have some type of assurance that heavy metals are not migrating out of the pan at levels above California standards, it’s best to avoid.
Mamavation’s Consumer Study on Cupcake Liners & PFAS “Forever Chemicals”
Perhaps you have a muffin pan that is made from aluminum or has a non-stick PFAS coating and you want to lessen the exposure to those chemicals. If you want to keep what you have but still have safer muffins, we can recommend some paper liners for you. We recommend you stick with natural cupcake liners and avoid foil liners and silicone liners. In order to help you find the safest cupcake liners, we sent them to the lab to have them tested for indications of PFAS “forever chemicals.”
Mamavation sent 3 cupcake liners purchased on Amazon off to an EPA-certified lab looking for indications of PFAS “forever chemicals.” The specific lab method used by Mamavation tested for total fluorine by using the Determination of Total Fluorine by Oxygen Flask Combustion and Ion-Selective Electrode. If detectable total fluorine was observed at a detection level of 10ppm, the lab did the Determination of free Fluoride Ion in the tablet by Ion-Selective Electrode and then subtracted that from the Total Fluorine to determine the amount of organic fluorine.
Organic fluorine testing is marker testing. There are over 12,000 different PFAS chemicals in commerce and it’s impossible to identify all of them. In fact, it’s only possible to identify about 100 or so in a really good commercial lab. Therefore, we do marker testing instead looking for the element they all have in common–organic fluorine. What else could organic fluorine possibly contain other than PFAS? Nothing you want to sip from. The other main possibilities are other fluoropolymers, pharmaceuticals, and common hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants, such as 1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane (commonly known as R-134a) and 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoropropene (commonly known as HFO-1234yf).
Not Our Favorite Cupcake Liners
Our lab found indications of PFAS “forever chemicals” inside the products listed here.
- Wilton Baking Cups — Assorted Colors/designs — 17 parts per million (ppm) organic fluorine
Best Cupcake Liners
Our lab did NOT find indications of PFAS “forever chemicals” inside the products listed here. The detection level of the test used at the lab was 10 parts per million (ppm).
- Eoonfirst Standard Baking Cups Natural — non-detect organic fluorine
- Gifbera Standard Baking Cups Natural — non-detect organic fluorine
Mamavation’s Investigation on Cupcake & Muffin Pans
Not Our Favorite Cupcake & Muffin Pans
The products in this category are not our favorite. They either have insufficient information for us to understand what the food contact surface materials are, they have a coating made from PFAS “forever chemicals,” or they have a coating made from a nan0-titanium ceramic.
- Amazon Non-stick Muffin Pan
- Blue Rose Polish Pottery Store Muffin Pan
- Bruntmore Non-Stick Cast Iron Muffin Pan
- Calphalon Nonstick Bakeware 12 Cup Muffin Pan
- CasaWare Ceramic Muffin Pan
- Chicago Metallic Muffin Pan
- Herogo Stainless Steel Muffin Pan Tin
- HongBake Muffin Pan
- Great Jones Stud Muffin
- MONFISH Jumbo Muffin Pan
- Nordic ware Treat Muffin Pan
- Nordic ware Naturals Petite Muffin Pan
- Nordic ware Nonstick Naturals 12 Cavity Muffin Pan
- Oxo Good Grips Nonstick Pro Muffin Pan
- Pampered Chef Muffin Pan (Item # 1601)
- Rachel Ray Non-Stick Muffin Pan
- Silpat Perfect Muffin Mold
- Wilton Diamond-Infused Non-Stick Muffin & Cupcake Pan
- Wilton Texturra Non-Stick Muffin Pan
Better Cupcake & Muffin Pans
This section is better. You’ll find in this section some things that are deemed more inert than PFAS or aluminum. However, this section is not ideal. There are safer options in the “best” section. However, if you are not using cupcake & muffin pans often, the exposure is not that problematic. In this category, you’ll find the following food contact surfaces: quasi-ceramic silicone coatings & “lead-free” porcelain enamel.
- ChefMade Mini Muffin Pan
- Crow Canyon Enameled Red Splatter Muffin Tin
- Greenlife Muffin Pan
- Ninja Foodi NeverStick Muffin Pan
- Trudeau Silicone Muffin Pans
- USA PAN 12-Cup Muffin Pan
- Wilton Recipe Right Muffin Pan
Best Cupcake & Muffin Pans
These are the most inert cupcake & muffin pans available for sale in the United States today. We have them separated for both people who are sensitive to nickel and need 18/0 stainless steel OR all the other materials that are the most inert: non-coated ceramic (that surpasses Prop. 65 California standards), 18/10 stainless steel with no coatings, or cast iron.
18/0 Stainless Steel Cupcake & Muffin Pans for People Sensitive to Nickel
- E-far Muffin Pan 12-cup Stainless Steel Cupcake Pan
- Fox Run 12 Cup Stainless Steel Muffin Pan
- Healthcraft Stainless Steel Cupcake Pan
- TeamFar Muffin Pan 9-Cup
Non-Coated Ceramic or Cast Iron Cupcake & Muffin Pans
- Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Muffin Pans
- Lodge Round Seasoned Cast Iron Muffin Pan
- Prokitchen Cast Iron Muffin Pan
- Xtrema 6-Cup Muffin Pan (Use discount code “MAMAVATION” for 15% off your order.)
Is the Caraway muffin pan okay?
Wonderful and simple, but please, show these forms in action. Bake the cupcakes in them, I want to see the results and that they will not spill out. Thank you!
Although it would be nice to know how these pans perform, Leah’s goal is to find the pans that are safe to use. I would recommend searching YouTube or other social media platforms & blogs for user demonstrations & reviews to see how each specific brand performs.
Thank you for this important report!
I would add that Cookware 360 has a great stainless steel pan (I think they’re connected with Healthcraft).
Also concerning is using paper liners. Didn’t Mamavation do a report on the PFAS found in most disposable paper products, including toilet paper and parchment paper? Cupcake liners are not going to be an exception to this problem of PFAS being used in semi grease proof paper products and recycled paper products.
I second this comment. Cupcake liners and parchment paper are lined with pfas non-stick coatings.
And she has a whole list of safe options in her research.. Look up parchment and cupcake liners…
Are fully silicone muffin pans okay?